UNIVERSITY CONVOCATION FOR FIRST YEAR STUDENTS
August 6, 2018 at the Atrium, Admin Building, UP Mindanao
Keynote Speech by Dr. Kenneth D. Barroga (BSAM 2009)
To our Chancellor, Dr. Sylvia Concepcion, to our Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Nilo Oponda, to our Vice Chancellor for Administration, Dr. Antonio Obsioma, to our UP Regent, Honorable Analiza Fulvadora, to the Deans, Dr. Jean Marie Juanga, Dr. Dominica Dacera, Dr. Larry Digal, faculty and staff, fellow Iskolar ng Bayan, to our dearest freshies, and, to Oble, maayong buntag sa inyong tanan!We all came here with different stories. Some were plain but I guess it’s never boring. Others may have fun and stress-free life without knowing that they may be sitting with somebody who just lost a family or had never experienced having one or may be somebody who is undergoing a painful and tragic experience. But regardless of your story, the most important detail is that - You made it and that you are here!You have endured so much in your youthful years especially being the first batch to successfully hurdle the K-12 program, from knowing ABCD, to learning the basic math, to mastering the most complicated problem sets. Yes, it’s more than a decade of academic experience and now you’re here taking the name of a Iskolar ng Bayan. Before coming here, I guess some have already posted IG stories and my day, with #freshieconvo #UPMin #insertyourcourse, or a screenshot of your name with student number. Familiar scene, di ba? But you’re here to know that life does not end there.
Life does not end with hundreds of views or 1000 likes.Life in UP is not the same with our virtual reality that comes in just a click of a button. Or your virtual relationship that easily starts with a wave and quickly ends with “you can’t reply to this conversation. Learn more”In UP, everything comes in a process. You don’t just sleep overnight and wake up ready to get a diploma. Earning a degree takes years. “Nanamnamin mo ang bawat araw”. But in those days you slowly learn more about your course, your major, your friends and most importantly you get to know yourself better -- Who you really are and why you are doing what you are doing. And this is how you survive inside the academic jungle a.k.a UP Mindanao.College life requires independence and tenacity. I remember applying as Resident Assistant at EBL Dormitory so as not to be a burden to my parents who raise 3 college students at that time. Like other UP students, I came from a poor family. My mother was a livestock chicken vendor, and my father was a butcher. I used to have a familiar set of clothes every week, and it’s actually fading week by week. Seems like ako lang ang may uniporme sa loob ng unibersidad. I utilized my time working as part time tutor to Pisay students. As the captain of the table tennis varsity team, I set schedules to practice my spins and blocks for regional tournaments. I spent my energy as part of different organizations, University Student Council, Society of Math Majors, Youth to the Nations, TINGUG Iskolar ng Bayan, Bangkatabs Society, - doing everything all at once.It was really an almost non-stop octopus ride. I remember clearly, that there was a night when I got so drunk lying on the road near Mintal gym, wishing a car would hit me. I also remember failing my Probability Theory long exam during my Junior year getting only 23 out of 100. I spent 3.5 years juggling my academic, non-academic and leadership responsibilities. Did I ever get tired? My answer is of course, who won’t? Did I give up? My answer is, almost. Yes, these are “precious almost” of my college life. Those times when I hardly believe in my capacity, Kaya pa ba? Those times when I doubted myself so much and there’s only a fine line between stop and go. My almost no and yes, is my weakest yes. The Yes that says, I’ll pursue it despite my what-ifs.At some point, we will all feel lost and discouraged, wanting either to undo our decisions or freeze the time so deadlines wouldn’t come. As I get older, I realize, the one who gives us the most pressure isn’t our family, our friends nor our teachers, it’s us. There’s a voice within us that gets louder in every tick of the clock, giving us so much fear of the unknown future. But, little did we know, that the power to silence that voice lies in us. Nasa ‘yo, nasa akin! Our mind is indeed a battlefield. Ang hirap talunin ng kalaban kung ang pinaka matinding kalaban ay ang sarili.We all have a share of gloomy days, but I hope that when that day comes, you will find the source of your strength. More than your friends, family, for me it’s the Lord who has transformed and orchestrated everything in my life. From being Agnostic to somebody who has become a witness of God’s grace, I witnessed things I cannot fathom. I was so skeptical with many things. Coming from the College of Science and Mathematics, I needed an exact answer like the derivative of x will always be 1, Force will always equal to MA, Carbon’s atomic number will always be 6. I sought for a logic, a solution, an equation perhaps only to find out that we cannot fathom everything, and we cannot deny that there is a great designer behind all these.Graduating in UP twice is such a blessing. So here are the survival tips I would love to share with you:No. 1- Move on
Forget yesterday’s success. Our success can be likened to a Liquid Nitrogen, it evaporates in less than a minute. So, move on sa highschool life and do what you’re supposed to do today and start anew!No. 2 Use what you have
You have never truly lived unless you have used what you have. So discover what you have, utilize, optimize, innovate, there’s something in it that will be of your advantage in the future.No. 3 Save your strength
Do not dwell too much on things that are beyond your control. Fight when you have to but also learn when to stop. If hindi ka gusto, wag habulin, save your strength.No. 4 Rest (Pahulay pud!)
It’s okay to take a break. Don’t be too hard on yourself even gadgets sometimes burn itself when used too much. But gadgets do not have life, this only tells you that you’re worth far more, so take some rest.No. 5 Choose your reality
It’s not always virtual. In a world where sets of truths exist, usisain ng mabuti ang mga bagay bagay before you jump into conclusion. An explanation to the Allegory of the Cave says “reality is not perceived by the senses but what’s behind the senses is reality”. Always seek for deeper truth.No. 6 Remember consistency
There’s no easy way out. Have the will to pursue what you’ve already decided. Never stop for shallow reasons like “kapoy na”. Remember the very reason why you started in the first place. If you started with the right reasons then there must be a need to be consistent. So, don’t be swayed by confusion.No. 7 Keep your focus
There’s no guarantee of not failing even if you’re the smartest in your class wayback highschool. This is UP. If you fail, fail better. Remember that failure is a result of a broken focus.No. 8 Say no to Mediocrity!
It’s easy to live in mediocrity but UP tells you to live the opposite. Honor and excellence is a lifestyle. It tells you to give your all but never lose yourself. Honor and excellence weigh more than a GWA of flat 1, it’s a mark that has to be truly lived outside the four corners of classroom, it’s choosing integrity when no one does, choosing what’s morally right when no one dares, and it’s giving your all without expecting an ROI or return on investment.No. 9 Collect memories
Seize the days you spend walking from CSM to your boarding house because of tight budget, seize the time when you need to go sleepless for your plates, papers and exams, value those times when you urge yourself not to give up, value practical things you will learn outside the classroom, those things you learn from drivers, from ate ling, ate malou, coach teng, dorm manager, sandara and other random people you will meet, all of them matter, collect all these while you’re here.No. 10 Believe that things will one day make senseKeep going. No invention happened overnight. Some things start by following an easy step 1 and ends by following a complicated algorithm.One day, your story will make sense.Your academic life is just a subset of your entire life so remember this: In a venn diagram, there are different relationships of sets, some sets are in union, others intersect, while some sets can be just a complement of a set. This only means one thing, you can always derive sets of reasons to keep going in your life.So, in the next days, months and years you will spend in UP, I assure you:It’s not the end if ever you get a singko, your intelligence isn’t measured by it.
It’s not the end if you get broke and broken at the same time, all things will work together for your good.
It’s not the end if you wear the same sets of clothes every week, that does not make you weak.
It’s not the end if you wear branded or brandless shirts, because You are your brand.
It’s not the end if your calculator does not work during exams, don’t panic, don’t cheat and use what you know.
It’s not the end if you missed an opportunity, there is always a second chance.
It’s not the end if you went here alone, one day, you’ll get used to Mintal and find this place your second home.
It’s not the end if you feel lost, it’s just a season, so overcome!
It’s not the end if everyone else already gave up on you, someone out there still believes in you!To Batch 2018, you hold the possibility of changing the world. May you desire to contribute to the greatest wisdom of mankind!As Iskolar ng Bayan, we continue to declare this:
Humayo’t itanghal, giting at tapang
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan!
Maayong buntag sa inyong tanan!