If It Is to Be

1 April 2011

Speech-Sorsogon-State-UniversityCommencement Address of Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
18th Commencement Exercises of Sorsogon State College
April 1, 2011

Dr. Fuentes, Distinguished faculty and mentors, Beloved parents, Members of the class of 2011, Ladies and gentlemen:

I am deeply honored by your invitation to address these 18th commencement exercises of Sorsogon State College here in Sorsogon.

Even more, I am most thankful for the opportunity you have given me to take part in this momentous occasion. To the graduates, I want to express my congratulations for your academic achievements, and my good wishes in the new life that now unfolds for you.

To the parents, I want to express my commendation and admiration for your perseverance and fortitude in seeing your children finish their studies here at this great university.

And to the faculty and administration, allow me to applaud these great dreams of passage here in this institution of learning. This class of over a thousand new graduates is the 18th in the line of graduating classes that this college has graduated through its portals since 1993.

At this point I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit Sorsogon and the Bicol region once again. It is my hope and prayer that the families who had been displaced by the recent eruption of Mt. Bulusan have been able to return to their homes safely and in good health.

It’s been a year since my last visit to your province and to the Bicol region, which was during the 2010 campaign period. Let me take this occasion to express my sincerest thanks to all the Sorsoganos who had expressed their trust and confidence in me by electing me to the senate in the last elections. the results in the province of Sorsogon landed me in the twelfth spot but here in Sorsogon City I landed 9th.

Now, let me now turn to my task here today, which is to deliver the commencement address on this very important occasion – and to offer a few words of counsel, which might be of practical value to you, dear graduates, as you take your own place in our country and perhaps even in the world out there.

On a day like today, hopes are turned to the great cares of life – the future you want to be yours, the life and career you want to have, the family you want to start, and the kind of person you want to be to your family, to your community, and to your country.

1. Our Destiny Is Up To Us
The key message I would like to impart to you today can be summed up in ten two-letter words.

If it is to be
It is up to me

In Filipino, it means:

Nasa Ating Kamay
Ang Ating Kinabukasan

In dreams, as one writer put it, begin responsibilities. Our destiny and our future is our own doing and creation. We cannot leave it in the hands of others – not to parents, not to mentors, no matter how loving and caring.

The same is true for nations.

If it is to be
It is up to us

A nation won’t go far in realizing its aspirations if it entrusts their fulfillment in the hands of others.

for a very long time, we took to blaming our national misfortunes and failures on Spain and America. Today, we have no one to blame or lean on but ourselves.

From a personal perspective, your education and training here has vested in you the power to shape your own future and destiny. So you must use it well to make the right choices and decisions that you will confront in the coming days, months and years.

How you make those choices, and how you hold on to your values, will make all the difference between success and failure.

As it was for Jose Rizal’s generation at the time of the Philippine revolution, as it was for my father’s generation in World War II. Your generation today will bear the burden and the glory of shaping the future of the Filipino nation.

2. A Time of Opportunity and Hope
On this happy day of your graduation, I venture to say that you are graduating into a world with many more opportunities to offer than those that your parents and grandparents had enjoyed.

The new technologies, the new global economy, and the new forces at work in our country and in the world, have created a new world of opportunity and hope for young people like you.

Today, there are hopeful signs that our country is finally entering the great web of development and progress in the world. for some 45 quarters now, the Philippines has recorded positive growth in the economy. if we adopt the right policies and attend to the fundamental needs of the economy and the nation, we could chart in the coming years the high points of economic growth.

The most critical challenge facing us today is how to narrow the gap between our performance and our potential as a nation -- between what we are and what we could become.

By meeting successfully this challenge, our country will open new opportunities for young people like you. perhaps the time will come – and I hope someday it will come -- when it will no longer be necessary for millions of our people to go abroad in order to ensure a decent life for their families.

This is the real answer to mass poverty in our country. we have to grow ourselves out of poverty. We can’t borrow ourselves to prosperity. We can’t entrust our growth to others.

If growth is to happen,
It is up to us.

3. Keep Your Mind Open, Practice the 10,000-Hour Rule
When you leave this state college, you will take your place among the knowledge-workers of the world.

One-knowledge worker has described the new situation this way: “wealth was once measured in gold. Now it’s measured in what we know.”

This means that you have to keep learning more on what’s happening in your field and what’s taking place in the real world around you.

The writer Malcolm Gladwell postulates what he calls “The 10,000-hour rule.” The book is subtitled: the story of success. “To be good at what he does, a human being has to put in, at the minimum, 10,000 hours of practice in his occupation or job.

Gladwell says that bill gates developed Microsoft after working for nearly ten years at his computer. The Beatles similarly honed their music in the same way. and countless others, including athletes like Michael Jordan, realized high levels of excellence via the same route.

He succinctly sums up the insight this way:

“Practice isn’t’ the thing you do once you’re good.
It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

4. Stay Open and Keep Growing
Perhaps, the greatest boon of the age of the internet is that we can keep learning and growing without having to stay in school. With a computer at your disposal, you can literally enlarge your fund of knowledge and value as a knowledge worker.

This underscores the importance of keeping yourself open and constantly informed.
“Someone has said that some minds are like concrete; all mixed up and permanently set. As we grow older, it is very tempting to develop a permanent mindset. But minds like parachutes are valuable only when open.

5. The Spirit of Giving
As I speak to you today, I would like to emphasize to you the great value of inculcating in your lives the spirit of giving, and reaching beneficently into the lives of others.
Too many people shrink as they grow older. They narrow their area of concern to just “me and mine.” Our interests grow narrower and narrower, until at last the only interest left is self-interest.
I think public service is meaningless without this sense of growing to touch and affect the lives of others.
One religious teacher once said that all of us have something precious to give and share with others. He wrote: “we have so much more to give than mere money; we have friendship to give in this lonely world, and encouragement to give to weary fellow travelers. We have a compliment to give to those who serve us constantly. We have a gracious gesture which we can give to all by way of saluting and respecting the basic dignity of every human being.”
He concluded with this powerful and moving coda:
“None of us is so poor that we have nothing to give.
None of us is so rich that we are not in need of gifts.”
So, dear friends and graduates, inculcate in yourselves this spirit of giving.

6. The Importance of Ethics and Values
Finally, allow me to pass on to you a few words about ethics and values.
We live in a society where we talk a lot about morality and about eradicating corruption. and yet in the same breath, we are also a society where values and ethics have been abandoned or thrown out of the window. Every institution in our society has been scarred from government to the military, to business, corruption is rampant.
We have sunk into a culture of corruption and cynicism because people justify their behavior claiming that “everybody is doing it.

This will not do. So I urge you to emphatically affirm your values in your lives and in your work. No matter how many people steal, stealing remains wrong. No matter how many people are corrupt, corruption remains wrong. No matter how many people betray public trust, that action remains wrong. The fact that any misdeed becomes popular does not make it permissible. The problem is not solved by multiplication.
There is nothing sensational about honesty or loyalty or fidelity because, if the truth be told, they are really what most people believe in and practice.

So, my dear graduates, think about this in the coming days as you reflect on what you are going to do with your lives and in your careers.
Believe that you have the power.
We all possess enormous potential, power and energy within ourselves. If we utilize that power, we can indeed effect decisive changes within ourselves. and we can make our country and the world a little better and a little cleaner than we had found it.
More power and success to each and every one of you.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this happy day with you.