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Grit and Tenacity in Adversity

By: Karla Ruiz

Despite the anti-climactic end to his university journey, Riel finally graduated Bachelor of Science in Architecture. In this time of the pandemic, where nothing is normal and everything is uncertain, to accomplish such a feat is remarkable. Amidst a momentous event for finishing a five-year degree course where he dedicated his blood, sweat, and tears, he did not celebrate with the usual wearing of the sablay while marching through a field of sunflowers. Instead, his graduation transpired with a simple celebration with his closest family and friends – a much more intimate but undoubtedly genuine gathering.

As a Metrobank Foundation-Boysen Scholar who graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines – Diliman, Riel Amadeus A. Diala’s passion for arts and architecture is undeniable. His mother, who is also an architecture graduate, surely contributed to his interest as he read her architecture textbooks and references as a child. As he grew up, his fondness for the arts became more apparent as he ventured on origami as well as traditional and digital art. He even creates miniature models as a hobby.

His love for architecture and the arts just grew stronger in time. Now, it has developed as a strong fervor for heritage conservation and preservation. As a heritage activist and a member of various heritage organizations and advocacy movements, Riel has shown that love for the country can be exhibited in unique ways. For him, the promotion of architectural heritage conservation for cultural identity preservation symbolizes this.  He said, “I also plan to apply what I have learned in studying architectural heritage and involve myself with conservation projects as my way to help protect the country’s cultural identity and preserve what is left of our tangible heritage.”

Similarly, another one of his causes is his advocacy for sustainable architecture and construction processes. He attends seminars and is a member of advocacy groups such as the Climate Reality Project to improve his knowledge on the subject. As a graduate of architecture, he feels that changes in how we conceptualize and construct structures are necessary for a more sustainable future.

But, what makes him a true Iskolar ng Bayan is his support for the implementation of social housing for the less privileged members of society. He believes that prioritizing basic needs, and addressing development aggression are necessary to uplift the lives of his fellow Filipinos. He, with his organization, UP Task Force Arki, has done researches on the importance of social housing and entitlement to proper shelter. Such advocacy is very timely given that government guidelines during this pandemic require citizens to stay home. If we have homeless Filipinos, where will they go if they do not have anywhere to call home?

Being a fresh graduate, Riel aims to develop further his experiences and skillset relevant to the profession for the architecture board exams. After passing the board exams, he plans to establish an architecture firm with his close friends, get a master’s degree and eventually a Ph.D. Through all of these, he is grateful to the Metrobank Foundation and Boysen for financially supporting him in his studies. The scholarship has also opened opportunities for him so he could hone his talents and improve on his craft.

It is easy to feel down and negative during this period. For a fresh graduate like Riel, the uncertainty of moving forward with his career can be daunting. Yet, he stays optimistic and confident about his future. He also focuses his energy on how he can help those in need. Indeed, finding a silver lining -despite how thin it may be- can be done if you have a good mindset and a steadfast heart.

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