At least 1600 individuals across the Bicol Region and other parts of the country participated in the annual Economics Kick-Off & Alternative Class Offering (EKONACO) on September 29, 2021. This year’s theme was “Ekonomiya Sa Gitna Ng Pandemya: The Filipino Bayanihan Spirit amidst Health and Economic Crises.” The Partido State University (ParSU) Extension and Community Services Office (UECS), Partido Institute of Economics (PIE) of the College of Business and Management (CBM), ParSU Economics Students Organization (PESO), the Council of Program Heads and Educators of Economics Bicol Region (COPHEE), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Regional Office V collaborated in organizing the webinar that was streamed live in Zoom and Facebook: ParSU CBM Page, PSU Economics Program Page, and ParSU UECS Page.
The session began with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem, followed by the opening prayer and the recitation of the ParSU Vision, Mission, Core Values, and Quality Policy led by Ms. Mily Jane B. Pomar, PESO President. In her welcome remarks, Professor Patricia Candelaria, ParSU Vice President for Research, Extension, and Knowledge Management emphasized the Filipinos' resilience and cheerful spirit despite the pandemic. During this time, ParSU Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Erlinda M. Basilla, delivered an inspirational speech, mentioning how one community pantry inspired the rest of the country to also share in helping others. Dr. Basilla also emphasized ParSU's commitment to providing quality instruction despite the pandemic and the positive drive to just continue and care for our students. Assistant Professor Rolan Jon Bulao, PIE Director and COPHEE President, briefly introduced the guest lecturer.
In her message as the webinar's guest lecturer, Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo congratulates the organizers of the annual EKONACO activity. The Vice President had a concise discussion of how Filipinos joined hands in addressing the current COVID 19 disruptions. “The worst of times bring out the best in ourselves… use your dynamism, passion, and creativity to bring out the best in our people…to build a truly better normal,” Robredo emphasized. Her short lecture also noted the impact of the pandemic and the bayanihan to address the health and economic crises on marginalized and vulnerable communities. She pointed to an increasing unemployment rate even among the most established businesses. The vice president highlighted the interconnectedness of all Filipinos given that when the most vulnerable people are affected, everyone else also is. This, she said, necessitates bayanihan or collaboration among all Filipinos.
VP Robredo shared how her office responded to the requirements of our front liners in halting the spread of the infection through appropriate plans and changes. She forged partnerships with several organizations. In addition, she has advocated for expanded testing and contact tracing, active LGU action against the pandemic, and immunization to achieve herd immunity.
After the discussion of VP Robredo, a panel of reactors composed of representatives from different sectors expressed their views and comments on the vice president’s lecture. The reactors were Mr. Frances M. Gonzales, BSEcon 3A Student; Mr. Jorge Benjamin R. Favenir, Principal of Lagonoy High School; Hon. Nilo B. Ricafort, Punong Barangay of Panday, Goa, Camarines Sur; Mr. Rommel D. Avila, President of the Rotary Club of Goa Partido; Ms. Sharmaena Villester, Program Chair of the AB Economics Program of Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology and Business Manager of COPHEE Bicol; and Mr. Roy Nelson Ramos, Chairman of Lagonoy Calamansi Farmers’ Association.
The closing ceremonies included a synthesis by Dr. Rina A. Abner, CBM Dean; a message from Dr. Jean E. Cardiño, Education Supervisor II of CHED ROV; and the concluding remarks of Prof. Rosemarie A. Tabardillo, the University Extension, and Community Services Director.
The PESO Officers and Economics Faculty served as the organizers of the event. PIE Director Bulao prepared the activity proposal, coordinated with concerned government offices, and managed the technical aspects of the program; Ms. Catherine Francia and PESO prepared the certificates; Mr. Enrique Pilapil III and Mr. Kevin Baltar invited the guests and participants; Mr. Emmanuel Onsay prepared and administered the registration, evaluation, and report writing; and Ms. Jenievi S. Asia served as the lady of the ceremony and moderator of the reactor’s forum.
Collaboration amidst a pandemic is necessary to reverse the adverse effects of the CoVid-19 crisis. The is a privilege for ParSU and COPHEE Bicol to be of a medium in spreading a story of hope and recovery from the Vice President of the Philippines and a panel of reactors from various sectors.