Gratitude and giving back to Filipinos from the University of the Philippines’ ‘Mga Iskolar ng Bayan’

Author Gel Santos Relos with UP President Danilo Concepcion (middle) and Dr. Rene Relos (L)

I AM proud to be one of these scholars, having graduated cum laude from the UP College of Mass Communication in 1984, and continued on with my Master’s Degree in Communication, though I was not able to finish because my family immigrated to the United States.

My husband was also “Iskolar ng Bayan,” having graduated Valedictorian from the UP College of Medicine in 1990, and magna cum laude in BS Psychology. He took his Surgical Residency at the UP-Philippine General Hospital for five years where he was also chief resident.

Last Sunday, September 1, my husband and I had the privilege of joining the reunion of the “Iskolar ng Bayan” who are now living and working in the United States. Some even traveled from different parts of the world to join the reunion in San Francisco, California.

The guest of honor was UP President Atty. Danilo Concepcion, who happens to be a good friend of our family. DannyCon, as we call him, was among my volunteer lawyers who helped me serve my listeners on DZMM by giving legal advice and information to our kababayans back home, after the late senator and Compañero ng Bayan Rene Cayetano won a seat in the Senate in 1998.

Compañero was also Iskolar ng Bayan, who was a classmate of my late daddy, Atty. Jose Ma. L. Santos at the UP College of Law.

During his speech, DannyCon reminded us all about how we became “Iskolar ng Bayan.” With so many Filipino students vying to be accepted at the premier state university in the Philippines, those of us who were accepted were able to earn our college and postgraduate degrees through the subsidies of Filipino taxpayers’ money.

If my recollection is accurate, I remember that years before in the ‘70s, the tuition fee was just 256 pesos, and when during my time in the ‘80s, it went up to 400 to 500 pesos per semester. What a gift of scholarship that has been one of the most important solid foundations of our education and of our careers!

But more than the money and the world class education, another important thing we learned and took with us all our life is the mindset and culture of SERVICE.

During our college years and as our careers progressed, we were motivated by the quest of how to be of service to our Motherland by serving our kababayans who are in need. We would reflect and make choices on how to give back using our God-given talents to help in every way we can.

My husband and I decided to teach at the UP during the start of our careers. I started as a lecturer in 1984 and then was honored to be an Instructor in Broadcast Communication for almost 13 years, until I became very busy with my radio and television programs on ABS-CBN. My husband served at the UP-PGH for six years until he took his fellowship in the United States in 1999.

It is quite humbling and heartening to know how my colleagues who graduated from the UP also shared that “service” mindset that we learned from our Alma Mater. Learning facts, figures, skills, strategies, etc — these are all important. But it is the culture of service that we also learned from the UP that became the “heart and soul” to our careers and our life missions.

To mention a few of my colleagues and friends whom you know here in the U.S. are Atty. Lou Tancinco, Henni Espinosa, Ging Reyes, Nadia Trinidad, Vivian Zalvidea, Karmina Constantino, Don Tagala, Pia Lopez-Baños, Mike Carrion, Mouse Muñoz, Eric Pugeda, Ms. Olivia de Jesus and Nerissa Fernandez (TFC executives), Atty. Kiko Pangilinan, Atty. Danny Concepcion and his wife Atty. Gaby Concepcion, Atty. Pia Cayetano, Prof. Cheche Lazaro, Prof. Tessa Jasminez, Prof. Lisa Justiniani, Loida Nicolas Lewis, and many more (Sana walang magtampo).

Of course, UP has no monopoly on this culture. I have worked and came to respect other colleagues who graduated from other colleges and universities, (and even those who did not complete any educational degrees) who share the same values and I have learned a lot from them.

UP President Danny Concepcion said “Hindi naman naniningil ang UP [sa mag nagtapos].” He said the university takes pride in how we give back to the community in the Philippines, and the honor we bring to the country when we are guided by the culture of academic excellence, work ethics, and culture of service that we learned from the UP wherever we are in the global community. Thank you for the affirmation, DannyCon.

UP NAMING MAHAL, maraming maraming salamat. At sa mga kababayan namin sa Pilipinas, taos pusong pasasalamat mula sa aming mga “Iskolar ng Bayan.”

* * *

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to,

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to and

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Filipino-American Community Newspaper. Your News. Your Community. Your Journal. Since 1991.

Copyright © 1991-2021 Asian Journal Media Group. All Rights Reserved.