Michael Zachary Leyson, SAMAHAN President
Engaging oneself and winning during the election period is just one phase that a candidate has to encounter before garnering a seat in the SAMAHAN Central Board (SCB). Being able to deliver one’s platforms is another challenge. Throughout the school year, the SCB strived in achieving its mantra of being able to move further to effectively serve its students by providing avenues in addressing student concerns and maximizing student services; to properly assess, review, and create better systems to effectively serve the student government; to ensure meaningful dialogue and engagement with the administration; and to widen its horizons by improving external linkages. As an SCB, we also manifested our goal of being more collaborative in different programs and activities among offices within and outside the university.
Being the President of the SAMAHAN Central Board, I say that we have been able to serve the Ateneo studentry with the assistance of our SAMAHAN Committees, Campus Clubs Organization (CCO), General Assembly of Class Presidents (GACP) and the respective Student Executive Councils (SECs).
Avenues of Addressing Student Concerns and Maximizing Student Services
As the SCB Officers are also legislators in the student government, we approved 11 resolutions, three (3) of which pertaining to school facilities and services ought to be maximized by students. These were submitted to the administration and they are currently tackling solutions in its implementation. We also strengthened our consultations with them on the use of certain facilities, such as the parking space at the Martin Hall. We also represented the students in the consultation on the use of the Practicum Uniform and the issue on bullying and sexual harassment. The SCB tapped the SAMAHAN Communications (representing the Office of the Secretary-General) and Welfare Committees, and the GACP to create better mechanisms of gathering student concerns and lobbying these to the administration through social media, complaint forms, and meetings with minorities.
External Engagement and the Culture of Collaboration
This school year, the SCB, through the Director of External Affairs and Networking, is currently revitalizing the Supreme Student Government Confederation, an alliance of all Davao City student governments. This organization registered under National Youth Commission aims to unite various student councils and represent the youth sector in higher educational institutions of Davao to the local government. Consequently, the SCB also actively participates in the endeavors of Buklod Atenista (BA), the alliance of all Ateneo higher education student governments. Recently, the SCB was the author of the sole resolution approved during the 32nd BA Midyear Conference strengthening the implementation of the Ateneo Youth Agenda (AYA), an Election 2016 Advocacy.
We also promote the culture of collaboration by partnering with different offices. Through the AYA, the Ateneo Task Force (ATF) of SCB collaborates with BlueVote2016, AdDU’s electoral engagement arm. The ATF has already conducted the COMELEC Satellite Registration and a Forum on Voters’ Education. The SCB partnered with offices like Philosophy, Theology, University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council, and Ateneo Center for Leadership in various Pakighinabi Sessions. This avenue of dialogue aims to encourage the development of Ateneans to become thought leaders. We are also partnering with the Arrupe Office of Social Formation in the implementation of the year-round Pagbabahagi with St. Isidore High School in Zamboanguita, Bukidnon as its partner community. The Ignatian Spirituality and Formation Office also partners with SCB in activities that uphold faith formation.
In response to various leaders in campus that engage in external organizations, we collaborated with different advocacies such as the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI)’s projects on the Reusable Bag Campaign and University Caravan.
Development and Refinement of Systems
The SCB approved the creation of new committees, the Systems Development (SysDev) and Sponsorship and Support Committees (SAS). SysDev provides information technology solutions in improving the student council’s services like the creation of the new SAMAHAN Website and several software systems. On the other hand, SAS caters to the need of having a systematic process of generating and managing sponsors for various events and programs.
Transparency mechanisms were also taken into account. Through the initiative of our SAMAHAN Treasurer, our budget officer, the budget allocation of funds are being publicized every semester. The SAMAHAN Commission on Internal Audit also spearheaded transparency seminars in the cluster/school level. The Office of the Secretary-General, through the SAMAHAN Communications, collaborated with different SEC Secretary-General and PRO to create a centralized publicity dissemination group. The SAMAHAN Communications and Creative Team provided better ways to publicize activities in print and web. Lastly, the GACP reviewed and overhauled the mechanism of handling student concerns. Given this, they were able to create a simpler process of raising student concerns.
These accomplishments may be mouthful, however, we should know that there is no perfect student government. Given that the officers are only given 12 months to rearrange its systems and address different pressing student issues, there are still pending projects to be done, hoping that the new administration would be able to take these into consideration.
Given the demand for improving the structures and mechanisms in our student government, one of the things that need to be taken note of is the ratification of a new SAMAHAN Constitution. The 1982 SAMAHAN Constitution is outdated and its current structures do not reflect the current demands of the University. I, personally, would have wanted this to be ratified again in our administration, but then we as an SCB have come into a realization that there is a need to consult its students first and dedicate this year as a Year of Research and Consultation. We have created a three-year roadmap in order for the student government to effectively produce a shared Constitution and a sound Magna Carta, taking into account our aspirations as Ateneans.
There is a need to improve its internal affairs by concretizing mechanisms for gathering students’ pulse and evaluation of the performance of members involved within the student government and its corresponding programs and activities. There is also a call for better legislation within the Central Board in order to maximize its power for the good of the community. The list of things to improve within the student government goes on and on until we can say that we have effectively upheld the interests of our student community.
Given these, we go back to the essence of the student government. The SAMAHAN in itself is the entire studentry and not just its officers. The SCB is the voice of the Ateneans, but that kind of power directly emanates from the students themselves. Before answering the question of whether or not their student government has contributed enough for SAMAHAN, we also ask ourselves if we have engaged ourselves with our student government in times of dialogue and conversations. Our programs and advocacies are entitled to be not just only for the few but for the general welfare of the Ateneo student community. In the upcoming elections, may we be able to choose candidates whom you think forward the best interests of its constituents.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!
Leyson’s performance is highly satisfactory. As the SAMAHAN President, he should be the one to lead the Central Board and the entire student body to the proper direction for the school year. Above all that, the SAMAHAN President also bears many internal functions such as being part of student-faculty councils, and other engagements. Despite the heavy burden, Leyson never really lost the quality of work expected from a SAMAHAN President. He was able to balance all engagements needed for a SAMAHAN President with help from his executive secretaries and external affairs director. As the mediator of every SAMAHAN agenda, he was able to lead the Central Board to sound and amicable-to-all decisions. He always made sure that everyone’s opinion is well accounted for but always stresses the need to compromise to arrive to the best possible decision. He made sure that SAMAHAN was always in line on why it was made – to cater to student concerns but keeping this interests in line with the University’s Vision and Mission. Furthermore, the four committees under him: the SAMAHAN Research & Development Committee, SAMAHAN Ecoteneo Student Unit, SAMAHAN Welfare and the newly instated SAMAHAN Systems Development Committee were able to function freely but with success.
He managed to lead the Samahan Central Board into creating a Vision for Samahan that had become the guiding principle of all activities, engagements and advocacies this year. Through proper visioning, the SCB was able to align their goals for the school year along with the different SECs, GACP and CCO. Through his initiative he was able to revitalize the Supreme Student Government Coalition – a network of all student councils in Davao – which strengthened Samahan’s relationship with external partners. Moreover, in his term Leyson and the other officers of Samahan was able to perform its legislative function through creating different resolutions which was geared to answer the different concerns of students.
The workload of a President is too heavy and what the 1982 SAMAHAN Constitution’s duties and responsibilities for the President is heavily outdated. However, Mike has been prepared beforehand to handle it. He has shown to be very adaptive to whatever issue SAMAHAN will encounter and this has contributed much to the success of SAMAHAN.
Mike is a silent worker, and performs well even when the spotlight is not on him. His work ethic is commendable, and his passion for service truly shows. On his promised platform of Maximization of Student Services which interests us most, there are no big leaps worth noticing. If there is, only minimal is achieved. But the continuation of currently existing SAMAHAN services is admirable.
As administrator of the SCB, Mike is very approachable and knows how to listen. He maintains good communication lines with other members of the SAMAHAN. One thing that he might have been vulnerable to is overburdening himself to compensate for other people’s task left undone. This has something to do with the difficulty of motivating others to work as hard as Mike.
Strengthening student-samahan relationship is one thing we hoped to be achieved, and in fairness, Mike did good in this category. On the personal level, he relates easily with the students.
In general, Mike as stint as SAMAHAN President is nothing spectacular but is well slightly above average.
Mike Leyson rallied himself as the voice of the students during his 2015 Presidential Campaign, bringing the slogan “One Big Fight with MAGIS Mike.” When he took power, he successfully brought a One Big Fight, but against the students. Let us go through his platforms, with the acronym MAGIS.
First, M – Maximize Student Services. What services did we receive? There are the consultations and free printing during enrolment, which were through the initiatives of the SAMAHAN Secretary General. But these services did not come from his office. The clinic and other services are imperatives since these are mandates of the administration.
Second, A – Amplify Voices of Students. He did amplify voices, but most of the time are voices of the administration. The issues always come from the administration before the Student Government reacts and does something. The issues on the strict implementation of wearing the Ateneo pin, or the pricing of the parking building, were at least well taken into account. But the student government only came in after the administration re-imposed the policies. He only amplifies the issues that come from the administration.
Third, G – Generate Efficient Systems. In order to develop systems, one must be able to know what systems are present in the SAMAHAN that need improvement. The call for a genuine Student Concerns Committee was only made through the prefiguration of SAMAHAN Help Desk of the Office of the SAMAHAN Secretary-General. How did we lobby our concerns? Unfortunately, most of us lobby it on social media, hoping that a system (maybe Addu Confessions) will magically catch our concern and amplify it. Did we really develop a system where we can lobby our grievance and concerns to SAMAHAN? The Viewfinder Event happens at the end of the year, and it is only the summary of all our concerns. We need an encompassing and long-lasting systems in lobbying our concerns. We did not see it this year, aside from the ephemeral SAMAHAN Help Desk of the SAMAHAN Secretary-General.
Fourth, I – Intensify External Linkages. In order to intensify external linkages, one must have a strong base of alliances within the university. He led the event organization of the Buklod Atenista. However, the long-range planning or any meetings of the SAMAHAN Central Board are unavailable for the students. We only get memorandum and resolutions. Can we step in the meeting and just represent ourselves as a mere Atenean, no affiliations or whatsoever? Unfortunately, not.
Lastly, S – Strengthen Student-SAMAHAN Relationship. The Student Body is a microcosm of a pluralistic society. However, he, together with SOME student leaders, continues to uphold absolutism in the student government. He is one of the student leaders who oppose plurality in the student government by blocking off activists and SOME advocates in the student government. Left and center-left movements in the SAMAHAN Central Board are not that encouraged. The proliferation of this in the SAMAHAN Central Board has been one of the biggest problems that the Ateneo de Davao student government has to correct as soon as possible.
Leyson has some achievement to recognize. He successfully led the event organization of Buklod Atenista and partnered with other university offices in some of their events through the Office of the Buklod Ambassador and the like. However, in his term, it can be seen that a genuine collegiate student government is not that felt. It can be felt that a culture of bigotry is developing in the student government. Political participation of our students is low, and an our SAMAHAN Central Board is being exclusive. It is time that we correct this. We do not deserve people who are not politically conscious in our student government. We want an inclusive SAMAHAN Central Board.
Amara Abrina, SAMAHAN Secretary General
The main goal why I ran is to guarantee that the students can raise their concerns by giving them adequate avenues. During my tenure, the Office of the SAMAHAN Secretary General and GACP cooperated to make this possible through a more student friendly concerns form readily available online. Also this year, we were able to expand our SAMAHAN enrollment help desk.
One of the biggest challenge I encountered during my term as a Samahan Sec Gen is the proper information dissemination to the students. That is why I recommend the establishment of the SAMAHAN TV for a better information dissemination drive.
We may not please everyone but I am certain that the office of the sec gen has reach out in listening to the concerns of the students through the student concerns form that can also be found online as initiated by GACP and the office of SAMAHAN Sec Gen.
Abrina’s performance is satisfactory. The highlight of her administration was the empowerment of all committees under her – the SAMAHAN Communications Team, the SAMAHAN Productions Team and the SAMAHAN Creative Team. The SAMAHAN Communications through its head Taj Angeles was able to satisfactorily meet all its required tasks and even tried new methods of reaching out to the students. The SAMAHAN Productions Team was able to bring the best out of all the SAMAHAN events despite using new venues for these events. They have successfully made every SAMAHAN event a success. The SAMAHAN Creative Team never failed to deliver their already-known amazing promotional materials that always accompanies SAMAHAN events. Truly, the committees was empowered this school year.
On the crossfire of several issues, Amara’s competence was seriously put into question for a huge bulk of her service in the SAMAHAN. As we see it, her critical task as Secretary-General has been compromised to a great extent. Political and personal contradictions alike present in SAMAHAN, has taken its toll upon Abrina and we believe she could risen above these circumstances to do a better job.
These scenarios were even worsened by Amara’s approach of trying to isolate herself with the people in SAMAHAN. Her working relationship with the SCB people has considerable problems that could have been made better had Amara confronted it with them. But friendships rising beyond the political sphere are always held special by her.
Consequently, her mandate from the students of bringing a Bagong Samahan has dissipated along with her being subverted in the system. This is a grave debt to the students which Amara tries to redeem herself next year. We nevertheless believe in Amara’s noble desire to be of service to the students, but holding the top position of the SAMAHAN is a risk too great that the students may not take.
Amara Abrina ran under the #BagongSAMAHAN agenda last 2015. The agenda was made to revamp the SAMAHAN Office of the Secretary General in terms of providing service to the Ateneo studentry. She wanted a Secretary-General that is genuinely for the students. Abrina’s lead platform included opening the SAMAHAN Central Board for the gathering and addressing of student concerns.
Abrina recognized the fact that it is an imperative for a SAMAHAN Officer to truly serve the interest of the students, no matter how big or small this may be. Her platform included #ProblemaMoProlemaNgLahat which paved the way for an expanded SAMAHAN Help Desk this year. Abrina was able to expand the SAMAHAN Help Desk by publicizing its purpose, extending its reach, and maintaining tis good visibility. She centralized the lobbying of concerns during enrolment and she fortified the response desk per division.
Abrina also enforced document archiving protocols. With the partnership with the General Assembly of Class President (GACP), they introduced an efficient system of gathering concerns through forms and SMS.
Abrina centralized the gathering of all public information form the 9 Student Executive Councils in order to create a centralized Information Dissemination and Coordinating Council. By doing so, she strengthened information dissemination from the Samahan Central Board to the Student Executive Councils, and vice versa.
Abrina’s greatest achievement is opening SAMAHAN to the bullied, oppressed and unheard – a clear indication that SAMAHAN became “Abri Na” or “Open Already.” She opened the SAMAHAN Central Board to hearing the student concerns. She transcended her functions and she became a vanguard of students’ rights, which is one mark of a politically conscious leader. Abrina embodies the ability to speak for the students. She is grounded in the rights of the students, and the power that the student body holds over the SAMAHAN Central Board. She believes in an open, responsive and inclusive SAMAHAN that genuinely serves the rights of the students. She believes in a student-centered and advocacy-driven student council that is driven not only for the good of the student, but also for the Society.
She deserves to be elected for another term for she is a politically conscious leader that upholds the rights of the students. She has a vision of what a genuine student government should be like. She is not afraid to stand for the students, even if this decision is an unpopular decision. She has received countless recognition, which extends from the country’s Malacanan Palace all the way to the Youth Ministry of Azerbaijan. Not that she pushes for too much meritocracy, but she believes for a genuine student council that is served by politically conscious leaders who have an ear and a heart for the bullied, oppressed and unheard. The greatest achievement must always be opening the SAMAHAN Central Board to the students, which shuns the prevailing culture of bigotry in the student government. She believes that political participation of the students should be firstly initiated by the student governments itself, so as to shun the prevailing dichotomy of the “SAMAHAN” and the “Students.” Again, she believes in an open, responsive and inclusive SAMAHAN that genuinely serves the rights of the students. She believes in a student-centered and advocacy-driven student council that is driven not only for the good of the student, but also for the Society.
Miles Galicia, SAMAHAN Treasurer
I’m really thankful for giving me the opportunity to serve you as Samahan Treasurer for this school year. Indeed my time in Samahan has been a learning experience. As treasurer I directed my platform on transparency and financial literacy. On the aspect of transparency, this school year we have successfully conducted budget transparency seminars where the different division representatives and treasurers were given the opportunity to present their financial reports in front of interested students. Also, we have publicized online and through tarpaulins the budget allocation of Samahan for both semester. Personally, I am satisfied with the level of transparency that we have now in Samahan. On the contrary, my platform towards financial literacy has not been fully concretized. The addition of basic financial education in the curriculum of NSTP and FYDP was not implemented as there were already schedules of activities prepared for such subjects even before our proposal. In addition, in our term, we have fully utilized the potential of having sponsors as this year we have established a Sponsorship and Support Committee and not only an ad hoc. The said committee is also in-charge of the creation of a sponsorship list which will be available soon for the use of every Atenean. Generally, I can say that during our term we have achieved majority of our goals but of course there are things which we could have done better. Given the privilege of hindsight bias, I could have accomplished all our platforms if only we have planned the specifics and submitted concept papers perhaps a month earlier. As to the approval of the public, personally I do not really know. The only method of feedback for my function is the upcoming Viewfinder event. Thank you and have a good day! AMDG!
Galicia’s performance is satisfactory. The Treasurer’s main job is to secure appropriate funding for every SAMAHAN event and throughout the year, there has been proper SAMAHAN fund allocation to the events. Although at the start, especially during the College Fiesta where there were misunderstanding between committees and Galicia, it was solved and it did not entirely affect the quality of the event. Furthermore, he was able to set up the Sponsorships and Support Committee that proved to very helpful to the events of the SAMAHAN Central Board. Overall, Galicia’s work quality can be likened to an upward slowing curve – constantly improving throughout the year. His financial decisions and justifications was a big part of SAMAHAN’s success for the school year.
In addition, Galicia was able to deliver his platform of transparency through organizing Budget Transparency Seminars in which Student Executive Councils were able to present their semestral budget liquidation report to their constituents. This provided insight as to where the Division funds where going and allowed the students to ask where their money was going. He also made needed changes in the Samahan Fiscal Manual and added provisions that would allow for a more efficient fiscal system.
At first, Galicia was still familiarizing with his new post and new challenges ahead of him. However, ever since the SAMAHAN Central Board reviewed the roles of everyone as stipulated in the 1982 SAMAHAN Constitution, he slowly became better. Aside from the constitutional stipulations, customary job descriptions of the Treasurer such as inventory officer, etc. was handled well by Miles and his different committees. Miles was also responsive and was a constant part of discourse when the SAMAHAN Central Board talks about social issues.
Miles Galicia has all the necessary technical skills to be an effective Treasurer. However, performing customary accounting and custodial functions is settling for less. Not deciding to run again, may say something about his predisposition on student leadership.
Miles maintains a good reputation with his colleagues, thus garnering himself the respect he deserves. However, at times he may have issues of taking a share is the workloads in a collective plan.
His relationship with the students seems to be just right, but his unpredictability makes Miles public relations unstable.
Last year, we’ve heard each and every candidate as they campaign. Their track records and platforms were presented to the student body. The ones who were elected are our current SAMAHAN Central Board (SCB) officers. As another year pass by, we may question, “Have the chosen ones adhered to their platforms and principles?” Here is an overview of the current SCB Treasurer’s feats for this school year.
Sponsorship and Support (SAS) Committee
SAMAHAN’s SAS is a new committee under the Office of the Treasurer. Before the election of Galicia, the SAS was just an ad hoc committee which is in charge of the sponsorship for the major programs in school. This school year, SAS Committee headed by Alvin Reyes, a 5th year BS Accountancy student, had performed their task effectively guided by Galicia’s platforms. During the Ateneo Fiesta, 17 sponsors were garnered by the committee. Gift certificates and products from the sponsors were given as prizes for games in between breaks in major and minor programs. For the Palarong Atenista, several sponsors also participated. The 31st Buklod Atenista Annual Leader’s Conference was also included in the programs that benefitted from SAS Committee’s efforts. It was also included in the Treasurer’s platform that the committee is accessible to organizations to help in their fundraising. NSTP has a fundraising this year. They had sought help from SAS and they were gladly accommodated. Furthermore, a list which contains list of sponsors and their advocacies where organizations can contact partners for different events is also being developed under the Office of the Treasurer with the help of SAS Committee.
The students were given the opportunity to ask how the budget was allocated. Commission on Audit personnel and Student Executive Council (SEC) also convened with students from the 9 different divisions to present budget proposals and liquidation reports of their respective divisions. Moreover, the budget for each semester and how it was allocated was printed into tarpaulins and were placed in strategic points in the university. Tarpaulins can be found at the entrance of the Roxas and Jacinto gates, and in the Thibault grounds near the elevator. This was to ensure that every student knows where the 80 pesos of the miscellaneous fees go. The fiscal manual, a manual which contains how the budget of every committee should be treated at the end of the semester, was also strengthened.
Despite these achievements and fulfilment of platforms, Galicia didn’t run for any position due to personal reasons.