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Cultural Potpourri |UMAAI’s First Gala Grand Homecoming

“Leadership is not about the authoritative role you hold in an organization, but rather, it is about the choice of actions you prefer to take. It is simply about virtues, values, and behavior of an individual in a community….Everything is all about integrity, love, passion, the heart to serve, respect, and most especially how to have the standards of humanity,” Nancy Punzalan-Ibuyan, the President of the University of Mindanao Alumni Association, Inc. (UMAAI), reminded her fellow UMians in her message which ended with a wine toasting. This was the first ever Gala UMAAI Homecoming with the theme, “Festival of Colors for Unity Through the Years,” which was held last July 19, 2023, at the Ballroom of the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao. Yes, the UMAAI has been around for 30 years now. “We started it, so let us continue that which we have started,” she added. Indeed, the 100 members who heeded the call came in glittering gowns of every imaginable color; while the guys were dressed to kill in tuxedoes or suits. Mind you, but some members brought extra outfits to change during the duration of the special event. Photographers were on hand to take the photos of the lovely ladies and fine gentlemen in their required formal wear.

UMAAI President Nancy Punzalan-Ibuyan

Merci Duduaco, who was a true lady in a glittering red gown in the event, professed, “I want to thank the Lord for giving me the wisdom, knowledge and strength to serve the UMAAI as Board Secretary from 2019-2023. It is, indeed, a great honor to serve my alma mater and the UMAAI.” The madam

was given her due recognition; and a plaque of appreciation was presented to her by President Nancy Punzalan-Ibuyan and the event Chairman Roderick Sevillano.

I normally don’t accept late invitations but it was hard to turn down the very likeable Mayette Ibuyan-Abayon, the talented and all around event planner of the special affair. Not only did Mayette invite me only on the very night before the event; but when I entered the venue, I was also informed that I would have a face-to-face interview, ala Boy Abunda, with the candidates for the UM Ambassador and Ambassadress 2023 which was the special feature of the event.

(l-r): Rory Mines, Merci Duduaco, Nancy Ibuyan, Roland Eupena, Jonas Mascarinas

“The Ambassador and Ambassadress are professional designations assigned to advocates for a specific cause relations; and to promote the University of Mindanao Alumni Association, Inc. through international, national, and local organizations and in the community. The alumnus must possess honorific title, good professional standing in his/her field of work and expertise, and must love to talk and engage with people coming from different walks of life. This is the first time the UMAAI is going to have its Ambassador and Ambassadress 2023. The winners will have the opportunity to attend and to work in prestigious alumni events like the Grand Homecoming, Community Programs; and to attend the chapters’ various activities when invited to do so,” Mayette Ibuna-Abayon informed the judges during the brief orientation. The judges were Maya Padillo, Romelyn Latonio, Jazz Loyal and Roland Ganac. during her brief orientation. I happily sat as Chairman of the Board of Judges plus the interviewer.

UM Ambassador Windell Garret Matutino and UM Ambassadress Emely Butardo with the judges and Pres. Nancy Ibuyan and Sec. Merci Duduaco
UM Alumni 2023 Grand Homecoming poster

The candidates, who are all professionals, included Leigh Ann Molina Leones, Emely Diz Chavez Butardo, Geralene Canizanes Clarito, Wendell Garret Bulaong Matutino and Michael Ursus Sto. Tomas. Declared as UM Ambassador 2023 was Windell Garret B. Matutino who is physically fit as an active reservist (DF) of the Philippine Air Force. Matutino is a Head Accountant of the 11th Field Accounting Office and is a part-time teacher both in UM and the UIC College of Accounting Education. The UM Ambassadress 2023, on the other hand, is the gorgeous Emely Butardo. The lady is a brave single mom who works as a Regional Sales Manager of the multibillion Pharma Company. She’s also a financial adviser on her spare time and is into the money lending business at the same time.


Congratulations, UMAAI and its officers and members. Thank you, Mayette Ibuna-Abayon for inviting me. Thank you, Madam Nancy Ibuyan and Ms. Merci Duduaco for the lively conversation which enlightened me.

UMAAI officers with the Ambassadors, judges and special guests


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