Mrs. Mercedes Leah Wale-Gigataras
Mrs. Mercedes Leah Wale-Gigataras was raised in a family whose love in helping the less-fortunate and those from the far-flung areas is innate.
Mercy, as she is fondly called, has been serving the University for five years. During the first three years, she was a project-based worker at the Silliman University Extension Program (SUEP) for the HIV/AIDS Prevention Program funded by Bread for the World, an international non-government organization.
She confesses how she finds it unbelievable to have survived working for the out-of-school youth in the squatter areas of Dumaguete City.
“I have learned so much on how to adjust to different kinds of people. Now, I consider it an asset, with this kind of work that I have that deals more with the community and the different departments inside the University,” she says of her experiences.
The next two years to date, she serves as the Secretary of the SUEP.
Mercy could have pursued medicine with her undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Science in Biology, and become a doctor like her parents, but she chose another track. Instead, she studied Bachelor of Laws at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City and completed it in 2008.
For her, being with Silliman University is a great privilege. Though she completed her high school and college education in Silliman, she admits: “I did not expect to be hired to work in Silliman.”
Like quite a number whose parents are working in Silliman, Mercy is certain that she spent most of her life inside the Silliman campus. In fact, she has so many unforgettable stories to tell including how she met her better half, Giovanni A. Gigataras, another Sillimanian who holds a degree in Political Science.
Mercy and Giovanni are blessed with three children: Gaea Leanna, 12; Gabrielle Gael, 7; and Giomell Emmanuel, 5. She considers her family a blessing — at the end of a very tiring day in the office, her family always gives her the reason to be happy.
Going back to her parents, it is from them that Mercy developed her love for community work. Her parents, Dr. Sebellon and Dr. Fe Wale, exposed her to service to the poor and indigents. They were medical doctors who chose to serve in the far-flung areas of Negros Oriental. Her parents pioneered the extension program of the University, and Dr. Fe continues to be involved in the healthcare program of the Silliman University Marina Mission Clinic.
Let’s know more about Mercy.
Describe yourself in three words.
Beautiful. Friendly. Flexible.
What is your mantra in life?
“Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.”
What makes you laugh/cry?
I cry when something bad happens to a family member or to a friend. I would easily laugh over simple funny jokes.
What’s your favorite time/day of the week and why?
I love weekends — it's when I get to spend time with my family and friends.
What do you love doing when not working?
I am fond of surfing the Net and reading articles.
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
I think It would be the Amphitheatre and the SU Cooperative Store.
What makes you blush?
If you were an actor/actress, who would you be?
I really like Sandra Bullock.
Tell us a fact about yourself?
I am flexible in dealing with different kinds of people.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
Chinese garter and “takyan.”
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
Going for a swim at a nearby beach resort or in a swimming pool.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
I am friendly.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
I’d spend at least five minutes reading Our Daily Bread and then, I pray afterwards.
What’s your idea of a family?
Family is a bunch of people who are blood-related. For me each one in the family is held responsible for the welfare of the other members.
(NOTE: “Colleague of the Week'” serves as a window into the life of the faculty and staff members of Silliman University. It seeks to showcase colleagues from different departments and units, and present them as “the” faces that form part of the foundation of Silliman. Featured weekly are faculty and staff who have committed themselves to providing members of the Silliman community a campus experience that cultivates competence, character and faith within one and all. We get to know them as people who like any of us also have their fair share of challenges, successes, and an inspiring story to tell. Not all of them may be popular, but not a single one of them lives a life without hope and meaning to share.)