SOMETIMES the solution to one’s problems comes in the form of others’ concern.

This year’s Guidance Week celebration focused on the theme “Reaching beyond Embracing a Culture of Care Towards a Healthy and Safe Thomasian Community,” opening the festivities with a short program held at the AMV Multi-purpose Hall last September 3.

On its fourth year, the Guidance Week picked the theme to target the students’ emotional wellness, aware that they are exposed to different factors and circumstances that can push them to become mentally stressed.

Incorporating the theme into this year’s celebration, all activities are related to the culture of care and support to each student.

Professor Lucila Ortiz-Bance, director of the University’s guidance and counseling department, opened the festivities noting that "a lot of students nowadays have numerous problems with depression, anger management, and post-traumatic stress among others."

"The number of students affected increases alarmingly every year,” she said.

Bance said early assessment, identification and referral of the students to their counsellors are necessary in order to help them cope with life’s different stress sources.

This year’s keynote speaker, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairman Eugenio Villareal, discussed mental wellness related to influences from different forms of media.

Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, Villareal explained that one could relate one's mental well-being with others through the Dominican’s teachings.

“I learned a lot from St. Thomas Aquinas. One must seek what is good to live prosperously in a community with other men and women,” Villareal said.

He further discussed that the idea of caring for others is through looking for what is best in others, caring for their emotional welfare and their overall self-positive outlook.

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Villareal also commented on the age of young people and how it is parallel to their understanding of things.

“Children below 10 are not really capable of critical judgement, while adolescents look for role models to follow and learn from.”

He said media is now a big controlling force in thoughts and decision making. a lot of people, especially students, immensely depend their opinions with what they find on the internet or watch on television.

“Media warps our impression of what human beings are. A community living in a world of proper guidance is a healthy and safe community where a person can live freely.”

Being the head of the board that regulates safe and appropriate media viewing, Villarealfinds screening what is proper from what is not, without exercising censorship, a welcome challenge.

“Living in a democracy, we are entitled to our freedom of expression,” Villareal said.

“But we have to learn to balance our ideas with fancy footwork because freedom is not an infinite thing.”

Putting the culture of care into play, Villareal emphasized that their main concern is ensuring that what comes out in media respects human dignity, is age-appropriate and respects the privacy of the family.

The guidance and counselling department organized a myriad of different activities over the course of the four-day celebration. Peer counselling sessions of the students per college addressed current issues such as understanding bullying, surviving school rigors and personal mission-vision and mind-sets.

There were also research forums and lecture sessions for educators to empower them to become the guiding force in helping the students deal with their issues.

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As Fr. Angel Aparicio, prefect of libraries, said in his short talk to end the opening ceremonies, one should act like an adult always both in faith and in life.

“How could someone who is not a mature person be a mature Christian?” he said.


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