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    Message at the Angat Buhay Young Leaders in Government Fellowship Graduation Ceremony

    Angat Buhay Young Leaders in Government Fellowship Graduation Ceremony

    Quezon City Reception House

    Thank you very much. [louder applause] Thank you. Kindly take your seats.

    Dr. Johannes Kadura of the FES and the other FES staff present; our 39 ABYLG Batch 1 Fellows and Graduates; your supervisors and families who are present here this morning, I saw several local officials, mayors, heads of offices—maraming salamat po sa inyo; my fellow workers in government; ladies and gentlemen: Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! [applause] At happy graduation! [louder applause]

    Sabi nga ni Dr. Johannes earlier during his speech, how time flies. We were just together two months ago for the first ever session of the ABYLG and now you are graduating already. When we were conceptualizing ABYLG, the only thing that we knew was that the times and our country are in desperate need of leaders. Pero this particular exercise is not about teaching you how to be leaders, because you already are. Sinabi ko ito sa inyo during the opening, that the intent was to create a platform where ethical, empowering, inspiring, responsive, inclusive leaders will thrive.

    Napakahirap ng panahon ngayon, ‘di ba? Napakahirap ng panahon. Pero if at all, what we want to achieve after your graduation is that you will find yourselves a home. Paminsan kasi it is so difficult to be ethical, it is so difficult to be empowering, it is so difficult to be inclusive in an environment which does not promote that kind of leadership. Pero sana after this, mararamdaman niyo na kahit nag-iisa lang kayo sa opisina, o kahit kakaunti lang kayo, parati kayong may bahay na uuwian. And I think that is what is most important, kasi kahit saang laban, mas malakas iyong loob natin kapag alam natin na mayroon tayong sanctuary. ‘Di ba? Mayroon tayong sanctuary.

    Iniisip ko kanina habang nakaupo ako, the past two months, bugbog na kayo sa mga lessons and experiences that you got from your mentors and your speakers, and we really decided to invite iyong mga taong pinapaniwalaan namin na makaka-provide sa atin ng guidance that we all need. So kanina, iniisip ko what should be my message. And siguro, I’d like to be very personal about it, in the sense na ang gusto kong i-impart during your graduation, as a pabaon na pananalita—hindi naman sa aalis na kayo, pero pabaon sa bagong kabanata ng inyong leadership journey—iyong sarili kong mga lessons.

    Kapag pinag-iisipan iyong sariling lessons sa journey ko, parati kong— Nanonood naman kayo saka nagbabasa ng Harry Potter, ‘di ba? Kung naaalala niyo iyong sinabi ni Dumbledore kay Harry, ano: “It is your choices, Harry, that tell the world who you really are and not your abilities.” (sic)

    Maraming sinasabi na mahuhusay, maraming sinasabi na matatalino, pero iyong sukatan ng pagkatao, iyong mga choices na pinipili natin. All the time. Lalo na sa isang mundo na madaling gumawa ng choices kung ang mapapagpilian natin lahat okay. Pero napakahirap gumawa ng choices kung ang gusto nating sagot parating “none of the above”, ‘di ba, pero wala sa choice iyong “none of the above”.

    So sa akin, lalo na noong naging pulitiko na ako, dumaan ako sa maraming mga tests na napakahirap gumawa ng choice. Pero ano iyong lessons? Ano iyong lesson?

    Number one: ang kontrolado lang talaga natin iyong sarili natin. That is very important to accept para ma-avoid natin iyong maraming frustrations. ‘Di ba? Parating sa akin, parating ganoon—parating iyong mga circumstances hindi parating favorable sa atin, pero ang pinakabala natin sa lahat, iyong sarili natin. So kung ako tatanungin, the challenge really is how to find your light in the midst of darkness. How to find solutions in an environment na very… very… parang in an environment where the limitations given to you are just too much.

    Ang pinakamadali kasi is to pass the blame on others. “Hindi ko nagawa iyong trabaho ko kasi uninspired ako sa aking boss.” “Hindi ako nagpe-perform well kasi hindi ako namo-motivate ng aking boss.” Kapag ganoon iyong ating mga dahilan, hindi tayo tunay na leader.

    Pero ang tunay na leader, magsasabi, “Kahit uninspiring iyong aking boss, ginagawa ko pa din nang maayos iyong trabaho ko.” “Kahit napakahirap, ginagawa ko pa din nang maayos iyong trabaho ko.” “Hindi ako nagpapaapekto kahit iyong boss hinahadlangan iyong lahat kong ginagawa. Basta ako, kapag hinadlangan niya, maghahanap ako ng ibang paraan.”

    Ang pinakamadali kasi ipasa, ‘di ba? Parating… Ano naman iyon, human nature iyong “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”. Parang we always wish for what is not. Human nature iyon. Kahit ako, ganoon din. Pero iyong challenge sa atin, paano natin lalabanan iyong human nature natin na iyon. Paano natin lalabanan iyong we allow forces external to us to hamper us from the things that we want to do.

    Lalo sa mga local officials, ‘di ba? Lalo sa mga nagtatrabaho sa gobyerno. Ang dami mong gustong gawin, pero ang daming hadlang. And we become frustrated. Normal naman iyon, eh. Pero I think the challenge for every leader is how do you not allow those frustrations to get in the way of what you’re doing. How do you not allow the difficulties to diminish the quality of the work that you’re doing.

    So ako, iyon iyong inaasahan ko from all of you, na to get beyond… to get beyond… the status quo. Pinakamadali kasi— Ang pinakamadali kasi sa lahat, to choose the easy way out. “Hindi na lang ako iimik para walang gulo.” ‘Di ba? “Tatahimik na lang ako para hindi na ako makasali.” Pero ang tanong: How are you contributing to the entire fight for good governance?

    Talagang the fight for good governance is a long and lonely fight. Pero parati kasing iisipin natin iyong—I think na-mention ko na ito—the power of the long game. Na lahat na ginagawa natin, connect-the-dots iyan, eh. Paminsan marami tayong ginagawa na tinatanong natin sa sarili natin, “Ano ang saysay ng ginagawa ko na ito?” ‘Di ba? Parati iyong nangyayari, ‘di ba? If I go back to the life I’ve had, marami akong ginawa in the past na, tingin ko, if I had the… parang if I had the… vision of what is going to happen in the future, sasabihin ko na, “Bakit ko pa ito ginagawa? Magpupulitiko lang pala ako?” Pero everything that we do contributes to the entire thing. Walang sayang. Walang tapon. So dahil walang tapon, dapat lahat na ginagawa natin—big or small—kaya nating panindigan sa huli. Walang… walang mediocrity sa ginagawa natin. I think I’ve said this often enough, that if we work for government, there is no space for our egos. That if we work for the government, there is no space for unnecessary emotions. Kasi people expect a lot from us. Paminsan iyong tingin nating pinakakaunti na gagawin—halimbawa magfa-file lang tayo ng mga papeles—paminsan life and death na iyon para sa ibang tao.

    So parati… parati iyong tanong— Kasi when we work for government, may kaniya-kaniya tayong assignments, ‘di ba? Iyong leadership kasi, hindi iyon dapat pabibo ka parati. ‘Di ba? Ang leader, hindi iyon iyong nasa unahan, eh. Pero iyong leader, nasa pinakalikod ka, pero kahit gaano kaliit ng ginagawa mo, nararamdaman siya nang buo.

    So iyon siguro iyong pabaon na… pabaon sa inyo, na what we are doing now—no matter how we think—no matter how small we think they are—contributes to who we will be in the future. So the choices that we make— Parang sabihin natin, “Hindi naman mahalaga iyong sasabihin ko kasi napakaliit ko naman sa buong organisasyon.” Pero mali iyon, eh. Mali iyon. Kasi kahit anong… kahit anong gawin mo, parati siyang may effect.

    Halimbawa, you’re an ordinary civil servant who is working for a department. May nakita kang mali na ginagawa ng department mo, pero sasabihin mo, “Tatahimik na lang ako kasi ‘gawi’ na ito, eh. Ayaw ko nang guluhin iyong status quo.” Kapag ganoon, enabler ka, eh. ‘Di ba? Enabler ka of something that should not be there. Enabler ka of something that should not… should not work.

    So parating iyong how do we contribute to the greater whole—pahalagahan kung anong klaseng trabaho iyong mayroon tayo. Kapag sinabing pahalagahan, irespeto, irespeto iyong bawat assignment saka mandato na binibigay sa atin, kahit gaano kahirap. Kasi walang assignment na maliit. Lahat ng assignment, mahalaga sa kabuuan. The mere fact that you signed up for this is already enough assurance for us that the desire to make things better is there. Kasi gaya ng sinabi ng ating valedictorian kanina, mahirap… mahirap mag-attend ng sessions kasi they get in the way of what we’re doing. Mahirap kasi, gaya ng sinabi niya, “Pulis iyong asawa ko. Bihira lang mag-day-off. Sa day-off niya, magse-session pa ako.” Or “May birthday iyong anak, kailangang iwanan kasi mayroong session.” So what are those sacrifices for? ‘Di ba?

    So, really, every choice, every day, that we make is who we are as Filipinos. Huwag nating maliitin ang kahit ano. Huwag nating… huwag nating gawing irrelevant iyong kahit anong ginagawa natin. So iyon iyong number one.

    And number two: sana mag-contaminate tayo, mag-infect—mag-infect ng isang klaseng kultura ng ano ang gusto nating mangyari sa ating pamahalaan. Thirty-nine lang kayo, pero 39 is a big enough number to make a change. [applause] So iyong sa amin… sa amin, iyong pasasalamat—pasasalamat that you answered our call, pasasalamat that you made the sacrifice, pasasalamat that you completed… you completed the course.

    And also a call to action. A call to action na sana hindi masayang iyong sakripisyo. Na sana the seeds that were planted would bear fruit, na parating mayroong… parating mayroong greater awareness na we did those sacrifices for something that—something than bigger than the sacrifice that we made. So sana this is the start for everyone. May you… may you inspire others as much as you have inspired us. May you be the light in the midst of darkness. And may you follow your North Star all the time. Kaya congratulations to all of you! [applause]

    To your supervisors, to your bosses, to the families who are here, maraming salamat po. Kung hindi dahil sa pagpayag niyo na nawawala-wala sila sa kanilang trabaho, hindi nila makukumpleto ito.

    And, of course, to FES, for partnering with us [applause] and for making this activity possible. Sabi ni Dr. Johannes earlier, this is just the first batch. [applause] We look forward to more batches ahead. And sana, when we do the next… the next batches, katulong na namin kayo.

    Maraming salamat! Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! [applause]

    Posted in Speeches on Nov 27, 2019