Universality, a concept contained within the very name of the Foundation, occupies a major part in the spirit and message of Universitas. Indeed, the Foundation is anchored on values which are valid regardless of one’s cultural or geographical backgrounds. That said, Universitas commits itself to transcending Philippine borders and planting the seeds of its advocacy in different parts of the world.

Last Aug. 24-26, the Foundation conducted the Back to the Basics (B2B) course in the Netherlands under the coordination of Mr. Bino Socrates, Executive Director of its International Linkages Program. The first part was held in Maastricht, and the second part was in Utrecht. The whole program was led by Atty. Oliver Tuazon who is doing his graduate studies in the same country.

A picturesque view of Utrecht.

Within three days, the organizing team managed to squeeze in all the seven sessions of the course. It was attended by four Europeans and two Filipinos who joined online via Zoom.

On-site attendees in Utrecht.

This initiative falls under the International Linkages Program (ILP) of Universitas, which aims to spread the message of Universitas beyond the Philippines – that is, principled leadership that is geared towards nation building – as well as to solidify our international ties.

The mix of different cultural backgrounds did not serve as a hindrance to getting the Foundation’s message across to the participants. Kelly Vrijens, a student of European Public Health at Maastricht University (Netherlands), said she “enjoyed the diversity of the session and the Q&A sessions. The interactive discussions were valuable to make cross-cultural differences between countries regarding values and principles.” Kelly also shared her learnings from the course, which you can read here.

Moreover, the testimonies of the other participants point to the universal applicability of Universitas’ message.

Mark Ermeling, a student of Mechanical Engineering at Eindhoven Technical University (Netherlands), said he liked the idea “of going back to the basics, and of how it contained theories which are simple to put into reality.” This is very much in line with the aim of Universitas to go back to the basic and practicable principles which an individual can apply to his/her own life, and by doing so contributes to the betterment of society.

Likewise, Frank Janssen, a student of History and Law at Utrecht University (Netherlands), saw “the importance…for the future generation of leaders to have a good foundation and formation on which they can pursue their future careers.” The need to work on oneself — devoting time to one’s personal and professional formation — while trying to help others and hopefully bring about positive change in the society resonates with him.

At the main plaza of Utrecht during the cultural tour of the city.

Frank further emphasized how he learned that “building one’s career should be based on moral foundation”, as well as the importance of “helping one’s colleagues and friends” as one pursues his/her career goals, a point which captured the service-oriented mission of Universitas.

In addition to the B2B sessions, those who were in Utrecht had a tour around the city, ably led by Frank who studies history in its eponymous university.

Crossing the historic tower of Utrecht.

The program ended with a short speech from Atty. Angela Butalid, CEO of Universitas, where she alluded to the timeliness and enduring relevance of Back to the Basics. “I noticed”, she said, “that the questions [during the Q&A] were mostly about how we can apply the principles of B2B in our own lives. And that goes to show how important this course is, because in this time of pandemic, after being stripped of everything we thought we controlled, the basics is all we have.” She closed it by thanking all the participants and organizers, and expressed her hopes of meeting everyone soon so they can discuss more extensively about their learnings from the course.

Back to the Basic course forms part of the Universitas Leadership Program, which consists of courses and seminars that enable the participants to understand and imbibe the Foundation’s core values, namely, competence, character, and conscience.

The organizing team successfully wrapped up the three-day intensive course on August 26. With the Foundation’s goal of international expansion, the recently-concluded B2B Europe will definitely be followed by many more Universitas events to be conducted outside the Philippines. With these initiatives, the Foundation hopes to get more people to join its flagship program, Universitas Fellows Program, which aims to provide holistic formation to future principled leaders in all sectors of society.

For inquiries concerning the Back to the Basics Program, please contact Atty. Philip Padlan at philip@universitas.ph.