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Speech of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during the Eastern Visayas State University-Tanauan Campus 37th Commencement Exercises, Tanauan Civic Center, Tanauan, Leyte, 19 March 2012
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Up until a few moments ago, I still had some misgivings as to whether I was up to the task of speaking to you, the graduating students of the Eastern Visayas State University’s Tanauan Campus. On this day, all of you are bursting with fulfillment and happiness. There is little that anyone can say to add to the already immense inspiration surging in your hearts, but perhaps you will indulge a humble public servant’s efforts to share his heartfelt thoughts.
Earning a degree is not the easiest task in the world. Most of you labored over a period of four years to grace this stage and claim your destiny. Some of you may have needed more time to complete your studies but regardless of how many years it took, all of you share an equally great sense of joy and hope.
Today is indeed your day, but it is not yours alone. Your parents and families beam with pride and we must thank them for being so generous to you. They have endured the pains of work in order to provide for you and your needs at school. Some of them may not have been blessed with a college education, but they toiled to grant you what they themselves were denied. We owe them our deepest thanks and I would like to ask all the parents to rise and be recognized.
The faculty and staff of this university have played an equally heroic role in making your journey possible. Their candles burned at both ends to insure that the classroom was a place where your character and skills would be forged. I am sure that just as they were tough on you, many of you also made the classroom a challenging place for them. Still, they remained committed to their vocation and poured into you all that they could offer. May I ask the faculty and staff to rise so that we may extend our sincerest gratitude and applause.
Tomorrow dear graduates, you will officially enter the world of adult life. No longer will you be just spectators to current events, longing to go beyond the walls of your lecture halls and laboratories. Tomorrow, you will be part of all that can be changed and all who can make change possible.
I do not wish to deceive you into thinking that the world that waits for you is a perfect one. Our times, like those before us, are beset with all sorts of problems, none of them trivial. There are no quick and easy fixes to the challenges that we as a nation must address. The burdens that bear on our people’s shoulders cannot be solved by one man or even one government alone. It is the sacrifices of all that can make the wheel turn, bit by bit, until finally a complete revolution is achieved. And like any revolution, it begins within each and every one of us.
Not too long ago, we all rallied behind the clarion call to uphold the rule of law, to eradicate corruption, and to personally contribute to nation building. We welcomed this fresh start and worked to make strong strides in the right direction. Government has not forgotten this pact with the people. If progress seems slow at times, it is not for the lack of effort, sincerity or professional competence. It is because our problems are often interlinked, and lasting solutions to these puzzles require much time and the specialized expertise of so many citizens.
Too often now, I encounter people, young people especially, who want to and need to believe in the hopes enshrined in this battle cry, but are afraid to put their weight and trust behind this cause. And why not? In the past, calls to action were hollow because those who roared on stages and podiums used their voices to drown the pleas of the hungry, the oppressed, and the powerless. In this day and age, even the rich are not spared from the self-serving.
Several days ago, the New York Times published an article entitled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” Written by an Executive Director of the 143-year old investment bank, it painted a picture of how a firm built on upholding the trust of its clients became a bank that would do anything to make a profit, even at the expense of its customers.
Many of its clients were multi-millionaires from all over the world. In more recent years, the bank persuaded customers to make investments in ventures that would make huge profits for Goldman Sachs, but would create losses for the investors. The article’s author, Greg Smith, came to the conclusion that the bank’s culture fell when its views of leadership changed. In his words, “Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing.”
The Goldman Sachs case clearly shows how the noblest organizations can fall so quickly because of the wrong values. We must prevent a similar crisis from taking root here at home. Fortunately, we are still blessed with hope. Against the grain of greed that plagues many countries, I assure you that there are legions of people in our government and in the private sector that quietly and courageously work to find remedy to all that afflicts us. If we do not hear their voices, it is because they choose to let their deeds speak volumes instead.
As you stand at the crossroads between your college days and professional life, I ask that you fan the flames of revolution within you. Begin by training yourselves to be the best that you can be – both professionally and ethically. School may be over but this does not mean that learning should end. Indeed, if you wish to secure a better life for yourselves and your country, you must live a life of excellence and ethics in all that you do.
This sounds like a daunting task but really, it is in the little things of daily life that we better ourselves. If we wish to decry those who disrespect the law, then we must obey the law ourselves. Let us respect the rules of our households, the ordinances of our cities and the laws of the land. If we find defects in what we are asked to obey, then let us seek remedy through the law and its agents.
Bring a spirit of discipline into your lives. The seeds have already been planted during your studies here. Nourish these seeds and you will be able to do much for yourself and others every day. Come to work on time and be punctual with all the tasks assigned to you. Be thorough in your duties, maintaining an eye for detail. Relish every opportunity to learn new skills or fields. Above all else, use your knowledge to improve the lives of those you encounter.
This is a great responsibility which all of you must live up to. Remember that your alma mater exists for people who desire a decent education, and is funded by monies paid by the people through taxes. Just as EVSU has an obligation to make education accessible to all regardless of economic bracket, you have the duty to apply that education for the betterment of the public.
This does not mean entering the civil service, though I would not discourage you from that path. It means finding a way to contribute to your community’s welfare wherever you may be. This may be as simple as providing inputs to your local government in your area of specialization. It could be volunteering to teach values or mathematics to children every weekend. You may even find ways to organize your neighborhoods to insure compliance with waste management and disaster preparedness programs. There are many areas where you can win battles. You are limited only by your own creativity.
Your prospects will increase as you rise through the ranks of your chosen profession. It will take a lot of time and hard work, but I assure you that your efforts will not be ill spent. You will have your failures but do not let these discourage you. Get up as fast as you fall and keep rushing towards the future that you dream of for yourself and your countrymen. Keep the faith and you will grow in your ability to bring concrete change to your lives and to the lives of others.
I have every ounce of faith that this University has trained you to endure and to prevail. If fortune truly favors the bold, then I believe you will have nothing but success in the very near future.
Congratulations to the 2012 Graduating Class of Eastern Visayas State University!