Incumbent BLAZE2023 Batch Legislator Tiffany Chua of Angat Lasalyano (Angat) draws on legislative experience in sharing her vision for a “one business community”. On the other hand, political newcomer Juliana Rebong of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) hinges on her party’s pillars of moving toward a more socially-aware Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB).
Both candidates emphasize pro-student initiatives in vying for the position of the next Business College Government (BCG) president. But while Chua seeks to start inward by strengthening student sector representation, Rebong considers outwardly-focused circumstances as her platforms aim to tackle contemporary issues.
The LaSallian: Considering your experiences in the University Student Government (USG), as well as in other organizations, what do you think is it that makes you most qualified to become the next college assembly president (CAP)?
Juliana Rebong (Tapat): What makes me prepared [to be the next BCG president] is being a principled and a value-driven student. As part of Tapat, we make pro-student and pro-people platforms that [ensure the empowerment of] students. It shaped my existing values and added more principles, [with me] understanding the concerns of the students and learning social issues as to how [they] can affect the students. It encouraged me to push for quality education and inclusive student life for [the] College of Business (COB).
Tiffany Chua (Angat): For me, what makes me qualified to be the next college president is not just my experience as the current batch legislator for BLAZE2023, but also what I want to do for COB moving forward…The last term [I] served as the chairperson for the [BCG] legislative board allowed me to cater to not just my college but [also] the entire University. And with what I have learned and what I have experienced over the past two terms during my service in the USG, I am now prepared to move forward with the entire COB to push for one business community. And this is grounded on our three thrusts: redefined student support, purpose-driven career opportunities, and providing progressive and holistic student engagement.
The LaSallian: How would you describe your leadership style?
Chua: My leadership style is people-centered. As the next college president, our vision of pushing for one business community is grounded on pushing for your BCG that is one with the COB students and pushing for a community where no one gets left behind. We understand that for the past two terms of the hybrid or online setup, a lot of students faced a lot of concerns [that] hindered them from accessing the quality education that we were promised [by] the University, and this is something that we want to address as [a] coalition.
Rebong: My brand of leadership is [about] being pro-student and pro-people. We have made platforms that actually cater [to] and [address] the needs of the students. One of which is the “BLAZE Equipment System”, [which] addresses the students’ needs in [narrowing] the learning gap [by providing] students with [learning materials, from] books for accounting, law, and taxation, to digital applications for Adobe Suite.
The LaSallian: What issues have you noticed from the previous governments in COB, and how do you plan to address them?
Chua: I would like to point out one main college-wide problem that we identified, which is that a lot of students remain confused with the different processes that we have in the University. Now that we are currently transitioning to a predominantly hybrid setup, we are dealing with at least three batches within [COB] who have not [yet] experienced the full face-to-face setup. We aim to address this through one of our college centralized plans, which is “BCG Mo, Kasama Mo!” This is our student assistance project that is shared with all the BLAZE units under our coalition, [which] aims to provide [COB students] academic and extracurricular support to help them transition better and to further guide them into the rest of the academic year.
Rebong: We definitely recognize and commend our previous college presidents for leading COB by making projects catered to the students’ needs, but we can still improve on these. One of which is reigniting social change within the COB community by pushing students to take action, especially [that] we are in an administration faced with current and arising issues such as inflation, [which is] even worsened by the pandemic. With “Blazing Through the Times”, one of our platforms, we discuss and determine possible ways to address [national] issues as future business leaders, especially [with] the uncertainty of [what] the future holds.
The LaSallian: If there’s one thing you would like to change in the BCG, what is it and how would you change it?
Rebong: We need to engage students more when it comes to social issues. As mentioned earlier…“Blazing Through The Times” [will allow] students to engage themselves and discuss how we can address current and arising issues [faced by the national government such as] drastic inflation [that is even] worsened by the pandemic. Additionally, we also have a platform… “Abante, COBabae!”, [that discusses] various ways [on] how we can address women’s concerns [regarding] gender inequality, discrimination, and motherhood.
Chua: In order for us to actualize our vision and our platforms, I would like to focus on strengthening our executive committee within the BCG and aligning with the future set of leaders of COB before pushing for any initiatives that we will ensure to be timely and relevant for the students of our college. In strengthening the executive committee of the BCG—specifically, redefining the student services that we are able to provide for our college—we will be more equipped to cater to or address the different concerns that each student sector needs or would like to raise.
The LaSallian: How do you envision the BCG under your term in comparison [to] the past governments?
Rebong: We envision a growth-driven RVRCOB that encompasses the need for the business leaders of tomorrow. With the shift [to] the hybrid setup, there [have] been a lot of challenges faced by the COB community, especially [since] we are the biggest college in the University. One of which is the class offerings [that were] provided [for this current term]. [We] have to take [into] consideration that the pre-pandemic class offerings for majors (major subjects), [where] class hours were often offered either very late or very early, is not applicable [to today’s setup]. We have to consider [that] the traffic in the transportation system is still not improving and that the pandemic is still existing.
We have to let the administration know that we have to be much more considerate through our platform, “COB (Class Offerings Best) for Convenience”. [With this], we [will be] able to push and lobby for alternatives for students [regarding] class offerings [and] class scheduling for them to have an overall better learning experience and thus, [a] better college experience.
Chua: I [would] want the Business College Government to push for one business community. For us, one business community means establishing a community where the COB students are empowered to empower others, where no one gets left behind, and where we are able to pursue our goals together. I want the BCG to push for projects or initiatives and to lobby for policies [that] are not only sustainable, but also timely and relevant to COB. Apart from these, we want to also emphasize the sustainability of our projects or initiatives through our legislative agenda, which also includes establishing a business college assembly to expand the representation of COB students.
The LaSallian: With COB housing one of the biggest student populations among colleges, how do you plan to cater to COB students’ concerns amid a hybrid setup?
Rebong: One of our platforms is called “COBizBot”, which is an automated bot response addressing student concerns 24/7. We [will be] able to reach students [through this] because it caters to a wide range of questions from course crediting, shifting, up to course-specific concerns such as elective offerings, thesis, [and] internship orientations. What’s good about this is [that we will be] able to reach out to more COB students because it is integrated into the BCG Facebook page [and Messenger account]. Any student can access it without the hassle of thinking of where to get internet and the like.
Chua: This is actually why we chose to centralize all of our plans of action in our coalition. [Aside from our plan] “BCG Mo, Kasama Mo”, we also want to be able to empower and strengthen our communication within COB as representatives, not just within the batch units but also within the BCG.
The LaSallian: What plans do you have for pure online learners, and how would you ensure that they are provided equal opportunities as those taking up hybrid classes?
Chua: For this, apart from coordinating with the different departments under COB, we also want to establish the Business College Assembly Act under the Legislative Assembly, which aims to expand the representation of COB students. Moving forward, we do understand and recognize that since COB is one of the largest, or if not the largest, college within our university, there are a lot of concerns that we have to attend to. Through the Business College Assembly Act, we hope to be able to represent each student sector within the College of Business and ensure that all of their voices and concerns are properly heard and addressed.
Rebong: [Considering] the concerns of [pure online learners (POL)], we can integrate “COB for Convenience”, which addresses class offerings [for] COB students, especially with major [subjects]. Even though it mainly addresses those experiencing the hybrid setup because of the fatigue experienced by students, this is also applicable for online students because even if we’re at home, we still experience fatigue when we take online classes and it’s not the same when you’re not given equal opportunities when it comes to learning. With COB for Convenience, [we will] address those concerns, ensuring that they are provided with alternatives so they can have a better learning experience.
The LaSallian: As DLSU remains one of the top business schools in the Philippines, what projects do you have in mind to ensure that COB students obtain a competitive edge in the field?
Rebong: In ensuring that COB students are still competent, we have two platforms in pushing for [the] application of learnings not only within [the] four walls [of our] classrooms, but also as we expand our horizons. First off is “Pitch It In”, which is a business pitching competition [that] aims to provide a platform for COB students who [want to] bring their businesses to life. Through this, they [will be] able to apply the lessons [they] learned and [be provided with] lifelong experiences to be used as future entrepreneurs. Another platform we can use is “The BLAZE JumpStart”, which is a week-long career journey program that [aims to] guide students in understanding their course for [possible] career opportunities. This focuses on providing them programs [and] activities [like] how to make a resume, what their job offerings for their course can be, [and] applying for an internship.
Chua: Apart from redefining student support, we also want to focus on providing holistic and progressive student engagement and purpose-driven career opportunities, which I believe are also aligned with helping them grow to become the competent industry leaders that they want to be. Under holistic and progressive student engagement, we have “Angat Lasalyano, Angat Pilipino”, which allows them to actualize their advocacies as COB students. Under purpose-driven career opportunities, we have “COB Central”, which bridges them to the opportunities that they want for themselves, all in a single platform for convenience.
The LaSallian: What will you prioritize as the next college president?
Chua: As the next college president, I want to be able to focus on redefining [the] student support…we provide to COB students. This means not only providing academic support but personal support as well, which also means expanding accessible financial initiatives for academic, personal, and well-being [purposes]. Apart from this, we also want to conduct termly town hall [meetings] with the different student sectors under our college to lobby for policies and strengthen our COB initiatives.
Rebong: As a college with diverse individuals, we will prioritize promoting student life, which is one of our pillars. [In addition to some of our mentioned platforms], we also aim to assist or give a guide for those double-degree students, given that COB [covers a lot], [considering the CLA and SOE double-degree students who are also taking COB subjects], with the “Transition Assistance Program”. We will provide them [with] a manual to familiarize [them] with the processes in COB, as well as people in various (academic) departments such as the chair and the vice chair.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.