Excellence is a byword that Delma Piamonte Manila has been used to. Growing up in San Isidro, Leyte to a typically large family, her parents inculcated among them the virtues of hard work, perseverance, and putting premium on education as an investment.
“Early on, I was intrinsically competitive. Perhaps, it was because of the upbringing of our parents and the diligence to perform well that made me and my siblings do our best,” shared Manila.
Graduating valedictorian in her elementary and secondary education, she finished Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Major in Accounting in 1976 at the Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion, Cebu City and the University of Southern Philippines. She then went to St. Paul University Dumaguete for her Master of Business Administration, which she finished in 1995.
Earning her Doctor of Public Administration at Foundation University in 2002, a recent feather to Manila’s cap is her being awarded the Outstanding Alumna in the field of education at the Panaghiusa: Alumni Homecoming on December 9, 2023 at the university’s Sofia Soller Sinco Hall.
Below are excerpts of our interview with Manila:
Binhi: What are your noteworthy experiences as a graduate student and, eventually, as an alumna of Foundation University? What are some specific learnings or realizations that you find useful today that you had gotten from Foundation University?
Delma P. Manila (DPM): My graduate student journey at Foundation University and my subsequent role as an alumna have significantly molded my perspective, leadership style, and commitment to education. As a graduate student, I was immersed in a vibrant academic environment where faculty members not only excelled in their fields, but also served as mentors, fostering critical thinking and innovation. This experience deepened my understanding of education's transformative potential. The inclusive community at Foundation University promoted collaboration among students, enhancing problem-solving skills. As an alumna, I got to experience first-hand the exciting academic environment when I was hired as one of the faculty members. This community has facilitated collaboration, shared learning, and mentorship. My alumna experiences have also influenced the strategic direction of Metro Dumaguete College, reflecting Foundation University's commitment to excellence. I have implemented similar principles, fostering continuous improvement, staying updated on educational trends, and creating avenues for students to apply their knowledge practically. Finally, my impactful journey as a graduate student and alumna and faculty member has profoundly shaped my role as an educational leader at Metro Dumaguete College, guided by the values and insights gained at Foundation University.
Binhi: You are considered as a trailblazer in technical-vocational education. How did this dedication and commitment come about?
DPM: I am deeply honored to be recognized as a trailblazer in technical-vocational education. My dedication and commitment to this field have been shaped by a combination of personal experiences, a commitment to community development, and a forward-thinking vision for education. Throughout my career as a banker at Land Bank of the Philippines, I witnessed the transformative impact that quality technical-vocational education can have on farmers and communities. Recognizing the potential to empower individuals with practical skills that directly translate into meaningful employment, I became impassioned by the idea of creating an educational institution that not only imparts knowledge, but also equips students with the hands-on skills needed in the real world.
Binhi: Describe your work ethic. Do you require these among your colleagues, faculty, and staff?
DPM: I uphold a work ethic centered on dedication, integrity, collaboration, and a commitment to excellence. My work ethic is deeply rooted in the belief that fostering a positive and inclusive work environment is essential for the overall success of our institution. 2 Dedication is a fundamental aspect of my work ethic. I am committed to the vision and mission of Metro Dumaguete College, and this
commitment reflects in my proactive approach to leadership. I strive to lead by example, demonstrating a strong work ethic through my engagement, decision- making, and continuous efforts to enhance the quality of education we provide. Integrity is non-negotiable in my approach to work. I prioritize transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior in all aspects of administration. Upholding high
standards of integrity is crucial not only for maintaining the trust of our stakeholders, but also for fostering a culture of honesty and responsibility within the institution. Collaboration is a key component of my work ethic. I recognize the importance of teamwork and value the diverse perspectives and skills that each member of the college community brings. Encouraging open communication, mutual
respect, and shared goals is essential for creating an environment where collaboration thrives. In terms of my expectations for colleagues, faculty, and staff at MDC, I do require a similar commitment to these principles. I believe that a shared dedication to our mission, a commitment to integrity, a collaborative spirit, and a pursuit of excellence are essential for the collective success of our institution. Through ongoing professional development opportunities, clear communication, and a supportive leadership approach, I aim to empower our team to embody and contribute to the positive work ethic that defines our institution. I also encourage our team to work not by fear of their bosses, but love of work.
Binhi: At this point in your personal and professional life, are there things you would still want to do? Are there things you would still want to achieve or reach?
DPM: I find myself at a point where both personal and professional aspirations continue to motivate me. There are several key areas I am keen to focus on to further contribute to the growth and impact of our institution:
1. Sustainability of Existing Projects and Partnerships:
• My foremost goal is to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the ongoing projects and partnerships at Metro Dumaguete College. This involves 3 maintaining and enhancing the quality of our academic programs, ensuring they remain relevant and aligned with industry needs.
2. Tapping into Other Talents for Skills Development:
• I am eager to explore innovative ways of tapping into diverse talents within and outside our institution. This includes fostering a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration, inviting industry experts for guest lectures, and facilitating mentorship programs. By harnessing a variety of talents, we can provide students with a well-rounded education that encompasses a wide array of skills.
3. Openness to New Business Opportunities:
• I am open to new business opportunities that encompass broadening our influence in emerging sectors, establishing collaborations with industries at the forefront of innovation, or integrating entrepreneurial programs into our curriculum. This receptiveness is intended to generate additional employment opportunities for both our graduates and members of the community we cater to, while also contributing to the economic advancement of Negros Oriental.
4. Continuous Learning and Professional Development:
• Personally, I am committed to continuous learning and professional development. Staying abreast of the latest trends in education, leadership, and industry advancements is crucial. This involves attending conferences, participating in workshops, and engaging in networking opportunities to ensure that my leadership remains dynamic and informed.
5. Strengthening Community Impact:
• I aspire to strengthen MDC’s impact on the community. This includes initiatives that go beyond academic excellence, such as community outreach programs, sustainable development projects, and partnerships that address local needs. By actively contributing to the betterment of the community, we can create a lasting positive influence. While I am proud of the achievements and progress we have
made, there is a perpetual drive to do more, achieve more, and contribute more to the holistic development of our institution, our students, and the community we serve. These aspirations reflect a commitment to excellence, innovation, and a deep sense of responsibility as the leader of Metro Dumaguete College.
In line with the institution’s commitment to accessibility and community engagement, Manila revealed that they have established Campus 2 in Magatas, Sibulan. “This expansion allows us to reach a wider student base and contribute to educational opportunities in the province. The facilities at Campus 2 are equipped with modern amenities, fostering a conducive learning environment. Campus 2 will offer one of our TESDA Diploma Program courses, the Diploma in Tourism Technology and our future courses related to modern agriculture,” added Manila.
Just this year, the institution expanded to Australia for possible on-the-job training opportunities for students taking up courses or programs related to hotel and restaurant services.
Indeed, Manila epitomizes what a true Foundationite is – promoting a culture of excellence and manifesting a desire to serve. (Cecile M. Genove)