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‘Samahan n’yo’: President Enriquez validates Fatimanians who struggle to interact
‘Samahan n’yo’: President Enriquez validates Fatimanians who struggle to interact

By: Raymond Lumagsao


By: Raymond Lumagsao


Recognizing the exigent circumstances that beset the academe during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) President Dr. Caroline Marian Enriquez accepted the call of the community to recognize, discuss, and navigate crucial changes that affect the well-being of learners.

This was successfully executed following the “BLOOM Event” by the Emotional Reset Center that was commissioned by OLFU to stage a series of holistic fora on 02 October 2023 at the Assembly Hall of the RISE Tower.

As a champion of mental health, Enriquez was personally present to express her clear understanding on the issue, recognizing the emotional support that every Fatimanian equally needs to become a better member of a safe educational community that is OLFU.

“As we navigate what we are doing right now, the transition from pre-pandemic to pandemic to normal, many of us are probably really having some sort of angst, ‘What am I doing here is probably simpler during [the] pandemic when we are on a Zoom?’ Maybe we also lost that capacity to interact because we were sheltered in our homes,” Enriquez hypothesized.

The President also shared how the first in-person graduation of OLFU following the onset of new normal in 2022 made her feel bad for the Senior High School (SHS) batch who only got the opportunity to physically meet each other for the first time in two years.

“It is important that we learn how to interact with each other because we learn to display different kinds of characteristics and part of that, and it is the very important – the character of empathy,” she stated while encouraging everyone to become more understanding with each other.

While vowing to provide high caliber education at OLFU, the President humbly admitted the need to outsource experts to fill in the necessary support that Fatimanians need, especially in nourishing their mental well-being.

“You have your academic support coming from your teachers and lecturers from different fora but it’s also crucial that the emotional support will also be prioritized,” Enriquez intimated while acknowledging the different approaches to gauge mental and emotional needs as well as the proper ways to address those.

By narrating a vulnerable experience with her then Grade 1 daughter who fell victim to bullying and mislabeling at a young age, the President proceeded to validate students who “are probably very sad” or just tend to isolate themselves from the crowd.

“If you see somebody [who is] alone, samahan niyo [give them company]. Call them. Bring them in because they probably have issues [or] they are shy but they also have to reach out to you, they [just] don’t know [how],” said Enriquez adding that “we have to put in the time” to understand each other.

“We’re not the same, we’re different in all forms but we’re all here for each other and in Fatima, we make sure that we train you well academically [and] we also instill in you compassion,” vowed the OLFU trailblazer as she closed her opening talk.

Dr. Ignacio Cordova Jr., Dean of the College of Business and Accountancy (CBA) and the College of Hospitality and Institutional Management (CHIM), as well as the event lead for BLOOM, rendered an eye-opening prelude to the program.

In confessing that mental health is often disregarded in business education, Cordova now sees the value of investing in a healthy mindset — a celebrated understanding that OLFU clearly advocates its commitment as evidenced by the support of President Enriquez.

With mental health issues becoming a “matter of concern” in the Philippine education system, a recognition of this adversity is a must, added Cordova who strongly proposed to create supportive space, empower parents and faculty, and cultivate emotional strength for, and among students.

“As we move forward, let us remember that mental health education is not a one-time event and it is not just all about this [program] but an ongoing process,” echoed the dean, touching on holistic management towards mental wellness.

Mental Health Hackathon

Founder of the Emotional Reset Center Dr. Maria Bryce Fabro opened the BLOOM Event with an insightful spontaneous talk covering ways to handle mentally stressful situations.

The expert also took the audience to an enriching mental journey, coaching especially young learners to turn obstacles into opportunities and ways to enhance their emotional fitness.

With a striking question, “How do you show up when something goes wrong?”, Fabro consequently unveiled the core to manage the situation involving control, ownership, reach, and endurance.

By laying out ways to healthily establish resilience as a brain function, the expert encouraged her audience to rather challenge automatic negative thoughts in creating a different script in one’s mind. To make the program interactive, Fabro dared the attendees to produce their own #BloomUp script online.

The Mental Hackathon kicked off with both Fabro and Dr. Elmer Soriano of the Civika Asian Development Academy at the helm. Fatimanians from across OLFU campuses were challenged to collaboratively respond to twenty mental health problems concerning pressing issues of young learners today, to wit: digital overload and stress, bullying and cyberbullying, peer pressure and mental health, creative expression for well-being, exam stress and academic pressure, peer support, substance abuse prevention, body image and self-esteem, among others.

For the Emotional Reset Center, the hackathon is a “unique opportunity to harness creativity and empathy” that will introduce a future with “improved mental health support and greater resilience in the school communities.”

Championing Child’s Mental Health

Real-life partners Dr. Brenda Fortune and Mr. Vincent Don Fortune teamed up to guide parents and teachers in championing the well-being of young minds during the afternoon session of BLOOM

This part of the discussion comprehensively covered the RESCUE approach that was especially formulated to raise mentally healthy children.

As parents, the couple highlighted the value of reaffirming their roles in the households. The strategy also puts an emphasis in educating parents on the fundamentals in ensuring they become the frontline of support to their children who struggle mentally.

The Fortunes also encourage parents to equally set firm and healthy boundaries for themselves and their children, adding that effective communication plays a crucial ground towards understanding.

The expert couple also went deep as they laid out to parents necessary ways to understand themselves and their children. This involves tracing family origin, and ultimately, understanding a child’s psychosocial development. The second session ended with a fervent encouragement for the parents to engage in greater community.

To close the program was a discussion on innovative strategies for holistic well-being in education where Dr. Brenda Fortune strongly promoted non-violent communication and increasing the kindness quotient.

In essence, the successful and all-inclusive initiative validated Fatimanians, informed parents, and enabled faculty members, especially the movers of the Center for Guidance Services (CGS) to advocate for a safe and healthy academic space – a simple execution that proves indeed that #OLFUCares.

The Bloom Event coincides with the month-long celebration of Mental Health Awareness this October. – Raymond Lumagsao