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Speech of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during the 2nd University of the East Global Reunion, Marriott Hotel, Pasay, 26 May 2012
Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2012
The first thing that struck me about this sumptuous event is how you chose to call it, the “University of the East Global Reunion.”
It is not just any reunion. It is a global one. It situates UE and its alumni unequivocally in the world. It is a reunion and homecoming—a coming back to home grounds—from the world.
It also speaks volumes about your University and its place in the world. The University of the East is one of our country’s leading educational institutions, and is now earning the recognition so richly deserved as a breeding ground for Filipinos known locally and internationally for their exemplary performance and sterling achievements.
Isang malaking karangalan para sa akin na makapiling kayong nagbibigay karangalan hindi lamang sa inyong unibersidad kundi sa ating bansa, at nagbabahagi ng inyong angking talino at galing sa pagpapaunlad ng ating bansa gayundin ng iba pang mga bansa.
Without a doubt, the sumptuousness of your event lies not only in the not-simple preparations that you invested into it, but ultimately in what it means. And what it means depends so much on how you call it.
To be global necessarily locates origins and destinations. Global compels us to think of the opposing notion of local, whose root in Latin simply means “place.” But more than just place, this opposite notion points to something more meaningful, home.
In law, we have the concept of “domicile”—that which we consider more or less as our permanent home. As in, domicile of origin, or home country.
Thus, a reunion is a “coming home together again.” I can think of several popular songs deriving their titles from that phrase. Our generation grew up with the Beatles, Ray Charles, Dimodes Maturan and Eddie Peregrina, and we can go on and on with the word associations.
And surely we need no popular songs to drive home the meaning of home.
Recently, I had the chance to speak to the graduating classes of several schools. I felt challenged with the question of what world they could expect as they went out of their campuses. And I told them that the world had indeed changed formidably, but what was important was how they thought of themselves as they confronted that world.
Indeed, global change in terms of climate change and natural calamities, economic inequality, war, and hunger still challenges the world. But also there was the unfolding promise of technology, the affirmation of global cultural diversity, and astounding presence of compassion around the world that helped humans help each other in the middle of all these changes.
In the middle of all these changes, I told the graduates, it was in fact the best time to be Filipino.
In so many words, I reminded them of the age-old, time-honored Filipino values of kagandahang-loob, dangal, pagpapakumbaba, and pakikipagkapwa, among others, which are, simply and respectively, authenticity and generosity, honor and dignity, a humility born out of discipline, and plain old human compassion.
These are the universal values of all humanity, I told them. But these are also what make us Filipino—as we add our own national character in the manner we live such values.
I cited Benedict Anderson’s concept of the nation as the “imagined community.” People create their nation by their common imagination—their nation conceived in and founded on their culture and history, a living figment created by their values, and beliefs, and as realized by their struggles, perseverance, and common everyday living.
My friends, these are the values that sustain us. I was then talking to new graduates who were about to go out to the world. I would like to remind you now as well, who are already coming in from the world.
These are the values that enable us to create what I like to call the National Narrative. It is our nation’s story that we continue to tell and retell to ourselves and to the world, which we struggle to create and realize, to defend against denigration and insult, and constantly affirm and hold dear to our hearts.
These are, indeed, the best times for being the best Filipinos. The best as you yourselves have proven in so many different ways, in the many different ways in which you have lived and distinguished yourselves in the world. In your many and various professions. In your many and various struggles not just to survive but to excel.
This is the work and fruit of self-definition that we continue to tell and retell to ourselves and to the world as to what it is to be human and to be Filipino.
My friends from UE and the world, I tell you all these as a human being, as a fellow Filipino, and lastly as a public servant seeking to serve you better.
The many responsibilities that President Noynoy Aquino has entrusted to me as his active vice president and not only as a “spare tire” to the presidency include four important positions. These are, one, as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, or HUDCC; two, as Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns; three, as Chairman of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment and four as Chairman Emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking.
The titles and responsibilities are self-defining and I won’t bother you with details of my daily official duties. But I would like you to note that these responsibilities cover concerns and issues that any of you or myself or our relatives or friends have at one time or another known about or been personally involved in.
Who has no relative or acquaintance working abroad? Who doesn’t need a house? Who, God forbid, has not had a brush with a shady illegal recruiter or a human trafficker?
These are the issues and problems confronting both the Filipino at home and the Filipino abroad. I would like you to give them a little thought, as we celebrate this sumptuous event.
I would like you to contemplate the many little and big ways we, individually or as a group, can help the government and ourselves adequately prepare and educate our compatriots, our kababayans, going out to the world, or putting down roots at home.
Marami pa rin sa ating mga kababayan ang nadadala ng matatamis na salita at pangako ng iilang mapagsamantala. Sana ay maging katuwang kayo sa pagsisikap ng inyong pamahalaan na masugpo ang illegal recruitment at human trafficking at mabigyan ang ating mga kababayan ng matiwasay na pamumuhay.
I would also like to appeal to you to become ambassadors for our nation. Napatunayan na ninyo sa buong mundo ang galing at talino ng mga Pilipino sa larangan ng sining, medisina, at iba pang mga propesyon. Gamitin nating puhunan ang pagkilalang ito upang ma-engganyo natin ang mga taga ibang bansa na bumisita o kaya ay mamuhunan sa Pilipinas. Hikayatin nating silang makita ang ibang mukha ng Pilipinas – hindi ang mga imahe ng kidnapping at kalamidad na madalas napapanood sa telebisyon sa ibang bansa, bagkus isang Pilipinas kung saan malinaw ang landas tungo sa kaginhawaan at pag-unlad, isang bansa kung saan ang mga mamamayan ay laging nakangiti at handang tumuring sa mga bisita bilang bahagi ng pamilya.
Lastly, I would also like to ask all of us to do our bit in ensuring that our President succeeds in bringing our country and our people closer to our common ideal of a nation where progress is shared by all, where government cares for its people, where leaders act only with the interest of the people in mind, and where integrity and transparency govern our public conduct.
Ngayon lang muling nabuhay sa puso ng ating mga kababayan ang pag-asa na gaganda ang kanilang buhay. Mababanaag natin ito sa mainit na suportang patuloy na ibinibigay ng taumbayan kay Pangulong Noynoy at sa inyong lingkod, na siya namang nagbibigay sa amin ng determinasyon na magsikap ng husto upang hindi namin mabigo ang taumbayan. Gayunman, kinikilala namin na hindi madalian ang pagbabago, at lalong hindi makakaya ng isa o dalawang tao lamang na iwasto ang mga pagkakamali ng nakaraan. Sa pagharap sa pagsubok na ito, mahalagang kasama namin kayo. Ito ang diwa ng bayanihan na ating gagamitin upang sama-sama nating maiangat ang ating bansa at mailagay sa tamang landas.
Indeed, these are the best times and opportunities for being the best Filipinos.
Thank you and let us enjoy the evening.