Aquino relives college days, thanks Ateneo for help
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday, June 25, delivered his last formal speech as the nation's leader before the graduating class of his alma mater, Ateneo de Manila University.
In 2011, Aquino, who was then barely a year in office, also delivered a commencement speech at the Ateneo.
Aquino admitted he felt the "pressure" to make his last speech as president memorable from nearly all quarters – the media and even his friends and family. In fact, he said his speech had 3 versions.
In his nearly 20-minute speech, Aquino had fond memories of days spent in the university. He mentioned student experiences any Atenean could relate to – going to the Church inside the campus, philosophy oral exams, and the cafeteria.
"Tiyak ko rin po sa tuwing oral exam sa Philosophy, nariyan pa rin ang mga gurong matindi ang poker face. Meron din namang bawa't salita mo ay may reaksyon sa mukha nila. Hindi ka tuloy sigurado kung tama o mali ang sinasabi mo," Aquino said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
(I'm also sure that everytime there's an oral exam in Philosophy, there are professors with poker faces. There are also those who react each to every word you say. You end up wondering whether what you are saying is right or wrong.)
"Marami ka pa ring matututunan kahit nasa labas ka ng classroom. Noong araw po namin dito, sa cafeteria, natuto kami ng isang mahalagang aral sa marketing. Dumating noon ang panahon na maraming estudyante ng Biology ang nagda-dissect ng pusa sa kanila pong klase. 'Yun din po ang eksaktong panahon na nagsimulang magbenta ng siopao ang cafeteria. Wala pong bumili. Doon namin nalaman na mahalaga ang timing sa paglalabas ng produkto," Aquino quipped.
(You can still learn a lot outside the classroom. During our days here, at the cafeteria, we learned a very valuable lesson in marketing. There was a time when many Biology students were dissecting cats in their class. That was also the exact time when the cafeteria started selling siopai. No one bought. That's when we found out about the importance of timing in releasing a product.)
Knowing that most members of his audience are millennials, Aquino made sure to relate to them by mentioning new technologies and applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Netflix.
"Noong panahon po ng mga magulang ko, ang entertainment po nila ay naiikot lamang sa radyo at sine. At sa sine, may kategoryang tinatawag na cliffhanger. Binibitin po ang aksyon at malalaman mo ang susunod matapos ang dalawang linggo pagbalik mo sa sinehan. Kayo na sanay na sanay sa Netflix, baka mabuang sa tagal ng paghihintay," he said.
(During the time of my parents, their entertainment focused mainly on radio and cinema. In the movies, there is a category called cliffhanger, where the action is suspended and you would have to wait for two weeks to return to the theater to find out what happens next. You who are so used to Netflix would likely go crazy waiting.)
The outgoing president, turning serious, took the chance to express gratitude to the university for helping him in the past 6 years of his administration. Special mention was the university's stand against revisionism on martial law.
"Sa puntong ito, gusto kong pasalamatan ang mga Atenistang nakiambag nitong mga nakaraang taon. Hindi nagkulang sa pakikilahok ang Ateneo community sa anumang diskursong bumabalot sa lipunan. Nang may mga pilit na ipinapalimot sa atin ang bangungot ng Martial Law, isa ang Ateneo sa mga unang naglabas ng kolektibong pahayag," Aquino said.
(At this point, I want to thank Ateneans who helped in the past years. The Ateneo community never failed to be a part of any social discourse. When there were others who were forcing us to forget the nightmares of Martial Law, Ateneo was among the first to release a collective statement.)
The President graduated from the university in 1981 with a degree in Economics. He, however, failed to attend his college graduation as he had to leave the Philippines with his family upon obtaining an exit visa. He left 5 days before the graduation ceremony, as he said his parents feared that the permit would be retracted.
Aquino also acknowledged that many Ateneo graduates opted to join government despite low salaries. Many of his Cabinet members are Ateneo graduates as well.
"Sa totoo lang, kung sinasabi ninyong na-inspire kayo sa akin, tutugon naman ako: Nagsilbi rin kayong bukal ng inspirasyon naman para sa akin."
(The truth is, if you say you are inspired by me, I will reply: you also served as a fountain of inspiration for me.)
Men and women for others
Aquino likewise thanked his alma mater for all the lessons he learned while in the university.
Saying the school prepared him for life outside, Aquino urged graduates to apply their learnings to the real world.
"Lahat ng pinagdaanan niyo dito sa Ateneo...ay paghahanda para sa mas malawak at mas masalimuot na mundo ng pagiging tao-para-sa-kapwa. Itong graduation ninyo ay tanda ng inyong tagumpay sa kontroladong mundo ng Loyola Heights. Anuman ang landas na inyong piliin, huwag niyo sanang kalimutan ang lahat ng ibinahagi sa inyo dito sa Ateneo," he said.
(All experiences you had here in Ateneo are preparation for the broader and more complex world of being men and women for others. This graduation is a symbol of your success in the controlled world of Loyola Heights. Whatever path you choose, I hope you do not forget the lessons you were taught here in Ateneo.)
Even with all the good words for his alma mater, Aquino posed a challenge to the graduates of the prestigious university. He urged them to be one with others and not just be mere spectators in an "ivory tower."
"Hindi tayo nagsanay para lang magkulong sa isang ivory tower. Hindi para sa sarili lang ang tuon ng kaalamang nakalap natin dito. Down from the hill: kasama, kahalubilo ng ating mga kapwa, upang maging kasangkapan ng Panginoon. Palagi, sa kapwa ang tuon. Sa kalakhang mundo. Dahil tayo ay men and women for others," Aquino said, reiterating the school's motto.
(We did not study just to confine ourselves in an ivory tower. Whatever we learned here is not just for ourselves. Down from the hill: Together with our fellowmen, to be instruments of our Lord. Always, focused on others. In the entire world. Because we are men and women for others.) – Rappler.com