Posted on 2004

MBV's Speech Delivered during the UP College of Business Administration Alumni Homecoming 2004 & Unveiling of UPCBA Undergraduate Studies Center Marker

Dr. Francisco Nemenzo, the Distinguished
President of the University of the Philippines,
Chancellor Emerlinda Roman, the Equally
Distinguished Successor to Dr. Nemenzo and
Who Shall be the First Woman President of the
University of the Philippines,
Representative Cynthia Villar, the Chairperson of
The Committee on Education of the House of
Representatives and Who was My Classmate in
the UP College of Business Administration a Few Years Ago,
Golden, Sapphire, Ruby, Coral, Pearl and Silver Jubilarians
Awardees and Honorees,
My Fellow Alumni,
Friends:

When I was still a young student in the UP College of Business Administration at the time of the First Quarter Storm, when all that mattered then was to try to change the structure of society in order to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, one familiar song we recall was “My Cup Runneth Over” made popular by the Ray Conniff Singers. I remember a haunting line – “… in only a moment we both would be old, we don’t notice time running cold.”

The truth of that line has never been as clear to me as it is now. For indeed, by looking back, all of us cannot fail to notice how much we have become older and how much of time has left our grasp. If we just focus on the process of growing older, of the time of our youth losing its warmth, then there is nothing to be happy about.

There is no rejoicing over a sense of loss. But there is celebration for every milestone carved, for every victory gained.

It is in this spirit that we joyfully revisit our shared past in the College of Administration, and from that point note how far we have gone.

Guided by what we have learned in formal class hours, when our restless minds began to appreciate the pleasure of getting things done and doing them right, we embarked on our respective journeys. Each one charted his or her own course.

Some of us joined the corporate world and established a presence there. Those with so much free spirit and sense of daring chose to become entrepreneurs. A few preferred to serve in academe. Others submitted themselves directly to the people and got elected as public officials.

We cannot grade the comparative merits of the various roads taken. Any sincere effort to be of service to others by way of sharing knowledge and skills so that society becomes a little bit better is already an achievement in itself.

We are all achievers only to the extent of responding to the challenge to be relevant always. This passion for relevance, more than the pursuit of excellence, is what makes the UP College of Business Administration proud of its alumni.

Relevance as a point of reference has acquired a deeper meaning for me since I became a national legislator. As a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, I began to see clearly what nationhood entails.

All sectors and individual units in our society are so interrelated and interconnected that only by combining our energies, talents and other resources can we progress as a nation. This nationalist perspective is enhanced for me in the Senate.

A nationalist outlook must redefine the meaning of relevance. Consequently, our relevance as graduates of our beloved alma mater should be measured by the degree of our commitment to relate everything we do to the greater good of the national community.

In spite of the speed with which the forces of globalization are sweeping across the world with the dismantling of trade barriers, a nationalist perspective is timely, necessary and beneficial.

Nationalism is not outmoded. It will never be irrelevant. It did not die with Recto, Laurel, Diokno and Tañada.

Nationalism today does not mean that we must adopt a parochial attitude in our relations with the rest of the global community. It does not imply that we have to close our doors to the challenges and the opportunities of a borderless global economy. It does not suggest at all that we must be overprotective of our own industries to the exclusion of foreign investors.

Placing the interest of the nation in the affairs of government and in the life of civil society is what nationalism is all about. When the nationalist sentiment is shared by all, no national burden is too heavy, no national dream is impossible. In fact, when love of bayan is pervasive, many become bayani, and kabayanihan spreads as a way of life.

With these thoughts, let me now add to the honors which the College of Business Administration is giving by inviting you to address your collective experience and wisdom directly to the challenge of national development.

Beyond acts of generosity already extended to this institution, not to mention many more that will follow, why don’t we set our sights farther and higher?

With the threat of global competition battering our shores, what can we all do to enhance our competitiveness? How do we strengthen our comparative advantage? How do we turn out world-class workers, technicians and professionals?

How do we energize our human resources? How do we learn from the successes or our neighbors in Asia? What can we do to make the implementors of government policies more people-oriented, results-driven, cost-efficient, and time-bound? Are there better ways to fight corruption in the government?

Can we help more entrepreneurs at the micro level so that we can unleash the latent creative potentials of so many Filipinos?

Some may say that many of these concerns are not within our direct and immediate responsibility. Others may think that paying taxes correctly and religiously and contributing to alumni fund raising projects are already sufficient in themselves.

But there is greater nobility in doing more than what is ordinary and in extending our reach beyond the limits of what has already achieved.

To the alumni of the UP College of Administration to whom much has been given in terms of quality education, much more is expected from them.

Each one of us is in a position to make a difference in the life of our nation.

This springs from our understanding of the mission of the University of the Philippines as a whole. Every college or institute within the UP system is generally acknowledged as a center of excellence.

But excellence is never an end in itself. It acquires a meaning only when seen as a means towards the fulfillment of an overriding institutional vision. The social dimension of excellence demands that we must do more for the nation of which we are all stakeholders.

How we make ourselves more directly relevant to the pressing needs of the nation is best left to the enlightened judgment of each one of us.

I do not have a detailed road map to national relevance.

What I wish to suggest is the moral compass of nationalism which emits a beacon of light as society drifts amidst the waves of cynicism and despair.

The UP College of Business Administration cannot add anything more to what she has generously given us. She can be appreciative of what we have offered her in return as indeed she is.

Perhaps one way seeing the significance of today’s event of honoring alumni who have distinguished themselves in their respective shares of excellence is to ask ourselves what else we can do to make this college always proud of us. What else must we do to add greater honor and glory to the UP College of Business Administration?

Seen in the context of what this suffering nation needs urgently, our best efforts so far are not good enough.

MARAMING SALAMAT PO!

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