The University of the Philippines in Mindanao saw its biggest batch of graduates so far at its 21st Commencement Exercises, held on June 26, 2018 at the Atrium of the Administration Building in Mintal, Davao City.
UP Mindanao Class of 2018 numbered 250, and produced eight magna cum laudes, including valedictory speaker and BS Computer Science graduate Cherrie Me Andrea E. Sun, and 59 cum laude graduates. This brings UP Mindanao’s total number of graduates to date to 3,072, according to Chancellor Sylvia B. Concepcion. In her message, the chancellor reminded this year’s crop of iskolar ng bayan: “It is your turn to pay forward through service to the Filipino people.” She added that the graduates, through their own example and exemplary practice, should “strengthen the belief among fellow Mindanawons that it is in quality education in UP Mindanao that the true path to a state of empowerment can be discerned.”
Joining the graduates was Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, who was conferred a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, by UP President Danilo Concepcion at the event. Secretary de la Peña was UP System vice-president for Planning and Development when the original committee was constituted in August 1994 to study the feasibility of establishing a UP campus in Mindanao. Dela Peña was a member of that committee. In his commencement address, he regaled the audience with his recollections of UP Mindanao’s history. He recalled how then UP President Emil Q. Javier and Davao Congressman Elias Lopez pushed for the bill to establish UP Mindanao, leading to the signing of Republic Act 7889, formally creating UP Mindanao on February 20, 1995.
Sec. de la Peña also reminisced about having his picture taken with the first student dormers in UP Mindanao, UP Mindanao’s first commencement exercise in 1997 held for its first batch of Master of Management and Master of Urban and Regional Planning graduates, and the Bago Oshiro campus which had been part of the Bureau of Plant Industry, and the present campus in Tugbok, previously occupied by the 52nd Engineering Brigade of the AFP. He gave credit to the UP alumni of Davao who were instrumental in the establishment of UP’s sixth campus and who also established the UP Mindanao Foundation, Inc.; as well as to UP Mindanao’s pioneering faculty, including its first Chancellor Rogelio Cuyno, Prof. Marcy Dans Lee, Dr. Dulce Flores who established UP Mindanao’s Food Technology program, and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nilo Oponda. Finally, Sec. de la Peña also cited several prominent products of UP Mindanao, including Palanca awardee Errol A. Merquita, Davao City Counselor Antoinette Principe, doctorate degree-holder in Mathematics and UP Mindanao faculty member, Dr. Ritchie May Gamot, DOST Region XI Director Anthony Sales, and DOST Director in Compostela Valley Kenneth Barroga.
Aside from recalling UP Mindanao’s history, Sec. de la Peña also shared his own experiences as a fresh UP Chemical Engineering graduate starting out in the world to work. He passed on some lessons he learned from his experiences. First, if you’ve found the job you want to do or need to shift careers, it is best to do it before the age of 30. Second, be clear about your definition of success. And third, if the opportunity to do what you love presents itself—no matter how challenging it may seem at first—always say yes.
Finally, Sec. de la Peña also briefly described the current national administration’s thrusts toward promoting science and technology and the DOST’s programs, all of which aim to reduce inequality at every level, and to create new opportunities, whether in technopreneurship, capacity-building, or through DOST scholarships.
Cherrie Me Andrea E. Sun, who received the Chancellor’s Medal for Academic Excellence, urged her fellow graduates to continue to uphold what it means to be an iskolar ng bayan. “As iskolar ng bayan, we should go the extra mile. No matter where you are in life by that time—be it the manager of a big company, a village doctor, a volunteer or a government officer—remember our calling. Remember our mission. More than collecting memories that will put a smile on your face, use your abilities, serve the people, in order to collect the memories of the smiling faces of your countrymen. And we can do it together.” (Celeste Llaneta, UP MPRO)