Philippine Normal University
Taft Avenue, Manila
March 20, 2009, 8:30 a.m.
Main Building Auditorium
THEME: “Education for Social Transformation in an Interconnected World”
Speech of: Aaron A. Tolentino
Bachelor of Secondary Education, major in Social Science
With Specialization in Campus Writing and Advising
Jose Rizal Most Outstanding Student Leader of the Year Awardee
Student Government Leadership Awardee
Distinguished Guest Speaker, Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, University officials headed by Atty. Lutgardo B. Barbo, beloved Professors, Parents, co-awardees, batch mates, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant morning to everyone.
Receiving this highest co-curricular award on leadership is very prestigious yet, it is not entirely mine. Let me start by thanking the Almighty God who has been my stronghold and refuge in times of difficulties and struggles in life, for allowing me to stand before you today. To my parents, who nurtured me with their love and comfort; to my sister and relatives for their continuous support; to my dear Professors who equipped me with the essential knowledge and skills that I may utilize in the future; to the administrators and staff who always welcome and assist me in all my needs in the organization; to my colleagues in the Student Government, Creative Educator Society, PNU-Geografika and the Social Science Club for the experiences and teamwork we have shared; to my best friend, special friends, and peers who always understood and accepted me despite my numerous shortcomings.
Being the recipient of the Jose Rizal Most Outstanding Student Leader of the Year award entails, like Spiderman, a serious responsibility. I venture that this responsibility includes continuing the legacy of PNU as a premier Teacher Training Institution. And to me, this means developing teachers who will work for a better world and who will advance education for personal renewal and social transformation. But what makes PNU as the National University for Teacher Education? What do graduates of PNU like Justice Amy Lazaro – Javier and Nene Guevarra have in common? What is the distinctive character of PNU education?
Is it the conducive academic environment that promotes the full flowing of our potentials? Is it the variety of cultural exposure that develops the humanistic dimension of a teacher? Is it the rigorous training in the classroom and co-curricular activities initiated by caring professors and administrators with a compelling vision to remain as a national center of excellence in teacher education? Is it our peers, our barkada support system in our common journey towards excellence? I say yes, to all of the above. But to continue this legacy has never been easy for the days are full of challenges that confront us, our country, and the world.
I want to share an insight I gained from a poem that, to me, reverberates of the sin of omission, many of us are guilty of. “We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values; we talk too much, love too seldom and lie to often; we’ve been all the way to the moon and go back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor; we’ve cleaned up the air but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice; we’ve learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but never friends; more effort, but less success.”
The world is gripped by the specter of human rights violations from ethnic cleansing in intolerant communities down to corporal punishments inside the classrooms. Green house effects have sent warm signals around the world while the seemingly innocuous littering in the streets remain a way of life. The age-old inequalities of the developed and underdeveloped countries continue to divide peoples, and many among us lack even the cheapest transportation fare to attend our classes. President Barak Obama notwithstanding, racial discrimination remain a palpable reality. I wonder, just how many among us will scrimp at having to seat beside someone of color or person of different persuasion.
As education leaders, how should we respond to these challenges? How can we be an agent for social transformation?
As I’ve experienced, these can be addressed to, if we, future leaders of our country will have knowledge and essential information to guide us where to start, if we can identify entry points for possible breakthrough; if we acquire the necessary values and virtues, good quality habits of the mind and strong dispositions; and if we can participate to move towards action in changing society’s systemic characteristics, be it in restructuring the technological, economic, political and cultural spheres.
As teachers, we can instill consciousness, and teach our students the concepts of equality, regardless of sex, gender, social class, creed, race or even ethnicity and practice this in their everyday lives; teach them development while protecting our environment; and moreover, to promote peace and understanding in our communities. In other words, we have to match our teaching with practice, by living what we preach.
As the youth leaders of today, we are expected to be vanguards of a moral revolution in the midst of global economic crisis caused by corporate greed and as the nation desperately searches for a new messiah in 2010 to deliver us from corruption and moral decadence. We, the top graduates of Batch ’09 must respond positively and creatively to these challenges of our times. The holistic education we got from PNU adequately prepared us to the tasks ahead. Finally, we draw inspiration from our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal and a leading educator from Brazil Paulo Freire who by consistency of their lives and works call us forcefully than ever before, to return to hope and dreams as essential elements if humanity is to have a future.
As a Social Science major, I fully adhere to their critical ideas to be truly committed to truth, justice, excellence, and service to others. For there is no change without a dream and no dream without hope.
Now, I challenge you, my co-PNUans, do not be overwhelmed by formidable challenges that confront us today, but be motivated to be part of smaller changes that we can contribute today for the larger change we may expect in the future. Let us start now, let us prove that we are the hope of our homeland. Let us stand united, committed enough to transform our society.
On this note, I end this short reflection by saying: “Kung nais nating mabago ang ating mundo, kailangang magsimula muna ito sa ating mga sarili, at makikita ninyo na sa mga susunod na panahon ay unti-unti na ring magbabago ang ating lipunan, ang ating bansa, at ang buong mundo.”
“Sa ano mang hamon sa hinaharap, palagi nating isaisip, isapuso at isagawa na ‘Kaya ng Pinoy’, ‘Kaya natin to’, ‘Kaya ng PNUan’. Mabuhay ang Batch 2009!