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    Message at the Opening of Istorya ng Pag-asa Gallery

    Far Eastern University, Recto, Manila

    Thank you very much. Kindly take your seats.

    Mr. Gigi Montinola, the Chairman of FEU; Dr. Michael Alba, President; Attorney Giana Montinola, VP for Corporate Affairs; Mr. Joeven Castro, Assistant VP for Academic Services; Ms. [inaudible], member of the Board of Trustees; the rest of the administration and academic managers; our Istorya ng Pag-asa champions who will be featured today, including their families; the Istorya ng Pag-asa FEU organizing committee; faculty members present; students; honored guests; my professor—Political Law—professor in college—Father ka na pala ngayon, Sir? [laughter]—Father Ed Garcia; ladies and gentlemen: Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

    First of all, we would like to thank the FEU family for agreeing to partner with us in this journey of going around and promoting stories of hope. So this morning, we hope to bring to your community the stories of hope of people from the FEU family.

    Istorya ng Pag-asa started in 2016. Kinuwento ko na ito kanina kay Sir Gigi at saka kay Dr. Alba. I was featured as an Istorya ng Pag-asa champ in Ayala Museum. While I was there, I was with two other champs. Kilala niyo naman si Hidilyn Diaz, ‘di ba? Hidilyn Diaz at that time was a bronze medalist in the Rio Olympics for weightlifting. Napaka-inspiring iyong kuwento niya kasi she comes from a very poor family from Mindanao and she wanted to be good at something. Hindi ko alam kung bakit nakuha niyang to be good at something like weightlifting. She was being discouraged by her family because they said that training is very expensive and they could not afford it. But Hidilyn was very persistent. Ang ginawa niya, sa likod lang ng bahay, gumawa siya ng ano iyon, ng weights. Sabi niya, ano lang siya, ano iyon, parang stick—parang wooden stick—and mayroong dalawang lata ng gatas from both ends; mayroong semento sa loob—sementong pinatigas. So can you imagine? Iyon iyong kaniyang pina-praktisan. And when she was in high school, she was discovered by the school. So the school started sending her sa mga palaro. And then she was able to go to Palarong Pambansa and then she was discovered there. Sa Palarong Pambansa, she got a gold medal and she was recruited to the Philippine Team. Noong nakita ko siya, she was very small, parang napaka-mighty. And we all know that lately, she won a gold, ‘di ba? In the recent, ano ba iyon, recent Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

    The other person who was there with us is Nanay Lorna. Siya iyong babae sa taas. Si Nanay Lorna is a turon vendor from Quezon City. Pero iyong kuwento niya, she has four children. Matagal na matagal na nagkasakit iyong kaniyang husband so she took care of her husband for many years until he died. So she was a single parent. Talagang naglalako siya ng turon. But she was able to send all her children to school. One is already a teacher, another is a nurse, the other is graduating from law school. Pero that morning that she was there, she was with her bunso. And her bunso was studying Intarmed in UP Manila. So… hindi ko alam kung familiar kayo with that program pero super, super difficult to get in. Pero nakakatuwa kasi turon vendor lang siya. In fact, after she was featured, mayroon siyang kaunting puwesto, na-demolish. So wala na siyang puwesto ulit ngayon, naglalako na ulit siya ng turon.

    But after the event, parang I was so inspired when I went back but I did nothing about it. Until a few months siguro—I don’t know—siguro a few months after, I was invited to an event organized by very young people and young professionals. The event was called, “Let Us Change the Conversation.” I did not know what it was all about. I just knew that it was an event for the youth. But when I was there, iyon pala, parang ang sabi ng mga kabataan who organized the event, “We want to do something already because there is so much negativity in our country. So much bashing, mga trolls online, and we don’t want to be part of it. We already want to change the conversation.” So very inspiring, ‘di ba? But when I went home, parang nahiya ako sa sarili ko. Siguro most of you know that I have been also the object of too much bashing but I was not doing something about it. And then I thought of Istorya ng Pag-asa again. The event was, “Istorya ng Pagbasa, Istorya ng Pag-asa.” So I talked to the organizers and asked them if we can adopt the Istorya ng Pag-asa part and they agreed. So that was the birth of Istorya ng Pag-asa for our office.

    Since we launched the program, the Istorya ng Pag-asa became a roving photo gallery. Parang iyong nakita natin sa baba. It became a roving photo gallery that featured the courage, the faith, the generosity, and the resilience of ordinary Filipinos. So ang fini-feature, mga ordinaryong Pilipino who have undergone tremendous struggles but have emerged triumphant kaya tamang-tama iyong adversity quotient ni Professor Ed kasi our Istorya ng Pag-asa champs, talagang iyong adversity quotient, mataas. So ang sabi po namin, hindi maaring hayaan na natin na magkawatak-watak iyong bayan natin dahil sa away-away. So again, you have to do something about it. We were inspired by the conversations we had with the young people. And we decided to partner with schools, we decided to partner with institutions. So over the past two years, we strove to change the conversation one story, one community, and one region at a time. We went from province to province, city to city, even overseas. Kapag may official travel ako overseas and alam ko maraming Pilipino, hinahanap namin iyong inspiring stories because there are just so many.

    So we initially started Istorya ng Pag-asa with 20 Istorya ng Pag-asa champs. Now we have over 400. So ganoon ka-inspiring iyong kuwento ng mga Pilipino. We already launched Istorya ng Pag-asa in many areas around the country—Baguio, the City of Manila, Quezon City, Cavite, of course, Naga City where I come from, Daet, Camarines Norte, Tabaco and Legazpi in Albay, Sorsogon, Puerto Princesa, Palawan; in the Visayas, Cebu City and Cebu Province – hiwalay pa, iba iyong partners namin sa Cebu City, iba iyong partners namin sa Cebu Province; and then we already launched in Negros Occidental, in Bacolod, Negros Oriental also in Dumaguete, and we’ve partnered with many schools; and the province of Capiz, recently lang iyon, and in Iloilo—in Iloilo, our partner is Assumption, in Bacolod naman, La Salle, in Dumaguete, Siliman University, in Cagayan de Oro, Xavier University. So we partner with schools kasi alam namin na iyong mga schools talagang hotbed for inspiring stories.

    We celebrated our first year anniversary in November of 2017. And when we celebrated our anniversary, we wanted to take it a step further. Kasi dati roving photo gallery lang ‘di ba? So we wanted a short film festival. So during our first anniversary—also in Ayala Museum—we launched Istorya ng Pag-asa Short Film Festival in partnership with Ayala Foundation. So iyong short film festival, we asked for entries for non-professional storytellers, ano lang three- to five-minute video of inspiring stories. Nagulat kami kasi akala namin wala masyadong mapi-pick up, but we got so many entries. And the entries, talagang super, super gaganda. We wanted to highlight the 10 best stories but we ended up recognizing 15 kasi sobrang hirap pumili and—si Giana napanood na ito—pero we want to show you, parang just two of the three-minute videos, makita niyo lang. Kasi we want to show the students or anyone from FEU to join because we have already launched our second year of Istorya ng Pag-asa festival.

    One of the memorable entries we received was “Ang Biyahe ni Marlon,” that’s the title of the film. It is a compelling story about an Uber driver. Ito Uber pa siya pero ngayon, Grab na siya. [laughter] Si Marlon kasi—you will see in the movie—si Marlon, mayroon siyang sakit. Ang sakit niya, Tourette Syndrome. In-explain ito sa movie kung alam niyo. Kasi after namin siya fineature, na-feature na rin siya sa ibang TV shows, na-pick up iyong story. Pero ang Tourette syndrome, iyong may ticks; iyong parating na-e-epilepsy attack and natatakot iyong mga pasahero niya. But ipapakita namin sa inyo how—this is the film that won the best, parang first place. Pero napakainspiring na story ni Marlon. Let’s watch.

    [“Ang Biyahe ni Marlon” plays] [applause]

    Ito, the second film is a little different. Kasi si John-John, iyong featured sa second film, is still a work in progress. Si John-John is a boy from Tondo. I think he is 12 now. When this was shot, he was only 11. Iyong kuwento niya, iniwan siya ng both parents sa lola. And every time he would look for his parent—na-opera siya sa kidney—every time he would look for the parent, sasabihin ng Lola niya, “Nasa Negros,” ay, “Nasa Iloilo,” yata, “Nasa Panay,” iyong kaniyang Nanay, walang pamasahe pabalik. So ito si John-John, nagda-dive siya every morning in the murky waters of Manila Bay para maghanap ng mga barya. Iniipon niya ito. That’s why the title of the film is “Alkansiya” kasi iniipon niya iyong, pa-minsan, nakaka-five pesos a day siya. Ang kuwento niya, three pesos iniipon niya, iyong two pesos baon niya sa school. And he was doing that to save for the fare of his Mom. We’re helping him now. He has been reunited with the mother. We’re helping him now. One time, pinasyal namin siya sa Kidzania. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Kidzania. Sobrang na-enjoy niya. I was with him the half of the day. My staff was with him the entire day. Gusto niyang maging pulis paglaki niya. Pero again, he’s a work in progress. But we wanted to show you. This film is one of the 15 finalists. Hindi siya nakasama doon sa Top 3 but we just wanted to show you because it’s a little different from the rest. So let’s watch “Alkansiya.”

    [“Alkansiya” plays] [applause]

    Ayan, that is John-John’s story. And last November during our second anniversary, like what I said earlier, we launched the second year of Istorya ng Pag-asa Film Festival. Kaya I would like to take this opportunity to invite the students and the members of the FEU community to send us your three to five-minute videos of extraordinary stories of hope. Hindi na kayo maghahanap kasi may 20 na tayo na ifi-feature ngayon. So ito, for non-professionals. Kahit hindi naman filmmaker, non-professionals. You can even do the video using your mobile phones.

    Just like Marlon and John-John, we have with us this morning 20 members of the Ateneo—ay, [laughter], iyong last event ko kasi Ateneo—FEU community who exemplified the amazing ability of Filipinos to thrive even in the face of the greatest odds. I was reading their stories yesterday. Bakasyon kahapon eh. I was reading their stories and very, very inspiring. Normally po, kapag mayroon kaming Istorya ng Pag-asa launch, kasi 20 lahat, nag-e-example lang kami ng tatlo. Pero sinabihan ko kahapon iyong staff, 20 na. Iksian na lang natin pero 20 na iyong i-kuwento natin kasi lahat, parang mahirap magpili lang ng tatlo.

    So the very first Istorya ng Pag-asa champ that we will feature today is First Lieutenant Frederick Savellano. Nabisita ko siya sa wake niya. His mother is here. He was among the heroes who died in the battle during the Marawi siege in 2017. Nasaan iyong Mom ni—ayan, nandito iyong, and Dad. Can we stand up po? Can we stand up? [applause] Bayaning tunay. Napakacompelling ng story how he died kasi kinuwe-kuwento ng mga kasama niya—I’ve been to Marawi several times. Kinuwe-kuwento noong mga kasama niya na siya iyong opisyal. They were already being bombarded with bullets. Nakaalis na siya doon sa lugar na delikado pero na-realize niya na mayroong naiwan. Mayroong naiwan na member of his team, binalikan niya. Siya iyong namatay. Na-save niya iyong members of his team. So tunay na bayani si First Lieutenant John Frederick Savellano. Ang palayaw niya, Borgi. Ang tawag sa kaniya sa klase, Borgi. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and worked as a nurse before he joined the AFP. So palakpakan natin—First Lieutenant John Frederick Savellano. [applause]

    Iyong pangalawa naman, I don’t know if he’s here already. I know he’s on his way but his coach is here—si Arwind Santos. Arwind Santos arrived at the FEU as a scrawny 18-year-old high school graduate from Pampanga with nothing but a dream. Ang dala-dala lang niya, pangarap niya. He was very small for his age, pero ito iyong hindi ko ma-imagine: he was very small for his age but he did not let this limit his dreams. He turned to sports where he learned that discipline, hardwork, and steadfast faith can overcome physical limitations. During his four years of playing for FEU, he won the UAAP Rookie of the Year in 2002 to UAAP MVP Awards, three Best Defensive Player awards, three Mythical Team awards, and most important of all, three hard-fought UAAP championships, so palakpakan natin si Arwind. [applause] Can we ask his coach—nandito pa ba si Coach? Ayan. Kasi si Coach has been very instrumental in—iyan, Coach, pasabi na lang po kay Arwind na maraming salamat sa inspirasyon. Palakpakan po natin si Coach. [applause] Thank you.

    The third one is Janelle Frayna. She took up BS Psychology. Ayan, palakpakan natin si Janelle. [applause] Noong binabasa ko iyong kuwento niya, nagulat ako na nakita ko siya kanina kasi very young pa pala si Janelle. She graduated class valedictorian in 2017. Napakahusay. She started to make a name for herself when she was winning chess tournaments as a member of the FEU-Diliman juniors’ chess team. In September of 2016, Janelle became the Philippines’ first woman grandmaster. Ayon. [applause] Nakakatindig-balahibo. Parang kapag tiningnan mo si Janelle, parang napakahinhin. Parang hindi siya grandmaster. Kaya nagulat ako noong nakita ko siya kanina kasi she’s still very young. Ayan.

    The fourth one is Lemuel Silvestre. Nasaan si Lemuel? Can you please stand up and—[applause] Napaka-inspiring din ng story nito ni Lemuel. Lemuel was one of the 2014 Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines awardees. He continues to pursue his advocacies in education through theater and experimental learning system. So palakpakan natin si Lemuel. [applause]

    Stephanie Gaña, where’s Stephanie? Palakpakan natin si Stephanie. Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor or Elementary Education Major in Special Education in college. She founded the Balay Dunong project—a tutorial program at the Hospicio de San Jose. Ayon. Alam na alam ko, Stephanie, iyong Hospicio kasi graduate ng DC school. So sister school namin iyong Daughters of Charity. Sister school namin iyong Hospicio de San Jose. And she is now a public school teacher in Gugu Elementary School in Samal, Bataan. Nako, napakahusay. Palakpakan natin si Stephanie. [applause]

    Si Kebyn naman, nasaan si Kebyn? Can you please stand up? Kebyn Villarino—ay, bakit ka nandiyan, Kebyn?—si Kebyn, ayan, Kebyn Villarino graduate magna cum laude, ayon, [applause] with a degree in Business Administration Major in Internal Auditing. During his college years, he had to sleep in the homes of his friends to save money and finish his college education. Nakikitulog-tulog lang pero magna cum laude. But Kebyn never lost hope and fought with determination. He performed very well in school and was a consistent academic scholar. He is now an audit assistant manager at a BPO company and is back in FEU as a college instructor. Palakpakan natin si Kebyn. [applause]

    The next one is Syrine Gladys Podadera. Nasaan si Syrine? She is not here with us but is represented by Nefem Rodes Fuentes. Palakpakan natin si Nefem. [applause] Syrine is the founder of Parkinsons Diaries and The Diaries Project which aimed to provide an online platform for people from all walks of life to share personal stories. So swak sa Istorya ng Pag-asa. She is currently working as a volunteer for a French NGO based in Cebu—kaya pala wala siya kasi nasa Cebu siya—teaching public speaking and essay writing to underprivileged students. Ayan, napakahusay. Palakpakan ho ulit natin si Syrine. [applause]

    The next one is Ronalyn Pordan. Ayan, si Ronalyn. Isa ding—nagulat din ako kasi napakabata ba. [applause] Ronalyn Pordan is also one of the 2016 Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. You’re familiar naman with TOSP ‘di ba? Talagang iyong mga nagti-TOSP iyong mga sobrang gagaling. She founded the Marikit Movement—an organization that aims to teach young girls self-defense and gender and media literacy. In 2016, she was awarded with GMA Network Excellence Award for her advocacy on women empowerment. Nako, dapat maki-partner kami sa iyo. Kakausapin ka namin later on because we also advocate women empowerment. So palakpakan ulit natin si Ronalyn. [applause]

    The next one—kilala niyo rin ito—si Jose Cabaltera. Nasaan siya? [applause] Jose Cabaltera is the FEU Bookstore Manager and has been working with FEU since 2011. At the age of 18, he got into an accident which resulted to a spinal injury. But Jose never allowed his disability to stop him from pursuing his passion. He has since opened five bookstores—two in FEU Manila and three in other campuses. Nako, papaano kaya iyong ginagawa ni Jose Cabaltera? Pero isa ka sa mga pinaka-popular na INP champs kasi nakikita ka nila parati. So palakpakan natin, Mr. Jose Cabaltera. [applause]

    The next one is Engineer Christopher Dalid. Where’s Christopher? Palakpakan natin si Christopher. He is a 2016 Electronics Engineering graduate but was diagnosed with stage 5 chronic kidney disease. But despite his health condition, he persevered in his studies and eventually fulfilled his dream of becoming an engineer. During his college days, his mother would bring him to school and would wait for long hours until he finished his classes. Dapat ito pati iyong Mom niya awardee din. Nandito iyong Mom niya. Where’s Arnell’s Mom? Ayan. [applause] Kaya din nakaya ni Engineer Arnell iyong kaniyang kahirapan kasi napakatiyaga noong Nanay. He is now working in FEU Manila and continues to be an inspiration to the community. Kaya palakpakan natin si Engineer Arnell Christopher Dalid. [applause] Nagwa-wonder ako: ngayon bang working na siya, sinasamahan niyo pa rin, Ma’am? Sometimes. Oh, kapag nagda-dialysis siya sinasamahan pero napaka-inspiring ‘di ba?

    The next one is Phoebe Blas. Nasaan si Phoebe? [applause] Ayon. Si Phoebe—ang babata din, ang babata—graduated with a degree of Architecture in 2015. She is an advocate for sustainable living and shares her daily vlogs that feature all her daily efforts on trash reduction. Hindi pa kita nafa-follow. Hahanapin na kita mamaya—Phoebe Blas. Aside from being a full-time architect with Ayala Land Premier, she continues to share her advocacy with members from various local communities. Pero hindi mo ma-imagine, ano, na architect na pala si Phoebe, napakabatang tignan. Palakpakan ulit natin siya. [applause]

    And ito, si Hazel—hindi ko alam paano i-pronounce ito—Baek—si Hazel Baek. Hazel, palakpakan natin si Hazel, [applause] is a graduate of Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in English. She advocates for accessible education and stands for multi-cultural sensitivity. She founded an organization called, “Kinaya,” which aims to help Filipino street children and provide support to financially-challenged tertiary students—wow, napakaganda nitong project mo. Palakpakan ulit natin si Hazel. [applause]

    Ito naman, kilala niyo rin, si Doctor Emmanuel Gonzales. [applause] Si Dr. Emmanuel Gonzales has been teaching in FEU for 20 years, grabe, 20 years already and he is currently the program head of the Language and Literature Department. In October of 2018, he was awarded—one of the awardees for the Ulirang Guro sa Filipino ng Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. Ayon. Ayon sa kaniya, and I quote, “Naging sandata ko sa kahirapan ng buhay ang edukasyon. Ang pagtuturo sa atin ay isang paglilingkod sa aking kapwa upang mabigyan sila ng sapat na edukasyon na kinakailangan upang labanan ang kahirapan.” Napakahusay, ‘di ba? Parating natutuwa ako kapag may fini-feature tayo na parang si Dr. Gonzales kasi marami ring mga estudyante lalo sa mga probinsya na nag-a-undergo talaga ng sobrang kahirapan. When we feature stories like yours, iisipin nila na, “Siya nga nalampasan niya and look where he is now. Kaya din namin.” Kaya maraming salamat Dr. Gonzales. Palakpakan po natin siya. [applause]

    Ito, kilalang-kilala rin sa FEU community—Jaylord Calumba. [applause] Jaylord Calumba is a 25-year-old elevator operator and became famous for his Tagalog rendition of the song “Despacito” [laughter] that went viral on different social media platforms. Dapat may another event tayo na iyong ifi-feature natin si Jaylord. Through hard work and sacrifice, he was able to put up his own bakery business and provide for his family in Negros Oriental. Nako, napakahusay. Siguro, tuwang-tuwa iyong parents ni Jaylord. Palakpakan po natin siya. [applause]

    The next one is Christopher Valentin. Where’s Christopher? Wala pa siya? But he is—he’s not here but he is represented by Arvin Carlos. Where’s Arvin? Ayan, si Arvin Carlos. Siya iyong nagre-represent kay Christopher. Christopher Valentin’s ultimate dream was to become a doctor. With the help of a scholarship grant from FEU, he finished his studies and graduated with—hulaan niyo—summa cum laude—with a degree in Psychology. Nako. He is now in fourth year medical school and plans to give back to the Filipino community by volunteering in various medical missions and working in depressed areas. Grabe, ano? Natapos because of a scholarship. Grabe rin iyong hirap na pinagdaanan but he graduated summa cum laude and now, he is in medical school. Fourth year na so ga-graduate na siya. Magiging doctor na. Sana pagbalik ko sa FEU guest na natin si Christopher—sabihin mo, Arvin, ha—kapag doktor na siya. Ayon.

    The next one—ito, nagulat din ako sobrang bata—is Chezka Gonzales-Garrido. Chezka, please stand up. [applause] Si Chezka is already a mother of two kids. At the early age of 16, she got pregnant and according to her, one university refused to accept her because of her condition. But she never gave up on her dreams, pursued her studies in FEU, and eventually graduated. After becoming a registered nurse in 2012—nurse siya—tapos nag-work siya as flight attendant—naging stewardess. From nurse to stewardess. Flight attendant siya. And there, she rekindled her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut and took up flying lessons during her day off. She is now a commercial pilot at AirAsia. [applause] Grabe, ano, grabe iyong kuwento ni Chezka. Nabuntis ng maaga pero nag-pursue ng college, naging nurse, nurse na hindi pa na-kuntento, nag-flight attendant tapos ngayon, pilot na. Kapag ina-announce, Chezka—sumasakay din ako sa AirAsia, madalas ako mag-biyahe all over the Philippines—kapag ina-announce pala iyong pilot at co-pilot, parati kong papakinggan kasi baka ikaw iyon. So palakpakan natin si Chezka. [applause] Sobrang bata niya pa, ‘di ba? Sobrang bata pa niya pero ang dami na niyang narating.

    Jayvee Badile? Badile? Jayvee Badile is a multi-awarded financial adviser and sales manager. Is Jayvee here? Jayvee? [applause] Tinatanong ko kay Jayvee kanina kung brand niya iyong Red. Sabi niya, oo. Kaya ano, tamang tama kasi Chinese New Year kahapon [laughter] at saka tamang-tama sa track na sinunod niya—financial adviser at sales manager. He is multi-awarded. His life story was featured in ABS-CBN’s Maalaala mo Kaya. At a young age, he worked at a fireworks factory, sold kakanin to the neighborhood, peddled cigarettes in streets and worked as a jeepney barker just to earn a living. At the age of 26, he became the insurance industry’s youngest sales manager. He now travels around the world and has been able to give his family a life he would only imagine when he was younger. Grabe, ano. Palakpakan natin si Jayvee. [applause] Iyon iyong sinasabi ko: iyong mga nagdadaan sa matinding hirap, dapat nalalaman iyong mga kuwento niyo to give inspiration and may papangarapin. Ang iba kasi minsan ang feeling nila, hindi na sila magsa-succeed. So listening to your stories, napakaganda.

    Ito, nakilala ko siya kasi ginuest ko siya sa aking radio show—Rhussel Famy. [applause] Palakpakan natin si Rhussel. Si Rhussel sobrang bata din ‘di ba? Si Rhussel is a graduate of BA in Communications. But aside from youth empowerment, he also advocates for information accuracy and social media literacy. He is the founder of Project Pinta. Alam niyo iyong Project Pinta? Napaka-inspiring kasi si Rhussel would go to the poorest of communities. Nagdadala siya ng t-shirts saka pinta saka—tapos pinapapinta niya sa mga bata iyong dreams nila for the future, their aspirations. So iyong Project Pinta, ganoon iyong ginagawa ni Rhussel na sabi ni Rhussel, parang parating may pag-asa sa puso ng mga kabataan. Kapag nakikita nila iyong kanilang pininta, maaalala nila na ito iyong goal that I want to achieve. So palakpakan natin si Rhussel. [applause] Si Rhussel has been recruiting volunteers to go with him and to share his advocacy. Since its launching last year, the organization has received several recognitions such as the 2018 Young Leaders’ Conference and Young SDG Champion awards. So palakpakan ulit natin si Rhussel. [applause]

    Ito, last batch, Kristine Asuncion. Si Kristine—Kristine, please stand—ayan, isa ring napakabata [applause]. Si Kristine is a 2018 BS Nursing graduate. In 2016, she began volunteering in Botolan, Zambales to provide medical care to the local aeta community. During one of her visits, she discovered that many aeta children suffered from primary complex and malnutrition and that majority of the population did not have any vaccinations. Iyon iyong problema natin ngayon, ‘di ba, kasi ang daming namamatay sa measles kasi natakot magpa-bakuna. Since then, she has returned to the community with other volunteers to teach them about healthy, hygiene, and disease prevention. They also have built a potable drinking station in the school to reduce cases of diarrhea and other skin diseases since most kids drink from our artesian well. Napakaganda ni Kristine ‘di ba pero nagse-serve siya doon sa aeta community. I’ve been there and I also met them. Kailangan na kailangan talaga ng tulong. Palakpakan po natin si Kristine. [applause]

    And last but not the least, Mikko Zarsuelo. Where’s Mikko? Ayan, si Mikko, palakpakan natin. [applause] He’s a graduate of the FEU Institute of Education. An active student leader, he is now a teacher-fellow at Teach for the Philippines. Ang Teach for the Philippines is our partner also in our Angat Buhay program and napakahusay nila. He believes that education, public or private, is everyone’s business. And according to him, and I quote: “Bilang produkto ng public school, naniniwala ako sa potensyal at talento na taglay ng ating mga mag-aaral sa pampublikong paaralan. Pinili kong magturo at muling pasukin ang mundo ng public school dahil naniniwala ako na ito ay nag-uumapaw sa potensyal at pag-asa.” Palakpakan po ulit natin si Mikko. [applause]

    Listening to the stories of our 20 Istorya ng Pag-asa champs, masasabi natin na ang kuwento ng bawat Pilipino ay kuwento ng pag-asa. Everywhere we go, talagang we are able to gather very, very inspiring stories. Ito, wala na tayong time pero mayroon kaming na-feature, sa Naga siya. Sa Naga siya, mahusay sa klase, naging drug addict. Inubos niya lahat: binenta iyong gamit ng pamilya. He was ready to die already. Natutulog siya sa mga chapel ng barangay kasi wala na siyang mauwian, hiniwalayan na siya ng asawa at anak. Wala siyang mapuntahan. Alam niyo, nakapag-aral siya because it was only FEU that took him in. Papakilala ko sa inyo, Attorney Giana. Ang pangalan niya ay Ray—anong apelyido niya? Nobleza. Si Ray Nobleza is okay now. He has a school in Cebu and he has been helping recovering drug addicts. Very inspiring story. In fact, with him, parang we wanted a special run where people who had been drug addicts before but— si Ray iyong… si Ray iyong mukha noon. Ang kuwento niya, may naging kaibigan siya, I think, Dean, dito. Wala nang tumatanggap sa kaniya kahit sino pero tila naging kaibigan niya. Girl eh. Nako, hindi ko alam. But during his testimonial, iyon iyong kaniyang kinuwento. So he graduated from FEU and he has been clean ever since, living a very good life in Cebu already. In fact, I was with him last Saturday. Last Saturday, we were in Naga because there was also a big event where some of our Istorya ng Pag-asa champs were featured. So kung nakikita lang ng FEU, we would like to thank them because some of the stories here, parang kayo iyong tumiwala sa kanila na makapag-aral ulit and we all know that education is really a game-changer.

    So, amid all the negativity, the chaos, and the divisiveness around us, we find comfort that we can become a country where people are united around common values of hope, perseverance, and deep faith in the goodness of humanity. So iyon iyong pinaka-tinatanong kami: bakit kayo gumagawa ng proyekto na may Istorya ng Pag-asa? Kasi we think that this can be a, ‘di ba, this can be a uniting activity for all of us no matter our political affiliations, iyong common talaga iyong goodness of humanity. And we want to feature your stories because your stories are—you give inspiration and hope to many of our kababayans.

    So thank you for the inspiration, thank you for a live well lived, this will inspire so many others to follow your path, and we would like to thank the FEU family for agreeing to partner with us in this endeavour. Maraming salamat po. Magandang umaga ulit. [applause]

    Posted in Speeches on Feb 06, 2019