Roselle R. Ambubuyog
Roselle Rodriguez Ambubuyog is the first visually-impaired Filipina to become summa cum laude at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in 2001. She was able to achieve academic excellence despite her handicap and has inspired people with her life story of triumph over the odds.
Roselle Ambubuyog (Christened as Maria Gennett Roselle Rodriguez Ambubuyog) was born on January 12, 1980 to Gemme Fonte Ambubuyog of Pandan, Antique, and Deannah Ballesteros Rodriguez of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. She is the only daughter and the youngest of four children, who are all raised as Roman catholics. She currently resides in Caloocan City with her parents.
Roselle lost her eyesight when she was six years old due to damaged corneas. This resulted from the adverse effects of Steven Johnson's Syndrome (SJS), an excessive reaction of the immune system to chemicals inhaled or orally introduced to the body, which was triggered twelve days after she took over-the-counter medication that were also prescribed by a qualified doctor when she was suffering a bout of asthma. SJS, though seldom heard of, is considered the sixth killer in the United States.
Roselle consistently graduated with highest academic honors: Model Montessori Child (Holy Infant Montessori School, 1986), Class Valedictorian (Batino Elementary School, 1993), Class Valedictorian (Ramon Magsaysay High School - Manila, 1997), and Class Valedictorian (Ateneo de Manila University, 2001). She has been mainstreamed into the regular (sighted) classes since elementary school when she continued her studies after going blind.
Roselle also graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Ateneo De Manila University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and a minor in Actuarial Science. She has won all other awards possible for a graduating Ateneo student: the Ateneo President’s award as Valedictorian of Class 2001; the Ateneo Vice-President’s Most Outstanding Individual award for service and excellence; the St. Ignatius award for Outstanding Scholar; and the Departmental award for Mathematics.
Being the first blind student at the Ateneo, a Braille translation software program that converts encoded or scanned text to computer Braille format as well as a Braille printer that produces hardcopy Braille were purchased by the Ateneo to make the exam questionnaires, lecture notes and other classroom materials accessible to Roselle. She then pursued her Masters degree in Applied Mathematics, specializing in Actuarial Science, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Outside the university, Roselle received the Special award of Recognition from the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) executive committee, the Most Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines award from the Order of the Knights of Rizal Supreme Council, the BPI Science award from the BPI Foundation, the Huwarang Pilipino award from the Radio ng Bayan executive committee, the Gawad Sentenaryo “Kabataang Makasaysayan” award from the National Centennial Commission, the Galing Pilipino citation from the Galing Pilipino Movement, the National Maagap Award for Punctuality and Civility (Youth Sector) from the Organized Response to the Advancement of Society, the Heroes For Today award from Reader’s Digest Asia, and many more.
Career and Accomplishments
While pursuing her Master's Degree, Roselle set up a project (codenamed Project Roselle) with the help of the Rotary Club of Makati-Ayala, which donated desktop computers, scanners and Braille printers, as well as special software such as screen readers, screen magnifiers and optical character recognition (OCR) applications. These assistive software and hardware technologies enable the blind to use a computer through synthesized speech that reads whatever is displayed on the screen, and to read print materials that can be scanned and either read on the computer using speech output or reproduced in hardcopy Braille. Different schools where more than 15 blind students are mainstreamed each year into the regular classes, including her alma mater Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila, Quirino High School in Quezon City and Bagong Silang High School in Caloocan City, became the beneficiaries of Project Roselle.
Roselle, while still based in the Philippines, was then employed as Consultant-Contractor for Human-Computer Interaction at Freedom Scientific, Inc., an access technology company in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, which develops Windows PC solutions for people with vision impairment and learning disabilities. She also helped a similar company, Serotek Corporation of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, to introduce System Access to more than 800,000 blind and visually impaired Filipinos. This is an affordable and portable Windows screen reader that can be used on any computer without installation which meets the needs of blind Filipinos who do not have their own computer but can use one in school, at work, or in places like internet cafes and public libraries.
Roselle is presently the Product & Support Manager of Code Factory, S.L. of Barcelona, Spain, which is the world’s leading provider of screen-reading, magnification and Braille access solutions for blind and partially sighted people using mobile devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
She is in charge of the products' life cycle from the conceptualization of product specifications to the release procedure, including post-launch activities. Her key responsibilities as product manager include defining the product strategy and roadmap, coordination with programmers about development tasks, supervision of the beta testing program, interaction with the user base for feedback, and analysis of product performance, competitors and market trends. Roselle also serves as the knowledge and support manager, responsible for user documentation, training materials, web content, and the handling of escalated technical support queries.
"I have always been passionate about the positive changes that technology can make, and have constantly endeavored to understand the needs of its users," says Roselle. "The access technology field provides the opportunity to innovate and have a direct impact on people’s lives with groundbreaking software solutions, and I know that my experience as a blind person factors into the thrust and direction that our products are taking."
Due to the nature of her work, Roselle has likewise been requested to provide advanced training to blind Filipino students who are learning to use access technology products like screen readers and speech & Braille notetakers.
Roselle Ambubuyog is part of the Microsoft Office Icons campaign, a project which pools together a group of individuals who have made their mark in their respective fields, inspired others to do better, and successfully integrated technology as a vital part of their lifestyle.
As part of the Asian Center for Trainers and Speakers (ACTS), Roselle has given talks to almost all kinds of organizations during all kinds of occasions. As guest speaker or lecturer, she has frequented student workshops and graduation ceremonies, leadership seminars, and talks on self-improvement among others.
- Human Development Sector. Sulong Pilipina! Sulong Pilipinas! A Compilation of Filipino Women Centennial Awardees. National Centennial Commission -Women's Sector. Taft Avenue, Manila:1999
- Council for the Welfare of Children. (accessed on February 27, 2008)
- Bulalakaw. (accessed on February 27, 2008)
- Manila Bulletin. (accessed on February 27, 2008)
- Philippine Daily Inquirer (accessed on December 15, 2008)
- A Visionary With Technology's Help (accessed on December 15, 2008)
- Valedictory address delivered by Roselle AMbubuyog (accessed on December 15, 2008)
- First Filipina blog (accessed on December 15, 2008)
- Code Factory - About Us - Profile for Roselle AMbubuyog (accessed on December 15, 2008)
- ACTS Speakers (accessed on December 15, 2008)