Exclusive Interview with Engr Lydia Tansinsin | The Philippine Engineer Magazine

Wednesday, December 02, 2015 Stef dela Cruz, MD 0 Comments

When you meet a woman considered a role model by male engineers, you pay attention. And you take notes.

That’s exactly what I did when I interviewed Engr. Lydia Tansinsin for The Philippine Engineer magazine, published by no less than the Philippine Technological Council (PTC), the umbrella organization of all engineering societies. She’s 81 but when it comes to ideas, she thinks like my 23-year-old brother!

Lydia TansinsinEngr. Lydia Tansinsin, former president of the Philippine Technological Council, was an innovative thinker.


Elevating ethics

To Engr. Tansinsin, excellence was not enough. Excellence was nothing if not achieved with ethics.

“I was president of PIChE and also president of PTC. I didn't want my position in PTC to prejudice my position in PIChE, so I wanted to resign [from the latter].”

Her initial decision to leave was partly spurred by how she and some of her colleagues did not see eye-to-eye. “However, PIChE said no. They asked me to stay, so I did.”

Her emphasis on ethics went beyond the favors of friendship. “Just because someone is my friend doesn’t mean I will favor him. If someone is late, then to me, he is late.”

She kept business relationships and friendships apart, making her capable of saying no to her friends. “My parents taught me that if I didn’t like saying no, then I should get out of the office.”

“You really have to be firm that ethics be exercised. Doing things under the table is not good. Make decisions based on what’s good for the country, not just what’s good for your group.”

The Philippine EngineerWhen you keep thinking forward, you stay ahead.

Was her being female an issue? To her, it was an asset. “They didn't want to argue with me because I was a woman. We hardly had any differences because we more or less had the same train of thought.”


Leading the ladies… and the gents

At a time when a big majority of engineers were male, Engr. Tansinsin was the top choice for president of PTC. It all started with a separate association that catered solely to women.

“The secretary of the Philippine Insitute of Chemical Engineers (PIChE) was a very aggressive member at the time and enticed us to be members. Eventually, they started another association – this time, exclusively of women. I became president of that association.”

Eventually, they wondered why there was a need for a female association. “Why did we have to be separated? We worked together, anyway. So, we disintegrated and went back to PIChE. I realized that if we were to work with male members of the group, they would know of our capabilities. If we were apart, they wouldn’t.”


Grab a copy of The Philippine Engineer!

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Engr. Tansinsin had a lot to say about how engineering was and how it should be now.

Philippine Engineer MagazineGrab your copy of The Philippine Engineer!

All lady engineers (and even the gents!) should go get a copy of The Philippine Engineer’s second issue! To subscribe, email edo@ptc.org.ph. For PhP1,500, you get three copies of all four issues. You can also call PTC at (02) 926 6893.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!