By Raymund Antonio
The country’s future is not in the hands of one leader because this is the responsibility of everyone, Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo said on Thursday.
“Marami ang ating magagawa kung tayo ay nagkakaisa. Huwag nating iatang ang reponsibilidad sa balikat ng iisa lamang na lider,” said Robredo.
(We can do many things if we are united. We should not put the responsibility only on the shoulder of one leader.)
“Sa ating mga sarili magsisimula ang pagbabago. Hindi iisang tao lamang ang kailangan ng bayang ito para magbago. Hindi iisa kundi bawat isa,” she stressed.
(Change will start within us. The country does not need one person to change. Not one, but everyone.)
The Vice President was the commencement speaker in the senior high school graduation rites of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila Educational System held at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.
The RCAM Educational System is a communion of Christ-centered schools headed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
An advocate for the poor, Robredo told new graduates she hoped they would fight for the rights of marginalized Filipinos and ensure human dignity is protected.
“Lagi ninyong tandaan: kayo ang susunod na henerasyon ng mga doktor, mga abogado, mga guro, mga arkitekto, pulis, sundalo, negosyante, journalist, at lingkod-bayan ng ating bansa. Kapag dumating ang panahon na iyon, piliin sana ninyong maglingkod nang tapat,” she said.
(Always remember: you would be the next generation of doctors, lawyers, teachers, architects, policemen, soldiers, businessmen, journalist and public officials of our country. When that time comes, I hope you choose to faithfully serve.)
“Piliin ninyong ipaglaban ang karapatan ng mahihina at naaapi. Ipagtanggol ninyo ang mga walang boses, at pangalagaan ang dangal ng pagiging isang tunay na Pilipino,” Robredo added.
(Choose to fight for the rights of the powerless and oppressed. Defend who are voiceless and uphold the dignity of being a true Filipino.)
In her speech, Robredo inspired the graduates by telling the real-life stories of ordinary Filipinos who were featured in her Istorya ng Pag-asa project.
The Vice President shared the story of Ave Alba, who was a household worker and janitress to put herself through school. She then became a court stenographer while attending law school. She is now a municipal trial court judge in Daraga, Albay.
She also mentioned Vejiel Velez from Ata Tribe, who finished college at the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod. A cum laude graduate, she now teaches preschool in Bagac Bataan.
The Vice President also drove home her message to the graduates by telling the story of Rain-Rain, a poor student from Siayan National High School in Zamboanga. He had to take a six-kilometer walk and cross two rivers to get to school every day before a dorm was built in his school.
Robredo recognized the sacrifices of parents of the graduates of the RCAM Educational System. She said they worked hard to send their children to school despite the rising prices of basic goods.
“Ang bawat sakripisyo, pagtitiis, at patak ng pawis at dugo natin ay hindi napunta sa wala. Napagtapos ninyo sa senior high school ang inyong mga anak,” she said.
(Every sacrifice and drop of our blood and sweat did not go to waste. You were able to make your children graduate from senior high school.)