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Education for Life

30 March 2010

Speech-tawi-tawi-education-for-lifeAddress of Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
40th Commencement Exercises Mindanao State University
Tawi-Tawi College Of Technology and Oceanography
29 March 2010

Chancellor Alih,
Honored Parents and Teachers,
Members of the Graduating Class of 2010:

I thank you all for inviting me to take part in this 40TH commencement here at the Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography of the Mindanao State University.

And thank you also for giving me the opportunity to visit your beautiful province of Tawi-Tawi and your impressive campus here in Bongao.

It is a thrilling experience for me to be here today. Each year there are hundreds of commencements in our country, and I am usually invited to a handful of them to serve as commencement speaker. And each in its own way is admirable, because there is nothing more gratifying than to see young people complete their studies in college.

But this commencement is different. It is remarkable that 40 years to the day when it was established by Republic Act 6060 in 1969, the Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography is marking today its 40th commencement exercises. This tells us that under the shadow of all the troubles that have visited Mindanao over the past four decades, the great adventure of education never stopped on this MSU campus.

It is also significant that for this year’s commencement, you in the southernmost province of our archipelago have reached out to the northern tip of our country to get your commencement speaker. Whatever you meant to say by this – perhaps you were just curious to see what I looked or sounded like – for me it signifies our instinctive feeling that our archipelago is one whole, and that above creed, above culture, and above region, we are one people sharing a common destiny.

When a young graduate here in Tawi-Tawi dreams of a better life opening for her with the completion of her studies, it is no different from the dreams of another graduate in my home province of Ilocos Norte. Like all graduates throughout our land, they look to a better future for themselves, their family, and for our country.

What your community of half a million people seeks in terms of peace and prosperity, we too seek in our part of the country. And the values we attach to family, self-reliance, industry, and integrity are the same.

A Competitive World

As your commencement speaker, I wish I could tell you that now that you have completed your studies, your future is all assured and everything will fall into place. But I will not, for that would be a half-truth.

I wish that I could tell you that, armed with your degree, companies all over the country or your governent will now open their doors to you and hand you jobs. But I will not, for that would be deluding you.

I wish that I could tell you that if you decide to work abroad all the promise of a good life await you and that you will by given every protection by the law. But I will not, for that would be deceiving you.

Instead what I will tell you is this. It is a competitive world out there. And what you get will be in the measure of what you offer in terms of intelligence, skill and character.

Today, in our country, the sad reality is that we remain unable to provide a job for all those coming out of college every year. Abroad, there is also a scramble for jobs because of the global recession, and the competition of many countries for overseas jobs.

But having said that, I will also tell you this. You can compete in this environment. You have an advantage because of the professional training and education that you have received from this university. You are among the skilled workers who are much prized in our country and abroad. And if you can match your excellent training with the qualities of dedication and passion, you will succeed.

In the face of competition therefore, I will urge you to aim high and persevere. Don’t be daunted by difficulty or hurdles.

As Robert Kennedy once said, “If there’s nobody in your way, it’s because you’re not going anywhere.”

The Power of Faith

The second point that I would like to impart is this: all work that is worth anything is done in faith.

It matters a lot if you believe that what you’re doing has meaning. And that you approach work as a mission, not just as a job.

Far too many people do not believe enough in what they’re doing. It’s just a job to them. Consequently they do not get very far in their careers.

There is a difference between going to a job and going on a mission. You go to a job because you have to, but you go on a mission because something deep inside you tells you that you must.

If you see your work or job as a mission, it will be fulfilling and exhilarating. You will be part of something bigger and of consequence to others. And there is the good chance that you will become very good at what you do.

The Importance of Character

Finally, I will stress as a final advice how important it is for you to be true to yourselves.

“Every person’s life,” one teacher told me, “is a story of passion, with its moments of joy and happiness, of tragedy or sorrow. And each person’s story is different, one from the other.”

We cannot control the external and material circumstances of our individual story, but they often matter less than we think. Some people complain even when their glass is filled to overflowing, while others with so much less bring joy to others and to their lives.

The most important parts of our story are the choices we make, the personal parts we bring to it. Money can vanish overnight, power can disappear, reputation can evaporate, but character – personal integrity – is a rock that is secure and that no one can take from you.

To the Muslim believer, no less than to the Christian, this idea of personal integrity is at the core of our lives. We answer to God for what we do.

To sum up, passion, conviction and character are the pillars for success in the life that will now unfold before you. And you can take yourselves as far as your resolve and dedication will allow.

No better parting words for young graduates have been written than those penned by the Islamic sage Al-Hujwiri. He said: “Practice what you have learned, for theory without practice is like a spirit without a body. One who is content with learning alone is not learned, for the truly learned seeks more than mere words.”

As you make your way in the world, never forget to give back to the community here in Tawi-Tawi that has nurtured you. And let us hope that you will not forget the larger family that is your nation. For now more than ever it needs the best that you can give.

Congratulations once again. May Allah be with you.