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Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) 40th Commencement Exercises

June 8, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda

Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU)

40th Commencement Exercises

June 8, 2018 | Batac City, Ilocos Norte

 

 

My sincerest congratulations to this year’s graduates of Mariano Marcos State University!

You have all worked so hard to reach this level of academic excellence, and it is only fitting that we recognize and celebrate the passion and determination you have exhibited throughout the years.

As graduates from different programs and disciplines, the respective experiences you have had in college might have also been distinct from each other. However, all those academic journeys converge and end today, as all of you gather here, for the last time, in this beautiful Sunken Garden of your Alma Mater for your graduation.

This day means as much to you as it does for those who have supported you all throughout your academic years, and it is also my distinct privilege to acknowledge and honor them today.

To the professors and mentors who have stood by these students: thank you for imparting your knowledge and wisdom, for honing their skills and talents, but most importantly, for your patience—for not giving up on these students, for constantly pushing them to work hard and do better, and for witnessing their worst, but allowing their best to shine.

To the MMSU officials, my congratulations also for another sterling academic year and a wonderful batch of passionate and outstanding students you have cultivated. You have upheld what your institution has always represented, which is academic excellence, leadership, and service. May MMSU as an academic institution continue to be a bastion of learning and hope for present and future generations.

To the parents, this is also your day. You are their first teachers in life. You have been their main cheerleader in pursuing excellence and overcoming challenges. You have always been there for these young ones, correcting their wrongs, guiding them towards the right path.

Thank you for taking care of your children, for being the most patient, and for supporting them wholeheartedly—except, of course, when they ask for money as they say for a school project or requirement, so you also ask them a lot of questions to justify it. Daig pa ang thesis defense, ‘di ba graduates?

But kidding aside, you have taught one valuable thing that goes beyond the bounds of our academic institutions, and that is to love unconditionally.

Your love has enabled these graduates to value friendships and relationships, to trust, to care, and to love others as well. Your constant love has nourished their souls, and it will continue to inspire them to become better versions of themselves.

You have given your life to your children. You also struggled when they faced challenges and suffered when they failed; but as we gather and celebrate their successes today, you most especially deserve to feel overjoyed.

You have sacrificed so much in order for them to reach this significant point in their lives, and I know that you are all beyond ecstatic and fulfilled seeing them receive their well-earned and well-desreved diplomas.

So, to you, parents and guardians: My heart goes out to you for being the best that you can be for your children; for leading a life, though filled with sacrifices, hardships, and uncertainties, you continuously nurture with trust, care, and love.

And so to the graduates, do not let this day pass without letting your teachers and especially your parents know how much you appreciate their patience, hard work, support, and love that have molded you to becoming the person you are today.

Reciprocate the love and effort that they have given you all these years. Put the knowledge and skills you acquired in your Alma Mater to good use. And lead a life that they will be proud of.

Like you, dear graduates, I am also – almost – at another crossroads of my life.  I am now on my last year of my third and last term in the Senate. I am no longer allowed under the law to run for re-election in next year’s national elections. Like you, I feel that I am also graduating but from a different institution. And perhaps just like you, this situation is making me feel a bit more contemplative, sentimental even, than usual.

As I reflect on my journey as Senator, allow me also to share a few insights with you about the experiences I have had in work and life in general. Hopefully this allows you to catch a glimpse of what life can be beyond the walls and grounds of your university.

First, this is just the beginning. As they say, welcome to the real world. A few weeks from now, most of you will already start looking for a job, while some, I assume, have already started or landed one. And others, I believe, will pursue further academic studies.

But whatever path it is, you will be embarking on something that would be unfamiliar to you. While it is exciting for the most part, it will be scary as well. You would feel the thrill of finally being independent, but you would also realize the physical, emotional, and financial demands of being on your own.

It could be discouraging at times. People tend to regress, play safe, or choose the easier and more comfortable path instead, but do not be disheartened because, in every beginning, there is hope.

As you open a new chapter in your life, let your own story unfold. Allow your hopes and aspirations narrate your story. A life well lived is a life without regrets.

 

Second, discover who you truly are. After graduating from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, I worked as a broadcast journalist for more than twenty years.  Now as Senator of two decades as well, people have found in me a staunch ally and supporter of various advocacies, especially for the environment, climate change, education, and culture and the arts.

I have earned various recognitions and titles here and abroad because of these responsibilities, but the one role I am most passionate about is being a mother.

In your journey, you would pick up many roles along the way, which would demand a lot from you. But there would be roles that you would naturally cling on to you. That will be your calling.

Some will find it early on, while others will let it pass by. Discovering one’s self is finding your true calling. It is not just about your hopes and aspirations, but also about people’s expectations from you.

And as you contemplate on the core of your motivations — whether it is your ambition, your family, your personal achievements, being part of an organization, public service, or being able to contribute to nation building, or all of the above — who or what you want to be in life becomes much clearer.

 

Third, strive for excellence. As a Senator, I have to represent the voice of the people through the enactment of laws and recommending priorities in our national budget. And in order to be effective, it is important for me to know not just our people’s needs, but also their hopes and aspirations.

In this regard, I have committed to pass legislation that champion the welfare of the Filipino and our country, such as laws on the sustainable and equitable use of our natural resources; enhancing community resilience; advocating for social justice, human rights, peace and cultural diversity; and quality and accessible education, decent employment, and livelihood opportunities.

Public officials are public servants. For us, striving for excellence is being able to facilitate and unlock the full potential of our communities, especially the vulnerable and marginalized ones. It is being able to uplift the lives and provide opportunities for growth for our countrymen.

So, ask yourself what I have also been constantly asking myself all these years: “What’s next?” What would be next for me, for my advocacies, for the people I serve, and for the people I love? For you, graduates, what’s next for you?

Hone your skills and utilize your talents. Seek knowledge and wisdom for personal growth. Reach for greater heights. And when you fall, get back up. It is how you learn from your and even other people’s mistakes, how you mature, how you nurture your personal growth – all of those will be remembered by many.

Fourth, fight for what you believe in. I recall that I have been advocating for climate change for more than two decades now, but it is only in the last recent years, that my call to address it has not fallen on deaf ears.

It was frustrating at first, of course, to be pressing on our government and the public to act urgently when they only considered it as a conceptual environmental issue, without real-life impacts on humanity and national security.

It was only when Typhoon Yolanda brought devastation to many communities that people began to understand how big of a threat climate change is. And I was pleased, although it was much unfortunate that it took tremendous loss of lives, properties and resources, that there was a sudden urgency to put systems and policies in place to address those climate impacts.

You see, no matter how genuine and vocal you will be on your advocacies in life, you will be greatly challenged by a lot of groups and entities. And it is rightfully so, because we cannot dictate our beliefs on them. We could only try our very best to convince them.

There will be a lot of effort put into convincing other people, as it is an advocacy, a personal crusade. You really have to fight for what you believe in, and find like-minded and fellow advocates along the way.

And fifth, give back.  Like what I said earlier, reciprocate the goodness from people, groups, and communities you encounter in your journey. Empower them as much as they have empowered you. Contribute to building their lives and supporting their growth.

Play a part in nation building.  Help find solutions to issues and problems of our country, especially in light of the biggest threat to humanity and development, which is climate change.

This is me humbly seeking support for one advocacy close to my heart. Regardless however if it is climate change or any other advocacies, make sure that you give back to the people, communities, and our country in any way that you can.

You will be future leaders, experts, influencers, and professionals in your own respective chosen careers. The fate of our beloved Philippines rests upon you. As graduates of MMSU, I expect excellence, leadership, and services from you, as you become productive and integral members of our society.

I hope that your government and country can count on you towards a more sustainable and empowered Philippines.

Thank you very much, and again, my congratulations to all of you!