by Cecile M. Genove
Traditions, once lived by, are difficult to brush aside. Wealth and beauty may not remain always, but well-entrenched traditions live forever.
Such was the prevailing mood at Foundation University in Dumaguete City in the first three days of December as the university staged a comeback of the phenomenal Kasadyaan Festival.
Formerly known as the Mardi Gras Festival, it has always been a red-letter day in the city, as Dumagueteños lined up the streets to marvel at the parade of lights and floats, with raucous dancing in between, by students representing the various colleges and departments of the university.
Consistent with its theme this year, “FU @ 73: Extraordinary Me”, practically all activities highlighted the extraordinary qualities of a true Foundationite, steeped in the ideals set forth by its founder, lawyer Dr. Vicente Guzman Sinco, and guided by its core values of excellence, commitment, integrity, and service.
The first day of the Kasadyaan Festival started with a Thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Msgr. Julius Perpetuo Heruela, university chaplain, followed by the opening of the Kasadyaan Village, punctuated by talent presentations, including those prepared by students from schools in the city, who were invited to grace the event.
Food stalls were also set up with delectable goodies and free coffee, courtesy of the College of Hospitality Management. The atmosphere was reminiscent of how the campus was before the onslaught of the pandemic three years ago.
Later in the evening of the first day was the staging of the much-awaited and well-prepared for Pasundayag, a display of talents, particularly, of native folk dances and those adapted from the country’s colonizers.
Romping off with the championship trophy was the contingent from the College of Business Administration, followed by the College of Hospitality Management, and the Foundation Preparatory Academy. It was a tough, but judicious decision by the members of the board of judges, Engel Boen Zerna, Vic June Nocete, and chaired by Dr. Carlou Bernaldez, all dance enthusiasts.
Another highlight was the much-coveted title of Hara sa FU 2023, similarly a tradition that showcases what a Foundationite woman is made of and can offer to the community, in terms of her advocacy projects.
After the virtual pageant last year, this year’s in-person pageant was met with a lot of excitement, preparation, and hard work put in by everyone involved in the production, including the parents and guardians of the 11 beautiful and super-talented candidates.
Emerging as the hands-down queen is the candidate from the College of LAw and Jurisprudence, Hearlie Indus Ortega, incidentally the first-ever candidate that the College sent as representative to the pageant and consequently, the first Hara sa FU from the College.
The 24-year-old law sophomore lists down painting, reading novels, and swimming as among her hobbies and interests. Her advocacy centers on children’s welfare, specifically against child abuse. “One of the world’s greatest injustices is to deny a human being of a happy and carefree childhood,” she relates, adding that she has had a personal experience dealing with these unfortunate children.
Seventeen-year-old Precious Kyra Arriola of Foundation Preparatory Academy was crowned first runner-up. Listing acting and singing as among her skills and talents, her advocacy is on the promotion of learning opportunities for children and to meet their rights as a child through education.
Half-Ghanaian, half-Filipina Saidatu Yushawa, 21, of the College of Business Administration was proclaimed second runner-up. A third year Management Accounting student, she is very outdoorsy, playing beach or indoor volleyball, and does surfing, swimming, and diving. Her advocacy is to eradicate racial discrimination.
The rest of the candidates are Pretty Hyna Sampayan, College of Arts and Sciences-Department of Architecture and Fine Arts; Erica Gabate, School of Industrial Engineering and Technology; Tricia Salvador, College of Nursing; Johanna Gene Gaspari, College of Hospitality Management; Daphne Kate Bayubay, College of Computer Studies; Shyra Mae Rahiol, College of Criminology; Jehonny Mondejar, College of Agriculture; and, Carla Jean Montinod, College of Education.
Celebrity judges from the metropolis were invited to be the pageant judges, namely, Jian Maverick Lasala, a high-caliber fashion designer who has dressed up international candidates in the Miss Universe pageant; Tracy Lei Icaza, model and Miss Turismo Filipina Global International; and Luke Jickain, actor-model.
On Dec. 3 was the Panaghiusa: Alumni Homecoming where golden and silver jubilarians, both from the high school and collegiate departments, were honored.
This year’s Outstanding Alumni are Neri C. Ojastro, Schools Division superintendent of the Department of Education Siquijor Province Division, in the field of government/ public service; and, Eva C. Melon, former vice-president for academic affairs of Foundation University and now, of Metro Dumaguete College, in the field of education.
Andrea T. Catarata, a member of the board of directors of the Foundation University Alumni Association Inc., was also recognized for her services to the Association.
Presenting the certificates and tokens to the jubilarians and outstanding alumni were Victor Vicente Sinco, university president; Jerome de la Cruz, alumni association president; and Engr. Marlon Tanilon, university director for alumni affairs.
Culminating the three-day Kasadyaan Festival was the Parade of Lights participated in by contingents from various academic and partner-support units, ending at the FU Green with elaborate fireworks display and a music festival featuring professional local bands.
“This year’s Kasadyaan Festival symbolizes hope, resonating in all our activities where everyone contributed their fair share in its success. Let us embody qualities and values that we can all be proud of,” said university president Sinco.