Revenge of a nonstop learner

Undaunted by his failure to pass the Bar, young government employee redeems pride by earning two doctoral degrees in rapid succession

“It's a sense of accomplishment when you help people or assist them to achieve their ambitions, aspirations or dreams, as well.”

“POOR planning” was what drove Eugenio Ferrer Santiago 3rd to take up higher studies after completing his undergraduate degree.

“I have ambitions, aspirations or dreams, which prompted me to pursue higher studies,” he said. “Also to set an example to my siblings and help my family.”

After finishing a course in Business Administration, finishing cum laude in 2003 at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Santiago inevitably sought higher education that decorated his résumé.

Eugenio Ferrer Santiago 3rd Environmental Planner

Eugenio Ferrer Santiago 3rd Environmental Planner

He took up a Master in Public Administration at the PUP Open University and graduated in 2007.

Not content with his academic accomplishment, Santiago took up and completed his law degree at the Philippine Law School while working at the Office of the Ombudsman.

“In the office, it's just routine day-to-day office operations,” Santiago maintained. “I pursued law because my full-time job deals with lawyers, and I must understand their lingo.”

He was, however, unsuccessful in all his four attempts to become a member of the Philippine Bar.

Undeterred, Santiago pursued a doctoral degree in Philosophy at De La Salle University and another doctorate degree, this time, in Development Administration at the Philippine Christian University (PCU) and earned a post-doctoral diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership also at the PCU.

Obviously, with all his enviable educational accomplishments, Santiago gets a different kind of fulfillment in teaching.

“It's a learning you get outside what you have learned,” Santiago admitted. “It's a sense of accomplishment when you help people or assist them to achieve their ambitions, aspirations or dreams, as well.”

Asked if there is still anything Santiago wishes to accomplish, it is to equip himself with more academic credentials. “So that I can give more to my students and set an example,” he granted.

Teaching requires patience. In the courses that he taught through the years, Santiago's patience was invariably tested.

“I am just human, yes I get ire, when students do not perform what is expected of them. 'To Learn is the drive, but action is required. As a student myself, I have to open my understanding of things and do what is expected of me.”

This pandemic, Santiago admittedly faced challenges in his profession.

“The challenge I have to face is the fear of being afflicted by the virus itself, I have senior citizen parents and an immunocompromised sibling at home, if ever, I shall be infected, I might pass unto them the virus.

“As the only runner in the family, I also have office work, school review and part-time teaching, the use of technology really has made life easy to adjust during times of pandemic.”

Santiago had other jobs that he previously ventured in.

“I am a former barista at Starbucks,” he shared. “I was an In-Store Coffee Master, Learning Coach and Merchandise Specialist.

“The work values, the needed passion and experience I've got during my stint at Rustan Coffee Corporation is what I bring to any professional undertaking.”

He had his first teaching break at the Technological Institute of the Philippines where he handled business subjects.

“At present, I have two adjunct tutorial classes/part-time teaching at PUP Sta. Mesa, Manila and PCU in Taft, Manila.”

Santiago really wanted to become a nurse and eventually, a medical doctor. Yet, he was totally sidetracked from pursuing his ambition.

“I realized I cannot withstand blood or anything which has blood,” he said.

“Being employed in the government and part-time faculty are my childhood dreams and had handled various leadership positions as early as when I was seven years old.”

Santiago manages to balance his time with everything that he does. “Discipline is the key and managing time wisely,” he said. “I only do school academic work and teaching after office hours and on weekends, so that is my time for home. That is the time and place, what I find the feeling of 'being at home.'”

Surprisingly, he manages to get enough sleep despite his schedule and even gets to unwind. “I usually sleep, keep myself quiet, relax my mind, for a total of around 8 to 10 hours a day,” he said.

“I go to church early in the morning with my mom every Sunday to recharge my spirit. Then, we will shop at any nearby supermarket.”

Quality time with his loved ones is Santiago's way to bond with them, too. “Whenever I have no school engagements, I just stay at home and talk to them.” He's glad that he consistently gets moral support from them and that's important to him.

“Travel time anywhere in the Metro” takes up much of his time.

“My weekends are devoted to my study class or my teaching class,” he said. “I wake up at 5:30 a.m., leave the house at 6:30 a.m. and arrive at the office at 7 a.m.

“I leave the office at 4 p.m. and life starts after office hours, where I have meetings professionally, academics or friendly dates.”

Santiago's advocacy is “to promote good governance connected to urban planning.” His other interests are “conferences and travel.”

His role models are his parents, former colleagues and superiors, students and friends. The biggest lesson that he learned from them was “being human and being humane.”

Quick questions

What is your biggest fear?

Loss of a loved one.

What motivates you to work hard?

My loved ones.

What makes you laugh the most?

A good person close to me.

What would you do if you won the lotto?


If you could share a meal with any individual living or dead, who would they be?

My family.

What was the last book you read?

I have lots of textbooks to read.

What celebrity would you like to meet for a cup of coffee?

The president of the Philippines.

What is the most daring thing you have ever done?

Kawasan Falls, Cebu, adventure.

What is the one thing you will never do again?

Trust a person who betrayed me.