Left to right: Asst. Prof. Jeremaiah Opiniano, Asst. Prof. Pia Patricia Tenedero and Darlene Demandante

Three professors from the Faculty of Arts and Letters recently completed their doctorate degrees abroad, hurdling the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the struggles of being stuck away from home.

Asst. Prof. Jeremaiah Opiniano, Asst. Prof. Pia Patricia Tenedero and Darlene Demandante obtained their PhDs from Australian universities.

Opiniano, of the UST journalism program, obtained his PhD (Human Geography) from the University of Adelaide in May this year.

He said that while completing a doctorate degree was naturally challenging mentally and emotionally, the anxiety caused by the pandemic—even though the state he was in had a low number of Covid-19 cases—had been difficult to live with.

“Like anybody else, even in a ‘safe place,’ I and others are worried of the disruptions the pandemic had caused,” Opiniano told the Varsitarian.

As he worked on his research, titled “Overseas Remittances and Rural Home Town Investing in Two Philippine Municipalities: Towards an Understanding of the Migration-and-Local Development Nexus,” Opiniano said he found out that allotting time for oneself was a good way to cope with the anxiety brought upon by the pandemic.

“This journey reminded me to find time for myself, like spending time with family, friends, landlords and members of the Filipino community; watching movies and K-Drama; doing physical exercises; going to different places to relax and unwind; and praying and reflecting,” he said.

Tenedero, of the Department of English, obtained her linguistics doctorate from the Macquarie University in Sydney.

Before the lockdowns were announced in March, Tenedero said she was getting ready to fly to the US to present her research.

“I now realize it was a blessing that I did not make that trip. I could have gotten stuck somewhere else even farther from home and more exposed to uncertainties and anxieties that everyone had a good share of,” she said.

Tenedero said she also experienced anxiety while finishing her thesis, “Communication that counts: A sociolinguistic ethnography of globalized accounting work,” to the point where she saw her own research as “unessential.”

“How could I focus on analyzing data and writing literature review when so many people in the world are suffering and dying? The smallness of my project became so apparent to me that I began to question the point of doing it,” she said.

But she found solace in sharing her knowledge and attending and delivering talks in lectures.

“In the past year, I have been blessed with some opportunities to share the things I have learned from my research training…I think it’s important to recognize good opportunities and to say ‘yes’ in whatever way I can, when I can,” she said.

Unlike Tenedero and Opiniano, Demandante, of the Department of Philosophy, obtained her philosophy doctorate from the Macquarie University in 2019, before the pandemic broke out, and was in the Philippines in 2020 when the lockdowns occurred.

“I came back in 2020, enthusiastic to share what I have learned from my studies only to be put down by the Covid-19 pandemic which as we all know, forced us to migrate to online learning,” she said.

Demandante said that completing a doctorate degree abroad was not merely about traveling and exploring places and cultures.

“Contrary to what a lot of people think, writing a thesis abroad is not just about being able to travel to different places and acquainting oneself with different varieties of food…There are also unfortunate instances of racism, misogyny and having to deal with the imposter syndrome as a woman of color among many other things,” she said.

Despite this, she was able to finish her study, “The Political Subject and its Experiences: An Alternative Reading of Rancière on Political Subjectivity.”

The new doctorate degree holders will present their papers on September 25, 2021, during the Quasquicentennial celebration of the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

Arlets now has 80 doctorate degree holders. J.A.C. Casucian


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