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Harvard alumni in PH unite for a cause

By: - Reporter / @daxinq
/ 12:56 AM October 20, 2014
HARVARD Club officers take their oath. Former President Fidel V. Ramos leads the induction of the Harvard Club of the Philippines’ new trustees, including (from left, first row) Anthony Amunategui Abad, Ginbee Go, Maria Carolina Dominguez, Sylvette Tankiang, Helen Go Tiu, (from left, second row) Mariana Zobel de Ayala, Gideon Javier and Rafael Alunan III.

HARVARD Club officers take their oath. Former President Fidel V. Ramos leads the induction of the Harvard Club of the Philippines’ new trustees, including (from left, first row) Anthony Amunategui Abad, Ginbee Go, Maria Carolina Dominguez, Sylvette Tankiang, Helen Go Tiu, (from left, second row) Mariana Zobel de Ayala, Gideon Javier and Rafael Alunan III.

ANTHONY Amunategui Abad shares his thoughts during the induction of the new officers of the Harvard Club.

ANTHONY Amunategui Abad shares his thoughts during the induction of the new officers of the Harvard Club.

It is one of the most renowned and elite learning institutions in the world.

And back in the Philippines, the growing roster of alumni of Harvard University is equally renowned, with most counting themselves among the who’s who of the public and private sectors.

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Recently, these alumni convened in Makati City to mark another year of the Harvard Club of the Philippines.

For the 2014-2016 period, the group will be headed by banker Ma. Cristina Go (Harvard MBA 1996) who takes over from lawyer Sylvette Tankiang (Harvard LLM 1986).

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And as head of a high-powered group that counts as its members public and private sector movers and shakers — like three generations of the Zobel family, and local and national government officials like Vice President Jejomar Binay — Go has big plans for the organization.

At the top of Go’s to-do list is an initiative she calls “One Harvard”.

GINBEE Go heads the Harvard Club of the Philippines.

GINBEE Go heads the Harvard Club of the Philippines.

At its core is a move to unify the four different Harvard Clubs in the country, each of which is composed of alumni from the university’s four main programs: the law school, the business school, the Kennedy School of Government and the undergraduate college.

Each sub-unit of the umbrella Harvard Club has over 200 members. Together, these alumni can do more.

“What we want is to have stronger collaboration among alumni from these schools,” Go said. “We want our members to be more engaged in our activities and advocacies.”

Go also wants to set up a permanent office for the organization, with a shared secretariat for all the four sub-groups to foster regular communication (including via increasingly popular social media platforms).

At the same time, the organization wants to make sure that Philippine-based Harvard graduates stick as close as possible to the ideals of excellence espoused by the university, even when they’re half a world away.

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FORMER President Fidel Ramos during the assembly of Harvard Club members at Manila Polo Club.  PHOTOS BY KIMBERLY DELA CRUZ

FORMER President Fidel Ramos during the assembly of Harvard Club members at Manila Polo Club. PHOTOS BY KIMBERLY DELA CRUZ

“We have programs and activities that espouse tight relationships with Harvard and we want to continue them, and even increase them, if possible,” Go said, pointing to periodic meetings where Harvard professors are invited to visit the country and give lectures and speeches.

And, of course, no group will be complete if it lacks corporate social responsibility initiatives that respond to the natural calamities that befall the country with increasing regularity.

The Harvard Club, in fact, responded to the Bohol earthquake and Supertyphoon Yolanda last year by raising funds — almost P5 million, to date — to construct new school buildings in the affected areas.

NEW HARVARD Club head Ginbee Go  with former President Fidel V. Ramos

NEW HARVARD Club head Ginbee Go with former President Fidel V. Ramos

Most importantly, the local chapter of the Harvard Club is eager to help its alumni and the broader public strive for excellence in an increasingly competitive global economic environment.

In fact, the immediate concern of keeping the country competitive ahead of next year’s Asean Economic Community integration was stressed by the group’s guest, former President Fidel Ramos, in his remarks to the alumni during its recent induction of officers.

His message, though long, was simple: Think big, because the Filipino is capable of great things.

This can-do attitude is not too different from the principles espoused at Harvard.

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