Legarda Stressed UP’s Call for Paglayang Minamahal

June 25, 2018

The University of the Philippines held on 24 June 2018, its 107th General Commencement Exercises with Senator Loren Legarda as the Commencement Speaker.


Legarda, who was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa on the same day, underscored the need for the graduates, the youth in general, to be the voice of the weak, the dispossessed, the ignored, and the marginalized.


“These graduates are important members of our society, not only because of their potential role as future leaders but because with their fresh young minds and burning passion to discover new things and fight for what they deserve, they can be catalysts for development and significant drivers of effective change,” Legarda said.


“Someone has to speak up for the earth itself, for nature itself, for the voiceless among us. Someone has to stand and act to mitigate abuses and inequities that have destroyed our world, to protect the future for the coming generation, and to claim the absolute paglayang minamahal that has always been the battle cry of this institution. Knowledge without application is a waste of brainpower. Awareness without action is a waste of principle,” Legarda added.


In her valedictory speech, Summa Cum Laude China Marie Gabriel of the College of Mass Communications said, “one couldn’t be freedom loving unless he or she pursues justice and truth.”


“We are not free from the horrors of our past. We contest the validity of our memories up to this day and we find the same terrible chapters of history repeating itself, with evil manifesting in a different form,” Gabriel said.


Meanwhile, freedom as Legarda defines it, has never simply been the absence of an oppressor. Taking into consideration the University’s theme for this year, Paglayang Minamahal, Legarda said that “true freedom is freedom of the mind: freedom to think, to become one’s own, and to take action in one’s own interest”


Hence, the Senator urged the graduates that as they leave the university to finally face the daunting truths of the world, they should and they must never lose the spirit of inquiry and insatiable curiosity, to always strive for excellence, and to pursue academic freedom not just for their own benefit and progress, but also for the betterment of the Filipino people and of this country.


“To the graduates, as you leave the University, bring with you the freedom to choose the path you would take, but I hope that as products of an institution who upholds the spirit of being the voice of for the country and for the people,” Legarda said.


“Choose the Freedom that tests you. That challenges you. That takes you outside your comfort zones. Take the burning question of Nationalism that is the very basis of so much division in our society today,” Legarda stressed.


Gabriel, on the other hand, acknowledged the vital role of an Isko and an Iska in the country’s fight for absolute freedom and to seek progress not just for one’s self but for the nation’s sake.


“The greatest gift this University has given us is perspective, social justice, and our respective disciplines to look at national issues and to address them head-on. We can overcome any battle and escape the darkness of our past through a shared vision and collective action. The call of the times is for us to become truth seekers,” Gabriel said.


Magpakatatag at magpakagiting tayo para sa ikauunlad ni Inang Bayan. Let our enthusiasm to learn, transform into an enthusiasm to serve and to remember so that together, we can create new memories for our liberated Pilipinas. Stand for truth and actualize our loving vision for the Filipino society,” Gabriel added.


Legarda encouraged the graduates to never stop themselves from embracing change because change comes with growth and development. It is an inevitable process of progress that humanity and society have to go through.


“As products of this esteemed university, which is a bulwark of intellectual inquiry and academic freedom, you should be willing to embrace change as you devote yourselves in the service of the Filipino people and of the country. Things change, and things move forward – as they should. Ang pamantasang hindi sumasabay o nangunguna sa pagbabago ay tiyak na mapag-iiwanan ng kaalaman at ng kasaysayan. Ngunit may mga bagay sa UP na hindi maaring magbago magpakailanman,” Legarda said.


“UP would not be UP if it were not to remain the bastion of intellectual inquiry and academic freedom in this country. UP would not be UP if we were to devote ourselves to anything less than service to the people, in whatever form. UP would not be UP if it did not dare to lead, to be different, and to excel,” Legarda added.


Meanwhile, Chancellor Michael Tan of the University of the Philippines Diliman, talked about the present institution, the story behind each student, faculty and staff before they successfully arrived at that glorious day of convocation.


“At the start of the school year 2017-2018, together with all state universities and colleges and several city colleges, UP began a tuition-free policy for undergraduates.  We went a step further than the other schools, biting the bullet and not collecting fees of any kind.  It was a bold move, and has meant much belt-tightening,” Tan narrated.


“You would think our students no longer have financial problems but I continue to get stories of students having to stop schooling because they can’t afford day to day living expenses: room and board, transportation, supplies.  I continue to hear of students who skipped meals, and we continue to have our feeding programs for undernourished students. Students, not covered by the free tuition policy, send in letters appealing for expeditious release of payment of fees,” Tan continued.


Legarda, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, co-authored and co-sponsored the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (RA 10931), which subsidized tuition fee and other school fees of students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local state universities and colleges (LUCs), and state-run technical vocational institutions (TVIs).


Hindi natin maaring kalimutan ang kahalagahan ng edukasyon sa kinabukasan ng ating bayan. Kaya po tayo naglaan, bilang pinuno ng Komite sa Pananalapi ng Senado, ng sapat na pondo hindi lamang para sa UP kundi sa lahat ng ating mga SUC, mula sa libreng tuition hanggang sa libreng wi-fi,” Legarda said.


Moreover, to further strengthen support to the education of the Filipino youth, Legarda ensured the University that she will be back to survey the buildings and dormitories, including the restrooms, to guarantee students that they are provided a learning community in good condition as they seek for quality education.


“Education is a right of every citizen and as such it can only be exercised and enjoyed fully in a climate where the rights and welfare of students and young Filipinos are promoted and protected,” Legarda concluded.