By Philippine News Agency
BONTOC, Mountain Province — It was his second time to set foot on the upland province when he stood before the 660 graduates of the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College as the guest speaker in the school’s commencement exercises on Tuesday.
But he still adores the mountainous place, just like his first time to come 30 years ago as a law student, admiring the scenic beauty of the tourist spot, Sagada, perched on the northern part of the Philippines.
One thing that strikes Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the most about the place, though, is its people–they seem to have preserved their ethnicity in the age of technology.
So when he spoke to the Igorot graduates, he urged them to be proud of their heritage and keep it while pursuing further learning and embarking into the real world.
“Preserving your heritage as a Filipino ethnic community is one great legacy you owe to the country. The good news is, it lies in your hands,” he said.
Making the concept lighter and easier for the new graduates to digest, the spokesperson of Malacañang taught them an acronym–HERITAGE–which could inspire them to make themselves, their community, and the country as a whole, a better place.
H-harmony for education.
“You need to harmonize your knowledge, skills, and talent in order to be more productive and be of help to your community. You need to develop your competencies, harness your strengths, and work on your weaknesses,” Roque said.
E-endeavor to achieve your goal.
He explained: “The desire to pursue one’s goal is one of our weaknesses. Begin with a goal, be it short, medium, or long-term, then assess your means and capacity. Make an inventory of all the tools you have to reach your goal, then work guided by your goals. Prioritize, do not procrastinate. Keep your goals the end in your mind. Once it is fulfilled, it will give you a different high–a milestone in your professional career.”
R-readiness or willingness to do something that shows maturity.
“A matured person knows how to pick himself up even in dire circumstances. He will not be blinded by his ego, pride, and self-esteem,” he said.
I-integrity anchored on preserving culture and tradition.
“The integrity of your people to be cordial with each other known as ‘dalikan’ is a great practice that signifies your integrity to work together. This integrity is to be a cordial and a closely-knitted family that consults family members on matters and issues is a vanishing trait to some,” he noted.
Roque urged the graduates to keep the practice alive, as the family is the basic unit of society and shapes the person’s values.
“Integrity and love are learned in the family,” he said.
Roque said technology has advantages and disadvantages, but the upside is it makes Filipinos globally competitive.
Roque cited the Duterte administration’s aim of providing all barangays with access to the internet and putting electricity price down.
He also urged the young people to use technology to protect the environment and other forms of livelihood generating resources.
“Huwag lamang gamitin ang teknolohiya sa sobrang posting ng hugot lines at fake news sa social media,” Roque quipped, adding, “I believe you, graduates, that through the benefits of advanced technology, your heritage will be preserved with integrity.”
Roque thanked the graduates for staying in the college that is far from the urban areas and surrounded by mountains of the Cordillera.
He said, “This place looks like heaven and must be preserved. Ancient people believed that the higher ground is a place for gods.”
Saying an assertive person exhibits a self-assured personality, Roque told them: “You are those people. You love your place so much and maintain its beauty. Your ancestors have protected this place against enemies, who were out to take advantage of your resources. You are now enjoying the fruit of their struggles for having a place you are dearly connected with, a place of your own.”
G-generate more educated young people and children.
Roque cited as an example the late Senator Juan Flavier, a native of Baguio City, who went to the barrios to share his skills and served the disadvantaged people in far-flung communities.
Roque said this refers to those who adopt “sipag at tiyaga”, which is a formula for progress.
He said: “Sa inyong mga kabataan na nagsikap upang makapagtapos ng pag-aaral ay maghanap ng magandang trabaho dito sa inyong lugar. Mula sa sipag at tiyaga ay mapapa-unlad natin ang Mountain Province at karatig probinsiya (To you students, who have worked hard to finish a degree, find a job here. From your industry, we can make Mountain Province and its neighboring provinces progressive).”
Roque urged the graduates to use their college degree not only for their own sake, but also to improve the lives of the people in their hometown, and ultimately, the whole country.
“Use your higher education to be an instrument to promote the maintenance of your culture. I am proud of you. The mountaineer people of this school is the same mountaineer people of God.”
Roque also quoted Ifugao columnist Jose Dulnuan in many of his open letters: “I am an Igorot. Let me be treated as I deserve–with respect if I am good, with contempt if I am no good, irrespective of the name I carry. Let the term Igorot remain, and the world use it with the correct meaning attached to it.”
As part of the Duterte administration, he said he would make sure the government supports any endeavor meant to make Mountain Province even a better place.