Dear FED Community,

When I entered UPOU, my welcome article was an opinion piece from an OU friend, an AA graduate too, published in Cyber Isko—the Official Student Publication of UPOU. It goes like this: “We must remember: it takes but a noisy few to warp the dreams and ideals we hold dear; it takes but one clear voice to protect a vision. That voice can be yours.”

It spoke to me because I was searching for my identity as a student of the ODeL community. I was new in the UPOU community and I was longing to belong while navigating the terrain that is “diverse and dispersed”. 

My vision in my stay with UPOU was that no matter how long, or no matter how short my journey is, I get to live fully—battle scars, wounded hearts, and all. And that in my journey, I get to find my voice—not for anyone, but most importantly for myself. I wanted to be heard as a student of the UPOU community.

And so I expressed my voice in the most convenient way I could—through writing. I incorporated my life experiences in my reflection papers, I meditated on the lessons from my 72 GE courses (including PE and CWTS!) and maximized every lesson in the course guide as a reflection of my life’s travails, and I looked up to the FICs (Faculty in Charge) and treated them as my mentors—each words of wisdom via MyPortal Announcements I hold dear to my heart.

And because the medium of communication in the delivery of learning and in correspondence was through the written word, I valued every course guide, every consultation, every response to my emails, every email thoughtfully and politely crafted, and every guidance and instruction before taking the exams—always reminding us students the creed that we should uphold: honor and excellence.

It took me 7 years to finish my AA degree—but what a beautiful journey it is. In the end, what mattered was that in finding my voice, I get to find other voices that are searching for theirs too, and in our search, we built lifelong relationships—friendships.

Onr of the last courses that I took was CWTS2 and Ma’am Louanne Calipayan assigned us to watch Tony Meloto’s TEDx Talk which mentioned “Padugo” or Bleeding for the Cause. I believe that when you venture into a journey to find your voice, you would really bleed; not just bleed but also shed sweat and tears. But what mattered to me was more than anything else, I get to somehow bleed for the cause because I was given the venue, the room, the freedom, the arena to make the choices that I was allowed to make here in the Faculty of Education.

Thank you so much FED, for allowing me to find my voice through my choices. I am beyond grateful.

Kindest regards,

Alfred John Tayona, 2012-81878