Onward and upward: PAEF celebrates 73 years
MANILA, Philippines - On March 23, 2021, the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF) celebrated its 73rd year of awarding grants to deserving Filipino and American students, teachers, scholars, and professionals to study, teach, lecture, and conduct research in the United States and in the Philippines.
PAEF Executive Director Julio Amador III chats with us about PAEF, its evolution in the last 7 decades, how it is faring in the new normal, and the special way it is celebrating its 73rd year with the Fulbright CHED Scholarship Program.
Read the history of the Philippine-American Educational Foundation here.
How has PAEF evolved in the past 7 decades?
Julio Amador III: It was primarily funded by the US and majority of the members of the PAEF Board were Americans. Over the years, it has changed — the Philippine government has really put in resources for the use of PAEF.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Commission on Higher Education have funded or are funding scholarship programs in various critical areas. It has become an avenue to help human resource development in the Philippines over the years.
The Board of PAEF is now 50% Americans and 50% Filipinos, with representatives from the two governments and the private sector. It’s the same idea: you have the Board that makes the final determination of Fulbright candidates into the Philippines, of course with further approval of the Foreign Scholarship Board in the United States. These are just some of the ways PAEF has evolved in its institutional nature.
We’ve expanded. We have teacher programs now. We run an undergraduate program. Over the years, PAEF has expanded in its scope and what it does as a commission.
The 73rd anniversary of PAEF comes in the midst of a pandemic. What are the challenges facing PAEF now and how are we addressing them?
Julio Amador III: We’re still reeling from the impact of the pandemic. Working from home, doing a lot of the interviews online as opposed to in-person — it just really showed that we have had to adjust; we have to use technology.
We migrated online because we want to make sure that everyone gets the chance (to apply); that they don’t have to line up, send something through post, or through courier.
We have to ensure that our candidates leave the Philippines safely, and when they arrive in the US, they are supported.
It has been really challenging, but I think the beauty of the system that we have is that PAEF is supported by the US government and the Philippine government so we have resources available to support our scholars during this pandemic.
See all of PAEF’s institutional partners here.
[“here” will hyperlink to the Institutional Partners page]
If you could tell Senator J. William Fulbright about PAEF today, what would you tell him?
Julio Amador III: I would tell Senator Fulbright that his vision has expanded. It was meant to promote better understanding, but now PAEF has really moved forward with having an impact on national development, because we support those areas that are underserved in the Philippines.
We want to be inclusive. We want to be diverse. This is why we go out of our way to get applicants from various provinces or cities that have not had applicants before.
We want them to understand that the process is inclusive; we want to promote diversity; that the scholarships are not limited to the intelligent faculty, alumni, students, of some universities. Everyone has a chance of becoming a Fulbright scholar.
What can we look forward to from PAEF in its 73rd year?
Julio Amador III: One important scholarship program that we’re running this year is the Fulbright CHED scholarship program. This is to support PhD studies in the US through the generous grant from the Commission on Higher Education. CHED really wants to produce more PhD scholars; PhDs to help support higher education development in the Philippines.
The chairperson of CHED was a Fulbright scholar twice — Dr. Prospero De Vera. He recognizes the need for higher education, particularly promoting PhDs and research grants in the United States.
We have a very supportive Commission on Higher Education, and I think this is one of those investments by the Philippine government that will bear fruit later. It’s reassuring that we’re on track this year, and of course preparing for the 75th year of the Fulbright program in 2023. Despite the pandemic, it’s really just us continuing our work at the commission.
If I would like to apply for a scholarship with PAEF, where do I begin?
Julio Amador III: You can always check our website or follow our various social media accounts. You can send us questions through these social media accounts.
All of these programs are available to everyone who wants to apply, as long as they meet the minimum qualifications. But the first step is to look at our website, look at the programs that we offer, and pick one which fits their professional and personal goal — be it a Master’s degree, a PhD, or leadership program, or teacher-oriented program. If you’re an undergrad, you have the Global UGrad program.
From there, they can start the registration process which will bring them to the website of the program that they’re interested in. They need to register and submit all the needed documents as they go along.
Normally, each program has a two- to 3-month application period. They can save their application and return to it later. Of course, they need to secure various supporting documents, including reference letters, transcripts, and such.
Why would I want to study or pursue higher learning in the US when there are other countries I can choose from?
Julio Amador III: That’s a good question. There are, of course, other scholarship opportunities in other countries, and we don’t begrudge people who would want to apply to these scholarships because we respond to a particular niche.
We are, I think, one of the few scholarship programs, for example, that support humanities. You don’t see a lot of these in other government-sponsored programs. I think we’re doing a service in those areas.
The US is still a primary destination for higher education. There’s still a strong preference for the US educational institutions; these various universities, colleges, think tanks. People want to go there because they believe the expertise is there, and they want to learn from it and build networks, and come back to the Philippines.
Curious about PAEF’s alumni and past scholars? Meet them here.
[“here” will hyperlink to Alumni page - please resend the folder for Alumni because it is empty]
Why should one apply for a Fulbright scholarship?
Julio Amador III: The Fulbright (Program) is a life-changing opportunity for those who want to learn something new, want to experience studying in the US, want to spend some time alone, want to soak up whatever knowledge and network they create, or want the life of a scholar in the United States.
From Alaska to Hawaii, there are opportunities for higher education, and we have been supporting them since 1948. Your work, your education, will also have an impact on national development because we expect the scholars to come back and apply what they have learned.
If you are someone who wants to experience these things, you are definitely welcome to apply to the Fulbright Program.