Supreme Court of the Philippines Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, commencement speaker of Pagtatapos 2019, contextualized his question by telling the UP Baguio (UPB) graduating class that, in the course of their careers, many professionals “lose appreciation of the social value of their profession.” He explained that “somewhere along the way, convenience takes the form of pragmatic silence. Expediency overwhelms conscience.”
Leonen urged the 423-strong UPB Class of 2019, “Be better than us. Make your existence more meaningful. Do not allow yourselves to be silenced. Do not be silent in the face of injustice. Do not succumb to the temptation of having more than just enough. Do not trade kindness with the false badges of success. When you come into power, discharge it for the public trust that it is. Do not temper principle with pragmatism. Do not hide behind comfortable acquiescence. Do not seek comfort at critical times. This will just disguise your complicity. Do not further enable and empower the status quo. Do not enrich yourself at the cost of others.”
To empower themselves and their communities “against the machinations of the powerful,” he asked the graduates to: read, analyze, understand, and be critical; engage others through conversation, not through digital media but face-to-face discussions; act on their beliefs; not look for and depend on heroes and heroines; and, have the courage to speak up.
The lone summa cum laude graduate, Kenworth Bryle Bal-iyang, earlier delivered a message on behalf of the graduating class. In his address, he shared his reflections on what makes the Iskolar ng Bayan excellent: critical thinking and grit. And as they were about to go from being students to alumni, Bal-iyang told his fellow graduates that if fellow alumni “do not live up to [our] values of honor and excellence, it is up to us to remind them of their obligations to the nation.”
Lil Abner Aquino, magna cum laude graduate of BA Language and Literature, spoke during the Ritwal ng Pagtatanglaw, a UP Baguio graduation tradition symbolizing the pursuit and sharing of knowledge. The flame of a single candle is used to light other candles, which in turn light up more candles, until all the candles held by the members of the graduating class have been lit. Tanglaw is a Filipino word for torch or source of light or illumination.
Aquino emphasized that he and his fellow graduates will fight for a better society and for the Filipino nation’s progress. Selfless service, sacrifice, the offering of oneself to the country—those are what it means to genuinely be a source of light in society, he said.
Pagtatapos 2019 was held on June 24 at the CAP-John Hay Trade and Cultural Center, Camp John Hay.
Of the 423 graduates, 413 earned undergraduate degrees and 10 were conferred master’s degrees. Joining Bal-iyang in the honor roll were five magna cum laude graduates and 54 cum laude graduates. The breakdown of graduates per college was as follows: 124 from the College of Arts and Communication; 161 from the College of Science; and, 138 from the College of Social Sciences.
Here are other photos of Pagtatapos 2019.