WHILE she did not belong to an organization of clenched-fist members during her student days in Diliman, Bing Salandanan has the zeal and passion of a people’s scholar, more popularly known as Iskolar ng Bayan.
In a recent interview with the BusinessMirror, the sociable Salandanan says she was already a permanent resident and gainfully employed in Australia when she decided to come back to the Philippines in 2005. If asked, a lot of Filipinos would really get surprised why the graduate of cell biology wanted to come back to a country that many think is ungovernable and a failed state. Being a permanent resident of Australia since she was 12 years old, Salandanan was already quite familiar with the laid-back lifestyle in the Land Down Under. Her parents have processed her papers when they decided to settle in Australia for good.
After graduating from the University of the Philippines (UP) in 2000, Salandanan followed her parent’s wishes and joined them in Australia. With her solid educational background, she worked for an export company and a laboratory handling sensitive materials.
Nevertheless, she felt there was something big missing in her life despite living in a First World country that has an efficient transportation system, higher standards of living and cleaner environment, among others.
“While I was living in Australia, I was looking for something that I could not find there,” says the witty and articulate executive.
She said her UP education is to blame for developing a strong sense of idealism. Being a product of the State University, Salandanan explains the university’s thrust of academic excellence and making a difference inspired her to go back. UP was responsible for inculcating in her the value of serving the society in her capacity.
“I think the call for being makabayan [nationalist] is so strong that I wanted to come back. UP inculcated in me the value of serving the country by sharing your talent and commitment to the Filipino people,” Salandanan said. “After thinking it over several times, I believe the Philippines is still the best for me.”
Things were falling in the right places for Salandanan when she returned to the country. She was hired at once by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Philippines Inc., where she works as group product manager.
“I am very fortunate to work with GSK because this is a company that shares my passion and advocacy,” she told the BusinessMirror. “I started as a medical representative for two years. With my science background, I also worked with the medical affairs section.”
Originally, Salandanan planned to proceed to the college of medicine in UP to become a doctor. But the plan did not push through as the family migrated to Australia. Nonetheless, she said she will pursue that plan in Australia. However, the UP spirit of giving back to the country proved to be a stronger force for Salandanan.
Salandanan read a lot of geeky stuff as part of her road map to become a doctor. To prepare for her dream, she developed a voracious appetite for reading several topics.
“I read more than usual,” she said. “I did not have an external influence to pressure me.”
Salandanan describes her life in UP as fun-filled and enjoyed every bit of her campus life. She adds her grandfather always advised her to shun campus politics to ensure she would not be converted to activism.
Even though an unica hija, Salandanan said she did grow up as a spoiled child but an independent individual. She compares her situation to being pushed to the wall and having to rely on herself to wheather the challenges.
She feels blessed because of the various opportunities she had that an ordinary child cannot have.
“I understand my parent’s decision to bring me to Australia,” she said. “They wanted me to have a good life.”