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    Message at the 31st Annual University of the Philippines (UP) Pi Sigma Fraternity Open Debate Tournament

    UP Integrated School Auditorium, Diliman, Quezon City

    Thank you very much! Kindly take your seats.

    DSWD Undersecretary and my former colleague at the 16th Congress Usec. Luz Ilagan; Mr. Jess Ramirez, the head of UP Pi Sigma Fraternity; the competing debate teams who are here this afternoon; members of the UP Pi Sigma Fraternity; representatives of the different UP organizations and the organizations from the other participating schools; students and faculty members; the principal and the administrative staff of UPIS; the other honored guests; ladies and gentlemen: Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.

    I was initially invited to keynote the final round but I have not been able to make it so I was instead asked to grace the second final round and it is an honor.

    For many years, my two older children have been debaters. My eldest and my second daughter, Aika and Tricia, have been with the debate team for many years so I know how much hard work, how much sleepless nights, the discipline, and the, you know, the responsibility that goes with all the preparations that are involved in for you to be prepared for this competition is really noteworthy. But you know, I had a short conversation with some of you earlier and I was telling them that the advantage of being in a debate team is not so much on public speaking. It is actually the discipline that you go through. It is actually the rigorous preparation that gives you that discipline and responsibility.

    I went through law school myself. Jess was telling me earlier [about] his fourth year law, he was a working student. Jess, ako din. I took up law when I was married already. I took up law when I was married already. I was married; I graduated with two children already. I was a full-time professor during the day and a law student at night. It was difficult. It was difficult to be a wife, to be a mother, to be a full-time working woman and a law student. But you know, it was all worth it.

    When you go back, kapag nasa law school ka pa lang, you would think that you would not be able to finish. When I was in law school, I planned on quitting several times but my husband couldn’t hear of it. My husband would always tell me, “Huwag. Papatayin ako ng tatay mo kasi noong namanhikan ako sabi ko, sisiguraduhin ko you will still become a lawyer.” So I did. I did become a lawyer. And looking back, the discipline that was instilled in me while I was going through all those rigors is the same discipline that is making me through all the difficult times.

    Kaya my advice to everyone is: Enjoy the ride, enjoy all the difficulties, but you have to, you know, it’s not just the excitement. It’s not capability per se, but it’s empathy that you get from all the debates that will happen. I was looking at your—at the slide earlier—iyong topic niyo yata Trabaho Bill and contractualization. Two very important topics are also very contentious at this time. But what is important is the ability to listen to all the points of view. It is what will hone you at the very end.

    So congratulations to the UP Pi Sigma Fraternity for your 31st year of sponsoring the debates. Congratulations to all the debating teams who are here this afternoon. I know how much the journey has been for you to have reached the semi-final round. So congratulations at this point and good luck. Good luck to everyone! Magandang hapon muli sa inyong lahat! [applause]

    Posted in Speeches on Sep 27, 2018