PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa, in her Commencement Speech to the graduates of the UP Diliman College of Home Economics held on the 21st of April at the campus' Cine Adarna Theater, called-on the graduates to “live to shine”. Dir. Verzosa urged the students “to radiate and give of yourself wherever the path leads you as you embark on the next journey in your career and family life”. The PCW family would like to share Dir. Verzosa's well-lauded speech.
CHE Graduates: Live to Shine!
Emmeline L Verzosa, Executive Director
Philippine Commission on Women – Office of the President
Your stint in UP has been so auspicious! Most of you entered in 2008 – the year of the UP Centennial where the theme was “Excellence, Service and Leadership in the Next 100 Years.” And the UP Alumni Association proclaimed: “UP, Ang Galing Mo!”
As you reached your senior or final year last year, the UP College of Home Economics celebrated its Golden Anniversary, coinciding with Teodora Alonso’s death centenary and Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary. So many milestones you have experienced throughout your year in UP! What lessons, inspirations or memories from the heroes and she-roes of the century have you picked up from these events?
CHE graduates, you are called to Live to Shine. As you embark on your next journey in your career and family life, be guided by these simple questions: What is my light? For whom will I shine? Where will I shine? And How?
Early on in life, I was made to believe and internalize that every person has a light burning within -- the light that gives us life; the light that guides and spurs us to action; the light that must be shared.
What is this light?
At the CHE, we were imbued with its educative goals, fundamental knowledge, skills and core values for daily living. As University Professor Emerita Dr Cecilia A Florencio () emphasizes: UPCHE is “the only unit in this university that can lay claim to the study of the elements that sustain life (food, clothing and shelter) and the elements that give meaning to life (relationships within the family, among families, between families and the larger community), for the enhancement of the quality of life and living.” (CHE at 50: Communal Imaging of Its Becoming --On Imagination, Commitment and Courage” Keynote Speech of University Professor Emerita Dr Cecilia A Florencio, delivered during the 2011 Recognition Rites of the UPCHE, April 15, 2011)
The light that we should keep burning comes from the light that CHE has ignited in us. The flame may be big for some and just a tiny spark for others. But big or small, carry this light wherever the road leads you in your personal and professional lives.
This Light comes from an unlimited Source beyond us mortals. The Source referred to in our first educative goal – Love of God.
For whom to shine
So, for whom will I shine then?
I was a product of the 70’s, of protest rallies and demonstrations. My values were molded as well by my extracurricular activities where my organization initiated barrio work… an important experience especially for city dwellers like me to be exposed to the realities on the ground and to socialize with the poor -- pakikisalamuha sa masa – as we called it then. The barrio work experience was meant to deepen one’s faith and take on a preferential option for the poor in one’s life choices.
I specifically chose Community Nutrition as it had a very good balance of science and social development. I looked forward to the last practicum course to experience poverty and hunger and the multiple factors causing them. With limited competencies learned in the four walls of the school, we went to serve and served to learn. Our teachers were the farmers – women and men and children.
Out of college, I had proclaimed I wanted to change society! (I realize now that that cannot be done in a lifetime. Change is happening everyday in exponential terms! But, yes, there has been some progress.) I sought for work that would bring me to rural areas and stayed for three years until I was plucked out by a former professor to help her in her research… but still doing surveys in rural barangays. Each community experience – whether in direct work, research, or now in policy advocacy -- lives forever in my heart serving as embers that remind me of ‘For Whom’ to ignite my light.
Choose for yourself ‘for whom’ you will shine.
Where to Shine
Let us now ask the third question -- Where will I shine?
What a transformation our college and the discipline of Home Economics and its 7 sub-disciplines have become! A college mostly of women, it was a marginal place in the university – not often seen or heard. Our college was known to be the place where women get a degree to become better Home Eco-nanays. But as you can see, a fifth of the graduates in this room will hopefully become better Home Eco-tatays! (And even if you do become nutritionist-dietitians, doctors or hotel and restaurant owners or food scientists – you are not exempted from your shared parenting responsibilities as tatays or titos-to-be!)
But, the stereotype of “Ilaw ng Tahanan” is no longer just for women! It is to be shared by men especially since many competent and enterprising women have become the ‘Haligi ng Tahanan’ as well.
For over two decades – the recognition of women’s worth, their empowerment and pursuit of gender equality… in all fields …is where I have chosen to ignite my light.
Although I have seemingly veered away from the discipline of nutrition, I have put my focus on other determinants of nutritional problems. I realize that the subjects of my advocacy – our clients and issues -- are the very same subjects that the College of Home Economics cater to. The mother discipline of Home Economics after all is about how we seek to understand the multidimensionality of daily living in the context of the home, workplace and community.
CHE has been shining – not just physically as we see its buildings not only scrubbed but also given a face-lift. It was a finalist in the best public service radio program aired through DZUP. It made its presence felt by creatively staging a rally against the budget cut through your BUDGET CUTtoure. And it won in last year’s Lantern Parade!
Kahit saang pakikilahok, dala-dala ang mahalagang mensahe na nasa damdamin at saloobin! Siempre, hindi ka taga UP, kung hindi maipapasok ang issue ng state subsidy! Iyon ang ilaw na tangan ninyo noong Lantern Parade!
At sa usaping state subsidy para sa UP, huwag sana nating kalilimutan na kayo ay mga Iskolar ng Bayan! Bilang Iskolar ng Bayan, may puwang ba sa inyong mga plano ang manilbi para sa taong bayan, lalong lalo na sa mga pamayanang di gaanong naaabot ng mga programa’t serbisyo ng pamahalaan? May puwang ba para manilbihan bilang kawani ng gobyerno?
The government has just announced mandatory kindergarten for all children! I cannot help but think or rather hope that CHE graduates would fill the gap of teachers for Kindergarten!
We have a fragile environment... we are asked to prepare ourselves for any disaster as climates become unpredictable and the earth we stand on may crack or crumble anytime. Will the CHE graduates panic during these times of crisis … or will they be the light showing the way to recovery and rehabilitation? You have been prepared to handle food and nutrition, quantity feeding and catering, clothing and shelter design, livelihood and entrepreneurship, as well as family healing and reuniting – the very skills needed to build resilient communities.
If you have the passion and the heart to care – might you begin an honest to goodness consumer education program or movement alongside environmental protection?
We are interconnected in this earth and in this universe. Whatever we do, individually or as a group, no matter how little, affects the lives of others. How we consume, how we use resources, affects the lives of those who do not have as much.
If you have the courage and commitment, might you lend your voice and uphold the truth to correct injustices and corrupt practices?
“Courage, unused, diminishes. Commitment, unexercised, wanes. Love, unshared, dissipates,” says Anthony Robbins (a self-mastery consultant, Awaken the Giant Within, 1991)
Maaari din ba kayong maging Ilaw ng Pamayanan? O Ilaw ng Bayan?
How to shine
Lastly, let us now ask – How will I shine?
You have already overcome one chapter of your life by earning a degree and look around you -- you are all glowing now.
Your next challenge will be to look for a job or maybe build a family and be a domestic manager. You will be faced with many choices – to marry or not to marry; who to marry; to migrate or stay to serve the country. To choose between a higher paying job that has less meaning or a lower paying job with sure psychic income (such as working in government, an NGO or teaching). You will have a lot of decisions to make through out life. And you will have to weigh those options carefully, considering whether they are aligned with your light and your personal goals.
I hope many opportunities come your way and you make smart choices.
I hope you take the risks. (Parents, allow your children to take some chances and calculated risks. That is the only way they will learn.) Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Roadblocks and challenges only make you stronger.
When you feel lost or desperate, when your light flickers or when it totally snuffs out, seek help. You have your parents, siblings, classmates and all your friends in Facebook to run to. Most importantly, do not forget your teachers and mentors for they are always willing to help.
Never lose hope. Dig in through the embers in your heart and enkindle them. Keep the faith that you will find your way. Go back to the Source.
“The light you seek will make itself so visible when you least expect or run after it.”(Cecilia A Florencio)
And when that light starts shining again, take time to give gratitude to all who have made you who you are and will be. Do not forget your College of Home Economics who molded you to be well-grounded and well-rounded, as Dean Mayo wished you to be.
Way back in 1934, in the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt who was a strong advocate for home economics said in a speech at Cornell University, "I feel I have a right to take pride and particular interest in what happens in the College of Home Economics. To me, it is the most important part of the university, for it concerns the homes of the people of this country." (What was Eleanor Roosevelt’s Relationship with the College of Home Economics” in “ What Was Home Economics?” Cornell University Library http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/homeEc/cases/eleanorroosevelt.html)
Do we here in UP consider our College of Home Economics the most important part of the university? Are we proud to have graduated from the College of Home Economics ready to light up not just the homes, but also the institutions in the Philippines?
Are we proud to say of ourselves, UP na, CHE pa?
Taas noo nga nating isigaw: UP na, CHE pa!
Ang Galing N’yo!
CHE graduates, be the beacon, the guiding light.
Radiate and give of yourself wherever the path leads you!
Let your light shine!
Live to Shine Brighter!