Unesco female chief Irina Bokova thanks Rector Fr. Rolando De la Rosa, O.P.after the imposition of the Golden Cross medallion. Photo by RED IMAGESUST has earned the praise of no less than the first woman head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) for putting women in leadership positions.

Unesco director-general Irina Bokova made the remark as she accepted the Golden Cross Award, the University’s highest award.

“Women are often the strongest forces for dialogue and understanding… this must be recognized and developed,” said Bokova, the third woman to receive the award.

She added that one of Unesco’s main priorities in achieving gender equality is to promote the role of women in science.

“I can see [that majority of] deans [in UST] are women and this is a message I will take with me to our headquarters,” she said. “I am going to congratulate your University for this wonderful achievement.”

Eleven of 16 deans in the University are women: Nursing Dean Glenda Vargas, Pharmacy Dean Priscilla Torres, Medicine and Surgery Dean Graciela Gonzaga, Rehabilitation Sciences Dean Jocelyn Agcaoili, Education Dean Clotilde Arcangel, Science Dean Maribel Nonato, Commerce and Business Administration Dean Ma. Socorro Calara, Graduate School Dean Lilian Sison, Fine Arts and Design Dean Cynthia Loza, UST-AMV College of Accountancy Dean Minerva Cruz, and Tourism and Hospitality Management Dean Ma. Cecilia A. Tio Cuison.

In ceremonies last March 25 at the Medicine Auditorium, Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Rector of the University, described Bokova as “a woman of action” who “translated her brave words” into action.

“People saw that your actions are raised from and nourished by intellectual honesty,” De la Rosa said during the conferment of the award.

The return of the ring

Bokova, known as an advocate of new humanism, actively promotes cultural diversity and biodiversity.

“New time calls for new thinking,” Bokova said in her acceptance speech. “The culture of today remains to build a singular human community where all are equally empowered to live a life of dignity, knowledge, and respect.”

She said the foundations of peace lie with “every individual’s ability to imagine a better world and to shape reality in this direction.”

De la Rosa said that with the political and social unrest in the world, there is a need to “rediscover” a renewed sense of being human and that “we belong to one family.”

“That is why today, the University confers on you, your excellency, the Golden Cross Award as a way of acknowledging your total dedication and commitment to the promotion of what you termed as new humanism; a humanism developed through education, dialogue, and mutual support among peoples and perfected through science and technology tempered by moral values and universal moral standards,” the Rector said.

Bokova emphasized the role of the academe in intercultural dialogue, interfaith studies, and interreligious understanding, fields in which the University “has contributed a lot.”

The Golden Cross Award is the highest honor given by the University to individuals who excel in the promotion of the arts, humanities and sciences, or have distinguished themselves by their “total commitment” to serve humankind.

Among the recipients of the award are former Philippine Presidents Corazon Aquino and Diosdado Macapagal, King Juan Carlos of Spain, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

“I wish to show through action and tangible results that there is no geographical dividing line between happiness and suffering, strength and weakness,” Bokova said in her investiture. “We shall convince the strongest to help the weakest; we are bound together because we belong to one planet.” Charmaine M. Parado


  1. This article is a good read, however I could not help but notice the word “dean” being overused particularly on the sixth paragraph. The opening sentence “Eleven of 16 deans in the University are women” is alright, but when these women deans were identified, the word “dean” was all over the place.

    It would have been much simpler and more sensible to say “Eleven of 16 deans in the University are women: Glenda Vargas (Nursing), Priscilla Torres (Pharmacy)…”

    Dropping the word “dean” from the names of these respectable ladies will not lessen their dignity or make them less human, I believe. Thanks.


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