|DR.HO (third from left) with Cecil Tamura, Dr. Cristina Yuson, and National Artist F. Sionil Jose and the PGCE staff|
And she is the one – and only -- Dr. Ho!
The former Leticia Peňano, she just practises what she preaches: “Education is a continuum.” As a matter of fact, we missed her during the UNESCO National Commission General Assembly last Thursday.
Why? Because she never gets tired of learning new things. Instead of going to the Department of Foreign Affairs, she went to San Francisco to undergo two trainings: one on neurotherapy and another on giftedness entitled Preserving Creativity: Not an Option.
Abroad, Dr. Ho is either known as a Templeton International Fellow for Gifted Education or the former Director of the ASEAN Training Center for Preventive Drug Education (ATCPDE). She earns the bragging right of meeting with the research team of Dr. Howard Gardner of Multiple Intelligences fame during her stint as United States International Visitor Fellow to Harvard.
During the time when there was a need to identify the population of what used to be simply called “fast learners,” Dr. Ho had already been helping the Department of Education, by playing Santa, in her own way, being their cheerful giver!
Now that they are more popularly known as the Filipino gifted, though considered a laughing minority in any country, Dr. Ho, all the more, still subscribes to the belief that they a rich source of human resources: “If identified and properly nurtured cognitively, academically, emotionally and ethically, they can help in turning around many of the ills which we are now experiencing.”
And Dr. Ho generates more support for the basic education on her own.
Being the pioneer in the programs for the Filipino gifted from the disadvantaged sector, she initiated the Early College Placement Program in the University of the Philippines. Dr. Ho allowed the acceleration of gifted high school students like the ones from the Philippine Science High School, where she is a member of Board of Trustees.
Aside from being the current chair and president of the Philippine Association for the Gifted (PAG), she, too, is the Philippine Center for Gifted Education (PCGE) president.
Generally, PCGE's dreams of providing leadership in gifted education in the Philippines and the ASEAN region. In order to achieve that main aim, Dr. Ho submitted the Memorandum of Agreement between PCGE and UP Diliman on 22 June 2010. While waiting for other positive results, PCGE was able to put up a website a month after, simultaneously launching its research and offering such services as mentoring, counseling, and scholarships and financial assistance to the Filipino gifted. Then PGCE had a logo design contest on 25 August 2010 and Romeo Magat emerged as the winner. The Week of the Gifted began on 21 November 2010 and PCGE was formally baptized at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Eventually, PCGE collaborated with the CCP for 150th birthday celebration of Dr. Jose Rizal through the Mga Bagong Rizal: Pag-asa ng Bayan Project. Last August, the 35 Mga Bagong Rizal Awardees gave inspirational talks, with Juana Change, a.k.a. Mae Paner, at Xavier School in San Juan during their Buwan ng Wika celebration and at the ERDA-Tech Foundation in Manila last October.
Everything PCGE is doing is anchored, at first, on the three Es: Equity, Excellence, and Ethics and spirituality. But Dr. Ho, being a former UP College of Education dean who also served as Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs of UP Diliman, insists on adding one L. Love of country, that is.
Vim Nadera: How do you manage your time as a clinical psychologist, neurotherapist and educator?
Leticia Ho: I admit it is sometimes difficult especially when things start happening at the same time like last November when we celebrated the National Week for the Gifted. But, on the whole, I have been able to manage my multiple roles by a really disciplined schedule and sticking to it. It also gets difficult when something unexpected or planned happens.
VN: How do you spend your so-called “Quality Time” with your family?
LH: My children are both grown up. My daughter lives and works in Los Angeles, California while my son has his own family and live in Bulacan with his wife and 7 year-old son. I dote on my grandson who I do not see often because they live far from me. So basically, I only have myself to make Quality Time for. But when they were young, until they became independent adults, I made time for them, not just short guilty Quality Time but time spent together doing things they wanted, mostly for fun. Since I was their official driver, time spent for waiting for them practice for the University of the Philippines' official children's choir, Cherubim and Seraphim, going to parties, etc. gave me time to observe them with others or talk to them in a most natural way and time. Sundays were mass days then out to where they wanted. Now that I am alone, I leave Sunday free for things I like doing outside work. Most of my friends are with their own families on Sundays so this leaves me pretty much alone. Going to mass, walking around the village or to the University, doing errands, among others. I sometimes visit with friends who are sick or siblings who are just as free as I am. If my good friends are available, dancing is a most enjoyable activity. If there is nothing else, I resort to working on my backlog.