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.

As 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 include five public schools and 7 private schools.

Graduation and Recognition Day ceremonies are long, formal, but always fun. They are school events which unite students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the whole community. An annual ritual which is sacred to graduates and even to parents.

It is always a privilege to be invited as commencement speaker because it means the school believes you have something insightful to share with the students. And I do really enjoy giving graduation speeches because almost everybody is listening. Even the most bored student has to pretend that he is paying attention to the speaker.

olongapo

I often begin with a joke

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.

Then I follow it up with homage to parents:

…pinakamasaya sa araw na ito ay ang inyong mga magulang. Pag nagkaroon na kayo ng anak na nag-aaral, lubusan ninyo ng mauunawaan ang kanilang sakripisyo. Paano nila pinagsabay ang trabaho habang nag-aalaga ng bata, paano araw-araw ay may baon o pagkain kayong kinakain, paano araw-araw ay nakaplanstsa na ang inyong mga uniform sa umaga.

Another way of giving tribute to parents…

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.

IMG01108-20120328-1613

Teachers are given special mention (of course, I’m a teacher by profession):

Tuwing graduation ay nasusubok muli ang katatagan ng ating mga guro. They are among the bravest people in the world. Marahil nalulungkot kayo ngayon dahil iiwanan ninyo na ang hayskul kung saan nakilala ninyo ang inyong mga kaibigan at BFF. Pero sa totoo lang, mas malungkot ang inyong mga guro. Pagkatapos ng apat na taon, ang mga batang kanilang inalagaan, tinuruan, at ginabayan ay aalis na lang ng bigla. Alam nilang bahagi ito ng propesyon; alam din nilang ang pagtuturo mismo ay walang katumbas na salapi kundi ang kaligayahang maging bahagi ng inyong buhay; at alam din nilang ang iba sa inyo’y bibisita sa hinaharap pero ang karamihan siguro hindi na muli makakabalik sa kampus para makamusta ang inyong mga guro. At sa darating na hunyo, bagong schoolyear na naman; bagong batch na gagabayan, tuturuan, at mamahalin. Ganito ang buhay sa paaralan, transient ang mga estudyante. Darating, mananatili ng ilang taon, at aalis din tungo sa kanilang bagong mundo.

Last March 21, I went back to my high school alma mater and reminded the honor students about the value of critical pedagogy:

Una, mag-aral. Tama. Seryosong mag-aral. Tama. Matataas na grado. Tama. Pero nag-aaral para saan, para kanino? Para sa akin, makitid ang dahilan kung nag-aaral ka lang para yumaman sa hinaharap. Naimbento ang paaralan bilang institusyon hindi upang pagsilbihan ang pansariling interes ng mga indibidwal kundi para sa pangkalahatang kagalingan ng komunidad. Mag-aral para may ambag ka sa sibilisasyon ng tao, at sa pag-abante ng karunungan.

…huwag magpatali sa tradisyon at nakasanayan. Experience life, not virtual life. Pana-panahon isara ang cellphone at internet at makisalamuha sa kapwa. Hanapin ang kahulugan ng buhay sa piling ng iba, kasama ng iba, at para sa kagalingan ng iba. Maging kritikal sa lahat ng nagaganap, sa inyong buhay, sa inyong pamilya, sa paaralan, at sa ating komunidad. Gamitin ang inyong boses para ihayag ang nasasaloob.

DSC00377

DSC00462

Some pointers on the dangers of IT-worship and the basics of education:

Don’t equate research with search. Don’t equate reading with the posting of status updates. Don’t equate writing with texting. So future high school students, go to the library not google and wikipedia. Read a novel or a short story, read the classics of literature – they broaden our horizon and imagination; and sabi nga ng DOT, reading is more fun than stalking your friends on Facebook. Write letters in the traditional way and don’t use texting or even jejemon language in your emails. Why? Because letter writing is a basic skill that you can use when you apply a job, when you request something from the government, and even when you compose a love letter.

The power of imagination

If there is more powerful achievement than education, it is imagination. You are college diploma holders and you are officially recognized by the community as educated individuals. But it doesn’t mean your mind is only reserved for strictly academic and technical matters. It’s equally important that we use our mental abilities to dream of new things and new ideas. Education has taught us how to open a laptop, write our thesis, and research our assignment on the web; but imagination allows us to rethink our way of doing things and forces us to create innovations. A generation ago, the idea that personal computers can be portable, keyboard-less, and wireless was unthinkable. Actually, most of the great and wonderful inventions that we enjoy today were once ridiculed as wild ideas.

I admire college graduates who are academically proficient and ‘obese’ with too much information. But our world will reserve a special place in recognition of dreamers, innovators, and social revolutionaries whose out-of-this-world imaginations have fundamentally changed the way we live. Again, I emphasize the value of imagination.

When writing college graduation speeches, I address the graduates first as successful students, then as new members of the labor force, and finally as young Filipino citizens. I often speak about the value of history in our society:

Critical thinking is also useful to preserve our past, defend our cultures, and assert our future. We are constantly reminded about the coming of the future but what about the preservation of the past? I am mentioning this because I am worried about the ignorance of many people about our history and the diverse cultures of the Filipino nation. How can we be globally competitive if we are ignorant about our identity?

Graduating class of 2011, the world outside will tempt you to just think of yourselves, to forget about your community, to forget about collective. I hope that you will not to succumb to this temptation. May you continue to be guided by the memory of your heroic past, a past that is forcing its way to be recognized in the present, to change the present.

Don’t waste the gift of time….

The gift of youth shouldn’t be wasted. What’s this gift that the youth inherently possess? It’s neither beauty nor vanity but time. Time is what we have which our elders have already lost and wanted to reclaim. But we also grow old if we throw away our ideas and ideals. We can remain young by being faithful to our chosen mission in life.

I often try not to discuss my personal life but it seems impossible when you are invited to speak in your alma mater.

Many people assume that I became active in public affairs because of my UP education. It’s correct. But I also credit the formative years I spent here in St. Mary’s which allowed me to easily recognize the value of public service and citizenship in my high school and college years. How can I ignore the influence of St. Mary’s when our founder, Mother Ignacia, is recognized by many historians, including our national artist Nick Joaquin, as one of the pioneers of the women’s movement in the country? The Beaterio, to quote Joaquin, “is the most enduring creation of native enterprise.”

Graduation in Siok

And my advice to new graduates who are ready to conquer the world:

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?

I was inspired by the idea of love and loving when I wrote this speech: “Magmahal na parang walang bukas”

Walang mas makapangyarihang ideya sa mundo maliban sa ideya ng pag-ibig. Pag-ibig sa bayan ang dahilan kung bakit nagbuwis ng buhay ang mga bayaning dinadakila natin. Noong Lunes ay Araw ng Kagitingan. Pag-ibig sa pamilya ang inspirasyon ng milyun-milyong OFW kung bakit natitiis nila ang maging malayo sa bansa. Pero pag-ibig din ang dahilan ng maraming kasawian, kalungkutan, at kasamaan sa mundo. Madalas napagkakamali kasi na pag-ibig din ang agresyon. Pero ang pag-ibig na tama, kahit labis, magbubunga ng mas maraming kasiyahan.

Turo ng simbahan, humayo kayo at magparami. Graduates, humayo kayo, magparami at maghasik ng karunungan at pagmamahal sa mundo.

Leave a Reply