“Indivisible: Women in Deep Faith, Strong Character and Fathomless Service”

by: Liliosa Kamille B. Suarez

“The most important thing one woman can do for another is expand her sense of actual possibilities.” – Adrienne Rich

The month of March marks a momentous celebration for all women, as it has been declared the International Women’s Month. And I’d like to honor and recognize the Juanas of our beloved PCU, for all your immeasurable efforts, and your extraordinary roles as workers, parents, daughters, sisters or even just ordinary persons.

In solidarity and in line with the International Women’s Month Celebration, allow me to feature some empowered women of Philippine Christian University. These women may have taken part into our lives and will continue to take part into our lives to inspire us and help us see the fundamental role of a woman.

This year’s celebration of International Women’s Month focuses on the theme “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran”. The featured women were asked to answer few questions which will help us to get to know more about them.

Below are the notable responses of some of the amazing empowered women of our university:

Eleen R. Asino, LPT
 JHS Faculty

How long have you been working here in PCU?
I worked in PCU for 28 years up to present.

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
It is my greatest achievement to witness my former student living a happy and successful life in their chosen career paths. It is also a rewarding feeling to know that they are now professionals, living the best of their lives and still remember me as their teacher.

What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
My principle in life as a woman is to Trust God and believe in good things to come. Always be the best version of yourself and love the things you do. These are the principles I live by. It gives me strength and courage in any hardship as I know God is with me. Although I know, we can't just leave it all to Him. We must also strive for improvement and make our day count by loving what we do. Nothing is impossible if we believe in God and our potential.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
I always believe that there is no limit to what we as a woman can accomplish, especially if we put our faith in Him. Trying to improve ourselves to better and at the same time love what we do goes hand in hand. Practicing these principles will get us closer to achieving our goals.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord.
Overall, my life has been one of survival. I've dealt with hard times. I've wiped my tears. I have grown through the things that were meant to break me. Despite hardship, I managed to pick myself up and become stronger. Life will never be easy, but a true strength lies in our ability to lay down our life so that God can shine through us.

This is the passage where I live by.

"But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV

Luzviminda B. Ungab
 Administrative Assistant, HRDO

How long have you been working here in PCU?
42 years

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
There are two things that I consider as my greatest accomplishments as a working woman.

First, of course, is being able to greatly help provide good education for all of my four children. Through my work here in PCU along with the help from my family, my children were able to complete their studies inspite of financial difficulties. This is something that I will always be thankful to God for.

Second, my years of service and commitment to PCU. I am happy, proud and grateful to say that I have been working here for 42 years. To add to that, it gives me a sense of pride and gratitude knowing that I was there when the HRDO was formed. I’m part of the pioneer personnel department as it was called back then.


What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
Love. This is what immediate come to my mind when I read the question. It really is all about love. I truly believe that it’s what helps us improve as a person and as a professional. When we love ourselves, it reflects on our self-confidence and self-esteem. When we love someone, we try our best to be better for them and help them to do the same. When we love our job, it shows in how we do our tasks and our relationship with our colleagues.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
On how my principle relates to the Philippine International Women’s Day theme this year, a woman driven by love in her endeavors will always contribute to progress. Then when it comes to PCU focus for this year, God is love. He loved us first that’s why we’re able to act with love towards everyone around us, both in our personal and work relationships.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord.
I believe challenges and trials are part of life. I can definitely say my family and I had our share of these. But we always pulled through even when the problems became very heavy to bear. How? God. Through His guidance and presence. I, along with my family, were able to endure and overcome each trial, gaining a widened perspective and understanding each time.

Marie Faye S. Fuertes, LPT
 Coordinator, Grade 12 – SHS

How long have you been working here in PCU?
I’ve worked as a teacher at my dear Alma Mater for 5 years going to 6 years on June 2022.

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
As an educator, I’m very fortunate to witness my students achieve success and happiness in the fields they have chosen, whether they continued their education, or started a business, or even built their families. My beloved students are my greatest achievement.

What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
Just be. As a woman, it is quite hard to make an impression in the workplace. To get to where you want to be, you have to be comfortable in your own skin. Know who you are, accept who you are, and be who you are. Women are strong, there is no doubt about that. There may be different facets wherein our strength shines, be it physical, mental, or spiritual. Just be and shine.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
The youth of this day and age never ceases to amaze me of how accepting they are about people’s differences and the ever progress the world is witnessing. The inspiration for my principle is from them. Simply being, there and present, is the first step of progress. The Lord tells us in His word to “come as we are” for He is the One who will provide us with all that we need.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord.
If I were to assess my life, I haven’t done anything impressive at all. The Lord in His kindness, guides my path and I just walk this life with Him. He had been with me through and through, in my victory and more in my misery. He reveals Himself at times when we think that everything is done for, He uses people as instruments for His will. Strong women of God have always surround me in life. My brilliant Mother, my amazing sister, my Lola Mama, my professors here in our beloved University, they are the instruments of God who taught me the way and made me strong in the Lord.

Vida D. Jimenez, Ed.D.
Director for Online Education & Professional Advancement
(concurrent Dept. Head for College of Education – Graduate Program)

How long have you been working here in PCU?
9yrs

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
My greatest achievement would be my current position. When I was tasked to be the director for Online Education and Professional Advancement of PCU.

What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
According to Kelly Ayotte “I think that passion is the secret ingredient that drives hard work and excellence.” It is important to have that passion in everything we do, because if we have it we will always do our best in all things that we do.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
The days that women are behind men are gone. The women now become great leaders not only at home but also in the workplace. For us to succeed in every endeavor, it is important to have God as our anchor, He will be our source of strength so we will be able to fulfill our responsibilities in life.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord.
There are many experiences that I have encountered, both in my personal and professional life. Having God as my refuge, I became stronger and smarter to face all challenges that come my way.

Leila F. Distajo, RPsy
SHS Guidance Associate

How long have you been working here in PCU?
My love affair with PCU started when I was a student. But after I graduated, I had an on and off relationship as an employee with PCU, which started when I was one of the Graduate School’s administrative assistants, I was in my mid 20s then. Dr. Sofia Leonano, who passed away in 2009, was our Dean at that time. I left PCU to be assigned in the United Methodist Church – Baguio Episcopal Area, but came back to be one of the members of the secretariat who facilitated the United Methodist Church (UMC) – United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) merger review, after our task force has fulfilled its task, I left again but came back afterwards as a part time faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences. Left again, I thought was for good, but God has its plan laid for me. Due to the pandemic, my husband and only son and myself, finally agreed to go back home to the Philippines in January 13, 2021, after living for 6 years in Medan, Indonesia.     While living abroad, I worked in an International School as the School Counselor.  God is indeed good that 3 weeks after our arrival here in the Philippines, I was able to apply and was accepted (again), this time, as the Guidance Associate in the Senior High School Department.  It has been more than a year working here in PCU and I can say that it is a blessing indeed.

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
Through the spiritual and moral support of PCU as my employer, I was able to pass the board exam for Psychologists.  It was an achievement and a breakthrough from the Lord, considering that we left for Indonesia when the first board exam for Psychologists took place. In my life as a working woman though, I can say that nothing compares to the achievement of being a mother. The greatest moment in my life came when I gave birth to my son Reuben Zion.

What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
I have always believed that we should give our best to any endeavor regardless if we succeed or fail, in this way, we don’t become as regretful as when we did not give our best.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
Dedication and commitment to give our best in whatever task is our way of contributing to the women’s agenda which leads to progress.  Being dedicated to a task is being faithful to the mandate given by God that says - whatever you do, do it all for the glory of the Lord (Colossians 3:17).  Being strong in the Lord is being faithful to God, whatever the circumstances may be.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord.
I have gone through different valleys of life.  I was raised solely by my mother when my father passed away when I was 6 years old. The challenges while growing yearning for a fatherly love that led me to look for it elsewhere.   In my experience, it’s the love of God and my love for Him that molded me to who I am today. I have relied on prayer in whatever circumstance I go through. Being strong in the Lord, for me means, you know who the Lord is, you know what His word tells you in circumstances you go through.

Kathleen Rose L. Guimbatan, Ed. D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs (Head, College In-Campus Group)

How long have you been working here in PCU?
18 Years in PCU

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
To raise kids, single handedly and see them achieve their goals have been always my pride and achievement.

What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
I always believe in women empowerment by inspiring and leading. This has always been my thrust and my raison d etre to keep a living example of a woman who led a life to inspire others in work, in raising family and a community leader.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
Ephesians 6: 10 says that “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. “When we believe in His mighty power, our faith conquers our fears. It eliminates doubts and inadequacy. Women are perceived to be lesser in strength, they are sometime deprived of rights, yet they are the stronghold of the community for through them a child is born. While they continue to be part of economic development, more so that they must keep the faith burning, and in His might, women will always stay as a light when shadows in the community become dark.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord.
I have been raised as a child of a Pastor and a teacher, since childhood we were trained to be faithful, and be resilient in changes. There are instances when everything seems to be blurry but my faith has kept me to the light and has showed me to trust in myself and my dreams and the Creator. Nothing is impossible in God. This is evident in Psalms 46: 5 5 God is within her; she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
 

Viola A. Gacutan, MAEd
 Executive Assistant, Office of the President

How long have you been working here in PCU?
I have been with the University for more than half of my lifetime. The University comes next to my family. I spent four (4) years of study: Bachelor of Arts Major in History/Political Science, minor in English. During my student days I stayed at the PCU Sampaguita Hall or the PCVU Ladies Dormitory, so the campus became my home. I also finished my Master of Arts (MA Education) as a working student. I started working in SY 1969 but was given a permanent status in SY 1970. A total of fifty-two (52) years, although I retired seven (7) years back, my status is retired-rehired. My first appointment was a staff at the President’s Office and while they say that it is very seldom in one’s life to have a full turn-around, I am very fortunate to “return” to the same office where I started.

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
Immediately after finishing my MA I taught at the College of Arts and Sciences, Social Sciences Department. I also had a one-year stint as Dean of the CSAVT (Center for Secretarial Administration and Vocational Technology). To see that my former students are now successful in their chosen field has not only given joy but a fulfillment that somehow, I was part of their life. PCU had produced lawyers, doctors, and many professionals. The late Dr. Greg Melchor C. de Lara, former VPAA (Vice President for Academic Affairs), Dr. Florita V. Miranda, President of Wesleyan University (Manila) and Judge Edwin G. Larida, Jr., among others.

What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
I am inspired by the writings of our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. a. To rise from being a “typical” woman to an “ideal” woman. -To strike a balance between the “heart” and the “head”; and, among the women in the Bible: -To be Proverbs 31 woman. Although no name was given to the Proverbs 31 woman, she is best described as a “virtuous” woman, characterized by discipline, integrity, noble character, but above all, her fear of the Lord.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
Through the years, the roles and responsibilities of women had greatly changed. An underlying factor can be gleaned from Rizal’s Letter to the young women of Malolos. This was a congratulatory letter to the 20 women of Malolos who strongly sought and fought that they be given the chance to education. Indeed, education enlightened the women then as it enlightens the women of today. It is a departure from the time-honored belief and tradition that women should only be for the home.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord.
I had witnessed the steadfastness of my former boss, the late Dr. Patrocinio S. Ocampo, then Executive Dean and the first Vice President for Academic Affairs of PCU. I grew up in a disciplinarian Christian home. My father was a Pastor and my mother was a teacher. Values of hard work, discipline, honesty were deeply instilled by them, but my upbringing and growing up years were not only pampered with love but with a strong and steadfast faith in the Lord.

 

Margie DG Dela Cruz, Ph.D.
Vice President for Globalization and Extension Program (Head, Globalization Cluster)

How long have you been working here in PCU?
1992-2000, returned 2019-present

What do you think is your greatest achievement in life as a working woman?
Having all my children become professionals and successful in their chosen fields. Becoming a catalyst for change in the institution where I am currently connected.

What is your principle in life as a woman? And how will you use that principle to encourage and inspire other people, especially other women?
Being God-fearing and compassionate to my fellowmen. My principle is to be faithful, truthful and industrious.

How would you relate your principle in life with this year’s International Women Theme, “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran” and the focus of PCU “Be Strong in the Lord”?
Being faithful can relate to being a trustworthy steward to fulfill God’s will to our brothers and sisters.

Please give your brief view on how did you conquer all the greatest challenges or ordeals that you’ve been through which led you to believe that you became strong woman in the Lord?
We must always believe that God is the source of everything that we have, and God can provide us with all that we need for as long as we remain faithful to His words and commandments. This is what kept me victorious in all the challenges and ordeals I have been through.

It is such an honor for me to feature these noteworthy and formidable women who demonstrated their lives and works, and their leadership for women’s empowerment cause, and that women make a difference – not just a small difference but a big one. They have become implausible role models for every woman, and man too. That from their stance and area of influence, they have shown that when a woman’s voice is heard, you will most likely bring something unique, special and of high value and quality to whatever you are doing and its impact to that certain staple and to the people around you.

After reading the answers of these women I can no longer say that I have figured out all of who I am. We have a lot to learn about these women. Their unwavering commitment and dedication to their actuality as a woman made me realize that I can do better, and so are you.

You are a WOMAN. We are WOMEN. And we are phenomenal.