The warm and radiant day on March 28, 2019 was a perfect moment for Maristas and their loved ones to be victorious through the 63rd Commencement Exercises of the Notre Dame of Marbel University.

Held at South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center, the university conferred 791 undergraduate students and 178 graduate students with their respective degrees. The day started with a baccalaureate mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Marito R. Varquez, CP, with Bro. Perry B. Montaño, MBST as the homilist.

The theme for this event is “NDMU Graduates: Committed to the call of being bridge-builders.”


969 graduates of NDMU’s Commencement Exercises

CHED XII Director: “Receive the gold as my gift to you”

On the graduation rites, Director of CHED Regional Office XII Engr. Ronaldo A. Liveta, CESE spoke to the graduates with his endearing commencement address. He has gone to places and achieved great feats in life, making him an inspirational figure to every person eager to seize his or her goals. He earned two master’s degrees under his belt in Electrical Engineering major in Power Systems, and in Management, both from Technological University of Philippines.


CHED XII Director Liveta

Gold was what Engr. Liveta had given to each of the Maristas on their toga, but it’s more than the precious possession.

GOLD, in his speech, stood for gratitude, opportunity, leadership, and determination. These are important precepts to live by as each student of life pursues the real world of professionalism and active duties as Filipinos.

As a public servant on an agency centered on education, Engr. Liveta challenged the 969 graduates to take advantage of the skills they earned from the university. It is through championing the concerns of Region 12: peace and development, environmental care, inter-religious dialogues, socio-civic advocacy, industrial development, and scientific innovations.

Engr. Liveta concluded, “Inspire positive changes; don’t wait for it to come. Together let’s make better things happen, here in SOCCSKSARGEN Region, here in Mindanao, here in our country.”

NDMU’s storyteller-physician

The most effective way to inspire the graduates of NDMU is to acquaint them to an alumnus who has accomplished not only for himself but for the community. The day was apt to present Dr. Noel Pingoy the Alumni Achievement Award.


Alumni Achievement Awardee Dr. Noel Pingoy

In 1981, Dr. Pingoy finished his secondary education at the Notre Dame of Marbel Boy’s Dept., Koronadal, and BS Biology at Notre Dame of Marbel College in 1985. In his speech, he revealed that the 80s is an interesting time in Catholic schools, as it meant having to deal with televangelism, the rise of liberation theology in Latin America, and the need to problematize the church’s role on social justice.

Dr. Pingoy pursued the field and earned his Doctor of Medicine in 1989, and eventually became a licensed physician in 1991. His passion to be among the front liners of healthcare allowed him to widen his capacities in other parts of the world, including The Hastings Center in New York, and Harvard Medical School Center in Boston. Medical institutions across General Santos City and South Cotabato rely on his expertise on internal medicine, hematology, and oncology.

Treating patients is not only the thing our doctor is praised for. He is a master storyteller of turning daily experiences, usually inside the hospital care, as literature. His essays were awarded on The Philippine Star Travel Essay Contest and Jimmy Y. Balacuit Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction. In 2002, he placed third best essay on the Don Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in his piece “Becoming a Hematologist,” after taking the challenge set by fellow physician-writer Luis Gatmaitan.

Of all the learnings he had earned on his Notre Dame education, it was the habitual writing of human condition that he rendered significant. He remembered NDMU president Br. Wilfredo Lubrico as the teacher who encouraged him to write. Dr. Pingoy said, “…my religion teacher in high school (Br. Lubrico) taught me in the 1970s the value of journaling—the commitment to put thoughts and feelings on paper—a habit that I still carry with me until the present. And certainly until my very last breath.”

He also remembered how his religion teacher in elementary, Br. Rustico Lumbo, emphasized the value of integrity by never getting tempted to cheat in order to excel.


Dr. Pingoy (center) with NDMU’s ‘top gun’ Br. Lubrico (left) and Dr. Palma (right)

Dr. Pingoy did not let the chance pass without offering the idea to the Maristas that they need to get used to graduation.

He said, “Ageless metaphors like life as a journey, graduation as a beginning and the wide, wild unknown out there as a wilderness may seem like cheap wisdom embodied in a Facebook meme. But life is like graduation, where we don’t get to choose the things we have to give up. Choosing to give something up is a means of acknowledging and redeeming what is lost. In this practice, we draw closer to a life that is not giving up on love and hope and gratitude”

Dr. Pingoy was recognized as NDMU-IBED’s Most Outstanding Alumnus in 2009. Come ten years later, and he is still an ideal Marista to look up to.


Following the footsteps of Dr. Noel Pingoy are several young students who were awarded with different recognition. This year is remarkable for Hanna Isha Piang who is a Summa Cum Laude in BA-Philosophy.


Woman of the hour: Hanna Isha Piang, a Summa Cum Laude with her proud parents

Moreover, NDMU awarded the Magna Cum Laude to Angelica Aguila (BS Chemistry), Nurul-izza Lamalan (BEED-General), and Karl Evan Pama (BSEd Physical Science).

There are also 13 graduates honored as cum laude: Aime Jane Balate (BS Accountancy); Justin Fara-on (BS Psychology); Billy Art Galigao (BS Accountancy); Genevieve Coraine Fajagutana (BSEd Mathematics); John Paul Gilza (BS Social Work); Sidney Guaro (BS Computer Science); Golda Mier Guay (BA Psychology); Caryl Jazzay Pama (BSEd Filipino); Vince Marc Sabado (BS Information Technology); Gerlie Bazar (BEED General); Quirrha Morales (BEED Generai); Queenie Somodio (BEED Pre-school); and Gretchen Dice Parcon (BEED General).

For the leadership award, it was given to Jeson Padrones, a graduate of BA-Philosophy. NDMU’s topnotchers returned to the ground to receive special recognition: Vince Harry Pinto, Top 6 of the June 2018 Nurse Licensure Exam; and Joe Algine Brua, Top 3 of the October 2018 Electronics Technician Licensure Exam.

The event is not only a celebration for the students but also to the personnel as the indispensable stakeholders of this institution. The following personnel was honored for their length of service:

30 Years Rogelia P. Roque
25 Years Cecilia F. Abella
  Aida C. Brasales
  Ma. Magdalena F. Cobrador
  Rona A. Hallarsis
20 Years Ma. Luisa Delmoro
  Eduardo H. Palabrica Jr.
  Leo H. Palabrica
  Edgar C. Pelarco
Retirees Aida C. Brasales
Danilo T. Fresco
Merna S. Lebanan
Rosie O. Madria
Andres O. Magallanes Jr.
Belmar P. Sustiguer
Fidel E. Tumbagahan
Janeth S. Vasquez


Retired Admin Vice President Andres O. Magallanes, PhD received the Personnel Service Award


NDMU retiree: (Top L-R) Danilo T. Fresco, MA; Merna S. Lebanan, DScN; (Bottom L-R): Rosie O. Madria MN; and Janeth S. Vasquez


Personnel Service Awardees: (L-R) Rogelia P. Roque, Ma. Magdalena F. Cobrador, Eduardo H. Palabrica, Jr; Leo H. Palabrica; and Edgar C. Pelarco

Before all of the newest members of the NDMU alumni association headed to their homes to commemorate their accomplishment, they sang the Hymn at the top of their lungs. It is a song behooving them to commit to the NDMU’s core values of character, competence, and culture in harmony. Remembering the good and trying times that have led to their graduation, the 969 Maristas left the venue immediately. They are all set to impact innovations in the societies as bridge-builders.