On its 92nd anniversary, Miriam College, through the Maryknoll/Miriam College Alumni Association (MMCAA), named 13 new Amazing Alumni Achiever Awardees (also called Triple As) at the recent Grand Alumni Homecoming dubbed GalingMC. The list adds to the school’s roster of esteemed graduates who have made a meaningful impact in their respective fields and in the country.
Speaking on behalf of her fellow awardees, Dr. Norma Calderon-Panahon reminded the alumni in the audience to be grateful to the teachers that have molded them. “Yes, our love for Maryknoll/Miriam has remained undimmed through the years since it was established by the sisters in 1926. One message I would like to share with you is: be always grateful to your teachers. When one becomes a teacher, he or she does not expect to be rich anymore. Teaching is a labor of love and is one of the noblest and most fulfilling professions. I thank all the Maryknoll sisters and our lay teachers.”
The awardees come from diverse industries that include environmental advocacy, medicine, education, and business. Like the school’s “Trailblazers in Habit”—the Maryknoll nuns from New York —these year’s set of awardees have blazed trails so that others around them, especially Filipinos, may benefit.
Dr. Norma Calderon-Panahon (High School 1959)
Dr. Norma Calderon-Panahon, is a distinguished pioneer, trailblazer, and a pillar in her work as a psychiatrist, a clinical teacher and as an advocate for International Medical Graduates.
After graduating top 10 of the Interns’ graduating class in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in May 1967, she emigrated to the US where completed her residency training in psychiatry and carved a niche as an excellent clinician, specializing in depressive/bipolar disorders and panic disorders.
To give back to her country, Dr. Panahon spearheaded the Cesium project that effectively removed the four-year waiting time for indigent women to get cesium treatment for their cervical cancer by providing free brachytherapy treatment to those would not have been able to afford the treatment. The project has saved the lives of over 17,000 women with cervical cancer since 1996.
Mary Joy Canon-Abaquin, EdD (High School 1987)
Mary Joy Canon-Abaquin, EdD is a pioneer educator who founded the Multiple Intelligence (MI) International School in 1996. The MI adopts the framework of Harvard-based psychologist Dr. Howard Gardner to equip the Filipino child for the demands of the 21st century and enable them to use their intelligences to make a difference for the country and the world.
Abaquin, spearheaded initiatives and programs to address educational reforms for the Filipino child at the national level through the 1st Philippine Multiple Intelligence Convention; the MI Smart-Star Comprehensive School reform (CSR) programs that serves underprivileged public day care children through early childhood education with LGUs; and the Multiple Intelligence Awards in 2005 to recognize young Filipino role models.
Abaquin’s efforts to pilot multiple intelligence has gained international recognition in the 2010 Multiple Intelligence World Symposium in Beijing as a model for the international community. Another pioneering effort Abaquin has taken is to establish the first LEED Green School in the Philippines.
Aileen Ruiz-Zarate (High School ’93, Grade School 1989)
Miriam College also honored this year Aileen Ruiz-Zarate for her work in helping reduce poverty, empowering women, and contributing to the fight against climate change and the protection of the environment.
She and her colleagues started the Sustainable Energy Finance program in 2008 in the Philippines, working to raise the capability of financial institutions to assess and finance projects that would have a positive climate impact and reduce carbon emissions through increasing energy efficiency and supporting renewable energy. In December 2017, she led and structured the first green bond to be issued by a financial institution in the country and the first green bond investment for IFC in East Asia Pacific. The project has already catalyzed similar transactions in Indonesia and Thailand and encouraged other Philippine banks to look at growing their climate portfolios and issuing similar instruments to increase access to finance for climate-smart projects.
For SMEs, Aileen has helped increase lending by providing these micro-entrepreneurs access to longer term credit combined with advisory programs to support banks in lending to women-owned SMEs, a segment that needs even more support.
The Amazing Alumni Achiever Awards is an annual event initiated by the MMCAA. Among its distinguished past awardees are Miriam College President Rosario Oreta-Lapus and former MC President and former Commission on Higher Education Chair Patricia B. Licuanan, fashion designers Beatriz “Patis” Pamintuan-Tesoro and Josefina Cruz-Natori, peacemaker and women empowerment advocate Teresita Quintos-Deles, journalist Rina Jimenez-David, Ambassador Laura Quiambao-Del Rosario, green architect Liza Morales-Crespo, beauty queen and CCP board chair Margarita Moran-Floirendo.
The school changed its name from Maryknoll to Miriam College in 1989.