Making History…Leaving a Legacy…
It was 2013 when the then faculty of Social and Behavioral Science under the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and a graduate of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration (Ph.D. PA), Dr. Arneil Gabriel, conceptualized the offering of the Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA). It has been proposed to and approved by the College Academic Council during the term of Dr. Jocelyn Cruz, as the Dean of CAS. Inspired by the UP-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG), where the founding professors of the Public Administration doctorate and master program came from in 1978, and the desire to open more opportunities for the aspiring public servants, Dr. Gabriel pushed for the proposal up to the approval of the University Academic Council. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the proposal did not materialize.
Dr. Gabriel, who then became the Program Chair of the Department of Public Administration of the Graduate School, and the President of the NEUST Faculty and Staff Union, revived and strengthened the proposal for the program offering. He conducted a study in 2017 to determine the viability and significance of offering Bachelor of Public Administration. The proposed undergraduate degree program aims to prepare the youth for future leadership positions and careers in public service. During that time, the degree is only available in the University of the Philippines and few other universities. Out of the findings of the study participated by one thousand six hundred thirty-eight barangay leaders, the proposal was laid down before the members of the Administrative Council and the NEUST Board of Regents. The approval of both decision-making bodies was backed by Board Resolution No. 15 series of 2018, duly approved on February 15, 2018, during the 79th NEUST Regular Governing Board Meeting under the leadership of the University President, Dr. Feliciana Jacoba.
During the midyear of 2018, with just enough time to prepare for the opening of the semester, the students of Dr. Gabriel in the Ph.D. PA program under the two subjects, DPA 311 (Philosophical Foundations of PA) and DPA 323 (Political Development) helped in the making of the syllabus and curriculum of the BPA. These doctorate students are the following: Ferdinand De Asis, Romae De Asis, Paquito Villanueva Jr., Jun Turgo, Olive Chester Antonio, Vilma Ramos, Guillume Tamayo, Anthony San Pedro, and Erlinda Clerigo.
On June 25 of the same year, the Bachelor of Public Administration Program (BPA) was granted with Certificate of Program Compliance (COPC) by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The COPC issued to the program further certifies that it conforms with the pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 7722 or the Higher Education Act of 1994 and CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 06 series of 2010 or the Policies and Standards for Bachelor of Public Administration Program.
The BPA program has opened doors of opportunities to both the mainstream youth and Indigenous Peoples (IPs)/Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs). NEUST became the only university in the entire province of Nueva Ecija to offer such an undergraduate program; and among the few with Bachelor, Master’s, and Doctorate degree programs in the field of Public Administration nationwide.
In July 2018, the Center for Indigenous Peoples Education (CIPE) distributed admission forms to the IPs/ICCs of Nueva Ecija. The CIPE was also conceptualized by Dr. Gabriel and was established under the PA Department in 2017 after several attempts and through the support of the new University President, Engr. Feliciana Jacoba. Dr. Gabriel was joined by willing volunteers comprised of faculty from other departments and Public Administration students in the graduate program. They encouraged the parents of Indigenous youth to allow their children to take the admission examination and enroll in the different programs of NEUST.
During the opening of the first semester of the school year 2017-2018, the first student who enrolled in the BPA Program was Nicole Joy Agbanaoag from Guimba, Nueva Ecija. The BPA program initially had four core faculty members and eighteen students in the first year of its establishment. Out of the 18 students, six belong to various IP groups. Dr. Gabriel was joined by Ms. Olive Chester Antonio, Ms. Vilma Ramos, and Ms. Rosemarie Casimiro to man the PA Department under the Graduate School where the BPA Program was initially situated.
The following year, the Department launched PA DRIVES short for Drive for Registration and Information Via Enrollment of Students. The faculty members personally campaigned for the program among High Schools and Integrated Schools in the province of Nueva Ecija and in social media. Indeed, the campaign bears fruit since the number of enrollees soared to one hundred ninety and two hundred fifteen during the first and second semesters of Academic Year 2019-2020; almost twelve times the number of enrollees when the program was established. With the increasing student population, the PA Department was given the eight rooms in the Admin Building 4th floor, formerly used by CAS, to house the BPA students. The academic workforce led by the Officer-In-Charge, Dr. Arneil Gabriel, was given a boost with the addition of two faculty who will teach in the BPA Program that year.
During the academic year, the students were exposed to different student and university-wide activities. The students participated in the second leg of the Governance Forum Series which is the Department’s platform for the dissemination of research findings of the faculty and students. It was during this year when the students were orientated on the policies stipulated in the Student Handbook and the behavior and values expected from them as future public servants. Hence the term, PAkilala.
In the last quarter of the year, the students’ sportsmanship was tested as they partake in friendly competition against other Colleges and Campuses during the University Meet. Bearing the symbol of the Leviathan, the representation of the structure of society and legitimate government.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous Students of the BPA Program joined other IP students who are members of ADIBAI student organization, formerly KALIDKAN, under the CIPE. They were given the opportunity to showcase their rich culture and talents as they rendered cultural performances to different programs and activities on and off-campus such as the Provincial and Regional Seminar-Workshop on the Integration of Indigenous Studies into the Relevant Higher Education Curriculum.
On March 11, 2020, the BPA found its home following the establishment of the College of Public Administration and Disaster Management (CPADM) by virtue of NEUST BOR Resolution No. 14 series of 2020. Not long after, the idea of BPA Major in Disaster Management was advanced taking into consideration the recommendation of the Commission on Higher Education and the University Planning and Development Office through its Director Dr. Sarah Alvarez to provide a program that will meet the increasing demand for professional studies in disaster management. From purely public administration, the focus of the College shifted to the provision of relevant and quality education in the field of public governance and disaster management. The new major was granted COPC on June 24, 2020; indicating therein its compliance to existing policies, standards, and guidelines.
Even during the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine over the entire Luzon due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, starting on March 17, 2020, the CPADM never stopped its delivery of service to the people. Through the help of the two IP students of the BPA, Alvin Letche and Jerome Bassit, who were locked down in their dormitory near the NEUST Gen. Tinio St. Campus, the CPADM made Do-It-Yourself face shields and face masks that were distributed to the frontliners of different barangays, hospitals, and government offices.
Moreover, the faculty of the College spent its quarantine days in finishing the modules in time for the opening of the classes in August 2020. The CPADM is the only college that was able to deliver the modules to the students from the different places within and outside the province on time through the help of the Provincial Government particularly the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) headed by Mrs. Elvira Ronquillo, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Provincial Office headed by Dr. Donato Bumacas. Other graduate students of the Department of Public Administration also helped in the delivery of the modules of the College.
Right before the construction of the building of the College, the CPADM has now two majors offering in its undergraduate course. Sixty Four (64) students pursued the BPA major in Disaster Management for the 2nd semester of Academic Year 2020-2021 out of the 257 total BPA students population. It was 2019 when the proposal and funding for the construction of the twelve classrooms and two-storey College building in 2021 were approved under the General Appropriations Act (GAA). It is the only new infrastructure development approved by the NEUST Governing Board to be constructed in the first semester of 2021. True enough, on the second week of March, the R.C. Pallarca Construction began its site development at the backside of the Athlete’s Quarter where the CPADM building will rise at NEUST Sumacab Campus. Joined by President Jacoba, Dr. Gabriel took the symbolic groundbreaking activity on March 11, 2021, to signal the start of the construction.
Again, the program raised the bar as it offered courses and subjects with strong public service orientation and competencies to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Providing yet another opportunity for the University to be one of the few academic institutions in the Philippines offering Bachelor of Public Administration with special focus on Disaster Management.
The College has since catered to every qualified student regardless of age or academic track in high school. It provides an opportunity for Indigenous students coming from distant municipalities and neighboring provinces and regions to acquire knowledge in the field of Public Administration and Disaster Management.
Through sustained efforts the College endeavors to become an academic institution fully conscious of its duty of producing ethical leaders and initiatives that may address the pressing needs of the society and academic community. Guided by its Strategic Development Plan for the year 2021-2025 and with additional faculty members in the person of Ms. Mary Jane Romero, Ms. Maridel Viernes, Ms. Rose Ann Sagun, and Ms. Kim Fe Pauleen Villanueva, the CPADM is on its way to becoming a Research College that will house three Research Centers, the Local Government, and Development Center, the Center for Indigenous Peoples Education, and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center. From this, it will continue to be, “A History in the Making”.