Archive for the ‘From the President’s Desk’ category


April 10, 2010

by J. Enrique G. Saplala

In the late 1950s, a group of young French film critics led by their mentor, Andre Bazìn, burst into the filmmaking scene. Armed with all the theoretical know how of the language of cinema, these critics became first time filmmakers churning out creative films that defied mainstream cinema. Known as the nouvelle vague (new wave), these filmmakers were responsible for changing the landscape of film and influenced the attitude of people towards cinema.
This burst of creative energy appears to be also apparent among today’s psychology students. The thirst for more information and interaction has driven them towards action, looking for venues to showcase their ideas and creativity. I have been a fortunate witness to these changes, where a new generation of psychology students has become the impetus for radical movements in undergraduate psychology. Like Bazìn, the key appears to be the students’ mentor who, by his or her encouragement, can push them to unleash their energies channeling it to productive use.

Movements in the South
An example of this student-driven creative energy is an auspicious gathering of psychology students in Davao City on January 18, 2004. An organization of psychology students from the Ateneo de Davao organized the first All Mindanao Wide Convention of Psychology Students. Attended by undergraduate students in psychology from all over Mindanao, the young Davaoeños organized the congress on their own; including fundraising through door to door campaign and selling old newspapers and recyclable materials. Suzette Aliño, one of the student mentors responsible for the groundbreaking convention, encouraged the students to pursue their vision. She was amazed by how the students methodically planned the convention with sheer determination. Two years later, a group of Ateneo de Zamboanga students in psychology organized a workshop on deception of which I was invited as speaker. I was surprised to learn that the students were able to invite the local PNP and the marines stationed at the Southern Command with hardly their teachers intervening for them. And to think these were all organized by the psychology majors!

The growth of student conventions
Other than their teacher’s encouragement, their experience and extent of exposure to psychology gatherings play a role in the growth of these activities. For example, psychology students of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro regularly organize and invite speakers to give talks in developing fields in psychology: A case-in-point is the brown bag session in forensic psychology last year where students and professionals from all over Mindanao went to Cagayan de Oro to attend and listen to the research presentations. A similar movement has happened recently in Iloilo. Organized by the various student organizations in psychology, several schools banded together to mount the Iloilo Students’ Convention in 2008. According to Pete Galeno, professor of Central Philippine University, more than a hundred students trooped to Iloilo to present undergraduate research papers and participate in workshops organized by the students and teachers.
Manila also saw the surfacing of significant student conventions. For example, the 22nd and 23rd PAPJA convention were mostly organized by students from De La Salle University and Miriam College. Other than the PAPJA, which seems to be the mother of all student conventions, similar professional organizations encouraged and assisted students in organizing similar student gatherings. PSSP’s Tatsulok, which was the steering committee behind the All Psychology Student Congress, was organized by a core group of student organizations in psychology. Not far behind is the Consortium of Women’s Colleges (CWC) which mounted the CWC Research Forum in Psychology, also in 2006, where students from Assumption College, Miriam College and St. Scholastica’s College helped organized a sharing of their research papers in a half-day forum. Quite recently, a similar group of students from the Laguna College of Business and Arts organized their first student convention, where students from neighboring colleges gathered for a seminar, a workshop, and a quiz bee.

Going beyond the PAPJA experience: The case of the UP Visayas Tacloban College
Unbeknownst to most psychologists in Manila, the annual PAPJA seems to give some impetus for students to jump start student conventions in the provinces. A classic example is that of the students of UP Visayas Tacloban College. Recently, inspired by their experiences at the 23rd PAPJA annual convention, the UP psychology students banded together to put up the 1st Regional Seminar and Convention of Psychology Students. Students and professors who attended the PAPJA workshops got the permission of the PAPJA facilitators through email and echoed these workshops to the participants. Not contended with mere copying, the students adapted the 23rd PAPJA theme to the region, Character Strengths of the Filipino: A Positive Response to Current Challenges especially in the Waray Setting, prepared their workshops and critiqued each other’s work before finally promoting the convention. The students exuded idealism and high energy managing the entire convention, tapping regional and national professionals and arranging the itinerary of their resource speakers.

Similar movements in the United States
The student movement appears not to be confined at home. For example, similar student movements can be seen across the United States where undergraduate students in psychology appoint convention chairpersons and organize the preparations and the proceedings themselves. In 2006, I went to an undergraduate convention for psychology students in Missouri, where my student presented her research paper alongside Midwesterners. I observed that the manner of planning these students engaged in is similar to how our students planned their conventions. Similarly, Miriam College students who have also attended undergraduate student conventions at Stanford informed us that the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Convention was so organized that they could not believe that the core groups of organizers were students like them.
Likewise, students from the UP Visayas Tacloban College are mulling over the prospect of having a Visayan PAPJA because of how big groups of students from the different parts of the region responded to their invitation. They have realized the advantages of sharing their resources with other people. As one student organizer said, “It’s not about us what we can share or what others can share, it’s about a mutual give and take of ideas, of learning from each other…”

Perhaps, we have to start rethinking how we plan our conventions and allow our students to work on their own conventions. If we mentor our students towards a direction of independence and excellence, then this is most likely where Philippine psychology will go.

UP Tatsulok

UP Visayas Students


President’s Report 2009

September 12, 2009

by J. EnJay Saplalarique G. Saplala

1. Certification of Psychology Specialists

  • In recognition of their contribution to the field of psychology, all former presidents were certified psychology specialists in their respective fields.
  • Former PAP presidents were invited to assess applicants who applied for certification.
  • Immediate past president, Dr. Allan Bernardo was appointed by the board to be the chair of the certification committee. He sat with the appointed former presidents who acted as assessors for the PAP certification.
  • He was also tasked to formulate and create a mechanism to recognize the psychologist’s competencies, specifically the continuing professional education. This includes defining guidelines and procedures for PAP to decide which workshops and organizations will be recognized by the organization and creating a point system for the CPE for those renewing their initial certification. The mechanism would be used by future assessors in reviewing the
    applicant’s documented CPE. Dr. Regina Hechanova was appointed as his co chairperson.
  • The first list of certified psychology specialists was released during the last week of July.
  • 2. Code of Ethics

    • The Board of Directors appointed Dr. Allan Bernardo, chair of the professional and scientific ethics committee, to head the task force in compliance with the PAP charter. The board also appointed the following as members of the committee: Dr. Lourdes Carandang, Dr. Natividad Dayan, Dr. Rosalito De Guzman and Ms. Anna Guerrero. The Task Force on the Code of Ethics was convened last February 27, 2009 at Cravings Katipunan Avenue, QC.
    • The Code of Ethics was ratified by the board on July 17, 2009. Copies of the code will be posted in our website soon.

    3. Psychology Bill

    • The Psychology Bill Task Force Committee task force composed of Drs. Lucy Bance, Lota Teh, Allan Bernardo, Caring Tarroja, J. Enrique Saplala and Isabel Melgar were invited to be part of the Technical Working Group (TWG)to review and finalize the Psychology Bill last December 3, 2008 at the House. There was a follow up meeting on the bill on the months of January and February 2009 and the bill was approved by the Lower House on June 9, 2009.
    • We are awaiting the second and final reading of the bill before it is submitted to the office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines for approval. Update: The second hearing would be held on August 24, 1:00 p.m. at the Senate. Senator Panfilo Lacson is sponsoring the bill.

    4. Continuing Professional Education

    • Two CPEs were held during the year: Jumpstarting your Research with Dr. Allan Bernardo and Integrating Gestalt –Competence into personal ID and professional profile with Dr. Hans Lenhard. One workshop on Performance Management Systems from the I/O Division will be held on September 19, Caritas Hall, Miriam College. The Clinical Psychology division will offer one workshop with Dr. Roger Davis this October at the PSSC. More workshops summer 2009 will also be offered by the clinical and counseling psychology division. Other CPEs will be discussed during the division meetings and the upcoming strategic planning.

    5. Communication

    • We have upgraded our website,, and requested psychologist, AJ SAGMIT, to be the webmaster. Our website is also registered with the International Union of Psychologists’ directory.
    • Our electronic newsletter is updated regularly by Mr. MARSHALL VALENCIA, our external relations officer. You are welcome to contribute articles to the newsletter.

    6. PAPJA

    • We had our PAPJA at De La Salle University last November 2008. The event was attended by close to 1,600+ students from different parts of the country. Based on the suggestions made during the PAPJA 2008 focus group discussion, a job fair and workshops related to careers in psychology were conducted. Speakers from the different fields in psychology were also invited to conduct workshops in psychology.

    7. Membership in IUPsy

    We have also reactivated our membership with the International Union of Psychologists last September 2009. The PAP appointed Dr. Allan Bernardo, a regular member of the IUPSY to represent PAP.

    8. PAP Research Survey – being undertaken by Dr. Allan Bernardo. Details will be posted soon.

    9. Response to disaster prone areas ‐ Ms. Suzette Agcaoili is presently inviting interested volunteer psychologists to be part of the core group of volunteers to give appropriate therapeuticinterventions for survivors or victims of natural or man‐made calamities.

    10. Forensic psychology meeting –An interest group for psychologists practicing in a forensic setting was formed. Two meetings for psychologists working in a forensic setting were held this year: May 18 at Miriam College and August 12, 2008 at Café Antonio, Dumaguete City. Elected as overall chairperson is Dr. Naty Dayan. Dr. Jay Saplala serves as her assistant. Point persons were also elected to represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

     Addendum: PJP – two PJP journals were released: June 2008 and December 2008. The June 2009 and December 2009 issues would come out soon.

    Psychology Bill Update

    April 14, 2009

    March 3, 2009

    Dear colleagues,

    I just like to give you an update on what has been happening on the Psych Bill forefront:

    The PAP core group composed of Drs. Allan Bernardo, Lucy Bance, Lota Teh, Isabel Melgar, Caridad Tarroja and I have gone through the Technical Working Group meeting with the House of Representatives last February 12. In that meeting, allied professionals from the medical sector, guidance counselors, social workers and other psychologists like former PAP president, Dr. Imelda Villar, and PAP board member, Dr. Chit Salonga, came to meet, discuss and agree on a final version of the bill. The TWG version of the Psych Bill was emailed to us last night and this is the version which will be transmitted to the Senate.

    Last February 26, Drs. Isabel Melgar, Caring Tarroja and I through the help of psychologists, Ms. Lala Balajadia-Alcala, lobbied the bill at the senate. The group met the staff of Sen. Trillanes, Mr. Joey Tunac and Atty. Mara. We learned that because of Sen. Trillanes present situation, Sen. Lacson was requested to take over civil service commission matters, which included the Psych Bill. Meanwhile, we will be meeting Sen. Lacson tomorrow to lobby and hopefully, expedite the passage of the bill.

    Finally, the Psych bill has to pass committee in both houses. Usually, if the bill is approved on the third reading at the House and has no amendments, it will be transmitted to the Senate. If there are no further amendments, the Senate enrolls the bill and is transmitted to the Office of the President.

    I’ll keep you updated about other developments soon.


    J. Enrique G. Saplala

    Amazing Thailand Psychology

    April 5, 2008


    (From the President’s Desk)


    Last February 11 to 13, a small group of Filipino psychologists formed the Philippine delegation to the 2nd Congress of the ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.  The Filipino participants who came from Metro Manila and Davao City did us all proud as they presented very well received oral presentations of their recent research papers.  Congratulations!


    During this meeting, I had the distinct honor of assuming the Presidency of ARUPS (having been elected President-Elect in 2006), and in this capacity I also hope to undertake my responsibilities in ways that will make Philippine psychologists proud.


    But the most memorable aspect of this Thailand conference is our exposure to Buddhist psychology which is a growing field of study in Thailand, led by new ARUPS President-Elect, Dr. Soree Pokaeo of Chulalongkorn University.  During the conference, various paper presenters spoke about the basic principles and theoretical propositions of Buddhist psychology, and how these relate to different aspects of psychological study. 


    I will not attempt to write about this complex topic, but what I noted was that the Thai psychologists who were studying Buddhist psychology were elaborating on a very new paradigm for doing psychology.  The tenets of Buddhist psychology have profound implications on how psychologists define human functioning, the goals and processes of human development, the nature and aspects of well-being, the nature of psychological distress, and even therapeutic interventions for psychological problems.  Some papers presented have gone as far as developing reliable measures for important constructs in Buddhist psychology.


    During the conference, one fellow Filipino participant wondered why we Filipino psychologists have not developed a Catholic psychology.  The wondering was warranted as we know that Buddhism is a religion.  However, Buddhism is not just a religion in Thailand.  Instead it pervades every aspect of Thai society and culture.  We could say that Buddhism is a way of life for many Thai people, even those who do not claim to be Buddhist.  During one of my dinners with Thai psychology professors, they explained that Buddhism in Thailand actually incorporates many indigenous non-Buddhist beliefs and practices as well.  It seems to me that Buddhist psychology is not a psychology of the Buddhist religion, but an indigenous psychology of the Thai people.


    In this regard, I know that Philippine psychologists have already made progress in developing an indigenous psychology, led by the late Dr. Virgilio Enriquez.  I still recall how, as an undergraduate student, I found many of Dr. Enriquez’ ideas very original, thought-provoking, and exciting.  It is the same feeling that I had while listening to the Thai Buddhist psychologists. 


    I expressed my great admiration for the work of Buddhist psychologists to Dr. Soree Pokaeo, which he sincerely appreciated.  He was quick to tell me that my appreciation was so significant because they (the Buddhist psychologists of Thailand) often felt alone in the work, as most Thai psychologists did not appreciate it.  I wonder whether there is a similar lack of appreciation for indigenous psychology of Filipinos in the Philippines.


    I truly believe that in the Philippines, indigenous psychological approaches to the study of human behavior represent important lines of work that will make psychology more relevant to the more Filipino people.  The work that is being done by our colleagues in the Pambansang Samahan sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino and some psychology departments can provide evidence for this. 


    But the work does not begin with identifying and defining concepts and principles.  Indigenous psychological work requires precise and tough-minded scholarship, the utilization of varied empirical methodological tactics, and sustained scholarship on the part of committed researchers.  I hope that more PAP members share this belief and commit themselves to developing a Philippine psychology that is truly relevant to the lives of Filipino people. 


    Allan B. I. Bernardo

    PAP President