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A Time for Reflection June 12, 2005

Posted by kilospup in Alumni.
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By Cindy V. Rumbaoa
Magna cum laude
Bachelor in Political Science

International Relations, 2003
Speech delivered during the Commencement Exercises
Held on May 9, 2003 at the Folk Arts Theater
CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City

Our esteemed guest speaker, Dr. Reynato D. Sarmiento, Honorable members of the Board of Regents, Honorable Officer in Charge of the University Dr. Samuel M. Salvador, Distinguished Deans, Esteemed Professors Parents, friends, fellow graduates Good morning!

Let me begin by mentioning a quote from Aristotle – the quintessential Greek philosopher and acknowledge father of political science. He one said, “the root of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet”. I certainly agree with this gem of wisdom, but I need to add a little more to make my speech more fulfilling today. Permit me to rephrase his quote which reads “the roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet, until you are awarded an honor and as to deliver a speech about it”.

As I know I look at the multitude of faces staring at me some are anxious, I am sure that many are excited and, others with lingering questions, I cannot help but set aside my fair share of pretenses. Today is day of happiness, a day to celebrate a wonderful accomplishment, a day to share a milestone achievement with those who truly deserve to witness the fruition of thy hard labor, toil and sweat. Fellow graduates, let me invite you to put our hands together for our lovely parents, for our generous relatives, for our PUP professors and officials, for the lowly paid clerks and janitors. Kung wala siguro ang masisipag na janitors, baka sa PUP unang tumubo ang kinakatakutang SARS “sobrang alinlangan sa rumaragasang sakuna”. From the bosom of my heart, to all the people who are here gather this morning – many thanks to you all.

When I was informed that I will be delivering a valedictory speech for today, our esteemed Dean at the College of Economics, Finance and Politics, Dr. Roman R. Dannug, called and asked me if I had any experience in delivering a speech in stage. I said NONE SIR! In the course of our conversation, he asked me again if I got honors when I was in high school. I politely replied the negative. He got surprised, and asked me “how could you be so good that you will now receive and honor and honor with the highest grade among magna-cum-laudes of your batch, when you get no honors at all during pre-college schooling? How could you have accomplished such a feat?”

That questions struck me hard. How, in heaven sake, have I accomplish such a feat? I myself do not even know how I have made it to the top. I search for explanations to answer the question of Dean Dannug – a beautiful question about life’s struggle, and life’s achievements of young people like me. I once remember a quotation from a Danish philosopher named Kirekegaard who said, “life can only be understood backward but must be live forward”. Remembering from this moving and timeless quotation, I deeply reflected to look back, and think about life to answer the beautiful question.

Growing up in a family of five is not exactly easy. My father works in the service industry and my mother is a regular housewife who both have to feed five children and send them to school. I believe, I have studied well in PUP but until now I do not know how much a regular housewife receives from a regular father just so life to us becomes regular. Until now, that is indeed a regular puzzle to me. How can serious scarcity of resources make life regular? I wonder if life to many is regularly poor and to the poor, regularly rich.

I got my elementary education at Kapitan Moy nElementary School in Brgy. Sta. Elena, Marikina City and finished High School at Roosevelt College, Cainta Rizal. This schools, not built upon the portals and standards of the rich and powerful have certainly become a very good ground for me to excel whenever opportunities cross my way. Life was always relatively difficult for me and my family, given our socio-economic background and capability. With so much scarcity, so much limitations, so much problems, I then realize that life, for it to move to the top and for life to shape for the better, must be nurtured, must be nourished with the best of dreams, with the most desired of an ambition, and with the handsomest of an attitude. I am greatly inspired by the fact that it is not attitude alone, but aptitude polished by a positive attitude that brings one to a higher altitude.

There are times when my parents have to sacrifice the rare luxuries they should enjoy. But their love for the education of their kids obviously ruled over the desire for mall luxury. I again ask, why must our parents suffer just so we can get a college diploma? Sometimes, I just have murmur that life is not fair. And the surprise of it all is that my parents never complain about life’s inequities. Instead I saw in them the virtue of sacrifice so that others will be happy. This is one lesson in life that each one of us can make a perpetual legacy to make a happy family and help build a peaceful society.

Truly, I could not imagine how my parents managed a very limited resources in order to send all of five children to school at the same time. I could still remember those moments when I could not concentrate on my studies because I did not know if I would be allowed to take an examination since my tuition have not been fully paid. The joy of owning books came very rare during my senior years. I had to wait for my classmates to finish their assignments before I could have the benefit of books. “Rarity means higher value,” an economist said. That rarity of an experience taught me to be good and to be humble towards others. And that experience gifted me a precious lesson: when you are good, you are an asset, when you are an asset, you are loved, when you are loved, then opportunities come easy. These probably explain, without me knowing it, why I managed to excel at school work.

Indeed, life’s struggle leads me to understand better the complexity of human existence. Our family’s trials with poverty clearly inspire me of one fact of life: that the other side of poverty is prosperity in the making. That is, if one knows how to transform challenges into opportunities. Sometimes, I have to console myself with the idea that, lucky are the poor for they have the chances to become rich, unfortunate are rich for they have to face one reality in life and that is of becoming a very sad poor. PUP has taught me another virtue, the virtue of poverty. The virtue that the lights the human spirit to do more to in order to attain high achievements. Fellow graduates, believe you me, that honor called n achievement bestowed upon my person today was driven by the exercise of human freedom cultivated by the will to be from the clutches of ground level poverty. I confess with frankness, sometimes with despair that I have to keep Mr. Poverty in me in order to welcome Mr. Opportunity. Imagine, it took an enrollment in PUP to realize this priceless of a lesson. The only regrettable part of the beautiful lesson is that Mr. Opportunity remains a non-person.

I was contemplating what would life be without PUP. To many of us, life would be worthless, maybe even lifeless; worse, a parasitic decaying life for many of us. Without PUP, all of us today would have been part of a classroom report and statistics on social liability in economics 101, or of a thesis subject on untapped human resources in political science and public administration. Without PUP, the best among the poor who are many, those who are truly deserving from the sector of the underpriveledged would not have been given the big chance to demonstrate just how much the poor can contribute in the creation of the nation’s human capital stock just how much the poor can utilize and optimize equal opportunity for the country’s growth. Just for this commencement rites alone, close to 7000 PUP graduates of college education and training will soon shout to the world, “we are now degree holders!” however, getting a degree is one, facing a cruel world beyond PUP is another. Fellow graduates, to survive and be on top of this world is to know with passion and diligence the language and practice of equal opportunities.

Tomorrow or few days after today, we probably have to enroll in the Masteral program of equal opportunity in order to secure a good future. I must tell you, however, that there is no formal school elsewhere that offers such program. It is offered and obtained only in the university of consciousness and in the school of strong self confidence etched in our hearts and instilled in our minds. Equal opportunity is never a chance. It is a choice. It is not a decision others make for us. It is a decision we make for ourselves. Life is what we make it.

Now comes the big challenge! Knowing where the opportunities are, is knowing how each of us can be productive graduates through freedom and responsibility. It is absolutely everybody’s freedom to be good towards others and society. It is, however, in the act of owning responsibility for the things that we do that freedom becomes meaningful. In PUP, oftentimes it is in the name of the freedom that we see the rise of many serious problems. It is in the name of freedom that many become too irresponsible. Go and read the pages of the newspapers. Watch the television programs. Listen to the radio. All that we can get are bits and pieces of news and information about how freedom is wasted and responsibility forgotten. I beg, fellow graduates, that we use this momentous stage of our lives to reflect just how important it is to love freedom with responsibility and take responsibility in freedom. When we live up to that expectation, then PUP must be at its finest.

We owe our higher education to PUP. We have been educated from the sweat of every working Filipino, he be an ordinary worker or a rich entrepreneur. Their productive labor means budget for the university. Their contribution means quality education for enrollees and graduates. It is, therefore, our duty and responsibility to devote our education for the country’s growth. Our countrymen have labored to make our lives productive. It is now our turn to devote part of our lives to helping build a prosperous republic.

The name Polytechnic University of the Philippines augurs well of an education serve for the people, subsidized by the people and enjoyed with the people. Ang Imno ng PUP ay napakaganda at napakahusay na aral nating lahat tungkol sa bagay na ito. We, as PUP graduates should therefore be in the service of the people.

Coming from the College of Economics, Finance and Politics and Governance, I want to share few things that I treasure most as a result of my university education. As a citizen of the republic, it is our first basic duty to love this wonderful country. Second, be loyal to the constitution, and third, to have good acquaintance with the country’s geography. Love of country makes as patriots. Loyalty to the constitution makes the rule of law possible. Knowledge of the country’s geography makes us hopeful for the future. These are the three basic things that we should always remember.

PUP has equipped us with a very powerful tool to live our own lives. Service to society does not begin with receiving our diplomas. We need to constantly update in our chosen fields and discipline. The challenge now is in our hands, whether we become the educated fools of today, with the worthless people of tomorrow or become part of the Filipinos advance productive forces and assets.

Some of us may become licensed accountants, engineers, scientists, journalists, economists, politicians, and the list goes on and on. We may choose different paths but we should always live up to the PUP tradition. PUP is known for student activism to ensure an accountable and responsible government. We should all be happy with that.

It is the PUPians who rally to the streets to demand for better governance. PUPians are champions of countless causes, from good politics to sustainable development to honest presidency. PUPians have joined protest marches along and outside EDSA to make corrupt governments occupy no space in a democracy. That it is our way of expressing gratitude to those who are generous to make our education possible. Clearly, the PUP tradition must continue to live on.

After graduation we may cease to be school activist and be industry professionals and may even choose to exercise activism in different form, by becoming worthy citizen in different places, with different workmate, for different purposes in the constant service of the nation.

When we become models in our work stations, in our new associations, then we shall become true agents of social transformation, we shall become part of an expanding social capital that this country is in dire need of.

After receiving our much-coveted diplomas, everything will change. For many job-hunting becomes their first vocation. For some, this could be the end of their school life. For those planning never to get tired of formal schooling trough postgraduate studies, life could really be different.

Where do we go from where we are? How fast can we get there? Will we attain our dreams? Will we survive life’s challenges? Our answer defends on us. Dreaming dreams is only part of dreaming. Working it out to produce result is the whole of it. Believe in love. Believe in the magical self. Believe in Santa Claus. Believe in life-models. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Listen the whisper of a bright future. Listen to the talk of Mr. and Ms. Excellence. Listen to the manager of productivity, to the director of competitiveness. Listen to the demands of a good life. We are the master of our own destiny. If ever you feel like failing and the whole world looks deceiving, just always remember the railroad on your way to PUP. Stop! Look! And listen! The passing train makes us to slow, stop and move again. The trains stop our walk-ins many times. In fact, we will never get to PUP without passing by railroad, without feeling the fear of being run over by the deadly dangerous trains.

Before we can achieve our dreams, there will be more trains to cross our way. Must we first stop, look and listen? Or let the trains tear us into pieces. Stop, to assess the situation. My principle is never to jump into the unfamiliar waters without me knowing how to swim. Look, to see what way out must I take, how fast I can get out and how far can I go? Finally, we must listen, to the warnings and signals of the environment, of the people who are part of us. As our College Dean loves to say: “the art of listening must lead to the science of learning and the science of learning must lead to the art of life-improving”.

My experiences in PUP will forever remind me of the things I try to hurdle to attain what I am now. I will forever remember the long lines during enrollment. I will forever remember the long hours I have to painstakingly wait when all the offices in the university have to close for breaktime. I will forever remember the books in the library that I rarely not used and the librarians I seldom met. I will forever remember the long but challenging walk to PUP. I will forever remember “quekquek” and “flying saucer”. I will forever remember “Atin Ito” that gave me a plate of rice with sangkatutak na sabaw. I will forever remember all of these. I’m definitely sure that I will not forget PUP!

On behalf of the graduating class of 2003, I thank the countless professors who molded, guided, and inspired us to become achievers. You have truly served a mentors purpose. As the Greeks one said: “the greatness of the teacher is seen in the caliber of his students”. We may not always remember what a state is, or remember the law of supply and demand, or calculate algebraic equations, but we will always remember that it is that novelty of your dedication that inspire us to succeed and to excel in our chosen fields.

I especially thank my professor at the College of Economics, Finance and Politics specifically at the department of political science, public administration and governance. Being in the CEFP is no small feat especially with the college tough and no-nonsense promotion of the culture of excellence in all its program. I’m so honored and privileged to have been a beneficiary of the college’s meritocracy-driven and service excellence-oriented programs.

To the parents whose selfless dedication and generous love define much of who we are now. It is to you that we offer our heart-earned diplomas, our future and our lives. we now stand before you to prove that your efforts were not in vain and your dreams not wasted. It is your dreams and caress that inspire us to dream dreams and to hope for our future and for the future of those about whom we care. For this, I am forever thankful to my own parents. Papa, mama, I love you very much. Our parents truly deserve a big hug. Actually, you deserve a descent house a long vacation, and a new car.

I thank my classmates for their camaraderie, generosity, and friendship. Thank you guys for your encouragement and for believing in me. Surely, you have helped me find my way to the top.

To our Almighty God whom we call in different names and worship in different ways, I offer to you my silent prayers.

And how was I able to get to the top? How have I accomplished such a feat? I have known the answer all along after all. It is because I always look at my past and used it to guide me to create and improve my future. My past re-minds me of the things I am lacking of the things I want to be. This is what I wanted. I wanted to make a difference. I simply wanted to be at the top.

I hope that as we bid farewell to this university, we will all look back to our Alma matter. Not only to improve our future but also to contribute to the future of those who have given us the opportunity to improve our future-our country men. We are now living in extra ordinary times and in extraordinary circumstances with all the wars, plague, diseases, bad politics, and economic crises troubling our lives. Let us not add more to these burdens.

To end, let me give you some few parting words from our great hero, Apolinario Mabini from which our main campus is named. From his work, The True Decalogue, he says: “Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor more than thyself: for she is the only paradise which God has given thee in life, the patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors, and the only hope of thy posterity; because of her, thou hast life, love and interest, happiness and honor God.” My fellow graduates, let us all live up to the PUP tradition. Do have a good day! Maraming salamat po.

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