The University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Industries (UP ISSI) welcomes Prof. Melanie M. Moraga- Leaño as its new Director.
Prof. Melanie is an Assistant Professor at the College of Arts and Letters (CAL), teaching “Introduction to Speech Communication”, “Bases of Speech”, “Conflict Management”, “Research”, among others.
UP Diliman has always been a second home for Prof. Melanie. After graduating in 1999 (BA Speech Communication, cum laude), she immediately accepted an offer to teach at CAL. Since then, she has served various positions at the same College as Speech Communication Coordinator and Chair of the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts. She served as the College Secretary from 2018-2021. In between juggling her roles as a wife, a mom of two kids and as a member of the academe, Prof. Melanie earned her MA in Speech Communication from the same College in 2008. She is now completing her doctorate degree in Public Administration at the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) also at UP Diliman.
Aside from being an educator, Prof. Melanie considers herself an advocate of social entrepreneurship. She is a social entrepreneur herself, managing a Human Nature branch at her area of residence in Meycauayan, Bulacan.
“I am very passionate about entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, in particular. I believe social entrepreneurship should be the way we do business in the Philippines to achieve inclusive growth and progress. We should encourage and empower aspiring entrepreneurs as we dream of a genuine bottom-up development.”
For Prof. Melanie explains that social entrepreneurship is anchored on our bayanihan spirit as Filipinos, and that the more individuals and groups become social entrepreneurs, the greater the possibility for inclusive growth and progress to take place.
“Being a social entrepreneur is not easy since one must deviate from the traditional way of running a business. However, forwarding certain advocacies, being able to empower other people, providing employment with decent living wages, and working towards achieving multiple dreams make the challenges faced by social entrepreneurs easy to bear.”
Outside of work, Prof. Melanie is a “plantita-by-heart”. Tending to her garden and being able to produce their own food (ampalaya, corn, pechay, etc.), she is delighted to realize, “I actually have a green thumb!” Her husband thinks so too, that he often encourages her to plant some more. She also enjoys scoring “piso-seatsale” and traveling with her family. She looks forward to being able to do this again after the pandemic.
Prof. Melanie and her family are also active in community work. Last year, Prof. Melanie and her family started the campaign “Sagip Sanggol” which helped distribute essentials for children in their local community in the midst of the pandemic. This year, they initiated a 10-day community pantry at Barangay Langka, Meycauayan, Bulacan. With the support of their relatives and friends, both programs were able to benefit hundreds of families in their community.
Asked what her vision and plans are for the Institute, Prof. Melanie said it is to make the presence of the UP ISSI felt strongly across the nation and in other countries through continuous engagement with existing and new partners.
“A stronger social media presence would also be prioritized to help increase awareness in entrepreneurship. The introduction of additional training programs and the enhancement of the research capabilities of the UP ISSI would be part of the immediate plans for the Institute.”
In this time of pandemic, Prof. Melanie believes that UP ISSI needs to continuously innovate to better serve the MSME sector. “We should make creative and timely adjustments in our approach to beat the challenges brought by our current situation. As the UP ISSI adjusts and innovates, it can also help point MSMEs in the right direction.”
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