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“A Heroic Life”
by Gabriela M. Francisco
My fellow Filipinos:
We tread on hallowed ground. We walk in the company of heroes. Within these same corridors and classrooms that have seen better days, we cram for tests, eat fishballs and tapsilog from Rodic’s, grab a few minutes of much needed sleep. However, we are not alone. Hush a while. Listen. Can’t you feel the lingering presence of martyrs and student activists, the intangible yet undeniable left-over vestiges of genius, youthful idealism and passionate patriotism? Past presidents of the country and National Artists who have since passed away – heroes all, in their own right – are with us still.
One national hero who strikes me as being very U.P. is Apolinario Mabini. I’m pretty sure that had U.P. been in existence back then, he would have been one of the first students or professors lecturing here, living up to his title of being “The Brains of the Revolution.”
The Ateneo had Jose Rizal, and had he lived today, we can picture him sitting in a Starbucks café, surrounded by piles of books and typing away furiously at a laptop. Antonio Luna would have fit right in with the future generals at the PMA. It takes little effort to imagine him dressed in fatigues, huffing and puffing as he jogged up an uphill path in the City of Pines.
But Apolinario Mabini is purely U.P. Born to a poor family who could barely make both ends meet, this man has been described by Arthur MacArthur as “a highly educated young man who, unfortunately, is paralyzed. He has a classical education, a very flexible, imaginative mind… He is a dreamy man, but has a very firm character and of very high accomplishments. He would undoubtedly be of great use in the future of those islands.”
Apolinario Mabini wrote in his Decalogue:
“Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor and more than thyself: for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in this life, the only patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors and the only hope of thy posterity.”
He goes on to say:
“Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thy own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice and of labor: for if she be happy, thou, together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy.”
I choose to share Mabini’s words because I feel that this is what UP graduates need to hear. Written over a century ago, his words still ring true today.
From the very first, beginning with the orientation given us as freshmen and expounded upon in our G.E. classes, our egos have been nourished with sayings such as “We are the best of the best, the crème de la crème.” But always, always, accompanied by the reminder to whom we owe our education: to our country and to our people. I imagine that this held true even a century ago, that professors have unceasingly preached this heady blend of flattery and reminder from the first time UP opened its gates to the best and the brightest of Filipino students.
In generations past, it was relatively easier to pick a side. Nationwide issues weren’t as muddied up as they are now, with hundreds of shades of grey to choose from and no longer simply in black and white. It is no wonder that many students are confused when they come here fresh from the province or that conservative high school, only to find themselves in a melting pot of diverse beliefs and dogmas, with each group having its defenders and detractors, forcing them to CHOOSE! And they must choose a side quickly or remain a fence-sitter, a bystander at the fringes of unfolding history.
A lot of us have experienced the pressure to join rallies and boycott classes, or risk being called “indifferent” and “apathetic.” But such censure is neither fair nor complete if in sticking to one’s studies, by faithfully going to class and attending lectures, by fulfilling the mission given to oneself in the meantime, one always keeps in mind that time spent away from one’s studies is the money of one’s less fortunate countrymen gone to waste.
Showing one’s patriotism isn’t limited to the rallying, the battle cries and the marching on the streets. There is a patriotism of a quieter sort, the patriotism I see in my less fortunate classmates who skip meals just so they can have enough fare money to come to class. There is the patriotism of the athlete from the College of Human Kinetics, who comes to training barefooted, not having enough money to purchase a new pair of shoes, so he can do a good job representing the country in a competition abroad.
There is patriotism and courage in hundreds of such UP students who fully appreciate the gift they’ve been given and value their education such that they will not let horrendous traffic, nor floods brought about by typhoons, nor incredible distances, nor any lack of resources to prevent them from coming to school. Such dedication and commitment in the face of adversity cannot be called anything else but “heroic.” This is the heroic patriotism demonstrated by the UP isko in courageously going to school, despite any and all the hardships, garnering excellent marks and graduating at the top of one’s class. But patriotism doesn’t end there. Rather, the true test is how we live our lives AFTER we leave the UP.
One need not look hard nor far for examples of everyday heroism. I see it in our professors, who have forsaken better-paying jobs in order to remain at the UP, mentoring the brightest minds and the brightest beacons of hope for the country. I see it in the brilliant UP grad who goes abroad for higher studies, is given the chance to exchange her visa for a green card, but gives it up to return home so she can spend her most productive years giving back to the country and the people to whom she owes her education. I see it in our parents, who sacrifice greatly so they can pay for the cost of our plates and extra lab fees, sometimes to the point of giving up their dreams so we can have a chance at achieving ours.
In a few minutes, we will be known as UP graduates. We do not have the luxury to choose whether or not to stay in the country, and get paid in paltry pesos when we can be paid the full value of our worth abroad. That choice has already been made for us, and paid for by the blood of our forefathers and the sweat and toil of past generations. From the beginning, our time, and even our very lives, do not belong solely to us. The Filipino people have paid, and paid dearly so we could be educated at the premiere state university. Isn’t it only just that we UP graduates be prepared to do our people the same honor they have shown us?
Like Mabini, others might consider UP graduates paralyzed by circumstance, forced to submit to the tyranny of materialism and the call to migrate abroad in order to have a “better life.”
But, like Mabini, I pray that we learn to rise above the constrictions of fortune, that we do not let the hindrances of our present circumstances dictate the outcome of our future. I pray that, as we leave college and strike out on our own, reaching for our dreams, we do not forget to place our dreams in the setting of home and hearth.
I urge you, fellow graduates and fellow Filipinos, to make this solemn pledge with me to uphold the core values of excellence, leadership and service that UP has instilled in us. Make the commitment, the one I’m swearing to right now, to offer your country and your people, your all… for your country and your people deserve nothing less.
May we all lead heroic lives worthy of the title “Iskolar ng Bayan” conferred on us, and worthy of the name “Filipino.”
Mabuhay ka, Iskolar ng Bayan… Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan!
A pleasant evening to all.
Teacher Gabi completed the three summer course in Musicianship, Methodology and Conducting and received her Certificate of Teaching Music with Kodaly Emphasis on April 23, 2010. The course was conducted at the U.P. College of Music and their main instructor was Dr. Laszlo Nemes . Dr. Laszlo Nemes is the Director of the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music and Acting Chair of the Music Pedagogy Department of the Academy of Hungary.
UP Diliman has 15 top honors
Fifteen students received the highest academic honors of summa cum laude at the 97th General Commencement Exercises of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) held on April 27 at the University Amphitheater.
The summa cum laude is awarded to graduates with a general weighted average (GWA) of l.20 or better. Of the top honors, three were conferred the degree of Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BS MBB); another three a degree in Bachelor of Science in Economics (BS Econ) while two received the degree Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BS Ch E).
Leading the more than 4,000 graduates was Daryl Patrick G. Evangelista, BS Econ with a GWA of 1.072, followed by Jerome de Castro Sanchez, Bachelor of Arts in European Languages (1.083) and Bernadette Lopez, Bachelor of Science in Business Economics (1.109). The other summa cum laude graduates were: Carla Kathryn D. Co, BS Ch E (1.122); Ma. Ana Micaela G. Chua, Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature (1.148); Christina Lora M. Leyson, BS MBB (1.164); Glaiza Lyn A. Tan, BS MBB (1.168); Andrea Francesca M. Salvador, BS MBB (1.172) and Dan Christian de Ocampo Llaneta, BS Computer Science (1.174).
Two candidates had a GWA of 1.176, namely Gabriela M. Francisco, Bachelor of Music in Voice and Marione Allen R. Ozaeta, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. The other top honors were: Brylle Lewylle S. Baluyot, BS Econ (1.177); Marian Angelica K. Panganiban, BS Econ (1.183); Dennis Cristoffer B. Tagaza, BS Ch E (1.187) and Dorothy Anne B. Caligado, Bachelor of Science in Statistics (1.199).
Francisco delivered the response on behalf of the graduating class.
In February, Francisco and Co received UPD’s Gawad Chanselor Natatanging Mag-Aaral award. Leyson and Llaneta, on the other hand, were among the recipients of the 2008 BPI –DOST Science Awards.
The commencement rites carried the theme “100 Years of Excellence, Leadership and Service” in celebration of the University’s centenary and featured UP Regent Abraham F. Sarmiento.
Source: U.P. Diliman web site: www.upd.edu.ph
Gabriela M. Francisco, (RMM GS Batch 1999), graduated "Summa Cum Laude" from the University of the Philippines, Diliman with a degree of Bachelor of Music, major in Voice. The UP College of Music graduation was on April 24, 2008 while the University graduation was on April 27, 2008. She was also chosen to give the Valedictory Address during the UP Centennial graduation ceremonies.
Miss Gabi was also recently awarded as a "Gawad Chanselor Para Sa Natatanging Mag-aaral". With her in photo from the left are: Dean Ramon Acoymo of the UP College of Music and UP Diliman Chancellor Cao and Vice Chancellor Enriquez.
Miss Gabriela M. Francisco also spearheaded a fund-raising activity for the scholarship project of Ex Libris Philippines through a repeat performance of her graduation recital - the Italian opera "Don Pasquale". With her in the photo is the cast together with U.P. President Emerlinda Roman.
Talk about loyalty. Ms. Gabriela M. Francisco or also known as Teacher Gabi, returns to her alma mater (RMM Grade School Batch 1999)in order to share her knowledge with the students of RMM. She took up a 5 year course on Music, major in voice at the University of the Philippines Diliman and just graduated last April. She was one of the Centennial Summa Cum Laudes, and was chosen to deliver the valedictory address for both the college and university commencement exercises. She was also one of the two Centennial Gawad Chancellor awardees, and an awardee of the Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society. Teacher Gabi likes to read during her free time and enjoys spending time with her family. She also enjoys attending book sharing sessions with her friends from Ex Libris Philippines, an NGO that she co-founded. She is also an officer of the UP Sangkil Karasak Arnis Club. Of course, she loves to sing and play the piano although she considers herself a frustrated pianist because she can’t sight read very well.
Natasha M. Francisco, RMM grade school batch 1999, graduated magna cum laude from UP Diliman in 2007 with a degree in Creative Writing. She taught in the Ateneo de Manila High School as an English teacher for two years. When she is not teaching, she is either writing for magazines, attending to Ex Libris Philippines, an NGO for book enthusiasts which she co-founded, and singing as a soloist in musical events. She has a high brown belt in taekwondo, and was a member of both the swimming and the taekwondo varsity teams in high school, as well as a chorale soloist. She was one of the finalists in the 2007 World Bank Essay Writing Competition, and won first, second and third place in two genres of writing in the 2007 UP Amelia Lapena Bonifacio Writing Competition. She was a semi-finalist in the 2003 NAMCYA Competition, a nationwide competition for music artists, Solo Voice Category. In her grade school years, she won the gold in the 1999 BAPPSA Declaiming Competition. Now known as "Teacher Tata", she is a Casa assistant directress and teaches English to the Grade Six, High School Sophomores and Juniors.