UA&P 2010 Salutation

Like I mentioned in the last post, I received the honor of knowing who the Valedictorian and Salutatorian were before everyone else. This was because Kath Alday, the Salutatorian, who is also a very good friend of mine, asked me to help with her speech, given that she was only told 5 days before the graduation and she was busy with work.

Pretty much everyone expected Kath to receive one of the two titles, as she has almost consistently been number one in our university’s dean’s list, and eventually president’s list. This was probably why I was hesitant at first to be friends with her, because I didn’t think we would get along. Surprisingly, we did. And she’s now one of my closest friends.

It was a pleasure working with you, Kath. You (and Enzo) have so many good insights. It was fun. Even if we had to stay in UA&P until 12mn. Haha. It was a good way to spend my last day as a UA&P student. I miss you!

Without further ado, the Salutation, by Ms. Karen Kathleen D. Alday

Dr. Jaime Laya, our guest speaker; Dr. Placido Mapa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UA&P Foundation Incorporated; Dr Josemaria Mariano, President of UA&P; Members of the Board of Trustees, Management Committee, and the various operations committees of the university, faculty members and members of the administration, parents, friends, and fellow graduates, good afternoon. On behalf of the graduating batch of 2010, it is with great honor that I welcome you all to the Fifteenth University Graduation Rites.

Today marks an important milestone in each of our lives—the time to harvest the fruits of our labor and culminate all the hard work and dedication that has been endured. For many of us, today marks the conclusion of more or less seventeen years of academic journey. But the adventure is not yet over.

There is pride in each one of us as this day has finally arrived. Parents, I can attest to all the hardship and challenges that your son or daughter has experienced that have provided him or her, a seat in this auditorium. Though we all have claim on our own individual crosses as we walked the path to sweet victory, it is not to say that any of us got it easier than the other. Fellow Graduates, we have earned this rite of passage.

But a word of caution. I was once told that it’s a jungle out there We will be faced by the creatures that have, until today, lurked only within the textbooks and class lectures. The so-called “real world” is scary but with endless possibilities. But worry not because we have been equipped with the skills, knowledge and values that will allow us to brave through and into the depths of the jungle.

To our teachers, who have provided us with the light that will guide us through the jungle, we thank you for the lessons, the words of wisdom, and the guidance. For the projects that have taught us patience and the value of teamwork, for the papers that have taught us perseverance and determination in spite of all revisions, and for the exams that have taught us how to use our time wisely, thank you for contributing not only to our academic growth, but to our personal development as well.

To our friends, who seemed to understand us the most. These are bonds forged during late night cramming sessions, eleventh hour study sessions, or just simple hang-out sessions at the ledge.  Friends who have saved our sanity more than once during the hell week stress.  Thank you to the Dormers, for being that group of friends that has been there for me, for accepting me as I am.

Lest we forget our parents, who for more than twenty years have built for us the moral foundation that allows us to be strong despite challenges and temptations around us. This is for you—for the unconditional love and support that pushed us to do our very best to prove that we are worthy of the gift of education that you have given us. May we always be reminded that if we ever get too deep into the forest, that we may always run to you for guidance. To my parents, thank you for letting me go and letting me grow up. Salamat sa pagmamahal at pag-unawa.

And of course, let us not forget our batch. We may be a small school, but together, we are a powerful force that can make a difference. Unitas. The ever-infamous Ondoy was no match for the spirit of unity that brought us together to help not just the members of the UA&P community, as our efforts were also witnessed within Red Cross and beyond. Yes, we may be a small school, but we were able to impact greatly the unsuspecting lives of those who were affected by the storm. The way Study Hall A was so quickly transformed into a donations drop-off and volunteer center was simply remarkable. Who says we have no school spirit?

Within the walls of the university, we have all done great things. We have followed Dante’s journey, visited the Greek civilization, tasted a bit of Renaissance art, and debated with Machiavelli. And who can forget terms like common good, psyche and transcendence that have become part of our daily conversations already.

Aside from academics, we have kept the campus alive with our extracurricular activities such as ROC and VIARE plays, Chorale concerts, I Came I Sang I-Mic, Haranya, and Fu’s Dragon Dance among others. We have all evolved from the carefree first-year students to the now socially-aware individuals.

Outside, we have given pride to our University through the victories of our varsities: Futsal, Volleyball, Basketball, and Cheer Dance. All these are the manifestations of the holistic development that we have learned to appreciate in our stay in the university. It is a balancing act of sorts, keeping in synch with our academic life while managing to involve ourselves in the non-academic aspects of the university life.

And after today, we will be facing the real world—and this time, no more readings to provide answers, only experiences that will teach us the hard way. No more teachers to correct our mistakes, only life itself watching our successes and failures. The jungle can be very cruel—that’s why we have to keep our values intact. We have to remain focused and optimistic. In daylight, the forest is beautiful, but let not its beauty set you off your trail. And in the dark, the forest is frightening, but do not let this make you lose faith.

Gretel said to Hansel “Losing our way on a journey is unfortunate, but losing your reason for the journey is a fate more cruel.” As we enter into the forest of our lives, we should try not to lose ourselves in the beauty that the forest presents. Remember all the things that we, as a batch, have achieved through the years, and remind yourself: you were meant for great things. Our adventure through the forest will be a tiring but worthwhile experience.

Today, I challenge you. Go. Face your jungle. Show the world the greatness that was meant for you. Don’t just go with the flow—create impact and live!

Once we set foot outside this auditorium, there’s no turning back.

So fellow graduates, a job well done! Today is finally here, my friends! We’ll see each other in the jungle.

The Final Groupwork 🙂 (Photo credits to Jonathan’s sister.)

L-R: Henry, Kath, Jonathan, Sarah. Salu Vale speech team 😀

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On other things, today’s my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Ma. She claims she’s 37, but then I’m turning 21. So yeah, no. Although she does quite look like she’s in her early 30’s

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UA&P 2010 Valedictory Address

My good, great, friend Jonathan Alforte, received the honor of being our batch Valedictorian. This is a great moment for our barkada, because both the batch Valedictorian and Salutatorian come from our group. It’s such a blessing to be friends which such deserving people.

I found out the morning of the graduation practice (two days before graduation day) that Jonathan was the batch Valedictorian. I was overwhelmed with emotions because I knew Jonathan deserved it. He gave his very best to everything he did, and being a 100% scholar of the university, he is the epitome of hope among the less privileged youth. Oh, and I forgot to mention, he was #1 (or #2?) in the entrance examinations in our year of entry (2005).

We are so proud of you, Jonathan. And I am truly blessed and honored to be your friend, and to have been part of the creation of the very well-received speech you delivered. I am sorry for being so hard on you when we were still constructing the speech, but I love how we can always separate our professional and personal lives. We seemed to have perfected that. I know you said that you shared that standing ovation with me and Henry, but, I will constantly remind you: Henry and I may have helped in writing the words, but you, you put the heart, the soul, the emotion into the speech, and ultimately it was built on an idea that you stood firmly beside. And that is what people loved most about it. Congratulations Jonathan.

And now, the much talked about Valedictory Address.

Bridging the Gap

by Jonathan Ray Alforte
UA&P 15th Graduation Rites, PICC Plenary Hall
June 5, 2010

To Dr. Jaime Laya, our guest speaker, Dr. Placido Mapa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UA&P Foundation Incorporated, Dr. Josemaria Mariano, UA&P President, the UA&P administration, faculty, and staff, respected guests, beloved parents, fellow graduates, Jejemons and Jejebusters, NBA enthusiasts and Lakers Haters, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!

Ika-dalawampu’t siyam ng Mayo ng taong dalawang libo’t lima nang pinagpasyahan kong tanggapin ang iskolarsyip na ipinagkaloob ng pamantasang ito. Matagal naming pinag-isipan ng aking pamilya ang mga bagay-bagay, marami kasi ang kailangang isaalang-alang. Pero sino ba naman ang makakatanggi sa “You have been granted 100% scholarship with board and lodging, book allowance and monthly stipend”, ani sa sulat na aking natanggap ilang linggo bago ang araw na iyun.

Dala-dala ang aking maleta, sumakay ako ng bus, kasama ang aking ama, na puno ng pag-asa at pag-aalinglangan. Pansamantala kong nilisan ang aking pamilya at ang lugar na aking kinalakihan na tanging lakas ng loob at kagustuhang magtagumpay ang dalang puhunan.

Hindi ako makatulog sa bus nang gabing yun. Ang dami kasing tanong na naglalaro sa aking isipan, “Paano kung lumampas kami ng istasyon?”, “Ano kaya ang hitsura ng Maynila?”, “Makikita ko kaya si Angel Locsin?”. Hindi rin maipinta ang aking mukha sa halo-halong emosyon. Sabik na Masaya na natatakot na hindi mo maintindihan. Kalaunan, naramdaman ko ang pangangatog ng aking katawan. Hindi ito dulot ng kaba bunga ng pananabik na makarating ng Maynila, kundi dahil nakatutok pala sa akin ang aircon ng bus.

Ngunit aaminin ko, sobra-sobra ang kaba ko no’n, kahalintulad ng kaba ko ngayon sa entabladong ito, habang nagsasalita sa inyong harapan. Ang tanging nakakapag-panatag lang sa akin para ituloy ang biyaheng iyon ay ang pagnanasang matulungan ko ang aking mga magulang, maging magandang halimbawa sa aking mga pinsan at kabarangay, at, kung papalarin, ay makatulong din sa aking mga kapwa bikolano. Batid ko ring ang mga pangarap na iyon ang simula ng maraming pagbabago.

True enough, a lot has indeed changed.

It is undeniable that I have come a very long way. From a small boy with big dreams, to a boy who is still small (sorry, I only grew a few inches, but gained a lot of weight, obviously), whose dreams are little by little becoming a reality. For sure, you still remember the first time you set foot in our school. It was that very same day when I realized that, it’s a different world out here. I immediately noticed the big difference between the life that I had lived back in Bicol and that in Ortigas. Of course, how could I have not noticed that…I am in a different place now – 8 hours away from Bicol by land. One of the obvious differences was how the people talked. From “Kumusta ka na? Ano na ang ginigibo mo?” to “Hi, how are you? What are you doing?”, from “tsong, madya kakan kita ning goto sa karinderya” to “Let’s make kain na sa Caf”, and “like, parang, uhm, you know”…anyway.

The difference was very apparent. Coming from the Bicol region, which is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines, and coming here to Manila, which has the highest regional income per capita in the country, I noticed that big gap between the less privileged and the privileged ones. That gap, I felt was rooted on the choices and opportunities available for the fortunate people, which the less privileged are deprived of.

News tells us that there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor: the rich becoming richer, and the poor becoming poorer. In the little world of economics, we have what we call the Gini Coefficient which measures the income inequality of a country. A value of 0 indicates perfect equality which means that all wealth is divided equally among everyone. On the other hand, a value of 1 indicates that only one person has all the wealth and everyone else has nothing. The lower the value of it, the better.

According to the United Nations data, the Gini Coefficient of our country in 2009 was 0.44. This is already high compared to the Gini coefficient of our neighboring countries: Cambodia-0.407, Malaysia-0.378, Indonesia-0.394, and Vietnam-0.378. This income inequality, which manifests the gap between the fortunate and the less fortunate, is rooted on the disparity in the choices and opportunities that can be received between the rich and the poor.

For example, education is not a birthright. It is not a privilege for the privileged. But given the gap, this tends to happen. The less fortunate are deprived of going to a good school since they cannot afford it, while the privileged are enjoying their stay in prestigious universities and colleges.

I’m not from a very well off family. And if things went differently, I would not even have dreamt of the chance to be able to study in a high profile university here to Manila. But UA&P gave me that chance. That chance to improve my language proficiency and my love for the arts. That chance to learn the most basic, yet the most important lesson one should learn: the essence of a man, his being, his right to live a dignified life, and his capability to give himself to others. These are the lessons that we have learned during our stay in the university. These are the lessons that we may carry with us when we step out of the gates of the campus.

As graduates of the university, we are now equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to help give that same chance to other people. Now more than ever, we are in the position to offer more help, our talents, and skills, to uplift the lives of others.

In UA&P, we already did that when we braved the rainy nights of Ondoy and gave that chance for others to survive. We already did it when we joined the BIGGKAS outreach program and provided to the San Joaquin Elementary School students that chance to learn math, science, religion, and sports. We already did it when we followed the simple rule in the cafeteria, when we wore our I.D. and followed the dress code which paved the way for more opportunities to further cultivate the corporate culture of the university.

And I challenge you my dear batchmates to embody that same attitude outside our school, that is, in our workplace, to be instruments of opening up opportunities and chances to others. Sure you can organize an outreach, donate a million pesos cash, be a politician, or even visit the depths of South Africa to show that you are contributing to the provision of chances and opportunities, of closing the gap…..But you don’t necessarily have to go to that extent. It can be as simple as doing your work well in the office. By doing this, you are giving justice to those individuals who are deprived of the chance to study and earn a well-paying job. That is the least that we can do for them. As Ivy Baker Priest puts it, “Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones come daily.” Let us grab those small opportunities everyday to help others, which will eventually bridge the gap between the less privileged and the privileged.

 

Delivering my speech during the UA&P 15th Graduation Rites, June 5, 2010, PICC Plenary Hall.
As we march later to get our diplomas, remember all the challenges that we have traversed just to earn that piece of document. Remember the sleepless nights that we have spent just to finish our APS or PRS papers. Remember the group study sessions that we have conducted just to review for our Math exams. Remember the tons and tons of reading materials that we have to photocopy; the numerous highlighters that we have consumed; the number of coffee or extra joss that we drunk just to stay awake; and the endless trials of OLS models.

But most importantly, remember those people behind all of these because they are the ones who provided us with the opportunities to improve ourselves, to be better individuals, and the chance to be man for others….And may we be like them for others just as how they did to us, starting from enhancing the lives of those people around us, one person at a time,…one community at a time.

To the UA&P community, Amber Study Center, Tambuli Residence Hall, School of Economics, IEP friends, and Dormers, thank you for giving me the opportunity to have a shot at pursuing my dreams. To my Family, thank you for giving me the opportunity to love and be loved. And to our Lord Almighty, thank you for giving me the chance to begin and begin again everytime I fall.

Marhay na aldaw po asin Dios mabalos saindo gabos!

(Me with the Valedictorian, in early 2006. One of our first pictures together. Twas the start of an awesome, crazy friendship. You rock, Jonathan.)

A fresh start.

This is probably my nth blog, and from there I’ve learned that no one really cares much about introduction, as long as you have good posts. And since I’m mainly planning on this being a more personal blog, wherein I place my personal views and opinions on what is going on around me, I don’t think introductions are at hand, unless of course I need to remind myself who I am. Luckily, I don’t have to.

I have not been writing in paragraphs since Twitter began owning my life. And I want that to change. I noticed I’m a crazy melting pot full of opinions and if I don’t have some sort of outlet for me to release all what I feel inside, I will implode.

This month marks a lot of changes that are beginning to occur in my life. I’ve just graduated with my Masters degree. And I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life at the moment. All I know is that I want to take a break from the stress, but at the same time, I don’t think I can take the life of a professional bum.

This year, I start living with my parents again. It’s quite weird because I’ve been living away from them for 5 years, but now that I’ve graduated, I have returned. It’s because they missed me (their words). But it’s funny. While at this stage of life, most people often separate from their families, I am returning. While most people are adjusting to life of independence, I’m trying to “unadjust” from it. I’ve been so used living an independent lifestyle without anyone telling me what to do and how to do it, that sometimes I find it hard to adjust to having my parents around everyday. It’s a nice feeling, but I guess it will take some getting used to.

Odd. I’m curious as to how the next few weeks, months, years will go. I awfully miss my friends in the Philippines, but I wouldn’t want to be separated for even more years from my family. There are so many things that changed within the dynamics of my family since I’ve left. My brother is now a teenager, and thus there are some awkwardness given that I’m his older sister (who can no longer smother him with kisses like the last time I was with them) and my parents have apparently gained new activities which they expect me to participate in.

Let’s see how this all goes.