Meet the Current Students

Batch 7 - Spring 2015

Front Row (L-R): Ellen Cook (SLU); Mark Espina (Fordham); Irma Nugroho (USF); Regina Yabillo (Ateneo de Naga); Monaliza Adolfo (Ateneo de Naga); Middle Row: Marizeta Auro (Ateneo de Naga); Isabelle Bishop (Marquette U.); Giuliana Pe Benito (Columbia); Aisia Crooke (USF); Top Row: Abram Castaneda (USF); Teresa Strong (SLU); Michael Nievarez (Ateneo de Naga); Noah Simpson (Marquette U.); Mark Joseph Euste (Ateneo de Naga)


Teresa StrongTeresa Strong, St. Louis University

Hello po! My name is Teresa Strong and I’m currently a sophomore at Saint Louis University studying social work. I am so excited to be here in the Philippines for the next four months to learn more about the Filipino culture and from the beautiful people in my praxis site, Lingap. Casa Bayanihan means “house of community” and from what I’ve seen, it is just that. My fellow peers here in Casa Bayanihan are very diverse and we all come from different backgrounds and countries, but we are able to come together and work collectively toward becoming more cognizant human beings with a deeper understanding of what it means to love others.

MJMark Joseph Euste, Ateneo de Naga University

Hi! I am Mark Joseph Euste, currently on third year at Ateneo de Naga University, studying Electronics Engineering. I am very grateful to be part of this caring and loving community of people all across the globe. I am excited to experience, understand, and appreciate the culture of my own home country and other people’s culture as well. I personally look forward to fostering genuine relationships with all the folks that I will be meeting for the next months of my stay in the program. And lastly, I want to find joy in everything I do and to love everyone in any possibly way. Casa Bayanihan is home.


Aisia Crooke, University of San Francisco

Hi, my name is Aisia and I am from St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  I am currently in my sophomore year studying Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco.  I'm most excited about being with the children at my praxis site, and really looking forward to planning fun activities for them to do. Also, I really want to learn more about their families and the reality of living in an informal settlers area in Metro Manila.


RegineRegina Yabillo, Ateneo de Naga University

Magandang buhay! I am Maria Regina G. Yabillo, studied BSBA Computer Management and Accountancy at Ateneo de Naga University. Saying yes to a journey that may make or break you is really crucial. Realities are truly disturbing especially as a Filipino citizen but with this realities, came also the hopes and dreams of my own people. I’m really looking forward to discover it more. To see it with my own eyes, feel it with my own heart and hear it with my own soul. Living in a house with two different cultures is truly awesome. You get to establish the true meaning of “Bayanihan”. Despite the different cultures and ethnicities, we are working as one community in doing something that is actually life-giving.

NoahNoah Simpson, Marquette University

Hello! My name is Noah Simpson. I am a sophomore coming from Marquette University, studying Digital Media. I do not exactly know why I am here. All I know is that I am here, with the students I am living in community with, and with the people of Bagong Silang that I am entering into praxis with through the wonderful medium of the San Damian Center. I have many hopes and fears regarding this semester but all that I want and all that I can truly ask of myself is that I am present to the reality that is the Philippines. Present to this moment and those people whom I share it with. 

MonaMonaliza Adolfo, Ateneo de Naga University

Hi! I’m Mona Adolfo, a fourth year student of Ateneo de Naga University taking up BSBA Major in Financial Accounting. I am really thankful for the great opportunity given to me as part of the Casa Bayanihan Batch 7 and given this chance to be with people whom you know come from different places of the world, but you have this great connection with each other like you’ve been together for a long time. It is such a great privilege to be with them. I am looking forward to have a life-giving experience here at Casa and be truly men and women for and with others. MAGIS! Enjoy life! It’s more fun in the Philippines!

Mark EspinaMark Espina, Fordham University

Hello! My name is Mark Espina. I am currently a junior studying Sociology and International Humanitarian Studies at Fordham University.  I’m really excited to be part of Casa Bayanihan Batch 7. As a Filipino American, Casa allows me to really immerse myself in my cultural heritage and daily realities of Filipinos. The communities I have encountered in and around the metro Manila area have shown me the beauty and passion of the Filipino people and I hope to give myself fully to this experience and truly learn from all I can about this wonderful country and hopefully discover more about myself along the way.  

Ellen CookEllen Cook, St. Louis University

Hello friends! My name is Ellen Cook and I am a sophomore at Saint Louis University studying Speech and Hearing Science. The Casa Bayanihan program truly offers a unique experience, a chance to be apart of a community –to learn and grow from individuals much different than myself. Much like the weather, there is such warmth and beauty that exists within the people of the Philippines. Yet there is much disparity that exists that is at times difficult to understand. I am so blessed to be apart of such an incredible experience. With such a diverse environment, I look forward to the growth that we will all experience together.  

G Pe BenitoGiuliana Pe Benito, Columbia University

Hey Ya’ll! Everyone calls me G and I go to Barnard College, which is the women’s college at Columbia University in the City of New York. In school I’m majoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and concentrating in Critical Studies of Ethnicity and Race. I am stoked to be a Filipino American returning to the Philippines after many years of dreaming and working towards it.  One of the first things that drew me to Casa, other than the opportunity to come back to the PI, is that this community openly welcomes me as an LGBT women and as a Filipino American.  The practice of intentional community is revealing itself to be both meaningful and challenging. I am so blessed to be here!


Irma Nugroho, University of San Francisco

Hey! My name is Irma Nugroho and I’m a junior at the University of San Fransisco. I am pursuing my Masters in Education, in hopes of becoming the world’s greatest teacher. I am finding Casa Bayanihan not be life changing but life giving. Everyday I gain a better sense of how I want to contribute justly to this world. I am so excited to grow and learn from the communities we are living alongside.  I am surrounded with such intelligent, beautiful souls. I can’t think of a better place for me to learn. 

MichaelMichael Nievarez, Ateneo de Naga University

Hello everyone! My name is Michael R. Nievarez and my friends call me Michael, Mike, Ba, Baba or Mic-Mic. I am studying Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Marketing Management in Ateneo de Naga University. I am thankful that I am part of Casa Bayanihan Batch 7. I joined Casa Bayanihan because I really want to understand the realities of life. I want to understand the situation of the people living in the different Praxis sites more and I want to learn a lot of things from them. This is a start of something new: new experiences, new friends, new community and new family! Thank you Casa Bayanihan!

IsabelleIsabelle Bishop, Marquette University

Hello Hello! My name is Isabelle Bishop and I’m a junior at Marquette University. I am majoring in philosophy and minoring in history and peace studies. I found Casa by chance as I was searching through all of Marquette’s non-European study abroad options. As I read more and more about the program, I realized that this is an experience I could not miss! I’m excited to face the challenges that are ahead, and for this program to help me open my eyes and heart to the world we live in!  

AbramAbram Castaneda, University of San Francisco

Hey Folks! My name is Abram Castaneda and I am 20 years of age from Pomona, California. I am a junior at the University of San Francisco majoring in communication studies.  I first heard of the CASA program two years ago during a USF immersion trip to El Salvador. After visiting the CASA Solidaridad houses, the program in which Bayanihan is mirrored after, and learning the structure and purpose of the program I immediately fell in love and knew that this was the study abroad experience I wanted to have. Two years later I am in the Philippines and there is no place I would rather be!  

ZetaMarizeta Auro, Ateneo de Naga University

Mabuhay po mula sa Pilipinas! My name is Marizeta P. Auro and my classmates here call me Zeta. I am a junior student of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Legal Management at the Ateneo de Naga University. I am one of the five Filipinos who take part in Casa Bayanihan as students. It was a complete mystery for me when I said “yes” to Casa, but this “mystery” is starting to unveil itself as I progress to know more about the different realities happening in my own country. It humbles me to be a part of this program, which teaches me to live simply and take into consideration the life of the others or my “kapwa” into mine. I have to seize every moment because this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!