In a rare, sit-down interview, the NONESCOST “Pandemic President”, Dr. Renante A. Egcas, shares the story behind his success.
His poverty-riddled childhood…
His struggles with employment…
His vision for the NONESCOST…
and so much more.
Read on to get to know NONESCOST’s 5th president, up close and personal.
Yours truly: Good afternoon, Doc! Thank you for giving me the time to sit down with you today. The purpose of this is to let the people know your personal side, career history, the challenges you are facing in your presidency right now, and of course your short-term and long-term plans for the college so we will know the direction NONESCOST is taking.
To start, first question Doc, can you tell us more about you as a person?
Dr. Egcas: As a person, I am a living example of what we call the “rags to riches” kind of life. I’m not necessarily rich now, to the true meaning of the word, but if you compare my life now to 20 years ago, the disparity is really great. From a young person living in the hacienda aiming for life to be better, to where I am now. Truly, poverty is not a hindrance to success.
Y: You were a hacienda worker Doc? Can you tell us more about it?
Dr. E: I work in the Hacienda every summer since I was 12 years old (Grade 6). I opted to do so so that when the classes will open in June, I have money to buy clothes and school supplies.
Y: What kind of job you do in the hacienda, Doc?
Dr E: I worked in Hacienda Paz, Cadiz. They call it “summer job”. They accept children who are willing to work to earn money. They would make us clean the sugarcane stalks before they load it up in the trucks. It lasted for many years until I graduated college.
Y: So you really did fieldwork, Doc.
Dr. E: Yes, and as you grow older, you develop muscles, so they give you heavier tasks. I have done everything related to harvesting sugarcane in the fields. I’ve cut down sugarcane stalks in the blazing heat of the sun. I’ve carried those stalks and loaded them on the trucks. Everything!
It’s so hard, that’s why I promised myself to do everything to get out of that kind of life.
Good thing my parents are so supportive especially when it comes to education. They believe it is indeed an equalizer so they wholeheartedly sent us all to schools and supported us as much as they can.
Y: So, getting out of poverty then, that was your motivation?
Dr. E: Yes, my parents and teachers can see that I have the brains. I was consistent 1st honor from Grade 1 to 4th year High School. My parents would buy me new clothes during Recognition Day if I’m on the top of Honor’s list. That’s also one of my motivations to study hard.
Y: Relatable! My parents would buy me new clothes if I made it on the honor’s list during graduation, too.
Dr. E: See? That’s how parents motivate us I guess.
Y: So, if you need to work on the hacienda to have the money to buy school supplies for the opening of the school year, does this mean that your parents cannot provide everything that you need?
Dr. E: My parents are also hacienda laborers, and we are 9 in the family so money is very tight.
Y: Even until now?
Dr. E: Not anymore, I’m the 6th child, so once I found a stable job, I helped my parents send my younger siblings to school. They all have their degrees now. They have stable jobs too so things are better now compared before, financially.
Y: So you broke the cycle of poverty in your family.
Dr. E: Proudly, yes.
Y: That’s something to be proud of.
Moving on, was becoming a teacher your original plan?
Dr. E: Not really, at first I thought I wanted to be an engineer because I like to design houses. Good thing my teacher then, Sir Adion (I went to Villacin National High School) encouraged me to enroll at PNU Cadiz (now PNU- Visayas).
If I pursued engineering, the nearest school is in Bacolod and we don’t have money to support my studies there. I also don’t want to stop my studies, so I agreed to enroll at PNU instead.
Good thing I did because shortly after I fell in love with the profession.
Y: You’re no longer working on the hacienda by this time?
Dr. E: No, I’m still doing it! In the summer, I need money for my projects and other requirements so I still have to work.
Y: You were not able to avail of any scholarships?
Dr. E: I did. I’m SK Kagawad so I had an SK scholarship. But that’s just for the tuition. I still need money for the miscellaneous and other allowances.
Y: It must’ve been hard for you, not having enough money to go to College.
Dr. E: It is. I’ve experienced going to school with only transportation money in my pocket. No money for food, so I’d attend classes the whole day without eating anything.
Y: Did that situation affected you academically?
Dr. E: Not really. If it did anything, it just fuelled my drive to finish my studies. I graduated Cum Laude. In our batch, only two of us achieved that.
Y: Wow, impressive! Aside from graduating Cum Laude, any other notable feats you were able to achieve while you were in College that you want to share?
Dr. E: Well, I was also Editor-in-Chief of the Torch Publication.
Dr. E: I took up English as a Major in College. And a little bit of trivia, I’m the only male among my classmates.
Y: Interesting! So how’s the experience?
Dr. E: It’s okay. It was fun, especially as the EIC of the Torch since we pushed with revolutionizing journalism on the campus.
Y: Oohh… made a few enemies?
Dr. E: Yeah, I ruffled a few feathers. It was fun.
Y: So you’re the outspoken type of student?
Dr E: Not totally. I’m a silent type, I think. I just let my writing speak for itself.
Y: I see. Vigilant students are society’s asset, in my opinion. Enough of college though. Let’s move on, what happened after graduation?
Dr. E: Well, we started applying for jobs. To make the long story short, I got hired in St. Joseph College in Canlaon so after graduation, I went there to teach.
Y: And this is before you took the LET?
Dr. E: Yes, Dr. Zafra, the Director for Academic Affairs in PNU, learned that I will be working in Canlaon right after graduation so she let me borrow her LET reviewers so I can review them after work. With God’s grace, I did pass the LET in one take.
After that, I got hired as a substitute teacher in Dr. Vicente Gustilo. While teaching, I applied for a permanent position. They ranked us and I was Rank 1, but the item was given to the Rank 2. I was disheartened.
Then we heard that ISCOF (old name of NONESCOST) was hiring instructors so I applied.
Y: And you were hired full time?
Dr. E: Not yet, part-time first then full time after a year. It’s the year 1997-1999. The very same year ISCOF Sagay Branch was transitioning as NONESCOST, so we were hired as full-time instructors.
Y: The timing served you well.
Dr. E: Yes, and we have Gov. (then Congressman) Alfredo Marañon to thank for that. He really pushed ISCOF to be NONESCOST so that Sagay will have its own State College.
Y: Thank you, Gov. Alfredo.
How is your life as a newly-minted instructor?
Dr. E: Well, like any other responsible child, the bulk of my salary was dedicated to helping my family. I loaned to have the house repaired, helped send my siblings to school, and all that.
Here’s another interesting trivia: we never had electricity at home. We cannot afford it. We are using gas lamps ever since. So when I had a stable job, the first thing I did was apply to have electricity installed in our home.
Y: Thats must have been a huge milestone for your family.
Dr. E: Yes, it is.
Y: I can only imagine. So, did you pursue further studies while being an instructor?
Dr. E: Yes, I took my Master in Educational Management in 2003. In 2008, I completed my Doctorate degree in Technology Management as a scholar of Congressman Thirdy.
I also took up Law but I did not finish it. By this time, I was already appointed as the Director of Extension Services.
Y: How long did you serve as Director of Extension Services?
Dr. E: about 5 years.
Y: After that, you served as Dr. Sisno’s VPAA, right? How did that happen?
Dr. E: Yes, I served as VPAA for 7 years. It was in 2012 when Dr. Sisno approached me about it. He said he’s been eyeing me for quite some time because he can see my outputs and work ethics and also I came highly recommended.
Y: Did that offer came as a surprise to you?
Dr. E: As VPAA? Yes, it took one year for the designation to become official but when it was presented to me, I accepted the challenge.
Y: So from a part-time instructor to full-time, to Director of Extension Services to VPAA, and now as a College President. I had to say, you climbed the administrative ladder pretty quickly.
Was this part of your career plan?
Dr. Egcas when he was awarded the Gawad Sulo for Eminent PNU Alumni in 2019.
Dr. E: No, everything came as a surprise, every offer. Actually, I have no original plan to run as president. I am already satisfied with my academic rank which is Professor 6. It was only in February (the elections were in July 9, 2020) that I decided to vie for the presidency.
Dr. Renante A. Egcas taking oath as NONESCOST's 5th College President.
Y: What made you run, Doc?
Dr. E: The prodding of my colleagues and of course, my wife. My wife’s support is really my secret why I was able to achieve all these. She knew I have the potential to be the president so she encouraged me to do so.
Dr. Egcas with his wife. Photo on left: taken 2002 before their wedding. Right: their most recent photo
Y: That’s really sweet of you, acknowledging your wife as the secret to your achievements.
Dr. E: Because she is! When we met, when she married me, I was still taking my Masters. I don’t have any achievements that I can brag about. But she loved me and encouraged me so I was able to achieve all these.
Y: Aww. That’s sweet to hear.
Moving on though, now that you are the president, what’s your vision for NONESCOST?
Dr. E: Ever since, I really wanted NONESCOST to project good quality of education. Before, students are not proud to say that they are from NONESCOST. When I became VPAA, I focused on improving the quality of education and the policies so that we can boast that we are a college people can be proud of.
Now that I am the president, we will intensify our efforts in that area. My dream is for NONESCOST to be known worldwide as a prestigious school in Northern Negros.
Y: I can see that this is your focus on your 7 strategic agenda. The core of your message while running as president. Can you share the specifics of these agenda?
Dr. E: Sure. So the 7 Strategic Agenda is the ultimate direction NONESCOST will take in my term as president. My vision is for NONESCOST to be a glocally recognized university offering distinctively niched academic programs engaged in dynamic quality instruction, research, and extension.
So for our Strategic Agendum No. 1, we will aim for University hood as soon as possible. Doing so will allow us to have an increased budget to support our researches and expansion programs. Also, of course, it will increase prestige because we are a university in the countryside.
Number 2 Agendum is People (Faculty & Staff) because you cannot achieve what you want for the university or the College unless your people are ready to engage.
We want to invest in our people through upskilling and upgrading their expertise. If they have upskilled and upgraded, it will show in their actions and decision-making abilities.
So we are looking to implement more robust faculty support in terms of scholarships on the Doctorate level. Then I’m looking to send faculty members to study abroad to improve their perspective about the educational system -- the policies to implement and also the management.
Number 3 Agendum is Governance, Production, and Resource Generation. Our target is to improve our resources prioritizing financial inflow and working on our income generation. Our plan is to improve our fiscal governance in such a way that we have established a steady stream of income coming from our various IGPs.
Number 4 Agendum is about Research, Technology, and Innovation because if you are aiming to be a university, it should be that the majority of the faculty are good in research along with its implementation in the community.
I want NONESCOST to lead the way when it comes to producing new products and implementing programs and policies that improve the communities in Sagay City and other neighboring cities. Other institutions will go to us for benchmarking and taps on our expertise on various programs and researches.
Number 5 Agendum is Academic Excellence. The measurement for this, for now, is our students’ performance on national board exams. The next goal is for us to appear on world rankings for best universities in Asia and even the world.
Number 6 Agendum is Development and Improvement of Sites and Physical facilities. This is a challenge given the situation that we are in now but we are doing what we can. We are currently in the process of improving our sites and adding dormitories in Escalante and Sagay with the help of the city government.
Number 7 Agendum is Extension, Linkages, and Internationalization. We already started our efforts to build international linkages. We recently conducted Institutional Coaching and our speakers are the ambassador of Yemen, a representative from Singapore and Indonesia and they already gave signals for partnerships. We had also established the office of external and internal student affairs to spearhead our student internationalization efforts. We are looking into establishing student exchange programs as soon as possible.
Y: This is a detailed discussion of your plans for the college. I hope you will be able to achieve all these Doc because it will indeed transform NONESCOST.
Dr. E: Yes, indeed. I hope so too. But of course, I cannot achieve all these without the cooperation of everyone here in NONESCOST. The faculty, staff, the heads of departments, the students. So we need their cooperation as well.
Y: That is true. To conclude this interview, any last words to the students and faculty who will be reading this?
Dr. E: Well, for the students, cliché as it sounds, poverty is not a hindrance to success. I am the living testament. So don’t give up. Finish your studies no matter how difficult things are. You will be thankful that you did later on.
For the faculty, continue your quest for improvement. Get your Masters and your Ph.D. Develop your expertise in this field. Our school, the community, and the future generation need you.
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