Solidifying ties, building partnerships, developing global mindsets, upholding noble ideas and living sustainably: Speech of Sen. Bongbong at the CSU Alumni Homecoming 2014

10 May 2014

Maayong buntag kaninyong tanan!

Dr. Elena l. Paulma, president of the Caraga State University alumni association (CSUAAI), Dr. Luisito I. Tabada, OIC and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr.Elmer Palacio, President of high school Batch ’91 of CSUAAI, school administrators, faculty, all the alumni in attendance, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, a warm good morning to all of you.

I am honored and delighted to be your Keynote speaker for the 2014 alumni homecoming of Caraga State University here in Butuan City. And I thank you for inviting me to share this day of fond moments with you.

Before anything else, let us all acknowledge and give a big hand to the batch of 1991, the hosts for this year’s gathering.

When I received the invitation to speak before you, I did not hesitate to accept it, because I felt that this was my perfect opportunity to get to know Caraga State University since it was established on July 5, 2010 and to have the chance to personally visit this leading state educational institution in Mindanao, which was originally conceived as an agricultural high school in 1918 during the American commonwealth period and coincidentally established on Valentine’s Day as the Agusan agricultural high school in 1920 by the passage of proclamation no. 4 by then american governor to the Philippines francis burton harrison, which declared a 232 - hectare virgin forest in the then municipality of Butuan, province of Agusan del Norte as the grounds for the newly created school.

In addition, I also learned that it was in 1937 that the first school building structure was laid. However I am told the development of your school had to be deferred as government gave budgetary priority to serve the Manobo cultural minority at that time however, in 1946, when World War Two ended, your school’s inevitable and necessary growth and development took its normal course.

It is said that the greatness of an educational institution is reflected in the roster of the graduates who eventually made a name in their respective professions and careers. CSU is no exception! For young as CSU is in its present setup, we can run off the name of former Executive Secretary Edelmiro A. Amante, Congressman Jose Aquino III, both of national stature and renown. From this university too graduated Angelita Alolod, the present Regional Director of the Department of Science and Technology. Of course, not to be forgotten is your own Alumni Association President- Dr. Paulma. To mention all the others at this point will take too much of your time and would delay your celebration today.

My dear CSU alumni, I felt it was quite providential that I had accepted the invitation to come and speak before you today. Because when I did my quick research on Caraga State University, so as to really get to know more about your institution, I came across a testimonial that your university had immensely contributed to the growth of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City. Through the courses developed and offered by the CSU in adherence to its mission and vision, the Caraga region, intensified its rapid growth and development in both the agricultural and industrial sectors.

In like manner, this notable growth revealed the necessity for greater capacity and skills building for the region and the province of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City in matters of technical aptitude in running agri-business enterprises and the entrepreneurial expertise that went with it. Needless to say, CSU has been there to help develop, train and to produce not only the agro-industrial skills needed, but more than that, the government leaders that helped propel the growth and development of your area to what it is today.
Thus it can be proudly claimed that this institution has been a breeding ground of outstanding graduates who have distinguished themselves in various fields, be it in the public sector or in private business.
It will also be recalled that the Caraga region’s development was also spurred by the grwoth of the logging industry, which consequently intensified the economic expansion of Butuan City.

I noticed from your program that the theme of your homecoming this year is “solidifying ties, building partnerships, developing global mindsets, upholding noble ideals and living sustainably!” wow! That is a monthful! A litany of what I surmnise as your declared aspirations not only for your university but more especially for the province of Agusan del Norte and the Caraga region. And I sincerely congratulate you for such an all encompassing homecoming theme.

Today you are all gathered here for a fellowship to get together again and to bond with each other. But more than fellowship, a homecoming is also a time for celebrating the great adventure of education and the invaluable contribution that your alma mater makes every year to the building of our nation and to the empowerment of our people.

Nothing makes our country and our people more proud than the great importance that every Filipino family traditionally attaches to education.

Sadly, however, our capabilities to educate our young people have not kept up with the yearly increase of our school population. It is a sad commentary on our nation that every new school year, our government finds itself less and less able to supply the needed facilities and teaching staff, plus the technology needed to meet the new demands of our changing world.

This is a festering problem our government and society must absolutely address. And indeed, failure in this sphere would be inexcusable.

It is therefore a call for legislators like us in Congress and the Executive branch to agree that the challenge of educating our young is the defining challenge of our time. And that education should be the best economic policy of all, as our biggest national resource is still our skilled human resource!

It is in our human resources – our people – where we are most competitive in the world. And we are competitive to the extent that we educate them well. Thanks to the universities like the CSU!

A few years ago, there was a New York Times story which reported that the Philippines had surpassed India as the new call center capital of the world. The newspaper went on to say that many international companies have found Filipinos as the most ideal and capable to man this outsourcing enterprise for Filipinos are prized for their ability to speak English and their recognized adaptability.

As we were being commended at that time for this distinction, the media was also filled with stories about how we now have the worst airport in the world – the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Emergency efforts to upgrade this air terminal have continued to suffer setbacks after much controversy and publicity. And now we are left to hoping that some experts sent by foreign conglomerates can do something to relieve our continuing distress.

This is especially saddening for those of you who have come from foreign shores to attend this homecoming. Like you, I cannot understand why the Philippines, the 12th largest country in the world, should continue to have the reputation of having the world’s worst and shabbiest airport.

To be realistic about it, discussions of issues like this are inevitable in your homecoming as you exchange ideas, because all of you naturally want to assess– not only how each and everyone of you is doing, how your classmates are faring, but also how things are in our country. And what direction our country is going.

Inevitably, you will come face to face with the dramas that transfix the nation today– the saga of this administration’s unending efforts to keep former President Arroyo in jail, the landmark Supreme Court decision on Hacienda Luisita, the controversial impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as the many legal battles in the courts and even in the COMELEC, the increasing stories of scams, of the unbridled killings of journalists, the growing peace and order problems all over the country, and so forth and so on, not to mention the unsolved Ampatuan massacre right here in Mindanao.

Add to these, the confrontation with China and the growing presence of US troops in the country as provided for in the recently concluded Edca! Just a reminder, this is not for you to fix.

The litany of contentious and unnerving social issues is long and tedious. And you can exhaust yourselves debating on them. But don’t use up your homecoming time for these!

Just compare notes on the maintenance medicines being taken now by the more senior among you, while talking of your aching bones, shaky knees and increasing deafness!

All the preoccupation and problematic national issues should not make us despair about ourselves or about our country. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, let us believe that reason and the law will prevail.

Ironically, I happen to believe that this is a pivotal time for our country. I consider this a time when, if we make the hard decisions and pursue our course resolutely. While keeping them in mind, I can be sure that we can rise to a position of honor and respect in the family of nations.

Let me therefore conclude by once again congratulating all the alumni here present and the university officials and staff for taking time off their busy schedules to go back to their beloved alma matter for this grand reunion.

I am certain that all of you will enjoy reminiscing the happy and naughty days in your corridors and classrooms. Today, you’ll once again make use of your time here joking, teasing and making kulit each other! Make sure though that if there is already a memory gap, don’t let your senior moments deny you the fondest memories in your beloved Caraga State University!

Again, congratulations and may you continue to stay true to the principles that made you reach your dreams and aspirations.

Let me end by reminding you not to forget that in all your best achievements and successes, these would all not have been possible had it not been for the hard-earned investments of your parents in providing you your all important education and, most especially, for the divine guidance that brought you to greater heights and propelled your region to more rapid growth and development!

On that note, let me wish you all a most memorable homecoming!
Daghang salamat sa inyong tanan!
Mabuhay ang Caraga State University,
Mabuhay ang lalawigan ng Agusan del Norte! At ang Butuan City!

Mabuhay ang sambayanang pilipino!
Again, maayong buntag kaninyong tanan!