Opinion: ‘Recognize that you are privileged’

Bachelor of Arts in Communication Magna Cum Laude Thale Joy Escuton originally delivered this commencement speech titled “Uy, ‘Lika’t Simulan 2019” during the 44th Commencement Exercises on July 18. 


Thank you, Mr. Bongcaron. To our honorable Brother President – Br. Gus L. Boquer, FSC, EdD, guest speaker Mr. Enrique Atayde, our vice chancellors, esteemed administrators and faculty, staff, parents, distinguished guests, and my fellow Lasallians, good morning.


Have you ever wondered who you want to be when you grow older? Is the program you finished today still part of your childhood dream? When I was a kid, at first, I wanted to become a doctor, just like our friends from CSCS here, right? Then came high school. By then, I was pretty much aware of my parents’ financial status and taking an expensive course for a long period of time would not be viable. In millennial terms, “In this economy?” So, to be practical, I thought I would become a CPA, but I knew for sure it was not what I really wanted.


Then came college applications. I realized, it didn’t really matter what program I would take, but the road I traverse after. Never mind our titles, but what do we do with them after college?


To make the long story short, these were just a few of my very first struggles here as I entered college, and I am sure you had yours too. These are what we call “hassles.” For some, we experienced hassles as we skipped lunch or breakfast because the next class was coming right up; or hassle because our first subject was at JFH then the next was at GDO and we couldn’t see a glimpse of Jeep Ikot; or hassle because when we got home, our parents would tell us to wash the dishes every after dinner; or the hassle of a heavy traffic jam.


Who commutes here everyday? Majority, right? I live in Laguna, so I had to stay in a dormitory. I reckon my very first night was full of melancholy and homesickness. There was even this one time I called my mother and said, “Ma, I’m sorry, ma… Ayaw ko na dito. Diyan na lang ako sa bahay. Sobrang lungkot.” I computed that we would spend a lot more if I stayed in the dormitory. My mom just said, “Anak, ikaw ang bahala. Basta ‘wag mong iwawala yung Tupperware na pinadala ko sa’yo, ha. Kundi, hindi ka na papasok sa iskul.”


I had to make a choice. Of course, I chose to stay, but half-heartedly. But as time went by, I noticed how tired my classmates from afar were that they could not learn properly while in class; or how they would submit our Schoolbook assessments late because they had to travel for long hours. I slowly realized how my “hassles” were too little compared to those of other people. As I read the everyday news, I learned about the hassle of people who have to contend with only two meals a day; the hassle of the fishermen stripped off of their livelihood in the West Philippine Sea; the hassle of journalists with the alarming continuous rise of impunity in the country; the hassle of farmers battling to get their promised land; the hassle of blue-collar workers who still have to go through contractualization; the hassle of gender stereotyping and discrimination; the hassle of not having access to basic resources like water; and many, many more hassles.


These are just merely news for us but are real-life experiences for many Filipinos. We slowly reckon that we are privileged. I am privileged because I have the option I want for comfort. Some are privileged because they do not have to travel several kilometers just to get to school. And every single one of us wearing this toga is privileged for we have been provided an opportunity to finish our studies in a reputable institution.

These are just merely news for us but are real-life experiences for many Filipinos. We slowly reckon that we are privileged. I am privileged because I have the option I want for comfort.

As we step out of this university, the choice we made during college applications would also be the choice we make today. It is up to us if we will make a living or we will live a life worth living. I can say things for you to be inspired and motivated in achieving your own dreams, but today, I am calling for you to not just recognize that you are privileged – but to think about how you would use that privilege in helping others.


When I wrote this speech, I was afraid it would be too political. But in this society, nothing should ever be apolitical. We enrolled and thrived in CLAC for a reason. We, Lasallians have a heart for people. We study humanities, but we also know how to become humane. We have been immersed in different cultures that we understand how diverse people are. We help create liberal reforms. We aid in building an inclusive society.


Being a Lasallian is to teach minds, touch hearts, and transform lives. We did not just learn the core values of faith, service, and communion. We are more than the “lozol” students who the internet mirrors as someone who pays credit card to jeepney drivers. With the several student scholars in DLSU-D, we are genuine Lasallians who recognize help because it has done something for us. Lasallians are people who know how to give back.


And speaking of giving back, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who helped us wear these black robes. Our professors who tirelessly guided us all the way through, thank you so much. The staff and administrators, thank you. Our blockmates, and friends, some of whom we just met on our final year in college, thank you for being part of our journey. The Lord God Almighty, and of course, our dearest and selfless families. I request a round of applause for these heroes.


Sa pagkuha natin ng ating batselorya, balik na naman tayo sa umpisa, tinatanong sa ating mga sarili ang kagaya ng aking pasimulang tanong na ‘sino ba ang gusto kong maging pagdating ng araw?’


Paglabas ng pamantasan, nawa’y bitbit natin hindi lamang ang mga pinagdaanan natin kundi ang pinagdaraanan ng ating mga kababayan. Dalhin natin hindi lamang ang mga pangarap natin para sa ating mga sarili kundi pati ang adhika para sa mga pinahihirapan ng lipunan, at alipin ng mapagmatang bayan.


Huwag kang mangarap nang tulog, dahil ang kailangan ng mundo say’o ay ang gumising at mamulat. Mangarap ka para sa iyong sarili ngunit isama mo ang ibang hindi natanggalan ng piring. Tayong mga magsisipag-tapos ngayon ay ang magsisipag na tapusin ang kawalan ng katarungan, pandaraya, hindi pagkakapantay-pantay, diskriminasyon, korapsyon, at kung anu-ano pang inhustisiya na namumukaw sa ating bansa. Tumulong ka sa iba at magsilbing instrumento tungo sa ikauunlad ng bayan. Gamitin mo ang iyong diploma upang maging pintura para sa napakagandang obra maestra ng mundo.


#ULS2019 as in Uy, “Lika’t Simulan 2019.” ULS as in Uy, “Lika’t Simulan ang pagbabago,” o di kaya naman ay Uy, ‘Likat Simulan na ang pagtulong.” Kayo na ang magbigay ng karugtong. Hiling ko lang ay sana ngayong ULS 2019, “Uy, ‘Likat Samahan ninyo ako, babaguhin natin ang mundo”. Mabuhay, Batch 2019! Inaasahan tayo ng bayan. Congratulations, and Animo La Salle!

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