The Universitarian Editorial Board Interview With Dr. Baby Boy Benjamin D. Nebres III

Dr. Baby Boy D. Nebres III, dean if the Office of Students Affairs and Services, has established his identity as an academic leader with profound sense of leadership rooted on empowering people, who is recognized for his innovations and development of national policies on UNIFAST and student affairs and services.

Is he the best fit as the next BU President for you? Know his stances on controversial questions below.



Your vision paper rebranded the four pillars of the University. How will you adhere to the four pillars under your administration that will not be a spoken identity but observable values of the University?

NEBRES: Our partners keep on asking about who really are the BUeños… They are quite asking why there is a kumbaga a different attitude or a different behavior … ‘Yun ‘yung dapat tutukan natin, parang a sense of rebranding of who really is a BUeño… Because of the technologies being offered in the market parang you forget na about the sense of [humanity], the sense of humanity within, kaya kailangan it’s [the] right time now na not focus on the self, on the university but to focus on what the university can do to the humanity, to everyone in the developmental society… Just like in what is being emphasized in the UNESCO’s four pillars of education: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.


UNIBÊ: You have been the OSAS dean and at the same time a former scholarship and financial grant aide’s officer in BU, you know the grassroot experience of the students, alam niyo po yung sufferings nila. Do you see this as an advantage and what do you think we need to improve in terms of that if you will become the president?

NEBRES: I think what we have to do is to strengthen our partnership, strengthen our linkages and network kasi nang pumasok ako sa scholarship talagang hindi sya well-defined… I’ve done my best as a scholarship officer. What we are going now to do is simply connect kasi apart of my vision is the national and international needs and targets and even challenges [that] can only be mandated through a strong collaboration with our partners, and the strong collaboration of our partners can give also the best benefit for our students and one of it is scholarship. Another thing is that we were going to make our alumni stronger because the alumni can give an endowment for the students… Even though it’s free higher education still, hindi pa rin kaya ng mga estudyante ‘yung tinatawag nating cost of education in the public school… so the only thing is we’re going to strengthen our partnership with our benefactors.


UNIBÊ: Nataas sa government foundation commended you for maintaining zero suicide incidents in BU from 2018 to 2020. However, during the pandemic, there are some students who reportedly resorted to ending their lives, but under your term how will you make sure that students will be more mentally healthy?

NEBRES: [In] my term kasi I’m going to add [a] center for well-being or wellness together with mental health… We will go into [strengthening] our guidance and counseling program… Another thing is to strengthen our peer counselors, because the peer counselor is the support, ito ang pinaka main support in our mental health program. Alam mo ang mga bata hindi naman basta pupunta sa guidance counselor just to tell, normally pumupunta ‘yan sa mga kaibigan and we have to do to strengthen the kaibigan system… We’re going to strengthen also the class adviser system para [sa] counselor that will help the guidance counselor, which is we are doing at present… And then last one is the creation of the center for well-being. The center for well-being will include not only ‘yung mental aspect but also the physical aspect, kasama na ‘yung nutritional aspect, the well-rounded self.

UNIBÊ: You also spearheaded the revision of the student handbook in 2019, particularly in BUCAL where they have the liberty to dress as their form of expression yet other colleges have no similar privilege. How would you solve this existing inconsistent dress code po leniency in BU?

NEBRES: Actually, there are certain professors kasi na very conservative… But the main problem when we go now to the industries, we cannot dictate the industry to respect them… In the university, we can give that, we can try for equality, we can try for equity, but we cannot control the external industries like for example in BUCIT yung other industries they don’t allow yung mga students [to] immerse [themselves] with long hair and long nails. Another thing is in the field of education, there are schools na they will not allow [transwomen] to practice [teaching]... We are clamoring for that, we are fighting for that, we are advocating for that, but we cannot dictate them na to follow us, but we can serve as their inspiration na we can do this and they can do that.


UNIBÊ: You have been the OSAS dean for the past years. Do you see this as an advantage because you know how students suffer like in the grassroot level and you know how student activity works?

NEBRES: Yes, it’s one of my [advantages] because I [have] worked with students since 2010. I visited their homes. I know most of the students - their likes, their needs, their challenges, their expectations, their different sights about themselves. And for the past years, I think sabihin natin mga 13 years as a practitioner in the office of student affairs and services, noong kapanahunan pa [ng] Office of Student Services, I think that is one of my [advantages].

UNIBÊ: In your tagline "BU is U," how confident are you that you possess the character to define BU?

NEBRES: In the BU is U, everything can be done because of you. Always keep in mind that the best always [starts] with you. Okay, the best always starts with you because you [are] you. ‘Yun ‘yun. Parang I’m telling you na you should be kumbaga, focus on to be passion-driven to [achieve] excellence. So, ikaw mismo ang gagawa ng lahat. Ikaw mismo ang magdadala ng pangalan ng Bicol University. Ikaw mismo ang kumbaga, ang tatayo sa sarili mo kaya that is what BU means. So, kapag pinagsama-sama mo ‘yang Bicol is U o BU is U, ibig sabihin niyan, pwedeng mag-rise up ang Bicol University. Kasi ang nangyayari na kasi ngayon is that hindi na natin nararamdaman ‘yung feeling na I am [a] proud BU student.

UNIBÊ: If you are to become the next BU President, what observable changes can we expect in the first five months of your administration?

NEBRES: Well actually, one is the reorganization of the university, based on the capability, based on the passion and specialization. Number two is syempre, I have to translate my vision of a university for humanity, into a strategic plan, into a strategic option, into an operational plan with operational options. And aside from that, I would like to do things that will [benefit] the students, the personnel that will make Bicol University vibrant… Dapat everyone is happy. And not only that, para mangyari ‘yun, mangyari ‘tong lahat na ito, I’m going to have first a close dialogue with all sectors of the university.


UNIBÊ: Will you encourage or support the students to be involved in student activism as provided in RA 11369 s. 3 s. of 2019. If so, how will you circumvent the threats to student activists such as red-tagging and police interrogations? Or will you be silent about these red tagging issues just like the previous cases of red tagging in the previous years during the term of Mascariñas?

NEBRES: What we are developing in the university is critical thinking. And activism, one of that is critical thinking, as long as it will not directly affect ah… Ang [tanong] ngayon is what you can do to serve the nation. What can you do to help in the development of the nation? What can you contribute? But the activism that I’m emphasizing here is that, the sense of choice, the sense of reasoning, the logical reasoning. The deepening of issues… We have our legal support system. Katulad ng ginagawa namin ngayon. Hindi natin sila iniiwanan lahat. Basta may nagreport, we will go to the legal office and then do the coordination with the right officers. Kasi karamihan ng mga kaso natin ngayon are harassment. Harassment coming from unnamed, unidentified individuals. And we want a close collaboration with different agencies, especially the law-enforcing agencies to help us to protect our students. Kasi tandaan mo, the students are the heart of the university.

UNIBÊ: Given that the residents living within the university have no title, what are your plans for the residents of Sitio Olag and those living at the BU Compound behind the new library? Also, what will you do if you discover that a resident staying at the university is illegally using their land? (e.g. establishing a bed space)

NEBRES: We will go to do things under the law and under... Tandaan mo ang vision ko, university for humanity. We will always respect their rights. And we will provide all other [uses], especially ‘yung tinatawag natin na healthy dialogues for them. And we will also be going to do legal [measures]. Before we do that.. Sabi nga natin, the best thing to do is to have a winning solution in everything that you do. That is a healthy collaboration.

UNIBÊ: Rate Pres. Mascarinas’ term, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, and explain why.

NEBRES: The administration of Dr. Mascariñas is 9. Because there is a lot of development pa na I think he can do more, he can do best. Kaya lang, his administration’s very limited, And sabi nga natin, it’s [a] very short time. We feel that there is always a short time for a best president.


UNIBÊ: Among the four (4) other nominees, who would you pick as the next Bicol University President?

NEBRES: Actually, everyone of us is very qualified. Every one of us has [our] own strength. Every one of us has something to offer for… Bicol University so I cannot choose one. Everyone is qualified. Sabi ko nga sa final interview sa akin na ganun din ang tanong. Sabi ko, I cannot choose. Because anyone is qualified. Anyone can be supported. Anyone is ready to face the realities and to hold the office of the university president. Every one of us has to offer talaga. Kung makikita mo doon sa kanilang mga presentation, gaganda ang Bicol University. Kung kaya lang na limang presidente ang magsama-sama para i-council. I think it can do a lot of great things.