Concepcion Holy Cross College Students Forum

To the entire Concepcion Holy Cross College family, from the students to its staff, led by its President, Ms. Raquel Sta. Ines,

To Tarlac Vice-Governor Kit Cojuangco, by whose presence we feel very privileged at this forum with students,

Other esteemed guests and friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning to everyone!

Mayap a abak kékayu ngan!

(Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!)

Thank you for your warm reception and for the opportunity to visit and join you here in your very own college campus. I thank the CHCC administration for their invaluable help in making this event possible, for it is a rare, but definitely an exciting privilege and honor for me to visit the province of Tarlac and be with Tarlaqueño students from the Concepcion Holy Cross College (CHCC) here in Concepcion!

Unang-una, huwag po kayong mag-aalala o kabahan. Wala pong banta ng anumang quiz ang inyong pagpunta dito sa forum, pagbalik ninyo mamaya sa inyong mga silid-aralan.

And secondly, perhaps you may have been greatly surprised at the news that I would be visiting your school for a little dialogue with you the students.

“Senator Marcos? Keni king Tarlac? Ali ka mamulátchi?!”

(Senator Marcos? Here in Tarlac? Are you not kidding me?)

Indeed, it might seem rather an unusual or odd sight that a Marcos would be here in the province of Tarlac, most especially the municipality of Concepcion, which as you know is geo-politically and historically a genuine “Aquino country”. Then we add to this the impact of what seems to be a never-ending modern-day Romeo/Juliet and Montague/Capulet-type of dramatics and polemics that had been fashioned and developed by geniuses over the course of many years throughout our Philippine political history.

Sabi nga sa inyo sa Kapampangan: “Pulitika ya mu yan!” (“That’s just politics!”)

However, I do not allow all these senseless stereotyping and scapegoating to stand in the way and be a hindrance to my service to the entire Filipino people. I simply do not think in those terms. I just focus on the fact that more than 13.1 million Filipinos had chosen to entrust their lives and future with me and had brought me to the Senate. And I owe it all to them—to you. The Filipino people is my guiding light and my moral compass in my public service as a national legislator. With a strong faith in God and the people, I am determined and focused on serving my mandate of lawmaking, policymaking and safeguarding and promoting the welfare and interest of the entire nation as your elected Senator of the Republic, despite the numerous distractions and detractors.

And this includes having to go UP, DOWN and AROUND the nation to literally and figuratively check on our kababayans ampong (and) kabalens all around the country, most especially our youth. Kumbaga, higit pa sa sinasabi ng Eat Bulaga na “Aparri hanggang Jolo”, sagad pa nang todo mula Batanes hanggang Tawi-Tawi!

In fact, in the past few months, and mainly because of this proposal to create the so-called “Bangsamoro government”—which legal experts have criticized to be an ominous “Bangsamoro sub-state”—strong public clamor has brought me way up to the North, to the Visayas, and all the way down to Tawi-Tawi, to sit down with our kababayans and kabalens all around for dialogues and consultations.

Ngeni, king Libutad ning Luzon naman!

(This time, it’s Central Luzon!)

Earlier this month, I was in the province of Pampanga to consult with the local officials and other kabalens there!

So, it is in this same spirit of wide-reaching and inclusive public service and national unity that I come here in the province of Tarlac to be with you all, my dear students! Itinaon ko na nasa “Senate recess” kami sa Senado. Pero hindi ito ang “recess” na iniisip ninyo at paboritong-paborito ng mga estudyante. Tuloy-tuloy po ang aking trabaho kahit kami ay naka-recess.

And then later, I will head to Tarlac City to visit the Provincial Capitol and the local officials of Tarlac to discuss timely issues affecting Tarlac and the wider community. Halimbawa, nakakarinig tayo ng mga balita ngayon tungkol sa Tarlac, tulad ng pagtatapon di-umano ng mga “imported” na basura sa Capas. Inaasahan ko na mamaya ay matatalakay ito at iba pang mga mahalagang mga isyu, upang maka-isip ng mga naaayong lunas sa lalong madaling panahon.

Ngayon, gusto kong gamitin ang pagkakataong ito para makapagbahagi sa inyo ng ilang mahahalagang mga isyu ng bayan. Lalo na ang mga isyu na marapat lamang na inyong malaman at maintindihan habang kayo ay nandirito pa na nagsasanay sa inyong eskuwelahan, at bago kayo lumabas upang sumabak sa tinaguriang “tunay na mundo”!

And mind you, these are not meant to frighten or discourage you, but rather to hopefully try to spur and inspire you to do a better job here in school and take it more seriously, while there is still time. Of course, these are calculated to secure for yourselves better advantage and assure you of better prospects of establishing decent and self-sufficient independent lives.

First, dear students, I want you all to know that the real world out there, and in which we live today, is a very CRUEL and COMPETITIVE world!

Region III unemployment rate

My dear students, last month, the most recent labor statistics were released by our Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). These figures that I will share with you are a cause for great concern not only to the “thunders”—like your professors here—but also to the youth—like you and me—and most especially to students like you. This is because sooner or later, you will all transition into able-bodied members of the workforce of Concepcion, Tarlac and the country, and also become active integral parts of our larger economy.

At sa puntong iyon, kayo na mismo ang may hawak ng inyong mga buhay, para magbahagi ng inyong husay at talento, tungo sa pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya at pag-asenso ng inyong mga sarili, pamilya at ng ating bayan.

Let us examine some numbers. According to the April 2015 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, we are presently faced with a national unemployment rate of six-point-four percent (6.4%).

Unfortunately, however, the region of Central Luzon (Region III), of which Tarlac is part, has posted an eight-percent (8%) unemployment rate, even higher than the 6.4% national unemployment rate.

Oo nga at malapit ang Region III sa Metro Manila kapag distansya ang pag-uusapan, ngunit pagdating sa unemployment, tila gusto rin yatang dumikit ng Region III sa Kalakhang Maynila. Ilang puntos lang sila mula sa nine-point-three percent (9.3%) na unemployment rate ng Metro Manila!

Tapos, kalahati o 50% ng bilang ng mga walang trabaho sa bansa ay nasa mga edad na kinse (15) hanggang bente-kwatro (24). Makikita ninyo na ito mismo ang karaniwang edad ng mga estudyante na nasa kolehiyo—tulad ninyo rito ngayon.

At sa mga walang trabaho, twenty-two-point-five percent (22.5%) o halos one-fourth (1/4th) sa kanila ay mga college graduates! Pinapatunayan nito na kahit pa man tayo ay may mga hawak na college degrees, hindi pa rin ito kasiguruhan na tayo ay magkakaroon ng trabaho.

Dagdag pa rito, ayon pa sa People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), forty percent (40%) of our fresh college graduates—in the range of 500,000 to 600,000—find difficulty in landing a job immediately after their graduation.

At gawin pa nating mas exciting! Lagyan natin ng kaunting “battle of the sexes” na anggulo! Among our unemployed Filipino workers, sixty-three percent (63%) of them are males, while thirty-seven percent (37%) are females.

Ibig bang sabihin nito ay talagang mas magagaling at masisipag ang ating mga kababaihan?!

O, mga kalalakihan, papayag ba tayo dun?! Huwag naman, mga koyang ampong kapatad (kuyas and brothers)! Lumaban tayo nang patas!

But then, when we do get hired in the future, we shall encounter during actual employment the realities of minimum wage and low salaries, in fact, even below-minimum wage levels; the prevalent “contractualization” of labor; the “5-5-5” (5 months-5 months) contract; the threats of “Endo” or “End of Contract”, of retrenchments and layoffs; other labor violations; even abusive employers; etc., etc.

Ginú ko! Ot mipakanyan tamu rugu?!

(OMG! Why did this happen to us?!)

Ganito ang hitsura ng lipunan natin sa labas. And this is but a snapshot of the employment outlook. Napakarami pang mga bagay na lalo pang nagbibigay ng komplikasyon sa ating lipunang ginagalawan. Kapag atin pang babanggitin lahat, baka mag-iyakan na lang tayo bigla rito dahil sa bigat ng kalooban! Sadyang ganito talaga ang ating tinaguriang “tunay na mundo” o ang “eskuwelahan ng tunay na buhay”!

Ngunit huwag tayong mawalan ng loob. Huwag tayong matakot. Bagkus ay dapat pa nga tayong mas lalo pang mabuhayan ng loob, para mas pag-igian natin ang ating pag-aaral dito sa ating eskuwelahan!

Let us prepare ourselves for all these realities.

Huwag nating pabayaan ang ating mga sarili at hayaan na tayo ay mapabilang sa mga walang trabaho balang-araw. Huwag tayong papayag na masupil at mapigilan ng mga nasabing realidad na ito ang ating mga pangarap! At mas lalong huwag tayong pumayag na basta na lamang matapakan at mayurakan ng mga ito ang ating mga karapatan!

We have to teach ourselves, and learn by heart our basic rights under the Constitution and existing labor laws. Mahalaga ang mga ito, at alam natin na tinuturo ang mga ito dito mismo sa ating kolehiyo.

Focus on honing your present skills and leveling them up to the present industry standards. Precisely, one of the reasons cited for our unemployment rate is the so-called “mismatch” between skills of the workers and the skills required by the available jobs.

This may sound cliché, but our modern society proves that we literally should have what it takes to become what we dream of and aspire for!

Sabi pa ng PMAP, dapat ang Manggagawang Pinoy ay: 1) may MATALAS AT MASUSING PAG-IISIP (critical thinking); 2) may PAGKUKUSA O INISYATIBO (initiative); at 3) MAGALING SA PAKIKIPAG-USAP O PAKIKIPAGTALASTASAN (effective communication).

O, meron ba kayong mga kalidad na ito? Aba’y dapat! Kung meron, mas mabuti! ‘Ika nga: “Eh, ‘di Wow!”

Ang punto ko ay dapat dito pa lamang sa eskuwelahan ay matutunan at mapaghusayan na natin ang mga kakayahang ito.

And speaking of these important skills, let us use one obvious example. Ang Pilipinas ngayon ay kilala sa buong mundo sa ating mga call center companies. Unarguably, this fact is because of the Filipinos’ recognized proficiency and adaptability in English—not to mention the ability of Pinoys to mimic Western accents!

Hindi lang daw tayo kasi magaling mag-English; magaling din daw tayong manggaya ng American accent o mag-i-“Sleng”! Hence, the importance of effective communication skills.

Tapos, ipagpalagay natin na ikaw ay isang call center agent na may kausap na taga-ibang bansa. Ang kausap mo ay may itinawag na problema na gustong ipaayos. Dapat marunong ka at mabilis makaisip ng tamang paraan na maipapayo.

Hindi naman pwedeng ang isasagot mo lamang ay—

“AY, TABÁLU!” (Ay, hindi ko alam!)

Sabay “bye-bye”; sabay baba ng telepono!

Hindi naman po ganito ang tamang gawain sa ating trabaho. Dapat tayo ay may PAGKUKUSA at may MATALAS AT MASUSING PAG-IISIP, upang siguruhin na magagawan natin ng paraan ang mga hinaing at problema ng ating mga foreign callers!

Paghandaan po natin ang mga ito, dahil alam nating lahat siguro na meron nang mga nakatatag na mga call centers sa Central Luzon; meron sa Tarlac City at sa Clark, Pampanga. At ang maganda rito ay pareho silang malapit sa Concepcion, na napapagitnaan ng dalawang bayang ito.

At marami pang mga trabaho ang maghihintay sa inyo. Kaya pagbutihin ninyo ang pag-aaral. Mapapansin ninyo naman na ang mga kurso na kinukuha ninyo rito sa inyong kolehiyo ay paghahanda para sa mga trabahong praktikal at mga mahahalagang pangangailangan ng ating mga industriya at ekonomiya.

Uulitin ko: mag-aral kayong mabuti. At para sa mga may board exams pa pagka-graduate, patuloy pa kayong mag-aral para kayo ay makapasa, makakuha ng lisensya, at maging ganap na propesyunal!

BBL

Pangalawa, dumako naman tayo rito sa isyu ng BBL. Baka tanungin ninyo:

“Átin waring koneksyon ing BBL keka tamu king Tarlac?”

Ang sagot ko sa inyo:

ABA! WA NAMAN! (Yes, of course!)

Marami po at malalim ang koneksyon. May mga nagsasabi na ang BBL ay bubuo ng hiwalay na gobyernong Bangsamoro sa Mindanao, at siyang magdudulot ng pagkakawatak-watak ng Pilipinas. Lumabas din sa mga hearings namin sa Senado na labag sa Saligang Batas ang marami sa mga probisyon ng BBL.

We don’t want this unconstitutional spectacle and crisis in our sovereignty to happen. Never, even in our wildest imaginations. Even if you Tarlaqueños are way up here in Central Luzon, in Tarlac, as loyal and patriotic Filipinos who have pledged allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to our flag, you want our Constitution to be upheld and respected, and our country to remain intact, ever-solid and ever-united, notwithstanding our ethnic and cultural differences.

And you can be assured that I, your humble servant in the Senate, will not let this dreadful crisis happen. With the loyal and patriotic Filipinos on my side, and the youth as my cheerleaders, we can resist the pernicious forces, both visible and invisible, and stay their hand from imposing their own uncanny blueprint for our nation and our government set-up but which proves to be repugnant to the spirit and intent of our Constitution.

Ito po ang aking kontribusyon sa paghahanap ng magandang lunas para sa ating mga problema ukol sa kapayapaan at pag-unlad ng Muslim Mindanao. Sana po tayo ay magtagumpay. ANG TAGUMPAY PO NATIN DITO AY TAGUMPAY NG ATING BUONG BANSANG PILIPINAS!

My dear students, I hope that you are able to pick up valuable lessons this morning, because of their sheer importance to you—our youth and our students, and also to our life as a nation, and to our lives as a Filipino people. As the future of our great land, you shall be inheriting the country and the society that we—your progenitors and forbears—are now shaping and molding in your behalf.

What we are doing now is HISTORY IN THE MAKING. And by your active involvement and your insights in the national dialogue, you too can be part of the process of writing this particular chapter of our history.

So, I urge you to be involved. And I also humbly ask for your support, your patience and your understanding.

Hangga nakúmu pu keni. Marakal náku pu a sabi!

(Hanggang dito na lang po ako. Marami na po akong nasabi!)

Hanggang sa atin pong muling pagkikita!

Mabuhay ang Concepcion Holy Cross College!

Mabuhay ang bayan ng Concepcion, at ang buong lalawigan ng Tarlac!

Dakal a salamat pu, at mayap a abak kekayu ngan!

(Maraming salamat po, at magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!)

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