Members, partners and supporters of the Philippine Austrian Cultural and Educational Society (PACES), gathered virtually on Thursday, 27 January for its annual general assembly. The milestones in 2021 and planned initiatives for the coming year were the main focus of the assembly.

A special highlight of the event was the introduction of the four STEMS75 scholars for 2021-2022, as well as the presence of CFC ANCOP officials, who joined the meeting via Zoom from the Philippines.  Also attending the virtual event as guest speakers were Ambassador Sulpicio M. Confiado and  Chargé d’Affaires and Philippine Consul General Ivan Frank M. Olea.

PACES President Marizel Rojas opened the assembly by welcoming all guests and participants. She said that despite the raging pandemic in 2021, PACES was still able to accomplish many things. She highlighted the activities undertaken in 2021 which included, among others, key meetings and scientific lectures that were mostly conducted virtually. 

One activity that was conducted on site was the 3rd Floral Offering at the Catalpa Tree by the Vienna City Hall, which was held in 12 June 2021 to celebrate the 123rd anniversary of Philippine Independence.

Hope of the country

Chargé d’Affaires Ivan Frank Olea

In his address, Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) and Philippine Consul General, Ivan Frank M. Olea directed his comments to the scholars, in particular. CDA Olea said he has always held the view that education is vital in moving our country’s development forward. He alluded to his experiences and insights from South Korea and China, two economic powerhouses in Asia, particularly on their approach towards education as a driver for development.

“The common denominator in the economic successes of these two countries is education,” CDA Olea said,  “more specifically education in applied sciences and engineering,” He said the Philippines can also achieve similar success with the right political will and a firm resolve in a good development plan,  which the country already has in the form of the Ambisyon Natin 2040 program.

“However, we need good people to implement this”, CDA Olea said, “people like our PACES scholars.” He encouraged the scholars to travel the world, gain educational opportunities, and make a name for themselves in the career path they have chosen.

“But please do not forget your country”, he reminded them. “Try to give back by contributing your knowledge and skills to nation building. You are our hope for our country to achieve its development goals and full potential and our country needs you now more than ever.”

From a small seed grows great things

Ambassador Co
Ambassador Sulpicio Confiado

In his comments to the assembly, Ambassador Sulpicio Confiado — who is also a founding member of PACES — praised the members of PACES for their commitment, time, talents and efforts in enabling PACES to graduate four scholars and take on four new ones in partnership with ANCOP. 

He recalled how PACES started out as “a small seed” some 5 years ago but has then sprouted and multiplied many times over the years. As an example, Ambassador Confiado singled out  the TenforSTEMS fundraising initiative.

“TenforSTEMS  was a small initiative that enabled those we approach to be generous even in small amounts that, when multiplied a thousand-fold, have inspired and touched a great number  of people,” Ambassador Confiado said.

“From such a small seed PACES can become a far-reaching template which can be used by others to educate and nurture the leaders of the future.”

Scholarship Committee Report

Dr. Efren Abaya, Chair of the Scholarship Committee, then reported on the milestones of the program for the past year. He said that the four scholars have successfully graduated in recent years, all in the field of engineering. These scholars are currently in the Philippines, and some have passed their board examinations while others are already gainfully employed. 

Dr. Abaya also highlighted the excellent partnership between PACES and CFC ANCOP in implementing the scholarship program, with both organizations recently agreeing to renew the partnership agreement.

CFC ANGCOP is a non-profit organization founded by the Catholic family renewal community, Couples for Christ (CFC) for the purpose of consolidating the efforts of CFC chapters and other partners in Building the Church of the Poor through educational scholarships, community development, and calamity and disaster response.

ANCOP President, Mr. Virgilio Rafael

On taking the floor, President of CFC ANGCOP,  Mr Virgilio Rafael said both organizations share a common belief: that it is crucial to form the next generation of scientists, engineers, IT experts and chemists for society to become fully compassionate, just and progressive.

“The purpose of STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) is just picking up in the Philippines and ANGCOP is privileged to be part of advancing that,” he said.

Dr. Abaya then introduced the next batch of scholars selected by PACES for school year 2021-2022.  They are:

  • Mr. John Paul Dave Sarte Ebit, B.S. Information Technology at the Rizal Technological University, Mandaluyong;
  • Ms. Leason Noble Fernandez, Bachelor of Industrial Technology at the Batangas State University;
  • Mr. Aiven Ocampo Monterde, B.S. Civil Engineering at the Rizal Technological University, Pasig; and
  • Mr. Harold Magat Salenga, B.S. Computer Science at the University of Makati

John Paul, Leason, Alven and Harold are all honor students and have consistently maintained excellent academic records from high school to college. As they were present during the event, Dr. Abaya then called on each one to address the group. One after the other, they each took the floor and respectively expressed their gratitude, hope and aspirations after having been selected for the STEMS75 scholarship.

Clockwise: John Paul, Leason, Alven and Harold, the STEMS75 scholars for 2021-2022 during the PACES virtual general assembly.

Activities for 2022

PACES Vice President of Internal Affairs Precy Confiado next highlighted the activities lined up for 2022. These include the continuation of the popular PACES lecture series on science and technology and the other regular activities. New for 2022 will be the “PACES Melange”, an event planned for 12 March to meet at a local coffeehouse and talk about and drum up support for PACES over a cup of good Melange, which is the name for a famous Viennesee coffee blend.

PACES President Marizel Rojas then expounded on the Fundraising Membership Campaign for 2022, which calls for vigorous promotion of the #TenforSTEMS fundraising campaign.  Also on the works are a membership drive and a cooperation agreements with Jugend Eine Welt, an Austrian aid organization that can help process tax free status for donations to PACES.

Finally, talks are underway for a joint cooperation with Impactory, an online donation platform which lists different types of charities and fundraising projects around the world. A listing in their platform would mean greater exposure for PACES and its scholarship project.