The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) welcomed the new students through the Virtual Sunduan and Student Orientation 2020 Ceremony held on 12 September 2020. The program has been spearheaded by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) in coordination with the Office of Public Affairs (OPA), Multimedia Center (MC),  and with the help of other UPOU offices. 

The program, held via zoom, was hosted by Mr. Rudy Pullian of OSA and was also live streamed via UPOU Website and UPOU Networks Facebook Page. Mr. Pullian stressed that even in the midst of the pandemic; everyone was enjoined to take part in the activity, even virtually, so that freshmen and new students will be oriented about the University. The program started with a Virtual Campus tour video to give the new students an idea of what the University looks like. The welcome messages from the university officials led by the University of the Philippines (UP) President Danilo L. Concepcion and UPOU Chancellor Melinda dela Pena Bandalaria added to the excitement and readiness for their journey as students. Freshmen were also welcomed by other UPOU officials namely: Dr. Melinda F. Lumanta,  Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Dr. Jean A. Saludadez, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration and the Deans of the Faculty of Studies, Dr. Ricardo T. Bagarinao, Faculty of Education, Dr. Alexander G. Flor, Faculty of Information and Communication Studies; and Dr. Primo G. Garcia, Faculty of Management and Development Studies. 

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The Tatak UPOU Video Presentation further motivated the students as they learned how UPOU opens up opportunities to the marginalized and disadvantaged and how it makes the slogan “Pamantasang bukas para sa magandang bukas” a reality by opening new doors to its students.  The Ceremony of Virtual Sunduan Video Presentation, one of the highlights of the activity, has been witnessed by the freshmen and new students as alumni shared their experiences and  welcomed them to the university. The activity was originally called Sunduan, a Filipino term which means to fetch or pick up.  In the past, Sunduan was a venue to orient new students and for graduating and continuing students to welcome the new ones and was usually held at the UPOU Headquarters to give new students an opportunity to get a glimpse of their campus. With the disruption brought by the pandemic, the Sunduan was done virtually. The alumni also shared that aside from the knowledge they gained and endless learning, they also  met wonderful people whom they  shared and created memories with  during their stay in UPOU. This grit was further reiterated by the live sharings of Ms. Mia Marci, the newly-elected president of the UPOU Alumni Foundation Inc. stating that UPOU has evolved with new definitions of learning, thinking, and connecting to make it accessible as possible to those who need it. She welcomed the new students to also grow with UPOU. Mr. Arsenic Manlangit, an offshore Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN) student based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, compared his learning experience in UPOU to how a diamond is formed and his student life as a carbon atom that bonds with others with the same goal. Amidst the pressures and challenges, he shared study tips of tracking progress, setting priorities, and #susukaperodisusuko. Mr. Keizer Ancajas, a 4th year student of the Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies (BAMS) mentioned that UPOU gives everyone the opportunity to explore, find oneself, one’s priorities, and be aware of the challenges and fight battles alongside the journey. He compared his passion and drive to a charcoal that, when not sticking with each other, the fire will burn out. A lot of students can relate to their journey and they are just some of the living proof that UPOU is dedicated to providing every Filipino access to quality education.

Dr. Diego Maranan, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS) and the Program Chair of BAMS effectively discussed the expectations of a UPOU faculty from its students such as being independent, to have self-initiative and self-discipline, be able to cultivate the ability to read, have an excellent study skills and time management, be respectful and helpful of one another and make social bonds, maintain highest level of integrity and intellectual honesty, and to follow acceptable code of conduct as they will be seen as role models in many parts of the world. 

Another highlight of the activity is the launching of the Student Orientation Site which can be accessed through the MyPortal. The video discussed how to navigate the site, the different offices of UPOU, and , the various support services students can avail of and other useful information about the university. 

A time was devoted for the Question and Answer portion where some questions have been raised by the students and answered by the invited speakers. Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan also gave an inspiring message as  he welcomed the new students, who, despite the challenges and uncertainties, are unified by a goal to ensure accessible and quality education, find ways on how to show solidarity and determination to fight together for the students’ rights to education, healthcare, medical and economic solutions for the wellbeing of the masses in our country.The program ended by the singing of UP Naming Mahal.

Written by Laarni C. Reaño, Office of Student Affairs

Edited by Joane V. Serrano

Graphics by Lovelyn Petrasanta

#UPOpenUniversity

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