Women in Power: Authority and Influence – Education by Commissioner Lilian A. De Las Llagas

To the officers of Las Damas De Rizal Philippines headed by its President Dr. Amalia Cullarin Rosales; to my co-awardees; participants of this international conference; ladies and gentlemen, good morning
Congratulations to Las Damas De Rizal Philippines for holding its first international conference and assembly, and for recognizing women from various fields and/or endeavors who have exceptional contributions in nation building.
I am honored to be the first recipient of the Las Damas De Rizal Excellence Award for Education. I am grateful for the affirmation on my work as an academician, researcher and public servant. I share this award with my fellow awardees.
I wish to thank Regent Mark Boado of the Rizal Technological University Board of Regents who I understand nominated me for this award. As Commission on Higher Education Commissioner, I also share this award with the twenty-eight state universities and colleges (SUCs) under my charge.
I have walked through various landscapes on my way here, but each one of them has only strengthened me to make me the public health person that I am today; one who is excited to the challenges of life in space and time; someone who sets her eyes on a goal and does not lose sight of it; unless it is achieved. Receiving this award would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from my dearest parents, siblings, colleagues, my research team, my students and staff for whom I have derived the strength to challenge myself and perform better at each stage. I likewise share with them this award.
In public health, we use the traditional model of disease causation in the prevention and control of diseases. In using this epidemiologic triad, we usually consider three factors: the host’s susceptibility to infections, the agent’s infectivity and pathogenicity, and the environment’s condition favoring disease progression.
As in any disease of public health concern, we have to know the agent that will cause the infection. Putting education in the perspective, knowledge becomes the agent of interest. Knowledge, in itself, is powerful – that it becomes infective when held as a weapon for change and pathogenic when coupled with the passion for learning.
Next in the equation is knowing how susceptible the host can be. The inherent ability of the people to comprehend made them vulnerable and inclined to the complex nature of knowledge and learning. But, comprehension in not the only method of learning.
To educate is to also engage; involve them in a challenge to test the reliability of the new information they come across. It is in this modality that a logical and emotional connection is established. Logical because their minds are stimulated to be open to the endless possibilities that the society and knowledge has to offer, and emotional because it is in this manner that people learn to trust and be trustworthy.
To educate is also to empower. Empowering them will let them feel the sense of belongingness and responsibility. It is allowing them to have the freedom to make their own choices, to stand by their principles, and to have the courage to take and hold responsibilities for their actions.
Last but not the least, to educate is also to inspire. And this is what it takes for the third factor society and environment to be conducive for education. Inspiration will let the people be the reservoir of knowledge and enable education to be a cyclic process that will continuously instill hope and motivation amongst the most vulnerable of the population.
But, we should not forget that in any cycle a link must be present for it to be continuous. Knowledge itself is not enough for education to progress. Vectors, in the public health perspective, are living organisms that can transfer an infectious agent between humans or from humans to animals and vice versa. Education, being the condition of interest, also needs vectors to keep the momentum of knowledge transfer and learning in place.
But let me tell you that being a vector for transmission is more than being a temporary vessel for lodgment. Just like how an Anopheles mosquito enables a Malaria gametocyte to develop into a Malaria sporozoite inside its body, one must also have the capacity to let the knowledge grow and develop in its core – and this is the capacity to transform knowledge into wisdom. And I strongly believe that is it us, women of substance, who have all means to let education be the foundation of the future of our nation.
As women of substance, we were able to recognize our own strength, resilience, and purpose. We were able to develop a passion in our chosen fields that never ceased to grow. We were able to turn rigid mirrors into flexible windows. Our abilities have enabled us to also recognize and appreciate the strength and vitality of other people. And I believe that it is through this modality that we were able to shed light, transfer our wisdom, and educate the population. It is through this modality that we’ll be able to help our people to open the doors to brilliant opportunities.
With this view, let us make education a vector-borne condition of the society. I invite all women of substance and passion to be the potent vectors of transmission… vectors that will engage, empower, and inspire the people to be driven and open to the limitless possibilities that life has to offer. Let us be the vectors that will help transform knowledge into wisdom… vectors that will help build bridges not just in education but in all systems and sectors of our society.
Again, thank you for the recognition. Good morning to everyone.