Graduation – a rite of passage

10 April 2013

Commencement address of Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Commencement Exercises of the College of Engineering,
Bulacan State University
City of Malolos

President Dr. Mariano de Jesus

Dr. Antonio Del Rosario, Vice-president for Academic Affairs

Dr. Danilo Hilario, Vice-president for Research and Extension

Dr. Evangeline Custodio, Vice-president for Administration and Finance

Dr. Celia Geronimo, Vice-president for External Affairs

Dr. Nicanor Dela Rama, Dean of the College of Engineering

Members of the faculty and administration,

Beloved parents, distinguished guests,

Members of the graduating class of 2013,

Ladies and gentlemen

Magandang umaga!

Isang mataimtim na pasasalamat ang ipinaaabot ko sa inyong lahat sa pag imbita ninyo sa akin sa mahalagang araw na ito para sa mga labis na siyam na raan ng magsisipagtapos sa College of Engineering ng Bulacan State University, kasama ng inyong mga magulang, guro at ang mga mahal ninyo sa buhay!

Graduates, in more than a month from now, we will witness once again our mid-year elections, which means that by June 30, we will return to the senate and resume the hectic phase of our legislative work, this time for the 16th Congress of the Philippines where we shall welcome a new batch of twelve senators, (either re-electionists or newly elected ones).

As we witness once again the intensifying heat of the election campaign and before I go back to the rigors and demands of my legislative responsibilities, I find it most welcome to have been given this fresh opportunity to share my thoughts with you, your families and school officials on this momentous day.

My dear graduates, it is often said that graduation is one of the few authentic rites of passage in our society. As a rite of passage, it is claimed that it marks a person’s transition from one status to another. It looks in two directions, one retrospective, looking back to the past, the other prospective, with an eye focused on the future. Today, you are graduating from college, which represents the end of your formal education. But this ceremony is also called a commencement, which means – the beginning of something, which could point to a new phase of your life!

As in the other milestones of your lives, it is fitting that your parents are here today to witness and celebrate this rite of passage. I know I speak for every parent here today if I say that this graduation is like the very day when you came to this world! For us that day that you were born was an amazingly thrilling event in our lives as parents – a wonderful stroke of good luck! But even more, we consider it a blessing and the fulfilment of many prayers. Indeed something for all of us to be thankful for, likewise something to be proud of!

Graduates of 2013, your completion of your college studies is similarly gratifying and fulfilling, especially considering that you are graduating with the degree in engineering which is most vital in our country’s economic development. So much is expected of you.

You have studied long and labored hard to complete your course requirements. You have sometimes endured the terror of dealing with difficult and demanding professors. You may also have been touched by the compassion and concern of some caring professors, mentors and administrators.

Of all the things that you have learned from your parents and your teachers, let us hope that you have learned this: that values count as much as the core knowledge of the engineering courses you have taken.

I emphasize this point because deeply-held values are the only true foundations we can build our lives on as individuals and, in a wider and higher plane, as a nation.

If you will permit me to share with you some lessons learned from my parents and my grandmother who was a teacher herself, and the training I received from my mentors here and abroad, what is most important is that one should never forget the value of hard work and the importance of effort.

As one great writer says, “perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done. Whether you like it or not, it is the first lesson that must be learned, and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson he learns thoroughly.”

As you engineers probably learned, it is said that a diamond is a piece of coal that stayed on the job until it reached its precious state! Ultimately, those who can stay on the job are the people who become our leaders and the diamonds of our society!

Former US President Calvin Coolidge was not exaggerating when he wrote: “nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of so-called educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, press on, has been recognized to have solved and always will solve much of the problems of the human race.”

If you engineers will recall, perhaps the most telling illustration of this in the field of science is that of Madame Curie and the discovery of radium. After the failure of their 487th experiment in their research for radium, her husband Pierre Curie cried out in despair. “it can’t be done. It can’t be done. Maybe in a hundred years, it can be done, but never in our lifetime”. Madame Curie answered him calmly and simply, “if it takes a hundred years it will be a pity, but I dare not do less than work for it as long as I live.” In their next few experiments radium was discovered.

And talking of perseverance, what Sultan Kiram and his people have been doing these past many weeks is also a lesson in persistence. The Sultunate of Sulu and its people have been pressing their claim to Sabah for over a hundred years now. Someday, somehow, their persistent efforts will bear fruit.

Recently, I was encouraged to read that some ten Filipinos are now on the new on the Forbes magazine’s annual list of billionaires.

The list is noteworthy because nearly everyone, particularly the topnotcher, Mr. Henry Sy, earned his billions through patient toil, ingenious investing, and continuous build up of their enterprises, steadily through the years.

These billionaire compatriots are all worthy of emulation and admiration by all of us.

But as we are awed and dazzled by the numbers and the billions, there is also a corollary lesson and value that is worth imparting to you all.

Earning and making money is not all there is to life. When I was studying for my masters in business administration, I was struck and moved by something that the great management teacher Rosabeth Moss Cantor once wrote in the Harvard business review. She said that “money should never be separated from its mission". Money is an instrument, not an end.” Detached from its values, it can indeed be the root of all evil, as we are always reminded! But linked effectively to social purpose, it can be the root of opportunity that could branch out into more abundant fruits!

I am certain, as well as hopeful, that in their own respective ways, each of our Filipino billionaires is linking their wealth to a useful social purpose. They are providing employment with their business activities. They give to charity to share their blessings and to help alleviate poverty, and presumably, they are all paying their taxes rightfully and treating their employees humanely!

Today, we are seeing more Filipinos succeed in the world. It’s not just the huge sums that they are earning that compel our admiration, it’s the way they are succeeding through sheer talent and honed skill, not to mention perseverance, thus raising the image of our people in the international scene.

Manny Pacquiao, is doubtless an outstanding example of this. The eight boxing titles he won in eight different weight divisions will perhaps never be surpassed in the record books. It did not happen in one day, or in one fight, but slowly and steadily through the years.

I am also awed and gratified by the way so many Filipinos are making it on the global stage as accomplished theatre and cinema actors and actresses! Not to mention our world – renowned performers in the field of music.

It is widely recognized that Filipino singing talent has become so ubiquitous that contest judges now assume that whenever there is a contestant who can really sing, they must or could be Filipino. Jessica Sanchez, of Filipino descent, is one shining example when she almost became the American idol.

I have taken the time to talk about the great qualities of these achievers and the qualities that have enabled them to become great, because they are undisputedly the products of our country and our culture, and the values we live by. And there are even many more achievers in the fields of science and engineering that to mention them all would take much more time than is available to us today and I know you are all eager to begin your celebration.

Our country is a community of shared values. Throughout our history, our nation has always been carried forward by our people and our values and led by our forebears and heroes! We have risen many times from the greatest trials and adversities by caring for one another, and holding on with tenacity and fortitude to our deep faith in ourselves and in the Filipino, thus the term-resiliency, referring to the Filipino.

My dear graduates, this century is your time, and it is now your turn to shine for it is stills a beautiful and wonderful world!

As engineers, soon you will have your own careers, most in the private sector and perhaps some in government or even in politics like me. Soon you will be parents yourselves, raising children who are gifted, talented and brilliant!

As you move on, you will have to make your own choices and commitments in your respective professions and careers!

As it was for other generations before you, it now falls on you to meet the challenge of passing on a better country to those who will come after you. Seize the moment!

My dear engineering graduates, I sincerely hope and pray that you will carry the torch proudly, with honor, with pride and with dignity!

After all, you are a Filipino, a child of the universe, a product of creation!

Go forth!

And to your beloved parents go my deepest admiration and highest respects for their in fatigable determination and unwavering commitment to the pursuit of your proper upbringing and successful education as you receive your hard-earned diploma today!

Congratulations once again for passing this rite of passage!

Maraming, maraming salamat at mabuhay ang bulacan state university!

Magandang tanghali sa inyong lahat!