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Head to Head: SEG prexy bets Phons Cataquis, Martin Regulano envision future-ready SOE

Hailing from one of the smallest colleges in the University, EXCEL2022 Executive for Student Services Phons Cataquis of Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) and incumbent EXCEL2022 Batch President Martin Regulano of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) share their visions on improving student welfare as they face off for the School of Economics Government (SEG) presidential seat.

On their background

The LaSallian: Both of you held executive positions in your respective batch governments. Can you share to us the issues you have observed during your term? What steps have you taken to address them?

Phons Cataquis (Santugon): In my batch student government (BSG), I served as a two-time student services (SS) executive from frosh year until now and…one big issue is ‘yung paglapit ng student services to the students, especially with regards to the cascading of information from the USG (University Student Government) or from higher offices. And as executive…I initiated conversation on my own. With the help of my directors in SS, as well as with my co-executives, we were able to have a system wherein…We were able to contact all of the students of the batch. That is something I aim to amplify as college president.

Martin Regulano (Tapat): During my frosh year, I was Batch Vice President and our focus was on helping the students adjust to college life, which is why we focused mostly on student services. Now in our sophomore year, as batch president, most of the concerns rely…on student services, especially with a transition to the online setup. With this, we were able to work closely with SEG because all student services announcements are streamlined through them, and we get their directive as to what we announce to the batch. Aside from this, as we go through our majors, I have implemented one of our projects, How To: Majors Life to help the students… during their majors’ terms.

The LaSallian: Aside from USG work, what other factors do you think would make you a good fit for the job?

Regulano: USG aside, even before I entered college, it has always been my passion to help my batchmates or serve the students. I think my advantage lies on (sic) my passion for service because I would like to translate this passion into action [by] serving the students with the vision…[and platforms that I have in mind for the entire SOE.

Cataquis: My answer is similar to Mr. Regulano’s. I’m also very passionate in terms of service and, ever since Senior High School, I’ve always found myself in leadership position (sic) in some way, shape, or form. Through that, I have managed to hone my craft of time management and work efficiency. That resulted into (sic) me now being able to juggle all of my commitments yet still excelling in my own academics. And I believe that is the strongest asset that I can carry over as college president. 

On the status quo

The LaSallian: What difficulties have you observed in relation to student services and enlistment that you plan on addressing?

Cataquis: I think the biggest issue is the online setting itself. It has created a barrier especially in terms of enlistment, and other student service processes…With that, I intend to utilize my main specific plan of action, the SOE Cares Initiative, where it utilizes a more personalized form of student service, where we can ensure that each and every SOE student is well-accommodated in student services…And, in close coordination with the SOE Department, we can make sure that the enlistment process is as streamlined and as smooth as it can be.

Regulano: I would first like to recognize that the system that was in place during the current SEG, I believe it’s working, especially in terms of students services, kasi they have consolidated all pertinent Google Forms related to student services concerns, which is why my plan as the next hopeful college president for SOE is to just reinforce these. I would like to rebrand the SEG website in order to make it more accessible to the students. I would like to make the consolidated request form, to be more inclusive to all students in SOE. Aside from this, I would like to strengthen the Student Welfare Committee by directly reaching out to the students. Given that we are a small college—we have the advantage to talk personally to each and every student in SOE. 

The LaSallian: What are the most pressing issues in your college and how do you plan on addressing them?

Regulano: I think that there has been a decline in the motivation of the students to learn, especially brought about by the effects of the pandemic and the online setup…this will be my main focus for my academics pillar, which is to redefine academic excellence. I plan on doing that through my multiple academic programs that will help expanding (sic) the knowledge of the students in SOE . Through these programs, I plan on lobbying for changes in the curriculum to make it more effective, accessible, and inclusive, especially in these trying times. 

Cataquis: I would have to first agree with Mr. Regulano that…the lack of motivation or losing motivation among the students is one of the most pressing issues right now in the college. 

I want to create a student-centered SOE that not only equips SOE students to handle the difficulties of online learning, but to also house diverse Lasallian achievers in their own right. I plan to do that through my plans of action…the SOE Cares Initiative, and another platform, Humans of SOE, which aims to acknowledge the hard work of SOE students in their academics and in their extracurricular activities to instill motivation in them as we continue on with the online learning. Along with that, and my other supplementary programs, dealing with advocacy-building…my academic-driven SPOAs, we can ensure that each and every SOE student is well accommodated for as we continue on in the next academic year.

The LaSallian: How would you encourage your constituents to participate more in University and college-wide activities?

Regulano: I think we have to first acknowledge that there may be a case of saturation of University events. And we have to address this kasi ang nagiging problem diyan is the students would have Zoom fatigue. We have to first tackle this issue by encouraging all USG units to have collaboration with each other to lessen the excessive events, especially those that are similar. Through this we could have a wider reach. How do I encourage the students? Through the use of the Student Welfare Committee, we actively check up students. But aside from this, we can easily promote the activities that is (sic) implemented by the USG, especially if these activities directly target their needs—may it be regarding their mental health, career, or academics.

Cataquis: In my eyes, I think when we create University or college-wide events, we must take into consideration three main things: the needs, priorities, and interests of our students…then we can ensure that only the highest quality of events are put forward and…that those are events that students are not only interested in, but at the end of the day, will benefit them as we continue on in the online setting. Through collaboration with different college governments, different DLSU offices, and external partners, we can ensure that we maximize the potential of these programs and to have a long lasting impact on those who will be able to attend those. 

The LaSallian: Failures seem to arise in the government’s attempt at a balancing act between the economy and the health sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Which do you think the government should prioritize?

Regulano: Even as an economics student, I believe that the main priority of the government should be the healthcare sector because our economy would continue on experiencing (sic) recessions if we don’t fix the root cause of the problem, which is the pandemic. With this, I firmly believe that the government should take steps in prioritizing and in directly solving this issue by implementing stricter protocols and better vaccine rollout. And through this, we can achieve economic recovery afterwards.

Cataquis: I agree with Mr. Regulano’s statements that the government right now should prioritize the health and safety of the Filipino citizens if we were to continue the efforts of rising from a recession. As an economics student, I know that sustainability is important in all platforms and programs. I do believe that the government should implement stricter protocols, stricter lock downs, and more reinforced health and safety protocols, but we should also be supplemented with more sustainable financial and livelihood aid. In order for those whose livelihoods are affected by the pandemic [to] still find a way to go through day to day life without financial distress. 

For the future

The LaSallian: As one of the smaller colleges in the University, what advantages and/or disadvantages do you think that poses to the School of Economics’ representation both in the USG’s and DLSU administration’s decisions?

Regulano: I believe that being a small college is not a disadvantage, especially for the School of Economics, because as economics students, we rely heavily on research data, and we have knowledge on crafting policies. I would bring this aspect into becoming a college president through my third pillar which is contributing towards nation building. Under this pillar, we have a policy-wide initiative. We plan on making SEG the research arm of the USG by ensuring that we are part of the data collection of the University, especially when it comes to presenting proposals to the Academics Council. With this, I plan on partnering up with the Office of the President or Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs in helping in crafting academic-related policy proposals. We want to be in charge of that and we want to be part of that as economics students who have experience in policy-making.

Cataquis: As a small college, I do also agree that that’s not a disadvantage. Being that we are in SOE, by now we have already known both of our batch and even have collaborated and worked with both the younger and older batche…That is what we can bring toward (sic) when we represent ourselves through higher offices or to the administration itself. SOE is a research-driven college—we are taught to be meticulous with our data collection and critical thinking skills. Those two aspects combined, we could bring forward not only a united college, but a college that is backed up by credibility, a college that is backed up by sustainability in terms of proposals and platforms, and ultimately a college who has equal footing with regards to the decisions with regards to the decisions of other bigger colleges as well.

The LaSallian: How do you define the ideal School of Economics? How do you envision the college to be by the time your term ends?

Cataquis: My vision for SOE is a student-centered SOE for diverse Lasallian achievers. As future Lasallian economists, we believe in the importance of us as individuals and our capacity to create a larger impact on society.

I intend to do that through two of my main college thrusts, which is personalized student services and pro-active student leadership. When those two are taken into account, we can ensure that each and every SOE student is well-accommodated and accounted for and that my government’s programs and platforms contain the needs, interests, and priorities of the students at its forefront. Once we are able to build that foundation, we can now expose SOE to opportunities, not only inside, but beyond the University walls through my third thrust: dynamic external opportunities. When we bring all three together, that creates a college learning environment where SOE students are not only equipped to survive the difficulties of online learning, but to create a college environment that houses Lasallian achievers in their own right. 

Regulano: I believe that SOE is a body of knowledge that keeps on growing, so you have to capitalize on this, which is why I envision an SOE that is ready for every tomorrow….My three key pillars which will help me in achieving this. 

First, I would like to redefine academic excellence, which as mentioned a while ago, through my academic programs that will identify the lapses in our current curriculum. At the end of this program, we would be able to lobby for changes in the curriculum closely with the Department. The second is by ensuring student support. We would like to strengthen the Student Welfare Committee to ensure that each and every student in SOE is accounted for, to ensure that we can reach out to them and ask for their concerns, for their mental health concerns, if there are, and we can bridge them to the proper offices concerned. And lastly, is to contribute towards nation-building. As future policymakers, we have to define our role in society by making our mark and we should start now in the University by helping in crafting these policies that we can propose to the Academics Council, which is not only beneficial for SOE, but for the entire University. 

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

ERRATUM: This article has been edited to correct the committees mentioned, as well as lexical errors. The publication apologizes for the confusion these errors may have caused.

By Kim Balasabas

By Michele Gelvoleo

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