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Sen. Bongbong speaks at the 2014 graduation exercises of EVSU in Burauen, Leyte

23 May 2014


I would like to greet Mr. Dominador Aguirre, Jr., the University President; the members of the board of regents, also joining us is Vice Mayor Juanito Renomeron, directors Petronila Tilaon, the campus director of EVSU Burauen; also as a special guest we have today with us, governor, Atty. Edgar Enerlan; the administration officials, university faculty, of course our 2014 graduating class, ang ating mga butihin at magigiting na mga magulang, all our guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Maupay nga kulop!

Let me express to you my sincerest thanks for you to invite me on this very special and important day. You, our 2014 graduates have afforded yourself this rare chance, and taken advantage of the opportunity right here in our province of Leyte, to fulfil the dreams of your beloved parents for you to acquire the most important asset: the asset of knowledge and wisdom that a good education brings.

As each of you accept your diploma, be thankful for this great blessing that has been showered upon you, and just as importantly, be always mindful of the fact of that with this blessing and with the opportunity goes the responsibility that you carry as a concerned and a committed member of your town and province, and most of all as a citizen of our beloved country.

Graduation day is one of the most important day in the life of any young person. It is the most important day in your scholastic career. What you have learned and what you have experienced here will always be a part of you as a person and will influence and color everything that you will do in the future. But we must recognize that what we celebrate here today is not an ordinary graduation.

Any graduation is important enough for us to celebrate and for us to remember. To have graduated despite the suffering and the trials that you have endured during and after typhoon Yolanda is a testament to your perseverance, dedication, even your courage. What you have achieved here today was achieved through many acts of nothing less than individual and collective heroism. For it takes heroism to continue in your quest for knowledge and capability in the face of what can only be described as overwhelming difficulty and all these while suffering unspeakable tragedy. To continue your work to better yourself for God and country despite what nature has conspired to throw at you is the very definition of heroism. This is certainly true of you graduates, but it is not limited to you. It is nothing less than heroism for your parents to have in the face of severe deprivation and extreme hardship dig deeper and sacrifice more than they already had so their children may have the advantage of a good education in their lives. It is a profound manifestation of their love for you, their children. It is a profound manifestation of their own form of heroism.

We must include in this roster of heroes our educators. They too have families; they too still feel the effects, the deep wounds of tragedy that all the victims of typhoon Yolanda still feel. And yet they have bravely continued to honor their vocation. For being an educator is not a job, it is not a pastime or a hobby, it is a vocation. The teachers and mentors who have guided you, our graduates, have shown a loyalty to this principle, to this vocation. And in braving the challenges they have had to overcome, they have raised their vocation to their own form of heroism. For that I congratulate them too. For I have seen the conditions that you have all to work under: the roof less school rooms, the destroyed facilities, the ruined equipment and supplies, so I know what supreme efforts you all, graduates, parents and educators have had to contend with to bring this happy day to fruition. That is why I cannot say it in any other way. You, all of you are my heroes.

Take solace in the knowledge that those of us, who call ourselves public servants, honor all that you have done by continuing to work for the restoration of your lives to allow you to progress to the attainment of your dreams and of your ambitions. Always know you have not been forgotten. You continue to be in our hearts, you continue to be in our minds, and you continue to be what drives the work that we do to bring a sense of normalcy, and most importantly a sense of hope to all those stricken by this terrible tragedy.

It is customary at this point for the speaker at a graduation ceremony to cite some examples, to quote a saying, or to recount a story that will serve to inspire our new graduates to greater heights as they embark on to the next phase in their lives.

But as I stand before you today, I am humbled by the greatness of your achievement. The usual words of encouragement would ring hollow in the face of your hard won success. You have turned the tables; the tables are now turned in your direction. For it is not for me or anybody else to seek to inspire you but it is from you that the rest of us must draw inspiration. It is your example that must be held aloft for all to see so that we too might demonstrate such courage, such commitment, such heroism.

You have, in your own ways, demonstrated the best in our national character. You have reminded us the greatness of what it is to be a Filipino. You make us proud, you inspire us, you drive us so that one day we too can be heroes like you. We will honor your example, we will now all try to be as good Filipinos as you have shown us.

So class of 2014 we thank you for showing us the way. We congratulate you, our heroes.

Thank you and good afternoon.

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