Giving back - a lifelong aspiration for UC graduates

May 20, 2012

Living simply, giving back and living for others, a dogged determination to pursue dreams, yet being responsible enough to admit to mistakes and failures, were the messages delivered to 2,211 graduates of the University of the Cordilleras (UC) in commencement rites held on May 10 and 11.

The commencement speakers - known movers of community development in the Philippines -stressed servant leadership should occupy the graduates' lifelong aspirations.

Ayala Foundation President Victoria Pineda Garchitorena hopes servant leadership becomes part of the individual's quest for success after graduation. She explains this is because only a fraction of the youth in the Philippines is able to graduate in college.

She said excellence established by lifelong learning enables the individual to "serve well" because he or she acquires the "happiness" brought about by a life of service.

Former Ambassador of the Philippines to Germany Bienvenido A. Tan Jr. agrees with present figures that state, only 5% of Filipinos end up graduating in college. Because of this disparity, Tan who founded a development foundation for disadvantaged children called "Children's Hour" told the UC graduates: "You have to make the country a better place for those who will follow you."

Known for his quiet advocacy for the establishment of sustainable community initiatives in the Philippines, Tan said one does "not need a lot of money to make someone else happy." He added, if a graduate can help another person by responding to a need, "then there are 660 people made happy through the initiative of a UC graduate," Tan who spoke before a batch of 660 UC graduates said.

"The challenge is whether or not you will use your education for yourself or include the community in your priorities," Tan said. He urged the graduates not to wait long to be of service. Tan added, a life of service can begin with "small things that can grow." The key, he said, is to "live simply so that others may simply live."

UC Board of Trustees Chairman Jesus Benjamin Salvosa said "to give back" is voluntary on the part of the graduate. He said this is because the individual's choice is governed by the realities of life. "Life is not linear," he said. Storms are bound to come in the course of the graduate's life.

However, the Chairman explained that to give back is a part of the individual's lifelong mission and occurs when he or she is presented with options to enhance a life of materiality with the fulfillment brought about by serving the people.

Nursing graduate Virgo Lopez said "Providence might have sent Mr. Tan to finally convince me that a life of service is the only way to go." Lopez, who is this year's recipient of the 2012 Presidential Citation on Leadership, said he is currently reviewing for the Nursing licensure examinations to be held on June 30.

A perennial volunteer in UC's community initiatives, Lopez said UC instilled in him a "passion and readiness" for service. Lopez hopes that if and when he becomes a registered nurse, he wants to work in the Philippines either as a psychiatric nurse or a public health nurse.

The son of Isabela farmers, Lopez however, took note of the message of Chairman Salvosa and admits that among his priorities is also to improve the conditions of his family and to "give back" to benefactors that helped send him to school.

"But to say that there are no jobs for nurses in the Philippines is not entirely true," Lopez said. "A lot of nurses are needed in the countryside; we just have to be content with working within the means established by our salaries," he said.

Former President of Ateneo de Manila University Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres might have described Lopez' experience when he said "God comes to us in dreams." While he also qualifies "dreams" in the context of human aspirations, he said graduation is also an affirmation that the person is already enabled, and "those who are enabled can now give back and become beacons of hope."

Fr. Nebres explained on the other hand that the reality of mistakes and failures in the course of one's life can be dealt with as long as the person can admit to life's setbacks. To weather life's challenges, the attitude should be that of giving back: "One should have the ability to postpone gratification," Fr. Nebres said.

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Living simply, giving back and living for others, a dogged determination to pursue dreams, yet being responsible enough to admit to mistakes and failures, were the messages delivered to 2,211 graduates of the University of the Cordilleras (UC) in commencement rites held on May 10 and 11.