Filipino educator in Dubai wins his country’s Presidential Award
DUBAI // A Filipino educator who set up a foundation for poor but deserving students in his home country has won this year’s presidential award for Filipino individuals and organisations overseas.
Dr Rommel Sergio, 42, an associate professor at the Canadian University Dubai, is the only nominee and recipient from the UAE of this year’s award.
He won the Pamana ng Pilipino (Legacy of the Filipino Nation) award for bringing the country honour and recognition through excellence and distinction.
“All my life I’ve been driven by my strong belief that each child should have access to quality education,” Dr Sergio said. “We can inspire anyone regardless of their profession because educators like me create the workforce of today.”
When he was 17, poverty forced him to drop out of college in the Philippines, but he never gave up on getting a good education and eventually earned a diploma.
“I obtained things the hard way,” said Dr Sergio. “Being underprivileged, I had to source my own scholarship from high school until college, and worked hard to send my two brothers to school.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Rizal System in 1996, a master’s degree in psychology at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in 2002, and a doctorate in counselling psychology at the De La Salle University in the Philippines in 2008.
“My past challenges pushed me to strive harder,” said Dr Sergio, who has a postdoctoral degree in management and marketing from Tulane University, and a doctorate in human resource management from the University of Liverpool.
“I grew up in a community where, despite being impoverished, people would still take time to help one other.”
His foundation provides full tuition to 10 college scholars at 10 campuses of the University of Rizal System. “I’m paying it forward to the community where I belong,” he said.
Capt Franklyn Desiderio, an A380 pilot with Emirates who nominated Dr Sergio, described him as the “epitome of excellence in teaching, research and community service”.
“As one of the supporters of his scholarship programme, I believe in his vision as a global educator,” he said.
In Dubai, Dr Sergio organised a series of counselling workshops at the Philippine consulate and behavioural classroom management series for teachers at the United International Private School.
“He’s a mentor and friend with a heart,” said Jennifer Gonzales, the school’s human resources manager.
“He often takes time out of his busy schedule to help people here and back home.”
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte will present Dr Sergio and 22 Filipinos and organisations with the award at the Malacanang Palace on December 19.
The biennial presidential awards have four categories: Pamana ng Pilipino, Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (Service to Fellow Filipinos), Banaag (Ray of Light) Awards, and Kaanib ng Bayan (Partners in Nation-Building).
Dr Sergio, chairman of the human resource management programme of Canadian University Dubai’s school of business administration, is no stranger to accolades.
Last month he was named an outstanding global research leader by Cromwell UK International Education and International Association of Scholarly Publishers, Editors and Reviewers at a conference in Dubai.
Dr Sergio was also given the Top 50 Global Educators Award by the Oxford Journal: An International Journal of Business and Economics in July.
He won the best research paper award at the International Conference on Business Administration in Dubai in February last year, and was named an outstanding Asian faculty member in human resource management at the World Education Congress in Dubai in 2014.
Updated: December 12, 2016 04:00 AM