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MAN ON A MISSION

“Seph kindly brews four cups of coffee on the pantry,” Mr. Raul Tumulak politely asked his assistant as he invites us in his office. His office is visually calming with teal painted walls, white ceiling, and accented with cream furniture. His office vibes a cozy feeling of belongingness. He has put a good color profile in his office to calm his clients while in counsel. As we settle down in his office, I scroll my eyes on the side of his cream-painted, fully-furnished office desk, and hook into a grey box with a “mobile phone” label. I asked him, “what’s with the box?” He shares, “When counseling, I ask the counselee to put their phone on silent mode and put inside the box. I make sure the phone is not a distractor for the counselee.”  After querying, Mr. Tumulak expressed, “What help I can offer?”

In Mr. Tumulak’s office desk, a holy bible and a plaque of recognition sit. A full rack of letters, memos, and reports lie behind. Mr. Tumulak, who religiously works with the student with needs, is a man on a mission. He is doing a great job at his post as a guidance head. The plaque of recognition says a lot.  He has all the privilege to practice guidance and counseling. He is a holder of two licenses, Guidance Counsellor and Professional Teacher. Aside from heading the university guidance center, he does part-time teaching in his free time. Before we started the conversation, Seph brought the coffees. We talk on his responsibilities and programs he implemented over time. When asked, “What is the role of guidance in the university?” He excitedly replied with his soft, baritone voice, “Guidance is an integral part of the institution. It has a big scope. We have a variety of guidance services to address the university needs. Each of these services answers the pressing need of our student. Guidance Center is a go-to place for teachers and students alike. We help the student to come up with the solution to their academic and personal problems.”

With a squeaky door hinge sound, the interview was shortly interrupted as his assistant comes in. He excused for a while. His assistant asked him to sign the document. However, he told her to get it later. He asked, “Where are we?” My colleague, Ms. Marichu reminds him, “We were talking on university guidance services.” He replied, “We have counseling, testing, information, referral, consultation, and career-guidance services. Recently, we included mental health programs.” Ms. Marichu asked, “Would you mind elaborating on how do you implement these guidance services?” He paused and inhales, “Sure, it will be a long talk.” I was glad he’s willing to give more information on these services. But before he when to discuss the services in details, he expresses, “I am giving you examples, real-life cases, on our services but please do not include in the write-up some confidential events.” I asked, “…to what extent of confidentiality?” He assured, “I am not mentioning names. I want you to keep out from the write-up some examples I am sharing with you, as I say so.” Ms. Cath, another colleague, asked, “Why you are sharing it to us?” He explained, “You are faculties of this university. I know you could help to our cause.” We all nodded and agreed.

We correct our postures as Mr. Tumulak gives the details on every guidance services that they offer. He started, “We conduct psychological test such as IQ, EQ, and 16PF on a regularly throughout the school year. Our guidance counselors, psychometricians and staffs plot schedule on each college. We also do test for an incoming student who applies for scholarships as well as new employees.” He continued, “Each result from the scholarship and employee test are forwarded to scholarship and human resource office, respectively.” Afterward, I asked him, “How about information services?”

He relaxes on his black, padded chair, and spoke about the information services. He stated, “We closely work with different departments and colleges to formulate seminars and campaigns. These activities address the specific needs of the university community.” He leaned forward and continued, “We organize seminars that specifically address the needs of our student. For example, our first-year college student attended the study habits and college-life adjustment. We have health seminars such as STD, HIV and Mental Health. We also have anti-bullying and cyber-bullying campaigns. Ms. Cath asked, “Why did you come up with these seminars?” He smiled and answered, “We talk with the teachers, chairpersons, and deans. We conduct surveys. For example, recently, many lives were lost to depression. As our action to help the community, we crafted mental health seminars to raise awareness to student and teacher.” Ms. Cath expressed her agreement to Mr. Tumulak statements.

Ms. Marichu pulled out the interview notes and asked, “You have discussed to us the testing and information services in details. I presume that you have counseling services as well.” She added, “How about your experiences in counseling student?” Mr. Tumulak replied, “Usually, students who are having poor academic performance and behavior-related concern are referred to us by the faculty. We practice referrals in the university.” Sir Canencia, another colleague, was on the phone the whole time. He was unable to reach the venue on time for the interview due to heavy traffic in the metro. He asked Mr. Tumulak, “Do you entertain walk-in consultations and counseling without a prior appointment or referral?”

Mr. Tumulak corrected his posture and calmly answered, “Yes, we cater them. Over my tenure as the guidance head, there are a good number of students went to the office to seek professional advice.” He recalled, “I had a counselee with the sudden decline in academic performance. Her teacher brought the student to the office. Before I have spoken with the student, I talked with the teacher. I went to his files at the office. I noticed he is performing well for the past months.” I excitedly asked him, “What happened next?” He smiled and continued, “I talk with him, and I found out he needs to attend to her grandmom, who is in and out of the hospital. After the counseling, I h talk to the teacher. I also asked the student to come next month for a follow-up. After a month, he was performing well in class. His grandmom was recovering well too.” Mr. Tumulak shares it to us with a big smile on his face.

As we continue talking about counseling, Ms. Marichu asked, “Do you have experiences on physically abuse student?” He leaned his back on the black, padded chair. He looked at us and said, “I encountered one. It was a few years back. I received a referral from his class adviser.” Ms. Marichu curiously asked, “What did you do?” Mr. Tumulak confessed, “If you encounter these, later on, make sure you call the proper authorities to handle. As a guidance counselor, you should have a good connection with local authorities such as DSWD. In cases that you fail to report, you are also liable. In this manner, referral services come in. Make sure you make the proper referrals.”

I was intrigued by those with psychiatric needs. I asked Mr. Tumulak, “How about those with psychiatric needs?” I lean closer to pay attention to what he is saying. He willingly answered, “When you’re conducting the counseling, pay attention to your counselee. If he started to say that he sees another person than you in the counseling room or any evidence of hallucination, ready the referral to a professional psychiatrist.” He continued, “Dr. Leah from the clinic is a good friend. If I encounter a student with psychiatric need, I would refer it to Dr. Leah and ask her to refer it to a proper medical professional. Typically, we refer it to Vicente Sotto.” Ms. Cath added, “How about with depression and suicidal tendencies?” He replied, “Student with mental health-related cases referred to professional medical practitioners. In the university, I typically refer it to the clinic.” I asked him about those with an above-average or gifted student. He shared, “The same with those with psychiatric needs. Typically, I refer them to their teacher to give a proper recommendation.” Mr. Tumulak emphasizes on proper referral when it comes into counseling.

Ms. Cath shared, “You have shared about the counseling in details to us. How about career-guidance programs for the student?” He expressed, “Before placement services were under my tutelage, right now, scholarship office takes over. What we can only do was conduct career-expo and career information campaigns through seminars and brochure.” He added, “We conducted seminars and career orientation to graduating senior high school students. Also, we do exit-interview to guide the student to their careers to pursue.”

Mr. Tumulak asked, “Do you have more questions?” I looked at Ms. Marichu, which is across me, and besides her, Ms. Cath. I saw Ms. Marichu pulled out the guide questions. Then, she asked, “What are the factors considered in choosing your guidance services?” Mr. Tumulak paused and articulated, ” You need to have a keen observation. You do not need to adapt to hype or trends. There are many factors involved. We carefully crafted programs to address the evaluation result.” I asked, “Do evaluation results improve your programs?” He nodded and shared, “Definitely! Evaluation allows us to know what’s wrong in the program. Thus, we improve our services tremendously.”

Inside the teal painted, cream-accented office, Mr. Tumulak notes, with conviction, “Guidance is a prevention center for issues and cases before the student’s fall out.” Seminars and campaigns are well thought out through careful and keen observation of the student’s needs. Guidance counselor implement services which do not respond to hype or trend. As the interview nears an end, Mr. Tumulak leans back on a black, padded chair behind the cream-colored office desk. Tranquil and amiable, Mr. Tumulak said, “Do you have more questions?” We shake our head, and Ms. Marichu asked, “Could we take a picture with you?” He nodded and smiled, “Do you need someone to take the picture?” I answered, “Yes.” He rang the bell on his cream-colored office desk. “Ding, ding, ding.” The bell echoes inside Mr. Tumulak’s office. Seph enters the office, and place the coffee cups aside. After, we shake the hand of Mr. Tumulak as we bid our thanks for a great interview. As we went out, I saw Seph took the coffee cups to the pantry. 

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