MANILA – Dr. Atallah M. Habib, publisher of Kabayan Weekly was conferred with a Doctorate in Humanities degree, Honoris Causa, for his humanitarian work especially for his fellow Arabs and overseas Filipino workers in the UAE.
In simple ceremonies at the Café de Chine, Aberdeen court, Great Easter Hotel along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City last February 16, Habib together with four others were bestowed the prestigious Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa degree by the president emeritus of the Far Eastern Advent School of Theology International, Inc. Dr. Ernesto Mercado Jr.
In his remarks about the conferment ceremonies, Dr. Carl Balita said that honoris causa means honor for a cause stressing that the award is a more significant achievement than gaining a doctorate degree in a university. “[An honoris causa degree] has a higher level of authority from a doctoral degree earned in school because anybody can earn a degree by going to school but not everybody deserves the ‘honor for a cause’ degree conferred by a prestigious organization.”
He explained that although the degree does not devalue traditional education but that it is earned through a lifetime of commitment to a cause or endeavor uplifting human life and condition.
Fellow awardee, Dr. Ricardo Fulgencio IV echoed the sentiment by saying that the degree is only granted to those individuals who have done something for the Filipino people. “I bow my head to respect you, you have done more for this country than many Filipinos,” Fulgencio stressed.
Aside from setting up the first Filipino newspaper in the UAE, Habib once headed a charity organization set up by his late father, the late Sheikh Hamistal Habib, which catered to the weakest in UAE society back in 2000 to 2006. The charity assisted women and children who lost their bread winner for whatever circumstance.
Habib narrated how this experience has shaped his outlook in life as he saw the joy in the eyes of women and children who would have otherwise been evicted from their homes, or would not have finished schooling, or in the eyes of women who were granted a month’s worth of food and other needs.
In his acceptance speech, Habib added that his mission in setting up Kabayan Weeklywas to empower overseas Filipino workers who are disadvantage because of lack of information. Information which would have given the OFWs access to better situations as they work in a foreign land.
Aside from Habib and Fulgencio, other awardees were Bishop Joshua Suyo II, Dr. Martin Thurwall, and Dr. Cabuatan.
By: Sam Bautista