STUDENTS FROM the Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) slowly occupied the hallways of the St. Raymund de Peñafort building as some of the afternoon classes came to end. Asst. Prof. Analiza Yanga left a classroom and calmly walked through the busy hallways toward a different room—not for another lecture—but to do her work for the AB Community Development (ABCD).
Yanga admits that switching between her work as an educator and as the coordinator for the ABCD can be difficult to handle. Nevertheless, she sees both teaching and community service as things that are very close to her heart. For her, it is “just a matter of managing time” and most importantly, loving and enjoying her work.
Her passion for community service, which started early after adopting teachings from her elementary catechism class, has inspired and encouraged many Artlets through the years.
“[W]e are all strangers here. Whether we like it or not, lalabas at lalabas tayo [sa community]. So while [we’re] here on earth, gawin natin ‘yung mga bagay na makakatulong sa kapwa,” Yanga says.
As she settles into a chair, she cannot help but smile as she reminisces how she was able to overcome her challenging first year as the coordinator of the ABCD in 2013. With AB’s poor performance in community service at that time, her leadership was tested.
“‘[Y]un ang isa sa mga nakita kong hindi maganda ang impression sa’kin. Sabi ko, ‘Ang daming student [organizations] ng AB, ang daming magagaling [at] matatalino. Bakit hindi magawang i-train ang mga tao na ‘to?’ Lagi nasa isip ko [is] to educate them,” Yanga says.
Encouraging Artlets to become more aware and involved in community development work became her priority. The coordinator carried out seminars on community service and required organizations in the Faculty to conduct community development projects every school year.
Although it was hard at first, through her resiliency, constant discipline, and support from Artlets, she was able to develop the quality of AB’s community development projects. In her second year as the coordinator—which she describes as an unforgettable year—the ABCD became more recognized.
It was last academic year when the ABCD received a recognition from the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office for the first time.
“‘[Y]ung award, bonus na lang ‘yan. Kung ang intensyon niyo talaga is [makatulong], ang sarap ng pakiramdam na nag-e-engage ka sa mga community,” she says. “Kung tatanungin mo naman ako kung ano ‘yung achievement and fulfillment ko, ‘yung makita ko lahat ng organizations [na] may kanya-kanya kayong ginagawa.”
A ripple of kindness
While it may take years for the changes brought by AB’s community development projects to fully manifest, Yanga shares that the growth of the University’s partner communities also boosted her own. Helping others led her to develop empathy, a trait that set her up for a life dedicated to service.
“I always attach myself to other people, kasi kapag ganun ang ginagawa natin, mararamdaman mo kung ano ‘yung nararamdaman [nila]. Kaya we should not just sympathize with people, but we empathize. Kasi ‘pag naawa ka, naawa ka lang. Pero ‘yung empathize naman, with action.”
Yanga’s passion for community development work was a fire that spread out and encompassed the hearts of those who witnessed her in action. During an activity at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, one of the volunteers from the community stopped mid-lecture to acknowledge the assistant professor.
“Ay, si Ma’am Yanga! Diyan ko nakuha ‘yung aking inspiration kung bakit ako nag-volunteer,” he said, recounting the time when Yanga was the one standing in his place, conducting a talk about the 2016 presidential election while he listened intently among the crowd.
“’Yung simpleng experience na ‘yun na binanggit sa’kin, napakalaki ng impact noon kasi alam mo, simpleng ‘Thank you,’ simpleng smile na sincere, sobra-sobra na ‘yun na reward,” the ABCD head recalls.
Finding fulfillment in service
Although Yanga was born into an average-income family, some of her fondest childhood memories were the days she and her loved ones spent helping out their community. The simple activities she took part in as a child brought her with a life realization she would not discover until adulthood: helping others does not require money.
“Pwede kang tumulong kahit wala kang ganun kalaking pera. Hindi naman pera ang laging kinakailangan; ‘yun lang mere physical presence mo, ‘yung time mo [na] ibibigay mo sa kanila, nakatutulong nang malaki ‘yun, both doon sa giver at saka sa receiver,” she says.
As she continues her term as the ABCD head, Yanga hopes for more of her plans, one of which is a scholarship program for members of partner communities, to come to fruition. She believes that sustainable and continuous programs related to education are what will truly make an impact in the society in the long run.
“Kasi tayo sa AB, talagang we educate people,” she says. “Teach them how to fish, not just [give] them one fish to live for one day […] para may kakainin sila habambuhay.”
However, Yanga adds that more than just furnishing project proposals, she hopes for all Artlets to take an active role in community development.
“’Yung ibang gustong tumulong, ang laging iniisip, ‘Wala akong pera e.’ [Pero] ‘yun lang skills, ‘yun lang talent na meron kayo, ‘yun ang pinakamahalagang maitutulong niyo— ‘yung time ninyo,” she believes. “[Kung] ‘yung mga magnanakaw nga ngayon hindi natatakot gumawa [ng masama], tayo pa bang gustong gumawa ng mabuti?” F CRISTINA ELOISA A. BACLIG and JULIA MARI T. ORNEDO