PWUAASC Since 1984 - Years of Keeping the Philwomenian Spirit Alive and Well
Updated: Jan 23
March 1984 saw the birth of the Philippine Women’s University Alumni Association of Southern California (PWUAASC). Initiated by Shirley Yaptinchay Eylam, Paz Esguerra Carillo, Fe Alban Santos and Alma P. de Guzman, flyers were sent out to reach as many Philwomenians as possible living in Southern California. The response was very promising. The results were viewed with much delight and encouragement by the Alma Mater back in Manila. Earlier, it had sent inquiries on the presence and status of overseas PWU alumni. Former university officials and faculty members who had migrated to Southern California such as Dr. Milagros P. Ocampo and the late Angelina S. Villarica had made earlier in-roads into this alumni outreach prior to 1984.
That March 1984 meeting set the stage for the formal installation of PWUAASC’s first set of Officers at the elegant Bonaventure Hotel in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Cynthia Ugalde Tan became the First President. The Officers, Board Members and the entire Executive Board were regal in their traditional PWUgala ternos. History was in the making. Since then to this day, fifteen other Presidents had been installed, namely: Lena Ocampo Mazanka, Paz Esguerra Carillo, Regina Flores Tercero, Exal Acejo Igidbashian, Juliet Ocampo Abrantes, Fe Alban Santos, Esther Dizon Reyes, Minda Aureus Gorospe, Sylvia Flores Magturo, Nina Miclat Ponce de Leon, Elden Canuel Pablo, Lynne Alcantara Isaac, Teresita Navarro Lightholder, Placida Cayme Worrell Transfiguracion and Arceli Go Chua Gagajena.
This twenty-five-year journey has taken Southern California Philwomenians to various multi-faceted activities: cultural, educational, civic, social and even revivals of some Filipino deep-seated religious devotional practices. The group’s consistency and aggressive scholarship fund-raising projects have benefited many of the poor but deserving PWU college and high school students back in the Philippines.
To fund its many projects all these years, PWUAASC members have learned how to become event organizers and achievers. Through these continued fund-raising activities from one administration to the next, the Association’s coffers were never empty. The dedication of an ever-present core group of members that fluctuates in numbers from one administration to the next deserves special commendation. But much credit also goes to their immediate family members, mainly their spouses and children, and also to their extended family members – relatives and friends who stood by them through thick and thin. They contributed much of their time, manpower and talents – financial, intellectual or otherwise, towards the success of each venture and every undertaking. This constant pulling together of talents and resources has always given credence to the bayanihan spirit deeply ingrained in every Philwomenian, implanted in her heart and mind the moment she set foot on the hallowed grounds of her Alma Mater in decades past. Bayanihan is her badge and ID card. It is her “open secret” wherever she is in the world today.
PWUAASC, in addition to its on-going scholarship programs for PWU, undertook a myriad of other activities that also focused on the well-being of its members and their immediate families. One of their first initiatives was the Student Achievers Award Program. It rewarded the children of alumni who excelled in academics and in other fields of youthful endeavors, such as active participation in civic and social action, excellence in various sports and remarkable success stories in the arts and sciences. On their own, many other Philwomenians also assist in no small way in their local communities or in the parish churches they attend.
Part of PWUAASC’s history are the numerous activities and events it has held over the years: the Annual Picnics, the Christmas Parties and the Dinner-Dances; the occasional Casino Fund-raising Turnarounds, a Debutantes Ball, the Cerritos Spring Festival and July 4th Celebration; the Feeding of the Homeless of Mission Dolores in East L.A. and the Los Angeles Mission; wholehearted participation in PWU’s Relief Fund Drive for the victims of the Mt. Pinatubo disaster in the Philippines many years ago, and many other civic, charitable and humanitarian projects here and elsewhere; and finally the publication of an alumni newsletter which will now be part of the newly-constructed website.
In more recent years, the Alma Mater called for financial help to support her Faculty Development Projects. The Association responded right away. It set up a Special Fund for Faculty Development. PWUAASC has also learned to network with other Filipino groups in Los Angeles and in other neighboring counties as well in a genuine show of solidarity and support for other community outreach programs and events that benefit various Filipino and Filipino American groups and communities. In 2006, as part of the 100th Year Celebration of Filipino Migration to the USA, the Association participated in a county-wide Santacruzan event now archived in the world-famous Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
The Association is proud of its leadership and the personal growth opportunities it has afforded its members and alumni. It has installed sixteen Presidents with their respective teams of Officers and Board Members. It has discovered new leaders and further molded characters and personalities. It has touched so many lives within its own fold and beyond.
In this age of the Internet and Cyber Space, of e-mails, pagers, cell phones, i-pods, i-phones and so on, PWUAASC has kept up with the times. It has created its own website: pwuaasc.org. Every day e-mail boxes are stacked up with messages from each other. And every so often, there are messages and updates from the Alma Mater and from other PWU alumni scattered in other parts of the world. As an Organization, it has not lagged behind as it moves into the 21st century.
After twenty five years it is not only thriving and striving. It is so much alive and well! PWUAASC continues to commit to community service and to its socio-cultural-educational goals as envisioned by the founders and builders of the Philippine Women’s University in her 90 years of fruitful existence. As such, while some beloved members have passed on, many Charter Members are still around and have remained active and involved. They serve as pillars of experience, the foundations of strength and the beacons of inspiration for the new breed of leaders springing up from the rank and file. Each new member not only reinforces its growth, but it also reaffirms the need for the continued existence of the Association.
Through PWUAASC, the alumni continue to recapture the joys of their high school, college and university days, reviving long-forgotten camaraderie, growing together once again, sharing and learning from one another, developing new and lasting friendships, uplifting each other to find self-fulfillment, happiness and peace within themselves, with others, with the world at large and with God. All this is built on the common and solid educational foundation their Alma Mater imparted to them during those golden years in school. The Alma Mater is the bond that binds all of them as one no matter where they may find themselves in every nook and corner of this globe.
PWUAASC looks forward to the next 25 years…and beyond!