Friday, May 19, 2006


Throughout our lives, in all its facets, a woman’s touch has given us strength. Count the miracle of growing within and beyond her cradle, count her art of listening and her word of encouragement, count the beauty of the comfort of home, her model of faith everlasting, the lessons taught at school, the inventions to make life easy, the voice of freedom and of courage. A woman is always a big blessing in our lives.

Today, as the entire Silliman University community says a million thanks to Dr. Agustin A. Pulido for his gift of leadership characterized by an amazing 10-year display of his sense of humility, sacrifice, and courage, let us also take time to say “thank you so much” to the women in Silliman University’s First Family.

Our heartfelt gratitude to the President’s wife Dr. Dorothy “Doris” Pulido, she never liked being referred to as the “First Lady” - a mark of her gift of humility.
Mrs. Doris Pulido with TrusteesDR. DOROTHY ANN " Doris " BERMEJO-PULIDO (center) with Silliman University Trustees Roselyn G. Delloso and Fema P. Sayson

All first ladies should learn from Ma’am Doris as she never put any effort to make her presence felt. Her way of helping her husband was always in a silent and humble manner. There was no need for audience whenever she would go unnoticed as much as possible. For that, she is greatly admired. Mayette Utzurrum-Montebon considers Doris Pulido her role model because of her unassuming nature.

Ma’am Doris has actually been a big sister to many women at Silliman Church to whom she taught through her example of a life dedicated to Christian service.

As a medical doctor, Dr. Doris spent many years in the healing ministry, which was capped with a big responsibility as hospital director.

She had served as Chairperson of the Board of Deacons at the Baptist Church in Central Philippines University. Over here at Silliman University Church, Ma’am Doris is a member of the Board of Elders, and the chairperson of the Personnel Committee, which takes care of an important call - the choosing of pastors to lead the Church.

Mrs. Pulido is an achiever, yet as a mother, she never pushed her children to be in the same height that she has conquered. There was no push for the children to surpass her being a high school salutatorian, nor for them or for them to follow her footsteps as a medical doctor, or for them to be at the level of her husband’s impressive performance in the academe.

What she wants other mothers to know is that what counts more is “building-up the children’s self-esteem at an early age.” This is best achieved, according to this outstanding mother, by a concrete demonstration of love for the children – an unconditional love for the way they are, and the way they want themselves to be.

“Don’t be too critical to kids, teach them kindness by being kind to them.” She counseled. She said that it’s easy to teach the kids love and respect when their parents consistently demonstrate love and respect for each other. “Walk your talk,” is the best way to teach. “No calling of names or saying of bad words at home,” she stressed. After all, home is the first place where children feel and believe that there is God and the parents’ best teaching would be to honor God.

As to career choices, Ma’am Doris has successfully led her two daughters, Cybele Ann and Deneel, to their own successes by announcing that she would not want them to be in the difficult experience she had as a medical student. She made sure both would be self-motivated.

So, the former Campus Crusade leader Cybele, named after the goddess of nature, took up Business Management and obtained a master’s degree. She is now based in the US, and is married to Engr. Luther Risma. The couple is blessed with two daughters, six-year-old Aidra Ann, and one-year miracle baby Chai Lee.

Deneel, taken from an original ‘concoction’ of her parents, majored in English Language Teaching in college and finished a master’s degree in the same field. She is at present the Resident Manager of Bethel Guest House and is happily married to Lt. Col. Ezra James Enriquez. They are blessed with two handsome sons, high school senior Mark James and fifth grader Joshua James.

Ma’am Doris loves to recall the days when she would watch Deneel dancing Philippine folk favorites, and to see more of her graceful movements in Hawaiian and Tahitian dances.

With the Dr. Doris Pulido’s wisdom on motherhood, Oprah Winfrey was right when she said,“Biology is the least of what makes someone a Mother.”

Thank you Ma’am Doris, Cybele and Deneel for the gift of subtle and humble presence, for letting us see so much beauty in a simple life, and for the great example of life anchored in Christian service.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

'Scrabble Queen' is a Sillimanian

I love those years when the Filipino family thought of summer as a time for family board games: chess, Chinese checkers, mancala, its Pinoy version called sungka, Mastermind, Othello, Solitaire, Da Vinci's Challenge, Games of the Generals, Battleship, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Dominoes, Charade through picture cards, Word Factory with its dice game version called Boggle. Among these, only chess has survived against TV and computer games, and it remains the only one in the mainstream of the international sports arena.

There are contest circles around the world, however, that are promoting one game that we all have known and loved -- the very challenging Scrabble. Its surprising to note that in the international arena, Scrabble is dominated by men; when we always thought of it as a home game for girls even at home, while chess was generally for the boys.

In the Philippines, a woman is lording it over all scrabble circles - mainly dominated by men. In fact, among the country’s Top 5 players, Odette Carmina L. Rio is the only woman. Odette, if some of you remember, graduated cum laude from Silliman University with a degree in Political
From justice halls, Odette moved to a small classroom in Iloilo City. You see, Odette is a lawyer by profession, but she now prefers teaching English as a second language to students from Korea. After a stint in the US, she says she has learned to live a “very simple life and uncomplicated life.”

Her teaching job now gives her time to devote more focus to her ultimate passion -- playing scrabble, achieving VIP stature in the world of word wizards.

How do you measure VIP stature? Check out the number of websites you get after you search about a person on Google. Try this: Search for “Odette Carmina Rio scrabble.” You’ll be amazed at the results you get: several websites announcing her “international player status” in the word power game. Abolutely the Philippines’ Scrabble Queen.

Odette was twice national champion in 2002 and 2004. Then she won third place in the Asia-Pacific Scrabble Championship held in Kuala Lumpur, fifth place in the Bertam World Scrabble Masters, and finished Top 10 four times in Thailand’s Annual King Cup. She has also achieved an ‘expert rating’ in the US with a rare 1,888.

Odette has been playing scrabble since she was still nine years old, along with her father’s favorite board games, chess and the Games of the Generals. The biggest challenge, she remembers, was always Daddy, a military general, who would approach the game with war tactics in mind.

In high school, the passion for the game reached an intense level for she had learned to love solitaire scrabble. Scrabble gave her the achiever’s zeal as she would face every challenge, such attitude of always learning new words very also very rewarding, in school.

Odette said she would love to visit Dumaguete again someday, and promote scrabble to the young. Say says it’s the “best way to increase their knowledge of words.”

I can only agree with Odette. If you will have noticed also, today’s generation in this University Town seems to have lost their ability to spell words correctly, or to comprehend what they read due to all-too-common weird abbreviations in text messaging.

That’s why I find it an important move to really bring her home here so she can help inspire young students. We can host Odette in the University Town for a peptalk on scrabble, or she can be the star player of sorts in an inter-dormitory or an inter-high school scrabble championship.

What would it take to play in a top-level game of scrabble? “An ability in Mathematics, as you look into probabilities and combinations.” She adds, “those good in Music can also be good in scrabble, as they know how to place the right scale in a given space.”

A website pointed out that a scrabble geek could only take a few minutes to find a way to put a Z or Q on a double letter score and at the same time, hit the triple word score.

There is so much wisdom involved in the arrangement of tiles in one’s rack to reach rewarding forms in a particular bag, like when it in a Double-Bag Scrabble where one divides the tiles into two separate bags: one for vowels, the other for the consonants.

Ah, there is just so much to learn from the country’s Scrabble Queen – truly Dumaguete’s very own!