Keep Inday Santiago and Dinky Munda in PWC!Posted: December 1, 2015
I feel it incumbent to express both my sheer fury and my utter disappointment at the Philippine Women’s College of Davao’s decision to terminate Ms Irene Santiago and Mr Dinky Munda from the position of Supervising Trustees.
Irene Santiago, who has acted as Senior Supervising Trustee of the school since August of this year, has brought in unprecedented change to PWC in the short time she has served the school. Most significant among these accomplishments is the school’s partnership with Rappler as its Mindanao arm for citizen journalism. Before her termination there were even plans to set up a campus TV network.
With her brief time in the helm she has connected this isolated, backward school to the outside world. Now PWC is one of the most social media savvy schools in Davao.
Dinky Munda has also brought in a sharp business sense to the school’s management, with his most visible legacy being the landscaping of the area between PWC’s Maguindanao and Mansaka Halls to make an open air reception venue for added revenue to the school. His strategy of using social media to invite enrollees has already reversed the school’s downward rate of enrollment. He has also worked to stir the school back to its artistic roots.
Outside of the school the two have impressive CVs. Ma’am Inday, a Datu Bago Awardee, was the convenor of the Beijing Women’s Forum, and has thought for decades in the US. An internationally acclaimed women’s activist and NGO organizer, she is regularly invited around the world to give talks on women’s issues.
Sir Dinky is a noted local visual artist, and he comes back to Davao for retirement after a successful career in Silicon Valley. The son of Rosa Santos Munda (once PWC president), sir Dinky has a very personal stake on PWC.
I know the impact of their work in PWC personally. As moderator of the PhilWomenian Equivox, the school’s student paper, I tried to change the rather sterile paper (which hitherto behaved like a high school publication) into a vibrant and vocal space for students to speak. That endeavour would have been killed by the dreadfully backward and repressive tertiary administration, but ma’am Inday came to the rescue. Now Equivox has become more vocal than it ever was.
On a personal level I am very grateful for the work of sir Dinky a lot – it pains me to reveal this, but a staging of my Palanca-winning play ‘Killing the Issue’ has been in the works for the past few months, thanks to sir Dinky’s initiative. It was meant to start the revival of PWC’s once vibrant theatrical scene. But with him leaving, that seems like a dream now.
Conrado Benitez, PWC’s president in absentia, made the termination from Manila, apparently because of the influence of people in the Tertiary department.
To this I say that Mr Benitez has listened to the wrong people. Ma’am Inday and sir Dinky are bringing about needed change, and many vested interests in the school that have benefited from the unhealthy system are naturally threatened. The two, my Equivox staff have uncovered, have been conducting investigations on institutional corruption, indecent behaviour by teachers, and other issues the school has hushed up over the years.
Mr Benitez will do well to reverse his decision as soon as possible.
The great irony that Philippine Women’s College of Davao has remained a college in front of a street called ‘University’ avenue for over sixty years needs to be addressed, and the two supervising trustees have brought in a breath of hope of that happening. My staffers would tell me that they would rather come to the Equivox office than go to class because they learn more.
Now the Equivox Editorial Board is threatening to resign en masse if their termination is not reversed as soon as possible. Many of them are threatening to leave the school altogether.
And I too will resign with them.
I will be the second writer to walk out of PWC, after Macario Tiu, if this decision is not reversed. I had so many great hopes for PWC, and I cannot bear to stay in it once those hopes are dashed.
We are proud of PWC’s past, but we’re not that sure anymore about its future.