Montessori Professional College 17th Graduation Ceremony

Thank you very much for inviting me to join all of you this afternoon in this very momentous occasion in the lives not only of our graduating students but also of their parents and loved ones.

Huli man po ang paanyaya, pinilit ko pa rin na ipasok sa aking schedule ang graduation ninyo na ito, dahil tunay pong napakahalaga ng mga okasyon na ganito para sa akin.

I share in the abundant joy that radiates throughout the hall this afternoon. Just like all of you here, I too am moved by this very morally uplifting occasion.

Sa isang banda, bilang isang magulang, ako ay napapaalalahanan sa kahalagahan ng edukasyon na siyang bukod-tangi at walang-katumbas na pamana na pinaghihirapang ibigay ng mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak.

Sa kabilang banda naman, bilang isang mambabatas at lingkod-bayan, nasisiyahan akong nasasaksihan ang pagdating ng panibagong mga manggagawang Pinoy, na siyang malaking dahilan ng patuloy at maayos na pagtakbo ng ating ekonomiya patungo sa kaunlaran ng bansa.

Sa madaling salita, ako po ay nasisiyahan dahil kayo po ay opisyal nang mga kasapi ng ating Philippine labor force. Congratulations! Welcome to the Philippine workforce! Seryoso po ako, at walang halong pakutya!

With this ultimate emblem of self-improvement, we are reassured by the fact that our graduates are now decidedly armed with a very crucial and important tool to survive the personal economic challenges that await them in the real world out there.

Indeed, finishing your college education was a big challenge in itself already, deserving of highest praises and recognition by your families and our community.

But, my dear graduates, this is not the end. Hindi pa rito natatapos ang lahat. Simula pa lamang ito! Even bigger and more serious challenges await you outside, the moment you leave this hall and long after you have said goodbye and good riddance to your terror professors, whom you thought were the last challenges that you ever had to surmount in your lives!

Wala pa po sa kalingkingan ang mga hirap na dinanas ninyo sa kolehiyo, kumpara sa mga hirap na naghihintay sa inyo sa tinaguriang “Eskuwelahan ng Buhay”!

After all the merrymaking and reverie of your graduation, you will soon be confronted with the perplexing—and sometimes disheartening—question of how to start an independent and self-sustaining life for yourselves. Kayo ay magmumuni: “Paano at saan ko ba isisiksik ang aking sarili sa lipunan, para makapagkaroon ng masaganang buhay para sa akin at sa aking pamilya?”

Verily, finding our right places in the bigger scheme of things of our society and economy poses a bigger challenge.

As part of my mandate as your elected Senator, and as my own personal mission as well, I want to impart to you some insights—shocking insights, in fact—about the real world that is waiting for you out there. So, you can timely prepare yourselves for them, and spur you to be even more industrious and perseverant, in order for you to ably protect your rights and interests. And what better place and time to learn all of these insights than HERE and NOW—before you all shall jump into the lion’s pit of the Philippine economy!

My dear graduates: I want you all to know that the real world out there, as it is now, is very CRUEL and COMPETITIVE!

Let us examine some numbers. First, we are presently faced with a national unemployment rate of 6.6%. Mas malala pa nga rito sa Kalakhang Maynila, na may unemployment rate na 9.3%!

And then, of this beleaguered sector of our society, almost one-fifth (1/5th) of them are college graduates!

Moreover, according to the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), 40% of our fresh college graduates—in the range of 500,000 to 600,000—find difficulty landing a job immediately after their graduation.

Gawin pa nating mas exciting! Lagyan natin ng kaunting “battle of the sexes” na anggulo! Among our unemployed Filipino workers, 66% of them are males and 34% are females.

Ibig bang sabihin nito ay talagang mas magagaling masisipag ang mga kababaihan?!
Mga kapwa kong lalaki rito, huwag naman tayong papayag dun!

Then, when we do get hired, we shall encounter during actual employment the realities of minimum wage and low salaries, 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, and even abusive employers who try to evade or circumvent the clear provisions of our labor laws, etc., etc. The list of labor-related problem goes on and on.

Huwag tayong papayag na masupil at mapigilan ng mga 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!

Let us prepare ourselves for all these realities.
We have to teach ourselves, and learn by heart our basic rights under the Constitution and existing labor laws. Our Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and other offices are there to precisely help us guard against violations of our labor rights and uphold our interests under the law. Let us also efficiently make use of the benefits offered by existing social legislation, such as our PhilHealth, Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System and Pag-IBIG Fund!

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. However, I believe that we should not be alarmed. I am confident of the employability and economic resilience of MPC graduates. I see that the courses offered by our beloved School are directly attuned to the list of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) of in-demand and hard-to-fill jobs in our economy for the years 2013 until 2020!

Ibig sabihin, meron pong naghihintay na mga trabaho na akma at tamang-tama sa inyong mga natapos na kurso!

However, before we even set out for our job applications, it is prudent that we first assess our present skills and competencies, to assure our increased chances at employment—or better yet, at continued and fulfilling employment.

First, for possible government employment, you may have to review and take the Civil Service examinations, to determine if you have the required skills and knowledge for government service.

For private employment, the PMAP cites its 2010 study that suggests that members of the Filipino workforce have to make sure that they possess the necessary “functional skills”, which are DEMANDED by today’s very competitive and aggressive industry standards. And these essential skills are: 1) critical thinking; 2) initiative; and 3) effective communication skills.

According to PMAP, “Critical thinking” is “the ability to solve actual workplace problems usually in multi-tasking situations and priority challenges”. “Initiative” is the skill of being able to foresee situations and “not wait to be told what to do”. “Effective communication” is the “competence in the language of business”.

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

Isang magandang halimbawa: ang Metro Manila ngayon ay ikalawa sa buong mundo sa pagiging destinasyon ng business process outsourcing (BPO) at information and communications technology (ICT) companies. At mayroon pang ibang mga lugar na lumalakas ang BPO potential, tulad ng Laguna at Clark.

Unarguably, this is because of the FIlipinos’ proficiency and adaptability in English—not to mention their uncanny ability to mimic Western accents!

Hindi lang daw tayo kasi marunong mag-English; magaling din daw tayong mag-i-“Sleng”!

Let us also not forget the career option of foreign or overseas employment. For everybody’s information, remittances from our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for the year 2014 were at a record-high, besting the figures of previous years! Sabi pa nga ng Bangko Sentral, baka lalo pang mas mataas ngayong 2015!
If working overseas is part of your career plans, then start early by honing your skills and competencies to make them at par with international standards. This early, you may already want to start learning the language and culture of the country you are targeting!

But if you do not want to leave your homeland behind—at sino nga naman ang may gustong umalis at mawalay sa ating mga pamilya?!—there are plentiful opportunities available for you here. Yes, I am of the firm belief that opportunities abound in the entire country, not only here in Metro Manila!

Napakalaki ng potensyal ng ekonomiya ng ating bansa at napakarami ng mga oportunidad na naghihintay. Kailangan lamang nating magsipag at magtiyaga upang ito’y hanapin at ito’y ating makamit at marating!

Government and private sector shall be relying on YOU, as they will surely be needing strong and able warm bodies to accomplish the tasks, and help in the operations of businesses and investment activities calculated to induce economic activity and development in our country. So let us all be prepared to jump aboard this speeding train! Sakay na at baka maiwanan pa tayo!

All we have to do is to level up our skills, and assiduously look for these golden opportunities available to us out there. Then, with hardwork, and aided by good fortune, we shall all soon land our dream jobs and careers and become productive citizens in our communities! We shall also be able to give back to our community in the form of taxes, which shall then “pay forward” and further support the education of future batches of students of our country.

So we have to shape up to keep up with the cruel and competitive world out there. With focus and determination, let us prepare ourselves to be the best that we can be, to “be the best in your field of expertise”, and arm ourselves with the necessary skills needed to survive in our world today. And let us then brace ourselves, as we head out and bravely confront the challenges presented by our Philippine economy.

Again, this is not the end for you, dear graduates, but just the beginning of other challenges! This is not the time to get tired and stop. Definitely not at this point, when we are all expected to commence new and independent lives for ourselves. Marami pa tayong dapat gawin. Huwag tayong tumigil na mangarap— pero dapat mayroon din tayong sipag at lakas upang abutin ang mga ito! Dahil hindi naman puwedeng puro pangarap lang! We should all strive and work hard to reach our dreams and aspirations!

At sa kabila ng mga matitinding hamon ng buhay, huwag na huwag tayong mawawalan ng pag-asa! MAGSIPAG tayong palagi at MAGTIYAGA! Ang asenso ay tiyak na darating sa mga taong masipag at matiyaga!

So, once again, my dear graduates, I offer you my sincerest and heartfelt congratulations for your hard-earned accomplishment! Be PROUD now, but then continue on with the hard work to be PRODUCTIVE and SUCCESSFUL in life! That’s when you shall begin to feel a more mature sense of personal PRIDE as productive men and women of our great nation!

The same sincere and heartfelt congratulations go out for our dear parents, relatives and friends. Nakaraos din po tayo! May ginhawa nating iisipin na mula ngayon, kaya nang tumayo ng ating mga anak sa sarili nilang mga paa.

Nasa kanila na po ang bola ngayon. Sila na ang magtutuloy ng kanilang bagong “pag-aaral” sa labas ng paaralan—sa tinagurian nating “Eskuwelahan ng Buhay”! Sana po ay swabe ang kanilang pagdribol, at swak ang kanilang mga tira! Para sila’y panalo sa buhay!

Mga graduates, huwag nating pahiyain ang ating mga magulang at mga mahal sa buhay, na patuloy na nangangarap at naghahangad ng magandang kapalaran at masaganang buhay para sa atin!

And last but not the least, let us not forget to congratulate and thank our educators and administrators! Kudos for yet another job well done!

So once again, congratulations to everybody!

Mabuhay ang mga graduates ng Montessori Professional College!

Hanggang sa ating muling pagkikita!

Maraming salamat po at magandang hapon sa inyong lahat!

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