UA College Graduation 2016: “Value-Driven and Socially Responsible Nation-Builders”

To fellow adminstrators, deans, faculty, staff, personnel, parents, guests, and
to the graduates of the University of the Assumption Batch of 2016: GOOD MORNING!

On this occasion, let me take the role of a parent
whose children are about to leave the comfort of home
and want to begin and create a life of their own, away from home.
Perhaps, just like any parent,
I feel excited for you as you are about to embark on a new journey,
but at the same time,
anxious about how you will fit and conduct yourselves
in an environment quite different from where you’ve been used to.

I only have three basic takeaways for you,
takeaways you are very familiar with,
takeaways that we have been trying to develop in you
during the time you were here in this campus.

Three takeaways:
First, be men and women of learning (scientia)
Second, be men and women of virtue (virtus)
Third, be men and women of community (communitas)

Keng Kapampangan:

First: biasa, e magbiasa-biasa.

A person who is biasa is one who stands for
reasoned argument,
unrelenting commitment to truth,
tolerance for difference and ambiguity,
and the willingness and passion to learn new things.

He is one who realizes
he has so much more to learn and discover.

Ing biasa, e ya magbiasa-biasa.
Whose unbending stubbornness often betrays
inability to understand complexities.
He doesn’t derive his conclusions
from ungrounded assumptions and hearsays.
And doesn’t form judgments not backed up by data.
He is methodical and goes where the truth leads him,
no matter what it takes, no matter how long it takes.

A person of learning is one who believes
that he can learn not only from the moneyed and the titled
but from the poor and the uneducated as well,
and that therefore anybody is worth listening to and learning from.

When in a conflict,
a person of learning does not raise his voice,
he sharpens his arguments.
In the end, it is the force of the better argument
that convinces and holds sway.

A never ending thirst for knowledge.
I hope this is something your stay at UA has instilled in you.
That UA has only open avenues for life-long learning
and has given you a foretaste of what you still have to explore and discover.

We live in a world characterized by
velocity, volume, and variety of information,
so that what we learned today
may just be considered obsolete the next day.
In such an environment,
ala yang lugal ing magbiasa-biasa.
In such an enviroment,
what we need are people who can think critically,
one who can sift and analyze what is relevant from what is not
and come up, not with simplistic answers,
but with decisions that are informed, nuanced, and thought through.

Maging biasa. Be men and women of scientia, men and women of learning.

Second: maganaka, e alang modo.

When one does not follow the minimal moral or ethical conventions
that are expected of any “normal” human being,
ausan tayang “alang modu.”
“Modo”, in Spanish, means ways of proceeding,
proper protocols to be followed.
In language familiar to the older ones,
“modo” is something akin to good manners and right conduct.
“Alang modo”, therefore, means absence of basic decency
and lack of moral sensitivity.

“Maganaca”, on the other hand, means to live
according to non-negotiable moral standards.
We are sometimes tempted to measure the bad that we do
against the worse things other people commit.
The worse actions that others do
comparatively make my bad actions appear more “morally good.”
Pocketing a thousand pesos is not so bad,
compared to people who rack in millions.

Being late 10 mintues for work
is better than coming in an hour late.
Tabu-tabu mu naman ing kanaku,
ing kaya saku-saku.
This kind of modifiable, adjustable “de goma” ethics
has made almost all wrong doing completely justifiable.

Teddy Locsin Jr, who was Cory’s executive secretary,
has this to say about his former boss:
“There are people who,
just by being there and being themselves,
shape the world around them in deep and enduring ways.”
In the company of Cory, Teddy Locsin confesses,
it is difficult not to be good.

Sana naman pagsumikapan dang maging maganaka mu naman
ding kayabe yu uling atyu kayu.
Your presence facilitates the flourishing of basic decency,
because you try your best to live by it.

A “ganaka” that is not simply the fruit of one’s personal exertion,
but something borne out of spiritual connectedness
to Someone larger than ourselves
and to whom we are fundamentally accountable.
Call it God, or Allah, or the Transcendent One.
It really does not matter, ultimately.
It behooves us to look for a deserted place once in a while
where we can be in solitude,
and commune with what is deepest in ourselves.
We need to have, as St. Thomas Aquinas puts it, a vacancy for God.
We need to get in touch with this inner sanctum,
this holy, empty space in human life
where only God may enter and which only God can fill.

A life without such a lonely place,
a life without a quiet center easily becomes destructive.

Ing maganaca, atin yang modo.
Maralas, in modo ning maganaca,
yang modo ning Apung Ginu.

Maging maganaca. Be men and women of virtue.

Third and last: Mayap, e digpa ning mayap.

One of the most important contributions of postmodern culture
to bring back to our awareness that
everything that exists is part of one interconnected whole.
That indeed we are a WWW: world-wide web.

That all things are connected.
And we forget this essential truth only at our own peril.

Being “mayap” means the ability
to go beyond and above one’s self-interests.
To be “mayap” means the capacity for solidarity.
And what else is solidarity
other than the hard-nosed commitment to the common good.

You happen to graduate from a university.
Universe. University. Universality.
All these come from the same root word which means:
all things, everybody, all people, the whole world.
And since you came from and studied in a university,
you are in a better position to
think universe,
think world,
think country,
think nation.
Not just about your self—
your self-image,
your self-fulfillment,
your self-advancement,
and self-preservation.

We all know that this country
would have been better off
if we have paid more attention to the common good.
Perhaps there would be less corruption.
Perhaps there would be less poverty
and less street children.
Perhaps there would be less unemployment.
Perhaps such waste could have been transformed
into better opportunities for many.

“Digpa na ka ning mayap” is a kapampangan expression
usually uttered to someone
who has breached the borders of social etiquette,
or violated a social convention:
Damdaman me ini potang medyu makapal na ka lupa,
at ala na kang kamarinayan.
It is said to someone
who thinks something is owed to him by life in general,
and has a huge sense of entitlement,
often committed at the expense of the larger good.

The greatest insult that can ever be thrown at you
is when somebody says this to you:
“Digpa na ka ning mayap,
megaral ka pa mo Assumption!”

Only people with a firm commitment to the common good
can be genuine nation-builders.
And only genuine nation-builders
can rightfully sing the “pambansang awit ng Pilipinas”
because they alone can offer their lives for the country.
“Ang mamatay nang dahil sa ‘yo!”

Maging mayap. Be men and women of community.

It is probably providential that your batch
has been entrusted to the care of St. Symmachus,
whose work and solicitude for the poor and the afflicted was well-known.
Today we need servant-leaders more than ever,
people whose priorities are wider than their own little selves.

Graduates who are driven by the right values
and committed to the mission of nation-building:
this is the challenge that is being posed before you by the present time.
And we, your elders, are more than confident
that you will heed the call of your generation
and respond to it with competence, with character, and with commitment.

There is supposedly a difference between
a VALUE DESIRED (a value that a person wants to live out)
and a VALUE FORMED (a value that a person actually lives out and practices).
Thus there is that sad possibility
in which a value desired is not always the value formed.
We are hoping that in your case,
the values desired and the values formed are one and the same.

E mu kabud biasa
E mu kabud maganaca
E mu kabud mayap.
Nune, biasa, maganaca, mayap.

Before I end, let me make one final request:
that you remember UA with fondness in your prayers.
To remember your professors,
the non-teaching staff and personnel,
and everybody else who helped you
make the journey less burdensome.
And when at one point,
you will experience the dreariness of routinary work,
and the burden of a flagging spirit,
feel free to come back home
and revitalize the idealism you once had
and relive the dreams you once cherished.

And remember, always be proud to be an Assumptionist!
Congratulations and Best Wishes.
Hail Assumption!

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