DAVAO CITY — Wearing their Sablays and with diplomas in their hands, 126 graduates from UP Mindanao marched virtually on Tuesday, July 13.
The ceremony, formally titled “Paglatas: the 23rd Commencement Exercises”, was live-streamed via UP Mindanao’s official Facebook page and YouTube channel. Adopting the theme of the university’s 26th founding anniversary, “Transcending the Pandemic: A Resilient Recovery towards the New Normal,” the event resonates with the current situation –-- that despite the pandemic and the remote setup, the graduating classes still strive and persevere to stand and embody the university’s values of honor and excellence.
Usually held at the Atrium of the Administration Building in UP Mindanao, the ceremony was conducted online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, as Prof. Samuelle Marionne C. Sanchez, the virtual event’s production director, puts it, “Our goal for this virtual commencement production is to make our graduates ‘be there in UPMin without being there (physically)’ on this momentous occasion. We want to bring the Sablay moment into their homes for them to savor it with their family and friends.”
This year’s commencement exercises also merged two graduating batches. A total of 126 candidates for graduation took part in the ceremony (88 coming from Class 2020, and 38 from Class 2021); they were led by one magna cum laude graduate and 10 cum laude graduates from the BS Architecture and BA Anthropology programs. “It is unique because two batches of graduates will join in this commencement exercise. It is also the first time when all parts of the program are pre-recorded,” elaborated Prof. Nilo B. Oponda, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Commencement Exercises Committee Chair.
Dr. Emil Q. Javier, the 42nd National Scientist of the Philippines and 17th President of the UP System, graced the event as its commencement speaker. In his address, he encouraged the graduates, calling them the “crème de la crème of the next generation,” to acquire, comprehend, and master modern technologies to advance national purposes and enhance national competitiveness.
“To thrive in the new normal, you must be prepared to operate remotely, to innovate and adapt,” he added.
The ceremony commenced at 8:00 AM through a processional led by Prof. Maria Stella R. Salazar, Director of Student Affairs. She was followed by the candidates for graduation led by their respective College Secretaries, followed by the faculty members, department chairs, heads of offices, administrative officials of UP Mindanao and the UP System, the UP Board of Regents, and by National Scientist Javier.
Prof. Larry N. Digal, the current chancellor, delivered his opening remarks encouraging the candidates for graduation to work not just for the improvement of themselves and their families, but most importantly for the community. “As Iskolar ng Bayan, you are called on to serve our people, especially the poor, the marginalized, and ordinary taxpayers who have paid their taxes to enable you to acquire your much-coveted UP diploma. Pay back and pay it forward,” he said.
He also highlighted that this first-ever virtual graduation is a testament to UP Mindanao’s tenacity to transcend the current COVID-19 pandemic, which emphasizes the University’s mantra of honor and excellence amidst different circumstances.
“You [graduates] have proven that the true mark of a UP education is one’s ability to rise above seemingly insurmountable circumstances and difficult times,” Chancellor Digal added.
The college deans, namely Prof. Raymundo R. Pavo (College of Humanities and Social Sciences), Prof. Dominica D. Dacera (College of Science and Mathematics), and Prof. Aurelia Luzviminda V. Gomez (School of Management) then presented their respective candidates for graduation to Chancellor Digal, who in turn presented them to UP President Danilo L. Concepcion for the official conferment of their degrees. The ceremonial shifting of the Sablay was done virtually, signaling the graduating class’ official status as graduates and alumni of UP.
After the presentation and virtual distribution of diplomas, titles, and special awards, a musical tribute for the graduates was rendered by selected faculty members from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Hazel U. Jumawan, who finished magna cum laude from the BS Architecture program, delivered her speech on behalf of the graduates. Jumawan, who bagged the highest General Weighted Average (GWA) among the graduates, stated that even though the ceremony was not the traditional ending they imagined for their university life, their journey in the university weighs more than their destination. “We may not be able to influence the world through a thousand following or a thousand views, but we can certainly be an inspiration to maybe even just one person, and that would mean the world to them,” she added.
The Pledge of Loyalty led by Chancellor Digal, as well as the induction of the new alumni into the UP Alumni Association (UPAA) by its president and Alumni Regent Reynaldo C. Laserna, and the Induction into the UP Mindanao Alumni Association (UPMinAA) by Director Ma. Catherine B. Otero came after.
The virtual graduation ceremony ended with the singing of the university hymn UP Naming Mahal, featuring the performance of the UP Symphony Orchestra.
The entire production was carried out by the 23rd Commencement Exercises Committee in partnership with Micromedia Digital Video Productions, Inc. and BACMA Sibya (the in-house media production unit of the university’s BA Communication and Media Arts program).
“Paglatas: the 23rd Commencement Exercises” is available for viewing on the official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/upmindanao) and YouTube Channel of UP Mindanao (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FTSHftJF-k).
(Aliah Baito & Four Cagalitan, UP Mindanao – BACMA Sibya)