UPAAA Celebrates Its 40 Years

December 21st, 2020 · No Comments

By Benjie de Ubago

The University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Australia (UPAAA), NSW Chapter celebrates its 40 years anniversary this year, thus making it one of the oldest existing Filipino organizations in NSW.

The covid pandemic may have wreaked havoc but the team spirit was not dampened. A virtual Christmas party and 40th anniversary celebration was zoomed in cyberspace. Undeterred, the officers remained focused and continued on with their planned projects.  “We just had to be more creative on how to fund raise,” said UPAAA President, Tiffi Ramos.

Ms. Tiffi Ramos, President UPAAA, NSW chapter.

In her welcoming remarks, Tiffi Ramos said: “We’re like tea bags. Hot water brings out the best in us. We should congratulate ourselves for overcoming the challenges and changes.  We couldn’t change the situation but we still managed to help others and we sustained the association despite the difficulties.”

The executive team include:  Tiffi Ramos (President), Cherry Dizon-Sy (Internal Vice President), Carmela Brion (External Vice President), Alice Bergonia (Secretary), Mica Arellano (Treasurer), Lourdes Katague (Auditor).  A devoted alumna, Pam Ventura is the Public Officer, with Cora Sinha, Head of the scholarship committee, Yss dela Cruz in charge of community engagement  and Cressmar Yparaguirre as the immediate past president.

Consul General Ezzedin H. Tago inducted the officers of the UPAAA-NSW Chapter in March 2020.

UPAAA’s  focus has been providing scholarships since 1982 for indigent students of the University of the Philippines. The Oblation Cup Golf Tournament was one activity devoted to raising funds for the scholars and was initiated by Dr. Cora Francisco along with the assistance of her husband and golf enthusiast, Engr. Ferdi Francisco in 2008. Tee off was every Easter Monday.

This year, to sustain the scholarship fund they started a “Step Up for 40 Challenge” encouraging individuals to engage in some kind of activity, be it walking, running, etc. for 40 minutes.  Proceeds go to underprivileged students who meet certain criteria.  To date, it has managed to raise over $6,000 but donations can still be made via Go Fund Me.

Step Up For 40 Challenge raising funds for UP scholars.

Another project successfully accomplished this year was the “Noche Buena Meals” for those in the Philippines affected by the Cagayan floods this year.

Despite the imposed lockdowns, to mark its Ruby anniversary, a Tree day was organized wherein members were encouraged  to plant in their own backyards.

To get into the spirit of Christmas, the UPAAA NSW Chapter also participated in the virtual Karoling sa Konsulado and performed a charming traditional song complete with moves. A video was also included showing  the Oblation statues throughout the Philippines.  A 40th anniversary video highlighting the organization’s  history was also prepared by Pam Ventura.

In addition to its main location in Diliman, Quezon City, UP now has university campuses in Los Baños, Baguio, Davao, Leyte, Iloilo and Pampanga giving more students access to higher learning. The University has been proudly churning out leaders and quality productive citizens since 1908.

UPAAA Founder, Victor Pulmano

UPAAA NSW Chapter was established in March 1980 by Victor Pulmano along with Ben Liquette, Val Villanueva and Rene Padilla, who did the association’s  logo.  With only a few Filipinos at that time, there was a need to connect with Filipinos for fellowship and socializing.  Founding president, Victor Pulmano said: “This is a time of celebration and thanksgiving for the blessings we’ve received through the years. With optimism and hope – tayo-tayo, sama-sama – we continue to hope for a better year and may we continue to spread the vision of our alma mater in 2021.”  Pulmano was accepted as a lecturer for UNSW in 1972 and was later promoted to professor of Structural Engineering in 1980. One of the early activities during his term of office was an Olympics sports event for Children and adults, held all day at Maroubra.

Most striking was the expression of gratitude that was oozing from the fresher, younger generation for the founders and all the presidents who came before them.  There were lots of “Titos” and “Titas” sprinkled around for respect for the older members who were present.  Voices were tempered; no outlandish camera grabs; only a meaningful simple celebration of camaraderie and friendship. “UPAAA has come this far and those before me did a good job. And we owe them much gratitude,” said Tiffi.  

 “I welcomed the responsibility as President.  I was the external Vice President in 2016, so I recognized the culture in the board.  They’ve been easy  to work with, very cooperative and we all had the same focus,” said Tiffi Ramos.   “There’s been  joy, enthusiasm and cooperation.  I was in the company of greatness.”

After four decades, UPAAA looks ahead with hopes to expand their membership base and attract the millenials to the fold.  “We hope to be able to mentor and guide the younger ones with the goal of developing  them into future leadership roles,” said Tiffi. 

The dynamic UPAA team taking the association beyond 40.

UPAA has proven that with the right attitude and a dash of gratitude, things can be achieved despite the  obstacles. 

Here’s to more maroon power !

UP alumni are most welcome and for more information visit

21 December 2020

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