SISFU's 25th Anniversary Celebration

Southville International School affiliated with Foreign Universities (SISFU)’s has been delivering quality education in the Philippines for the past 25 years. Through a string of multiple events and activities, the SISFU community has been gearing up to celebrate this much-anticipated milestone. This celebration was launched last February 24, 2023, starting with a harmonious Catholic Mass and Christian Service. These thanksgiving gatherings were attended by the students, staff, and faculty who wanted to show gratitude for the providence and divine generosity that the school has received for more than two decades.

To officially open the event, the community gathered in the SISFU lobby to take commemorative photos with the anniversary balloon and to witness the ribbon cutting that was led by SISFU’s President, Dr. Melva Diamante, and SISFU’s Dean of Academics, Dr. Nancy De Guia.

Our Senior High School Programme Head, Ms. Ailene Fulgencio, and Ms. Victoria Amante of PR and Marketing then announced the beginning of the celebration’s much-anticipated competition, the Feast Around the World. There were cheers from the different floors representing Australia, UK, and the Philippines as they were called on and encouraged to visit all the floors to see the decorations and taste the delicacies prepared by other competitors.

After announcing the winners of the Feast Around the World and greeting our special guests, everyone joined the parade to Lux Hall with the marching band leading the way. Mr. Daniel Steel, SISFU’s Director for Communications, and Ms. Arlyn Alino, MBA and Hospitality Management faculty, enthusiastically started the programme as hosts by calling Dr. Melva to deliver her opening remarks.

Mr. Ian Thomas, De Montfort University (DMU)’s Associate Dean, stood in front of the attendees as the keynote speaker soon after. He shared his fondness for working with SISFU because of how the partnership has evolved and strengthened throughout the years as we relentlessly provide opportunities for those who are unwilling or incapable of leaving the country to pursue international education. Expressing his immense trust in our institution, he told the crowd, “I can’t guarantee that I will be here in a further 25 years' time, but I am extremely confident that SISFU will be.” To follow Mr. Ian’s motivating address, Senator Mark Villar also sent his felicitations through a video message.

Trailing Cradle’s energetic dance number, Pearson’s Channel Manager, Mr. Mark Flores took the podium and talked about the collaborative efforts SISFU and Pearson have created and maintained for many years. Mr. Pierre Pecson, Head of Education for the British Council in the Philippines, and Ambassador Hae Kyong Yu of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines also sent their recordings to express their delight at SISFU’s decades of continued dedication in delivering some of the greatest educational programmes other countries have to offer.

Dir. Patrick Patriwirawan of the Department of Labor and Employment personally applauded the SISFU community for this momentous achievement. This joyous energy was also shared by Atty. Cinderella Filipina Benitez of Commission on Higher Education, Usec. Gina O. Gonong of the Department of Education, and Dir. Danilo P. Cruz of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in their respective congratulatory videos.

Before continuing on to more jubilant messages, Ms. Mai Angeles sang her ardent rendition of Never Enough which left the crowd in awe. This performance was the perfect transition to Mr. John Appleton’s, Senior Manager at Takenaka Corporation, inspirational talk about his journey to discovering his passions to eventually furthering his studies to advance his career. Mr. James Montenegro, Country Manager for Chroma Hospitality, further addressed the students and gave advice to those who want to tread on in the hospitality industry.

The Founder of ICHM, Mr. Gerald Lipman, joined the event virtually and admitted that he had felt quite emotional to not be able to witness it personally. He reminisced about his visit to SISFU and urged the community to think back as well when he called on us “to put down your pens, push aside your keyboard, and reflect on your successful journey so far.” This contemplative outlook was seconded by Ms. Fides Tanay, Human Resources Head at SM, in her video that shared her story of grief and triumph. She advised, “as long as you are faithful, you are assured that there will be limitless possibilities.” On the other hand, Mr. Jerry Sagmaquen, Talent Acquisition Leader for Slalom, Dr. Remy Lagera of South SEED LPDH College, and Dr. Jo Tizon, President Southville International School and Colleges and SGEN Allied Schools, took a very gleeful approach in their messages.

After another rousing dance number from Cradle, a presentation of the SISFU’s milestones for its 25 years of transformation and innovation in education was enjoyed by all attendees. This pondering moment was drawn on by Dr. Genevieve Ledesma-Laurel, SISFU Founder and Chairman of the Board, when she talked about the initial struggle of our institution and how all these unexpected hurdles were solved. She proudly encouraged the leaders, faculty, and staff, whom she addressed as crisis managers, “to continue on with your grit so that it will lead to continuous growth!”

To lead the toast, Mr. Roger D. Bartholomew, President of Southville Educational Estates, took the stage to deliver his gratitude to all those who made this milestone possible. He recognizes that SISFU is an environment of transformation as he talked about the school’s alumni, “I still hear from our students who were with us from 25 years ago who are out in the world doing amazing things with their careers and with their jobs.” This moving moment became even more uplifting as everyone sang the SISFU Hymn and Community Song.

As the day approached its end, all faculty and guests were invited to chat and dine in Bistro Lima where a scrumptious meal was prepared which was also lined with a live serenading of a string trio ensemble. Meanwhile, the staff and students gathered in the lobby and SNX to spend time with one another and to watch Atty. Exequiela Gonzales’ small performance for the students as she sang her original songs and covered Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” with Ms. Faith Ison.

In her welcoming address, Dr. Melva mentions our community as the true reflection of the transformation and innovation SISFU strives for. Our beloved school’s story of success goes beyond just the evolution of our institution. We have watched the lives of our students unfold before our eyes – some have gone on greater adventures in different countries, others have become leaders in their own fields, and most have grown in numerous exemplary ways. We truly can’t wait for another 25 years of impactful and rewarding service to our global community!



Written by: Victoria Clarabel Amante

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