UP CMC Valedictorian speech by Jose Luis Pablo / 28 April 2013
Dean Roland Tolentino; Professor Randy Jay Solis, College Secretary; Professor Jane Vinculado and the Broadcast Communication faculty; Dr. Florinda Mateo and the Communication Research faculty; Professor Roehl Jamon and the Film faculty; Professor Lucia Tangi and the Journalism faculty; Dr. Arminda Santiago and the Graduate Studies faculty; Ms. Marites Vitug; Ms. Ma. Teresa Pacis; administrators, staff, parents, friends, guests, batchmates:
Good morning to you all and thank you once again for attending this occasion.
The thing about culminations, endings and beginnings is that everything that can be said about them has already been said and that makes delivering a graduation speech free of clichés an almost impossible task. So I will try to be as sincere as I can because it’s the only thing I can promise to be.
The first part of my speech will be devoted to a couple of the innumerable lessons I acquired in UP. For this, allow me to quote excerpts from another speech I wrote last year but was never able to deliver.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about the UP education is that it cannot be separated from the education of society and the society of education. What do I mean by this?
First is the society of education. In my four years in UP, I’ve come to see the university as something transcendent of the academic institution. It is not merely a school; it is actually a community. And I’m not pertaining solely to the fact that UP has churches, a medical facility, residential areas, et cetera. The spirit of honor and excellence is embodied in the work of the officials, staff, faculty, and student body. This is a consoling fact because this means that you are never really alone. The quest for change is not a burden you have to shoulder by yourself. This was best seen in CMC’s initiative to consolidate MassCommunity, convening faculty, staff and students to partake in meaningful events such as the Maguindanao Massacre Commemoration and the awarding of excellent individuals from Maskom.
Second is the education of society. The classes that I have taken in UP are rarely divorced from learning about the social climate. Our GEs explained to us that concepts like land, science, art or literature are defined by social relations. For CMC, we learn of myriad social theories attempting to explain the world we live and move in. More importantly, however, we had ethics classes and theory class discussions on human agency, suggesting how we can rise above oppression.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the common misconception that UP brainwashes the youth to become aggressive and rowdy activists. People who think this way completely miss the point because this type of thinking begs the question: “Is it so wrong that UP equips its students with the knowledge and training to work towards social change?” The fact is that the UP education opens one’s eyes and consciousness to social ills and atrocities. Once you enter UP, you can’t go back to being ignorant of what’s happening around you. Every aspect of human life is related to the bigger picture. In a broader sense, the classes we enrolled in provide tools and lenses by which we can educate society. It isn’t enough to know about what isn’t working in society; it’s also necessary that we rework these factors.
I may not remember every term or date I have had to memorize for a midterm exam, but there are a handful of lessons that UP has ingrained so deeply in my psyche. For example, my education has showed me that there is never a single perspective when looking at the world. Whether it may be a debate between modernists and post-modernists or functionalists and structuralists, every discipline that has been studied by man has given birth to a plethora of views. With this lesson comes another – that of open-mindedness. If we are to acknowledge that plurality of opinion exists, then respect is the responsibility that accompanies it. Meeting people with opposing views is inevitable in UP as we all come from different backgrounds, different walks of life. It is then a necessity to show the proper respect for these perspectives. On the other hand, this responsibility of respect also entails one to be principled. You have all these views before you, but which among them do you choose? And more importantly, how do you stand up for it in the face of adversity? And this one of the main points I would like to get across: despite the plurality of theories and beliefs we are offered with, it is principle that allows us to act and stand by our actions with a clear conscience. As a wise mentor once told me, “Kapag naubos na ang teorya, balik lang sa puso.” I believe that the heart he was referring to is more than emotion. That heart is the principle we cling to when we’re confronted with difficult choices. It is principle that drives us to action despite defeatist thoughts that may plague us. However, principle is dead when it has no end. Principle for the sake of principle is futile. Principle for merely one’s self is egotistical. Principle for something beyond one’s self shows character.
So I ask you this: “Why did you study? Why did you stay in UP to get a degree?” Is it because you don’t want to waste taxpayers’ money? Or is it because getting good grades means getting that dream job? Those are valid reasons but given the education UP has provided you with, are these enough? The more important questions are: “Who do we fight for? For whom did we toil for four or more years? Who were your principles for?”
Of course, we have our own answers to these questions. No doubt, our inner social circles would occupy our minds first. We owe so much to our friends and family and they have been our greatest motivators. But the UP education teaches us that we cannot and should not remain with the familiar just because it is comfortable. So we step out of our comfort zones to render service to our countrymen, no matter how difficult it may be.
We shoot our productions for the marginalized sectors of society, for those whose rights are trampled upon, whose cries are stifled by those who are deemed to be more important than them, that their voices may rise up and finally be heard.
We continue searching for and defending the truth for all the journalists and media practitioners who have lost their lives in doing so.
We write our papers and articles for the Kristel Tejadas who are denied their right to receive a good education.
We struggle with our research for the Lordei Hinas who become undeserving victims of a vicious system that drives people to commit acts of violence.
We stand as one for the Maricon Montajeses who are unjustly divested of their freedom to practice their craft and art in the service of the people.
In the end, a genuine UP graduate never forgets who he/she is supposed to serve. Even if they are stripped of their shiny medals and grandiose titles, iskos and iskas are supposed to be, at their very cores, people who never forget their principles and the purpose behind those principles. After all, even in the UP motto, honor always comes first before excellence.
The second and final part of my speech deals with a feeling that I became all too familiar with in my stay in UP. Perhaps dread and despair are valid guesses but that’s just because I have a lot of feelings. I am talking about gratitude and the following are the people who deserve our thanks the most:
We are grateful for the Higher Belief or Being that has guided us and given us the strength to carry on. I thank God for the grace He has provided me in every tribulation and the endless blessings He continues to grant me. To God be all the glory.
We are grateful for our families for all the love and support. I thank my parents for instilling in me the love for work over love for grades, the love of God over the love of pleasure and the love for others over the love for self. I never say it enough but you two are the greatest examples of integrity and principle that I have ever seen. I thank my siblings for staying up with me almost every night and for keeping me awake for every major paper or project. Our super profound debates over grow and glow foods and other bonding moments have made me who I am today.
We thank the CMC Administration for their wisdom in overseeing all CMC activities and for ensuring that the college is always in tip-top condition. We thank all members of the staff who have become our friends and for calmly assisting us in our productions, classes and org events.
We thank our beloved faculty for being our trusted and excellent mentors and for challenging us to be the media practitioners we want to see in the industry. We thank our thesis advisers for devoting their time, talents and knowledge in helping us come up with legacies we are proud to leave in CMC. I thank Sir Eli Guieb for being a life adviser as well. His words, “Kung may kapasidad ang media gumawa ng tanga, may kapasidad rin ito gumawa ng tao” will be my battle cry as I trek the unfamiliar territory of employment. I thank the bELIbers for all the words of encouragement and all the conversations that temporarily distracted me from the despair of sleep deprivation. We were there for each other and we never “Guieb” up.
We thank our Student Council for coming up with socially relevant projects that also benefited us CMC students. We thank our orgs and orgmates for opening us up to a world outside academics and for giving us a chance to serve selflessly. I thank UP Broadcasters’ Guild for showing me that an org’s relevance is not measured by the number of its members but by its heart. I attended my first strike where I delivered my first solidarity statement because of the Guilders’ determination to support battles that needed to be fought. Thank you for all the socio-civic experiences.
We thank our batchmates for making Maskom a noisy second home. I applaud your dedication and passion. I’ve witnessed first-hand that even an inferno isn’t enough to faze you from your work. Sumablay na rin tayo sa wakas nang buhay.
We thank our friends and barkadas for always being there for us with helpful advice and warm embraces. I thank Amici Club for being the best groupmates in and out of the classroom. I look forward to making waves of change with you. And of course, thank you, TOSH for having my back in almost-bar fights and for replacing cries of desperation over untouched readings with convulsions of laughter. You have proven to me that friendship, if it is genuine, can transcend any demarcations that society places between individuals.
We thank Vox 2013 for organizing batch events that culminate today in this ceremony that is filled with so much pride and gratitude. I’ve only worked with you for less than a year but I can say that I learned so much from you.
Before I end, I want you all to realize how fortunate you are to be graduates from the College of Mass Communication of UP Diliman – home to three CHED centers of excellence and an esteemed institute. But also realize that you have to make an effort to give back to the Philippines. Make use of that diploma as a principled Maskom graduate who knows what he or she is fighting for. With all this said, I can say that I am a proud graduate of UP Maskom and a proud member of this batch. Alam ko kasi na lahat tayo bilang mga gradweyt na mapagpalaya ay sama-samang kikilos tungo sa midya na tunay na malaya.
Thank you all once again.