(OCT.23)—The University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) faculty, staff and students celebrated life in a series of activities held at the UP Sunken Garden, Academic Oval and Main Library, Sept. 27 in “Celebrate Life @ UPD.”
The event sought to veer away from the concept of suicide prevention towards a proactive perspective, highlighting the positive aspects of mental health.
“We want to highlight the fact that by celebrating life we prevent suicide,” said Rolando Delos Reyes II, a guidance specialist at UP OCG.
Organized by the Office of Counseling and Guidance (OCG) to commemorate National Suicide Awareness Month, the event started with Kontemporaryong Gamelan Pilipino or KontraGaPi’s interactive musical performance that swayed the participants danced along at the Grandstand. The kickoff was followed by a parade around the Academic Oval to the Main Library where a series of talks was held.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jerwin Agpaoa opened the program by discussing Aristotle’s philosophy on Eudaimonia or human flourishing. He also highlighted the idea that humans are multifaceted beings and interdependent with one another.
“Nawa’y pagpalain tayo para maging instrumento na pagpalain din ang iba,” he said.
Dr. Grace H. Aguiling-Dalisay, a professor of the Department of Psychology and former College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) dean, followed with the talk entitled “Celebrating Life: Flourishing not Languishing.”
Citing Corey L. M. Keyes (2002), she defined mental health as a syndrome of positive feelings and positive functioning in life. She said the presence of or having complete mental health is called flourishing and the absence or lack of it is called languishing. Meanwhile, well-being is feeling good and functioning well.
Dalisay then shared the “Five Ways to Well-being” by the New Economic Foundation (NEF): which are to connect with people, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.
Two students also shared testimonies of their experiences within the university, with emphasis on those related to mental stability. Julie Corridor, a BS Sociology major, discussed how managing personal responsibilities affects mental health. She shared how juggling academics, family and organization life tires people out at some point, how a shift in perspective can help overcome such problems and how opening up to close and trusted friends and strengthening one’s faith in God can help during these moments.
Rio Dayao, a BS Economics student from the UP School of Economics, focused on how pressure from expectations whether from family, academics, societal and generational factors, can negatively affect a person, or even oneself. He gave tips on how to manage stress, and shared his personal mantra, The Seven Cardinal Rules of Life. He ended with a popular Chinese proverb, saying, “When life throws its knife at you, you have three ways to receive it: either dodge it, receive it by its blade, or receive it through its handle.”
In line with Dalisay’s “Five Ways to Well-being”, the participants then celebrated life through a fitness dance session led by College of Human Kinetics students. The activity aimed to promote exercise and physical activities as an effective way of boosting one’s happiness levels. According to the NEF, exercising makes a person feel good and it is important to discover and engage in an enjoyable physical activity suitable for one’s mobility and level of fitness.
The event ended with a candle lighting ceremony where leaders of various faiths and beliefs prayed for the health, safety and well-being of the UPD community.
As the program came to a close, Dr. Grace Gomez, OCG’s officer-in-charge, reiterated the essence of the event, leading a flourishing life in mind, body and soul.
The OCG hopes to reach out to more people by making the event more accessible, in terms of schedule.
For the past two years, the event was celebrated with non-UP partners, [celebrities and private companies]. However, for this year’s Celebrate Life, the OCG opted for a more open and inviting approach by cooperating with other university units such as the KontraGaPi, the CSSP, CHK, Institute of Islamic Studies, Church of the Risen Lord, Parish of the Holy Sacrifice and the UP Main Library.