“Sorting-out Our Differences”
Gathered today are honorable guests, members of the Board of Regents, UP President and guest speaker Alfredo E. Pascual, University of the Philippines Los Baños Officials led by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., the respective Deans of the colleges, faculty and staff, parents, relatives, friends, and fellow graduating students. It is my pleasure to greet you a good morning.
This particular morning is noteworthy; it is different. Instead of our usual mornings, maybe waking up early to prepare for work or class, we are here to celebrate where they have all paid off. Another, instead of performing the UPLB 44th Commencement Exercises in the evening, we are having them now. So indeed this day is special and deserves your attention.
It is not only this morning that is different. The graduating students in this field hail from different colleges, studied under a specific degree program, and have different views about the world and aspirations in their lives. Class of 2016, we cannot deny this diversity, for this is what has determined the choices we have made; whichever GE course or elective to take up in our plan of study; which groupmates to pick and trust for our projects; whether we would stay up all night to finish a requirement or sleep for the night and obtain the energy we need to finish it in the morning.
Moreover, this diversity has suggested the paths that we will be taking from now on. Whatever vocation we pursue, we would also have to consider that our following actions will also be affected by things that will also become different around us. This year we will be having a new president – a novel administration that is distinguishable from the previous one. This will bring about different rules of order, causing new minds to be opened while others to be closed. Our environment is rapidly changing as well to the point that I would have to deliver this speech as quick as possible to avoid overheating or rain.
Who knows what else may come in the near future – new technology, a revolution in mainstream music and media, newly discovered diseases and techniques for counter measures. One day we might even find ourselves surprised by the news that a new inhabitable planet is available for residency. Just recently I woke up finding out that Earth has two moons now. These are overwhelming ideas, but we can never tell exactly what lies ahead.
What we have to contemplate on is if we are ready for this change. Has the University of the Philippines equipped us with what we need so that we could survive the reality outside that is constantly becoming something that has not been expected? Did all the exams that we take, the reaction papers we’ve submitted, the reports we prepared, the homework we successfully passed just a minute before midnight, develop the connections in our brain to make us the critical thinkers our society needs to assess and address problems? Are all our walking marathons for saving up change, the PE classes we’ve both endured and enjoyed, and clashes against strong winds and rain alternating with skin-roasting heat, enough to establish a body ready to fight for what we stand for? Have all our frustrations from being bereaved of slots from online registration, heartbreaks from rejected research proposals, and the bonds that we have shared with our orgmates and other friends, transformed our hearts into the core that could take on our forthcoming failures? Have we imbued Honor and Excellence as we are expected? If perhaps the answer is no, I still firmly believe that UPLB has prepared us so that we can learn to.
My fellow graduating students, we are all made unique, and we are graduating from this university so that there exists a capable character that would address individual challenges in this world, for these problems are vast and as diverse as we are.
Let there be you who will advocate conservation of natural resources, and you who will advocate for economic and social growth. Let there be you who will stand up for women’s rights, and you who will stand up for equality of all genders. Let there be someone who will find justice to the massacre at Orlando, Florida, and you who will find peace for those groups that will be overemphasized as their perpetrators. Let someone lead the battle against drugs and corruption, and let someone lead the arms that promote observance of human rights for all human beings. Take note however, these differences are not designed so that there will be conflict. Please do not dare to say that one of these is not worth fighting for, and if you might see that there is always one of two sides pitted against each other, you are wrong. All of these are tiny lights; each one that is lit contributes to a brighter light at the end of a dark tunnel.
After learning about all our differences, may we also see the links between us that create a singular chain. We could have had this life-changing experience in any other renowned universities in the country, but we are assembled in one, UPLB. We could be solving all the problems in all the nations out there, but we are given one, the Philippines. We could thank everyone that we have encountered in our lives, but we are surrounded by those noteworthy ones right now; our friends, our families, our teachers. Despite all the differences that we know exist, we are always given that reason to unite. In summary, this diversity and this unity becomes our identity.
Padayon UPLB! Congratulations Class of 2016! To God be the Glory!