UC alumni: friends with big hearts

May 27, 2012

A photo posted online elicited a light banter among high school alumni of the Baguio Colleges Foundation (BCF) drawing a remark from Virginia-based alumnus Regino Espinosa: "Is there a product from BCF that is untalented?"

It was a posterity shot taken after the reunion of the Baguio Colleges High School 1960-1970 batches last September 2011 at Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. It showed a group of BC high school alumnae in 60's dance outfits, prompting Engr. Samuel S. Villanueva of batch 1964 to wax poetic: "The apparition of these faces in the crowd; petals on a wet black bough."

This in turn drew a recollection of the BCF Hymn by another alumna, Fina Cervantes Tobias. "I remember our BCF song. Very meaningful lyrics. 'Keep our hearts together, with glowing love and loyalty.'" She said the line best describes the overwhelming fealty of University of the Cordilleras (UC) alumni "throughout the world" towards their alma mater.

Fealty towards their alma mater once again brought a good number of BC High School alumni to the University of the Cordilleras (UC) last January 24, 2012 to personally turn over funds raised during their Las Vegas reunion.

The reunion yielded the amount of US$1500 from attending alumni. Engr. Bernardino "Buddy" Valencerina, reunion convenor, said the fund raising component of the activity is a continuing commitment by the group to assist in the construction of a covered court at the UC grade school and high school departments at Campo Filipino.

Accompanying Engr. Valencerina is fellow alumnus and US expatriate Engr. Villanueva who handed a personal donation of US$1000 for the funding initiative. That same day, Australia-based alumna Esperanza Collado-Lee donated an amount of P50,000 from her personal funds which brought to P375,000 the total seed fund for the UC high school covered court.

In his response, UC Board of Trustees Chairman Jesus Benjamin Salvosa said the gesture proves that the UC alumni "are not just graduates of the university, but are friends with big hearts." The chairman added, "They are friends who are caring, generous and helpful -- who strive to make life better without asking for anything in return."

Engr. Villanueva, who graduated magna cum laude in civil engineering at BCF, said however, that at UC he learned something important: giving back. "It is a lesson in love," he said. "It does not decrease, it multiplies."

Villanueva who placed third in the civil engineering board examinations in 1970 is presently vice-president of a construction firm based in Henderson, Nevada. He said giving back means "there is more to life than being successful. In giving, a person becomes a man of value not just of success."

Esperanza Collado-Lee, a carpenter's daughter who belongs to a brood of seven recalls the times when her mother used to write promissory notes to BC high school Principal Corazon R. Concepcion because tuition payments were delayed.

She said these were life experiences that firmed up her resolve to strive for a better life - for her family and for others. After graduating from BC high school in 1966, she pursued an education degree from BCF, worked briefly in the office of another BCF stalwart councilor Clemente Calpotura, before migrating to Australia.

She could have settled in Australia with the comforts provided by a thriving real estate venture with her Australian husband. Instead, she sought to find ways to enrich her life further by helping those who are in need.

She said she found this in the various socio-civic activities undertaken by the BCF high school class of 1966 and their bigger group, the BC/BCF high school classes of 1960-1970. Within their batch, Collado-Lee has helped defray the medical expenses of a classmate stricken with a life-threatening illness.

Now a widow, she and her husband bore no children but she sends a nephew to the UC grade school. "A part of a continuing family tradition that started when I attended BCF high school with a brother and a younger sister," she said.

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