The University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) held its first virtual alumni homecoming from August 19 to 31, 2020. The “2020 UPV Alumni Zoomcoming” was a series of online activities, live streaming events, and virtual reunions organized by the UPV Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) in cooperation with various alumni associations, colleges, and offices. The activities were participated in, attended, and viewed online by thousands of UP alumni throughout the world via Zoom and Facebook Live.
The “Alumni Zoomcoming Day” was formally opened on the morning of August 28 with a mass sponsored by the UPV Scintilla Juris Fraternity and the Stella Juris Sorority, followed by the opening program. These were streamed live from the UPV Little Theater. This allowed alumni to attend the Thanksgiving Mass and opening program from the safety of their homes.
Presidents of the various alumni association (AA) chapters gave their messages in the opening program. Among them were: Mr. Artemio P. Pama, Jr of iAmUPHi Alumni Association; Mr. Allan Angelo L. Quimpo of UPAA Aklan Chapter; Mr. Nicolasito S. Calawag, UPAA Antique Chapter; Ms. Harriette Ong-Banzon, representing Mr. Victor A. Tanco, Sr. of UPAA Capiz Chapter; Dr. Gil Joseph F. Octaviano II, representing UPAA Negros Chapter; Judge Ateneones S. Bacale of UPV Tacloban College Alumni Association; and, Atty. Dennis J. Guevara of UPAA Iloilo Chapter. The officers commended the hard work of volunteer alumni during the pandemic and called for continued unity among the alumni and further service to the community.
UPV officials who gave messages along with a video “look-back” at the UPV campuses and colleges were: Prof. Martin G. Genodepa, Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development; Dr. Ramer P. Bautista, Dean of the School of Technology; Prof. Arthur P. Barrido, Jr., Dean of the College of Management; and, Prof. Severa Fe S. Katalbas, Dean of the College of Science and Technology.
The event highlighting the activities, “UPV Alumni Zoomcoming Virtual Reunion and Online Socials,” was held in the evening. Alumni were able to see each other by logging on to the virtual gathering, while others opted to watch the program’s live stream instead. The online reunion allowed alumni in attendance a fun, albeit short, kamustahan or catching up. Even those viewing the live stream sent greetings to their former classmates.
Alumni from various UPV performing groups provided additional entertainment. Among them were: the UPV Choristers Alumni; UP Khoryu Alumni; Ms. Abigail Leguera, a UPV Performa alumna; Mr. Malik Mariano, a UPV Rhapsody alumnus; and, Ms. Kate Fesalboni, a UP Teatro Amakan alumna. The celebrating jubilarian UP High School in Iloilo (UPHSI) Batch 80 also gave an audio-visual presentation.
UPV Chancellor, Dr. Ricardo P. Babaran, welcomed the guests, saying, “We hope that this first Zoomcoming reunion will still allow us all to relive memories of our years in UPV and sustain our longing to reconnect with old friends.” He reported on some of the latest changes, new additions, and improvements to UPV. This included the Oblation’s relocation to the front of the UPV Main Building in the city campus which faces the new Oblation Avenue towards the Delgado St. entrance, which, he said, makes the campus “more welcoming”. He mentioned the new UPHS building, an alumni project, and new infrastructure in the Miagao campus. He thanked the alumni for their continued support to the University.
Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs and UP System Office of Alumni Relations Director Maria Angelica D. Abad greeted the alumni, especially the jubilarians, who were able to attend the “landmark” event. She called on the alumni, whom she considered “drivers in nation building, the pioneers in cutting-edge research, the trail blazers in arts and culture,” to continue to look back to the University and support the scholars especially with the upcoming transition to remote learning.
UP President Danilo L. Concepcion also welcomed the alumni to the “first-ever virtual reunion to be held in UP”. He commended UPV and its alumni’s various initiatives at this time of pandemic. “I am filled with gratitude, humility, and optimism because throughout this period I have seen the UP Visayas community, that includes you, our alumni, rise to your very best,” he said.
Justice Francis H. Jardeleza, retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, delivered the keynote address. He paid tribute to the alumni, from the early pioneers to the “movers and shakers”, who were instrumental in the improvements in UPV, from the restoration of the Main Building, to the renovation of the Little Theater and the construction of the Cinematheque and the Graduate and Continuing Education Building. He also lauded “regular” and anonymous donors, who remain supportive of activities that benefit scholars, among others.
Justice Jardeleza ended by announcing the donation of his class, the UPV High School Class of 1965, in the amount of P300,000, for the establishment of the Historical Preservation Initiative, which aims to help in the preservation of the Old High School Building and the Woman’s Club Building.
The event included the UPAA Iloilo Chapter’s recognition and appreciation of the COVID-19 initiatives done by various alumni and alumni groups in the region. These were individuals and organizations that have made a big impact on the pandemic response efforts.
Alumni jubilarians from the classes of 1965, 1980, 1990, 2000, and other alumni, including Senator Franklin Drilon, Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Ida Siason, officers of various UPAA Visayas chapters, UPV officials and personnel, among others, were also in attendance.
UPV OAR Director Prof. Benmar B. Panaguiton formally closed the program. He said this year’s virtual homecoming was a response to the question, “Are we not having anything for the alumni during the homecoming this year?” With the vital role the alumni have taken on to respond to COVID-19, he knew the hosting of these virtual alumni activities by the University was a fitting tribute to them.
“The initial idea was just to have a Zoom meeting where everybody can meet,” which was why it was called a “Zoomcoming,” a virtual reunion. “Eventually it grew as ideas came in,” he added. In collaboration with alumni groups and associations, the colleges, and offices, more activities were added to the week-long homecoming.
In closing, he expressed gratitude to everyone who participated in the week-long online activities, and the various alumni and alumni groups who remain at the forefront of community service during quarantine.
Apart from the main events, various pre-event and related activities were held from August 19 to 31. The “Zoomcoming Art Sale” by UPV Office of the Initiative for Culture and Arts, which kicked off on August 19, and the “e-Tyangge” by UPV Bulig Barter, “Baligyakag Iban Pa” on August 24, delighted their participants.
The e-Conversations webinar series, “Bayanihan sa Ti-on sang Pandemya”, was held on August 26 and 27. The series included the sessions: “Coping with the Black Swan Event”; “From Sports to PPEs: The Alumni Response to COVID-19”; “Surviving Quarantine”; and, “Into the Barricades: Hopes and Fears in the Frontlines”. Alumni from relevant fields were the speakers.
Regular homecoming day food festivals were revised to become compliant with health protocols.
On August 28, the “VArrio Fiesta Alumni Brunch”, sponsored by UPV Validus Amicitia Brotherhood, turned into a “limited edition” event. Only the UPV security force and campus maintenance personnel became this year’s guests. The “Golden Lunch” for retired UPV personnel, sponsored by UPV Silak Brotherhood & Silak Sisterhood, went “On Wheels”, with members personally delivering food items to the retirees. Both events were much appreciated by their intended recipients. In the afternoon, the UPV School of Technology continued their Alumni Bingo online. Players purchased cards via electronic means, and played in their own homes.
Simultaneously, the UPV Tacloban College held the online “UP Tacloban Alumni Azoombly”. This was attended by a large number of alumni from Eastern Visayas.
On August 29, UPHSI alumni followed with the “GOLD: Goldies On Line Day”, organized by the iAmUPHi Alumni Association. Among the attendees were UPHSI officials, the iAmUPHi Board of Trustees, Gov. Arthur Defensor, Jr., and Cong. Sharon Garin. Aside from entertainment and greetings, past and future projects for the UPHSI were also presented. One of their newly completed projects was the UPSHI Learning Resource Center of Excellence building.
The activities in the 2020 UPV Alumni Zoomcoming is the University’s simple offering to its alumni who were and still are unable to physically go back to their alma mater.
More screenshots from the UP Visayas “Alumni Zoomcoming Day”: