A NUMBER of alumni were recognized for their excellence in the field of business and leadership during the first-ever Thomasian Global Trade Expo last October 15 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay.

Felino Palafox, principal architect of Palafox Associates, Vivian Que Azcona, president of Mercury Drug, Inc., and Joel Cruz, maker of Aficionado Germany Perfume, were among Thomasians who received the Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Business Leaders Award from the Office for Alumni Relations.

Other awardees included Judy Kiu Bactat (Mossimo Philippines), Carl Balita (Dr. Carl Balita Review Center), Juanito de Asis (IBC 13), Ray Gapuz (R.A. Gapuz Review Center), and Richard Po (Century Pacific
Group).

UST Alumni Association President Robert Sy said Thomasian business leaders were acknowledged not only because of their achievements, but also because of what they have given back to their alma mater.

Michael Angelo Malicsi, head of the Office for Alumni Relations, said the expo was a milestone as it was the first University activity of such magnitude.

“The expo showed that Thomasian alumni could be a strong force, as manifested by the participating exhibitors and the almost 30,000 visitors throughout the three-day affair,” he said.

Student Affairs chief Evelyn Songco said the expo had four objectives: showcasing Thomasian excellence, promoting networking among alumni, inspiring students with the example of successful alumni, and preparing for next year’s Quadricentennial celebrations.

The three-day exhibit focused on food and beverage on the first day, business on the second day, and information technology and food, fashion, and health on the third day.

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Majority of the proceeds of the event will be allocated to the construction of the Thomasian Alumni Center, a five-storey building that will rise on the site of the UST Gymnasium. The rest of the proceeds will go to the Office for Alumni Affairs and local alumni organizations of different colleges and faculties, Sy said.

A total of 241 companies, including those not owned by Thomasians, participated in the event.

From science to entrepreneurship

The exhibition at the SMX Convention Center also gathered Thomasian entrepreneurs who have shifted gears from one field of interest to another.

One of them was Dr. Erika Garayblas, an alumna of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, who joined the event with her franchise of Scramble Ramble, a stall selling the famous Filipino cooler from which the name of the business was derived.

Angeli Uy Sobremonte-Tuazon, founding chairwoman of the UST Thomasian Alumni Leaders Association, Inc. and one of the organizers of the expo, showcased Asia Adproducts Ltd. Co, which carries brands like Theraplay and Aquaframe.

Tuazon, an alumna of the Faculty of Pharmacy, began selling corporate giveaways in 1999, until she expanded her corporation to launch other products.

‘Serial entrepreneur’

Nursing graduate Carl Balita was also there to show how he benefitted from his Thomasian education.

Balita now has nine companies under his name, and is also a co-host of “Radyo Negosyo,” a one-hour weekly program at DZMM Radyo Patrol 630, which promotes microfinance and new business ideas.

After his stint in UST, he moved to Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, where he taught for six years.

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Armed with his knowledge of nursing, he started a new career as a reviewer for nursing students, which led to the establishment of the Dr. Carl E. Balita Review Center.

He also went on to explore other businesses, such as a medical spa and a café, together with his wife, Lyn, who also got her degree from the University.

Balita said UST “laid my foundation as a nurse,” and taught him the importance of values and faith. He also urged UST students to go “outside of the box” and experience University life in its fullest.

“The diversity of things in UST will teach you beautiful lessons. Capture the lessons of life, not only from the classroom or the educators ,but also through the total experience of the University,” he said. Ana May R. De la Cruz, Rommel Marvin C. Rio, and Brylle B. Tabora

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