Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004

About

@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Delivered in Boac, Marinduque. April 16, 2011. Marinduque State College

Maraming bago sa araw na ito: Bagong linis ang inyong mga sapatos, bagong plantsa ang inyong mga damit. Lahat naligo sa araw na ito (Hopefully). Makapal ang make-up ng mga kababaihan, yung iba may kulay ang mata, inubos ang spraynet at gel sa buhok, abot hanggang dito ang amoy ng inyong mga pabango.

Tiyak akong sanay na kayo sa ritwal ng graduation. Mahaba ang martsa ng mga magsisipagtapos, bawat isa aakyat ng entablado. Pero tatapusin natin hanggang dulo ang programa. Kasing tagal ng graduation ang magaganap na picture taking mamaya. At dahil napagod tayo sa hapong ito, bubusugin naman tayo ng mga kainan mamayang gabi. Yung iba nagkatay pa ng baboy.

Bakit spesyal ang mga graduation? Bakit kung graduation lahat masaya? Bakit ginagawa natin ang ritwal na ito?

Kayo na nagsipagtapos ng kinder noong 1996, elementary noong 2003, at hayskul noong 2007 ay alam na ang sagot sa mga tanong na ito. Spesyal dahil minsan lang ito magaganap sa ating buhay at maaaring ito na rin ang huling beses na kayo ay tatawaging bagong graduate; masaya dahil nagtagumpay tayo – naipasa natin ang mga eksam kahit yung ibang sagot ay hula lang, nasulat natin ang thesis kahit walang computer sa bahay, nagawa nating matapos ang OJT kahit boring. Yung iba magna at summa: magna, magnanine years sa kolehiyo; summa, sumampung taon sa kolehiyo.

At kung bakit natin inuulit ang ritwal na ito; at bakit walang nagrereklamo sa matagal na paghihintay na matapos ang programa: dahil gusto nating ialay ang araw na ito, ang spesyal na araw na ito, sa mga spesyal na tao sa ating buhay. Ito talaga ay hindi ninyo araw; ito ay araw ng pagpapasalamat sa inyong mga guro at magulang.

Graduation is more like a Thanksgiving Day. It is our opportunity to thank the people who made it possible for all of you to reach this stage. Not all students who entered Grade One in 1996 or 1997 made it through college. In fact, out of 100 students who enter grade one, only 14 are able to finish college. You are part of the lucky 14, congratulations!

And one of the reasons why you’re here this morning is because of the sacrifices made by your teachers and parents. So thank you teacher for the lectures (we were listening most of the time); thank you teacher for the patience; thank you teacher for the good and not so good memories; thank you for the friendship. Mababa ang sahod ng guro pero walang patid ang kanilang pagtuturo bawat semester. Batch 2011, let us give a round of applause to our teachers.

And for the proud parents; thank you for the tuition payment, thank you for the allowance (although sometimes we use it play dota), thank you for believing in us, and most of all, thanks for all the sacrifice and hardwork (we know that some of you had to leave the country, others were forced to sell properties) just to make sure that we were able finish our studies. Students and soon to be graduates of MSC, clap your hands and honor your parents.

Masaya ang mga teacher natin hindi dahil ang mga pasaway ay aalis na ng campus; masaya sila dahil nagbunga ang kanilang pagod. Sa araw na ito, muli nilang mararamdaman ang dignidad ng propesyon ng pagtuturo. Sapat na para sa kanila na makita ang inyong mga ngiti at ang kaalamang ang mga batang tinuruan nila ng maraming taon ay handa nang sumabak sa mas malaking mundo sa labas ng campus.

Pero pinakamasaya ang mga magulang natin. Mamaya habang naglalakad kayo papunta dito sa stage, kung pwede lang sumigaw ay isisigaw ng inyong mga magulang na “Anak ko yan.” Mamaya pauwi ipapakilala kayo sa lahat ng tao sa daan, kahit hindi nila kilala, at buong pagmamayabang na sasabihin na bagong graduate ang kanilang anak. Umaapaw sa galak ang puso ng inyong magulang dahil ang kanilang anak, na dati rati’y isang inosenteng musmos na walang alam sa mundo, ay kinikilala na ng komunidad bilang isang edukadong indibidwal. Marami sa mga magulang natin hindi nakatapos ng kolehiyo kaya nagsikap sila nang husto para kayo ay makapag-aral at matupad ang inyong mga pangarap. Sa mga minamahal kong magulang, congratulations po!

After school, you have a responsibility to fulfill to the community. You must serve the country which subsidized your education. We expect that you will use your talent and training to improve the lives of others. Think of the farmer, the market vendor, the tricycle driver, your parents – all the taxpayers who contributed to your education. I cannot prevent you from seeking greener pastures in other lands because it is your right; but I am making this appeal: serve the community first, serve your country first.

After school, your first instinct is to look for a job. It is also the expectation of almost everybody. My sympathies are with you dear graduates. Soon, you will realize these “inconvenient truths” about life after college: 1) Good jobs won’t be easy to find; 2) Many companies prefer applicants with job experience and the pay offer is not enticing; 3) Some of you will realize that you are best suited for a career which is different from the job prospect you had been preparing in the past four years. In other words, some of you may want to do something different in your life right after graduation.

The first few years after college are difficult, but exciting. Often your eagerness to apply what you learned in school is rendered irrelevant because of insufficient opportunities available in the country. Failing to secure immediate employment, fresh graduates become disappointed.

Traditionally, those with high paying jobs and those working in prestigious firms are recognized as successful graduates. I believe we should also praise our young graduates who chose to be involved in less popular, low paying but socially relevant causes. We should also encourage the new graduates to pursue their dreams even if these dreams will not give them instant fame and fortune. Civilizations advance not because there are high salaried slave workers but because there are individuals who are bold, daring, and innovative.

While researching on employment issues, I stumbled upon an article written by a young American who defends the idea of working as a community organizer. He recalls this conversation he had with his mother. His mother asked him this: “You’re a bright young man. You went to college, didn’t you? I just cannot understand why a bright young man like you would go to college, get that degree and become a community organizer.”

His mother added: “’Cause the pay is low, the hours is long, and don’t nobody appreciate you.”

What was the reply of the son? He said: “It needs to be done, and not enough folks are doing it.”

Who is this young graduate who decided to become a community organizer right after college? His name is Barack Obama and he is now the president of the United States.

Lesson: Don’t limit your post-college options to what our elders expect you to accomplish. Young people should always strive to challenge conventions and to resist conformity. Ok lang na sa umpisa ay maging bigo sa tradisyunal na career pero huwag huminto dito. Maging mas mapangahas sa pagbubuo ng mga bagong ideya. Ang kumpetisyon ay hindi dapat kung sino sa inyo ang unang kikita ng isang milyong piso o makakabili ng kotse o makakapagpatayo ng mansion; dapat ang labanan ay kung sino ang mag-iiwan ng pangmatagalang impluwensiya sa lipunan. Sino ang susubok ng mga ideyang hindi pa naisip ninuman? Sino ang lilikha ng mga bagong teorya na pakikinabangan ng komunidad?

Yes, education is job preparation but it is more than that. It should be more than that. Yes, formal schooling allows students to absorb the technical knowledge about the world of work but it also teaches them to develop a passion for new learning, the craving to acquire new ideas, the desire to seek new truths. You are an educated person the moment you realize that your education is incomplete.

If your job search is getting you nowhere and if you feel that you have not benefited from your more than a decade of schooling, I hope this will not make you belittle the value of education. Education will never become obsolete. More than your high grades, college is memorable because of the critical thinking and critical skills you develop in school. These skills will prove to be useful to survive in these uncertain times.

Education is needed to harvest the benefits of globalization and to confront its negative aspects. Education is essential to adapt to climate change. Education inspires us to value our culture and tradition. And most importantly, education makes us empowered individuals who are always questioning the old order and actively seeking reforms in society.

Today everybody is overwhelmed by the revolution in Information Technology. But we shouldn’t be too surprised with this phenomenon. We should remember that all societies prospered by adopting technological innovations. While belief in eternal change is an attitude that we should develop, we also have to be alert against the destructive applications of technology. Today our youth are bombarded daily with tons of information in the internet; some of them are knowledge-enhancing but most are trash or spam. Critical thinking or critical education is therefore essential to filter information in the cyberspace.

We should embrace advancements in modern communications and they are now necessary to solve many of our modern problems. But we should not ignore the basic problems in our society requiring basic solutions like solving widespread poverty in the country caused by inequitable sharing of the country’s wealth; like the destruction of the environment caused by greed; like the deteriorating state of health delivery and other social services caused by misplaced prioritization of the government budget.

As young Filipinos, it is our duty to correct these congenital defects in our society. I challenge you to be active agents of good governance.

Marinduque may be a small island but it doesn’t mean it is powerless to influence the future of our society. It may be geographically isolated from other provinces but its strategic links to the rest of the country are not diminished. Marinduque is located near the center of the archipelago and it can be a source of strength. Marinduque should also aim to be the country’s center of innovative thinking, center of environment protection, center of sustainable tourism, center of rural development through efficient and intelligent use of technology.

Public institutions like MSC play a vital role in realizing this vision. MSC graduates should help fulfill these goals. Make Marinduque a small island with big dreams.

Batch 2011 of MSC, you are giants living in a small island. It is not wrong to explore the bigger world but be ready to come back to share your new knowledge with the next generation. Conquer the world, reach for the stars, but don’t forget to remember your roots.

In behalf of the Kabataan Partylist and the Filipino youth, I salute MSC for producing a new batch of talented graduates. I thank the parents and teachers for all the hardwork, sacrifice, and love which inspired these kids to finish their schooling. Congratulations to all iskolar ng bayan. We are proud of you. Make us prouder in the future.

One Response to “Giants in a small island”

  1. […] legislator in the past three years, I delivered 12 graduation speeches in three elementary schools, four high schools, four colleges, and one Tesda institution. They […]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Graduation Speeches

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