Gloria Diokno: Dialogue with a university lecturer and researcher from the Philippines
Gloria Diokno is a social scientist, a university lecturer, and a researcher. For nearly 35 years, Dr. Diokno has been an outstanding educator committed and dedicated to the development of communication and the search for improved technology that could restore quality to the forests and farmlands as well as promote equitable utilization of natural resources. Currently, she is serving as the research social scientist at the Forest Research Institute at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos.
Born in the Philippines, Diokno graduated from the Adventist University of the Philippines (then Philippine Union College) with a major in English. Her notable academic achievements earned her full scholarships to pursue her master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos in 1971 and 1978.
Greatly influenced by her foster parents who became Adventists in the early 1950s, Dr. Diokno joined the Adventist Church in 1954. Her great desire to improve Adventist education and to serve the church inspired her to actively participate in management committees, boards of trustees, and union executive committees of the North Philippine Union Mission, Adventist University of the Philippines, and Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies.
With the organization of women’s ministries in the Adventist Church in 1995, Dr. Diokno caught the vision of leading and inspiring other women to “arise, shine, and serve.” Since 1997 she has been the president of the Women’s Association of South-Central Luzon Mission in the Philippines.
Gloria Diokno is married to Joseph Ramos Diokno, a merchant marine, and they have a son who is serving in the Philippines government. Her love for the Lord and her passion to share Christ with her students and colleagues continues to inspire many members,
especially women, to follow the Lord as she has done.
Dr. Diokno, how did you become interested in choosing a career in teaching and research?
I believe my foster parents had the greatest influence on my career choice. When I was 10 years old, my foster parents adopted me into their family. Both Mom and Dad were church school teachers for a while, then one joined the public school system while the other continued to teach in the Adventist system. They loved their work and I am sure it has rubbed off on me, too. Though they did not persuade me to be a teacher, they served as good models for me during those important years of my life.
Would you tell us something about your profession?
I have been a lecturer in English and social sciences for many years at one of the Philippine state universities. I teach courses in journalism and writing as well as research methodology in the social sciences. In addition, I serve as the editor of a regional publication, as well as two international ones in the areas of research, global communication, and social science. Currently, I am shouldering more responsibility as a researcher in social science at the university.
What kind of research do you conduct?
I do quite a bit of research for the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, which is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines. For example, the government is trying to relocate to other areas of the country the farmers who use slash-and-burn techniques that are depleting the land by burning their crops. I do surveys to identify ways to help them deal with conservation practices, and new technology to package green charcoal.
Tell us about your Adventist background.
My mother was an Adventist, but she passed away when I was still quite young. Then through providence, I was adopted by Christian parents. Some years later, they accepted the Adventist faith, and I was baptized along with them. My foster parents kept the Adventist truth faithfully and they were committed to giving me a Christian education. I have been an Adventist for the past 46 years.
Does teaching in a public university create problems for you as an Adventist?
Not at all. I don’t have Sabbath problems because we are on a five-day week schedule at the university. The only minor problem is the scheduling of social functions on Friday evenings or Saturdays. But because the university knows that I keep the Sabbath from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, my administrators and colleagues respect my belief and practice. In fact, they try to find the best time to accommodate me and even try to respect my food preferences.
How do you share your faith with your colleagues and students?
Generally I am on the lookout for good discount books to buy. I give them as presents to my colleagues and students. Some of these books include, The Book That Cannot Be Destroyed, I Love You, Energized, The Great Controversy, and Steps to Christ. I also invite them to my church during Special Visitors’ Day. I give my students Voice of Prophecy lessons. I invite them to enjoy singing with me some great hymns from our Church Hymnal.
What brings you the most satisfaction in your work at the university?
One thing that really gives me great joy and satisfaction is to note that some of my colleagues and students look up to me as a model for healthful living. I talk to them about the harmful effects of eating between meals, drinking coffee or tea, and eating rich, fatty foods. So now when we have meetings or classes, they stop serving food between meals. Instead of coffee or soft drinks, they serve water. I feel good when they ask me about the NEWSTART concept—an acronym that stands for the basic natural remedies: Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest, Trust in God. I help to give seminars based on those health principles.
In what capacities have you served the Adventist Church as a lay professional?
I have conducted seminars at conventions, retreats, and other church-related meetings. I have also served as a member of school boards, management committees, and on division, union and mission executive boards for many years now. I am happy to be of service to the Adventist Church even though I don’t work for the denomination.
When did you first get involved in women’s ministries.
I believe it was when I was nominated as the women’s ministries coordinator of my local church in Calamba. Then the following year the women’s ministries director of the mission called a mission-wide meeting of all the WM coordinators of the various churches to help us organize into a women’s association. It was then that I was elected as the president of the Women’s Association of South-Central Luzon Mission. Simultaneously, I was also elected as the president of the Women’s Association of the Laguna Province and subsequently that of the local district.
What kind of activities do you get involved in with the other women in your association?
I organize women’s retreats, fellowships, and leadership training seminars for personal growth and nurture. For outreach activities, we have started a regular prison ministry which is in its fourth year of operation. We teach the inmates Voice of Prophecy lessons each week. Then, when there are some who wish to be baptized, we ask the local pastor or elder to complete the process. I am also working with the women members in planning for mission-wide evangelistic campaigns.
Does your involvement in women ministries evangelistic work conflict with your teaching profession?
Not at all. In fact, it complements my work in the social sciences area. We do participate in projects called Women and Development (WAD). I help out in the area of health when I introduce the women to NEWSTART. Another area that I assist in is teaching women practical livelihood skills such as making soap, sewing, etc. The type of lectures I give during the evangelistic meetings can also be used when I am teaching.
What advice would you like to give to our Adventist students studying in public universities?
Remember to stand firm and practice a consistent Adventist lifestyle. Don’t conceal your faith, but instead be brave to practice your Adventist beliefs and values. Do your best to share your faith. God will bless you.
Interview by Linda Mei-Lin Koh. Linda Mei-Lin Koh (Ed.D., Andrews University) is director of children’s, family, and women’s ministries of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. Her mailing address: P. O. Box 040; Silang, Cavite, 4118; Philippines. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Gloria Diokno’s mailing address: ERDB, University of the Philippines, Los Banos; Laguna, Philippines. E-mail: email@example.com