Vibrant Bacolod reflects Filipinos’ dynamism
Jeric Mahilum, fourth of seven children of a tricycle driver, thanked his parents for rearing and seeing him through basic and higher education despite economic challenges as he delivered the valedictory address at Riverside College in Bacolod City last week. He was among the 825 graduates of Riverside College, Inc., one of 15 colleges and four universities in this capital city of Negros Occidental province. It was Riverside’s first in-person graduation ceremonies in three years.
Talent availability and good infrastructure have made Bacolod one of the fastest-growing cities in terms of the information technology and business processing outsourcing industries. Riverside College, Inc., a member company of the Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc., has acquired state-of-the-art technology to fulfill its avowed mission to produce “21st century global leaders and professionals through tech-savvy programs and nurturing environment and processes.”
Nursing, physical therapy, medical technology, pharmacy, psychology, and radiologic technology are the leading career choices of this year’s graduates. RCI President Samuel Lee and his staff gave us a tour of the school’s facilities that still bear telltale signs of wariness about Covid: Dividers in corridors, hard-plastic separators in classrooms, spaced-out desks and seats. Owing to its modern facilities – including an online learning management system – Riverside adopted a 10/4 cyclical model: Ten days of flexible online learning and four days of limited face-to-face classes on campus, and in different affiliating centers. Last summer, I had the opportunity to engage Riverside students in virtual group discussions to sound them off on their outlook for their future. They regard education as the passport to a better life and a more auspicious future. They are wary of politicians who are prime exemplars of the mismatch between rhetoric and action. I am not sure if they are pleased with the outcome of the May national and local elections, but I am happy to note that, by and large, they made enlightened choices. I hope that even if their preferred candidates did not win, they would not be discouraged and would continue to believe in the pursuit of good governance.
After the graduation, Sammy Lee took us on a “running city tour” aboard a van, reminiscent of Carlos Celdran’s storied “walking tour” of Intramuros. Bacolod City’s landscape has changed over the past few years, as major property developers such as Ayala Land and SMDC have established malls, hotels, and residential subdivisions. High-rise structures have also mushroomed