by Jane C. Mangalus
Luisita Zarsadias-Esmao, once a BS in Accountancy student of Adamson University (1977-1980), has been dutifully serving her fellow Filipinos—a value she claims to have been instilled in her by Adamson University. University President Fr. Gregorio L. Bañaga, Jr., C.M gave Esmao a special presidential citation last March 9, 2009 at the Adamson University Theater upon learning that the alumna has been extending great amount of assistance to her countrymen despite her lack of needed resources. The certificate partly reads, “...for her enduring commitment to various advocacies, particularly to the cause of farmers and women in her province and in the country, thus transforming the lives of fellow Filipinos; and for using her Adamsonian education as a means to serve the socially disadvantaged.”
Esmao has been actively participating in projects and advocacies concerning her fellow farmers and issues involving women’s rights. To express her earnest support and solidarity, she joined a 30-day hunger strike against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and agreed to cut all her hair for the Campaign on “No To Mining Act” during the time of President Estrada—making her one of the featured personalities in the book Unak.
“St. Vincent de Paul’s ways of helping the poor has been an inspiration,” said Esmao in the vernacular. “You don’t have to be in a public position and be rich to help. As long as you are open to what you could offer, there will always be ways to reach out,” she sincerely addressed the crowd during her speech upon receiving the citation given by AdU.
At present, she serves as Coordinator of the Bantay Lansangan Region 4 and Lead Convenor of the Pambansang Kowalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (representing Southern Tagalog).
Esmao has also traveled abroad. She was the representative of PAKISAMA in the World Farmers Congress held in Uganda, Africa, Germany, and Spain. She also went to Sweden and Indonesia for related concerns.
Esmao’s biggest award so far was when she was named one of the Ten Outstanding Women of the Philippines (BAYI) together with accomplished women like Congresswoman Riza Hontiveros, Gov. Vilma Santos, and Gov. Grace Padaca.
During Esmao’s citation ceremonies, four groups of farmers attended the event for solidarity and thanksgiving: the Sumilao, Banasi, Calatagan, and Quezon Farmers.
The farmers had the chance to view a documentary by Ditsi Carolino on the long march of the Sumilao farmers from Surigao to Manila. Carolino is a well-known filmmaker with several awards to her name.
The farmer-groups’ representatives each expressed their gratitude to the University which has been open to any form of assistance it can extend to them.
“Our support for our farmers goes beyond hosting them in our premises. We are also actively participating in lobbying efforts through Fr. Nonong Fajardo, who sits as a member of the negotiating panel for the CARPER extension. We also want to show our support by honoring one of the leaders—Luisita Zarsadias-Esmao—an alumna of Adamson University’s Accountancy Department and also an alumna of two Vincentian schools: Asilo de San Vicente and Sta. Isabel College. Zia, you represent one of the ideals and values of your Alma Mater and the other Vincentian institutions—the value of social responsibility,” said Fr. Bañaga.
Fr. Bañaga announced that one scholarship slot is given to Luisita should she or a family member intend to pursue a course in the University.