“The world has changed, definitely, and we should always wake up armed with convictions, armed with strategies, and armed with hope.”––Mr. Gary Ador-Dionisio
The Benilde Model United Nations, also known as “BenildeMUN” or “BMUN” has come a long way from its humble origins as a classroom activity for CONLEAD (Discussions on Conferences and Leadership) back in 1998, a subject in the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs (CDA) from the old curriculum which is now known as ORGLEAD (Organization and Leadership). Now with an annual number of over 500 participants from different universities, whether local or international, the Philippines’ pioneer collegiate Model United Nations (MUN) has gone through quite a transformation––from a program-led activity guided by then academic adviser Mr. George Binay, now the Dean of the School of Diplomacy and Governance (SDG), in the year 2007, to being handled by the Diplomatic Corps Organization; finally, MUN was set as a diplomatic activity open for all programs.
CDA professor and academic adviser Ms. Catherine Samaniego stresses on why BMUN is important to the CDA community, “Here in the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs program, what we primarily aim to do is to inspire young people and help them eventually evolve into socially responsible human beings. We don’t really care so much about where people are coming from as we have also opened our doors to other programs as certainly, whatever happens in the international community, whatever topics we’re discussing in the committee sessions have a lot to do with you. They will affect you in one way or the other,”. She also believes that the conference is created for students who care enough to make a difference, no matter how small or big.
CDA Chairperson Mr. Gary Ador Dionisio, who was able to witness the evolution of BMUN from its first launch with Ms. Carolyn Alcasabas as the appointed Secretary-General, describes the conference as a bridge for the first timer to not only get involved with issues that affect the global community, but also to meet new friends and garner new information. One of the unique factors of BMUN as discussed by Mr. Ador Dionisio is that it has become student-led. With the guidance of the faculty, the Consular and Diplomatic Affairs (CDA) program gave the students an opportunity to establish a community by working together to successfully handle the nitty-gritty of requirements needed to establish the conference as well as to receive training and intellectual enrichment.
As a supplementary activity to the CDA program, BMUN has faced challenges such as the lack of participants and the waning interest of students in the past years. “Back then, BMUN was just something that students would just jump in or out of,” Ms. Samaniego described, noting how participants were lost and not necessarily aware of what was going on. Thus, MUNPro was launched in the early 2000s to ensure that students are aware that BMUN is an opportunity for them to hone their skills, both academically and professionally.
Through the years, several measures have been taken to ensure that the legacy and reputation of Benilde Model United Nations is maintained through better documentation, consideration and care towards the schedules and processes, selection of speakers, topic deliberation. The whole SDG community also puts emphasis on how important it is for its next generation to take pride in BMUN, as we continuously develop the simulation every year.
As a pioneer Model UN conference in the Philippines, BMUN gives the impression that it would retain as a traditional MUN, but this conference is unique because of its ability to adapt and evolve. With an emphasis on inclusivity, BMUN has opened its doors to Senior High School students this year; as well to all degree programs, including the DEAF community in the College. Despite being extremely competitive and internationally standardized, BMUN still maintains its local culture of high spirits and hospitality through International Night and Diplomatic Dinner as significant social events of the conference. As a first in the history, BMUN is offering full and partial scholarships this year to deserving students from public/state-owned Senior High Schools/colleges and scholars.
For the past 19 years, BMUN has not only served as an avenue for students to witness how the United Nations holds its proceedings through a simulation, but has also become a gateway to test their knowledge on important global issues. As representatives of their respective Member States, delegates are expected to embody a certain grace as they lobby and to deliver their state’s foreign policy on certain issues using diplomacy, and to strive for the passing of their resolutions.
With this year’s theme “Promoting Sustainability Amidst Shifting Global Trends”, the 19th BMUN Conference Proper will be held from July 12 to 14, 2017 at the three DLS-CSB campuses, and the Diplomatic Dinner on July 15 at the Diamond Hotel Philippines.
You may visit bmun.benilde.edu.ph to register and find more information about the conference.
Delegate registration is open until June 10.