Despite rainy weather and collapsed dome, graduation pushes through

  • Lightning rally congratulates new grads, asserts service to people

  • Davide: Help people shine

  • Valedictorian Samonte: Keep fighting for equality

By CLARIZA CASSANDRA CONCORDIA and ANDREW ESTACIO

Graduate protesters stretched the “Serve the People” banner and rallied in front of hundreds of UPLB graduates to conclude the 43rd Commencement Exercises on July 4, held at the DL Umali Freedom Park.

“Isang tagumpay sa bawat Iskolar ng Bayan ang araw na ito, gayon din sa bawat pamilya’t edukador na naniniwalang tayo’y maghahatid ng dangal at galing sa kapwa nating mamamayang Pilipino,” Ronalyn Franca, BS Development Communication graduate and former University Student Council (USC) councilor, remarked in her speech during the rally.

She added, “walang kabuluhan ang motto ng UP na Karangalan at Kahusayan o Honor and Excellence kung hindi natin ito gagamitin para sa ikabubuti ng iba, para sa ikauunlad ng ating bansa… Kailangan nating magsilbi sa ating bayan at isanib sa sambayanang inaapi’t pinagsasamantalahan ang ating lakas, talino, galing, at karangalan.”

Franca highlighted that UP has a significant role in enlightening students on the real national situations—injustices on Yolanda, land reform, education, demolitions, indigenous people, and human rights.

After the graduation ceremony, the mobilization was continued by the student protesters at the right lane of DL Umali to assert congratulatory remarks and service to the masses.

Challenges of the national university

“The farmers should benefit from the products of our service… This is the best way to make our farmers prosperous and educate their children, too,” said Dr. Romulo G. Davide, this year’s commencement guest speaker.

According to Dr. Davide, the utmost duty of agricultural science is the “upbringing of science and technology for the farmers’ farm.” This indeed was exemplified in his contribution to the field of agriculture, as Dr. Davide founded the Farmer-Scientist Training Program (FSTP) in his hometown in Cebu. Through this program, he had educated farmers, and the farming communities met higher productivity.

Dr. Davide’s contribution garnered him the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012. Aside from that, Dr. Davide also mentioned the challenges of the country – poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and the plight of the indigenous people. According to him, these are the challenges, as well, of the University of the Philippines as a national university.

You are now the stars of UP Los Banos. As iskolar ng bayan para sa bayan nating Pilipinas, go and shine. Wherever you will be, do not forget your people, and help them shine, too,” ended Dr. Davide.

Meanwhile, valedictorian of UPLB Class of 2015, Paoloregel B. Samonte spoke of equality. “My UP education opened my mind to question social norms and understand that equality is not only a mathematical concept, but also a principle one must constantly apply in everyday situations,” said Samonte, a graduate of BS Development Communication.

According to Samonte, UPLB graduates should uphold equality in every situation. He spoke of the plight of indigenous people for “equal opportunities in education,” his insights on the passage of same sex marriage in the United States, and the clamor for women empowerment. “We, UPLB scholars of 2015, are in a formidable position to be change makers… May we all keep fighting for equality,” concluded Samonte.

Graduation: First time in June, with a collapsed dome

Along with the implementation of the Academic Calendar Shift, it was first time to celebrate the commencement exercises of UPLB in June and to erect a dome at the graduation grounds in anticipation for possible rainfall.

Yet noon before the ceremony, half of the dome collapsed from strong winds, injuring one worker on his head, as per a report from the University Police Force (UPF). No student was hurt from the incident.

The weather had eventually improved before the start of the ceremony, and was pushed through at 4 pm. [P]

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