MSU holds first AC US Embassy Talks
by Nasrimah R. Sampaco
The American Corner Marawi in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, University Library, Office of Information, Press, and Publication (OIPP), Division of Student Affairs (DSA), English Majors’ Society (EMS), MSU Marawi Debate Varsity (Rostrum), Supreme Student Government (SSG), MSU Integrated Laboratory School (ILS), and Social Hub for Education (SHE) held the first American Corner (AC) US Embassy Talks Marawi with the theme: “Harnessing the Power Within: Championing our Own Stories, Challenges, and Advocacies,” on September 25, 2019 at the Convention Center, MSU-Main Campus.
AC US Embassy Talks is a signature program of American Spaces of US Embassy in the Philippines patterned with Technology Entertainment Design (TED) Talks. It aims to fortify the American core value on free access to information and to highlight the triumphs and stories of the speakers in their US exchange experience that may lead to the continuous professional development of others.
It was attended by both high school and college students from different academic institutions in the city, and by some faculty and staff of MSU-Marawi who served as captive listeners to the stories featured.
Former Executive Vice President and now a Senior Professional Lecturer in MSU, Dr. Datumanong A. Sarangani emphasized on his welcome address the importance of American Corner as a tool facility in the University particularly in strengthening the partnership between the Philippines and the United States by providing information sources, resource sharing and expertise.
The AC US Embassy Talks starred three high calibre MSU alumni. The first speaker was Sittie Jehanne U. Mutin, JD, CES, Major in the Army Reservist Command (AVESCOM), a prominent public servant. She was also an alumna of US Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and is currently working with civil society’s organizations for her advocacy on peace, culture, human rights and gender.
Mutin spoke about “Girl Power, You Have it or Can Have It: An Empowerment Talk,” where she gave emphasis to the roles played by women in social transformation despite their struggles in engaging in development. She said that women can also be a source of power and not just as helpless victims of societal injustices, “By becoming power, we eliminate the disadvantages against us, even with one word at a time.”
“Not only girls can aspire, they can lead… Together we can realize the full potential of every girl in this room and in our communities. That is the power of all, the power of caring for others, and of living that you can be an instrument for the good of many,” she added.
Forester Asmarie M. Labao, a young Moro journalist, environmentalist and an alumnus of US Department of State Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) who is currently working in ARMM-DENR-Lanao del Sur as Forestry Supervisor and designated as an Information Officer and Chief in Forest Management Unit of CENRO 2-B, inspired the audience with his story of being a barrio kid who became a GMA Stand for Truth Reporter.
“I came from an average family from a poor barrio but what I can definitely tell you is I am a dreamer like you.. I realized that why I am in to media is because of the stories of the Meranaws and bangsamoro that need to be heard, written, and aired in national broadcast,” he said.
He also challenged the young Moro especially those from small barrios in Lanao to never let go of their dreams, “Oba kalokalo na so mga wata a taga inged na makapanamar siran mambo a masuwa eran si Mr. Asmarie Labao a GMA Stand for Truth.”
The last resource person to speak was Atty. Rashid V. Pandi, a trailblazing academician and lawyer, and an alumnus of US Department of State Global UGRAD and ACCESS Philippines (now PYLP) who is presently working as associate-at-law at Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc and De los Angeles in Cebu City.
Atty. Pandi talked about the “Rights of Nature Movement: Shifts in International Environment Law and Implications for Municipal Law,” where he enlightened the crowd especially the Meranaw (people of the Lake) to do some efforts in preserving Lake Lanao.
“There is an inspiration that we can draw somewhere for our own Lake Lanao.. Our identity is a ripple of Lake Lanao, Lake Lanao is a ripple of us. For several years, we have benefited from her, exploited her, and enjoyed our rights because we thought that we own her. I think, it is about time we give Lake Lanao her own sets of rights before it is too late,” he concluded.
Director Elin Anisha C. Guro of the University Library and the lead organizer of the event closed the program by showing her gratitude to everyone. She also assured everyone that this will not be the last AC US Embassy Talks that will be held in and by the University.