UPLB graduation rites highlight ‘serve the people’ tradition in rally
LOS BAÑOS—In a rare occasion in the face of the University of the Philippines (UP) political landscape, several UP Los Baños graduates, faculty, staff and continuing students were seen united with members of the UP Board of Regents and administrators in a lightning rally held during the University’s 40th commencement exercise on April 28.
The commencement rally once again highlighted the UP tradition of service to the people. But unlike in previous years, protesters this year were given ample time to have a speech delivered while graduates, faculty, staff and administrators stood side by side on stage, holding placards and banners that show various calls.
Statements that aim to remind new graduates about the realities outside the university campus and the challenges ahead of them such as employment deficit, price increases, rights abuses, corruption, and poverty were raised and chanted.
Incumbent UPLB Student Council Official Larlyn Faith Aggabao, in a speech to fellow graduates, explains the expectations from an Iskolar ng Bayan after graduation.
“Iba’t iba ang pamantayan natin sa isang disente at marangal na pamumuhay, ngunit huwag sana nating malimutan ang isa sa pinakamahahalagang ibinahagi sa atin ng Oblation: ang hindi makasariling pagsisilbi sa bayan. At ang paglilingkod sa sambayanan ay magsisimula sa paglusaw natin sa kultura ng kawalang-pakialam at pagsasawalang-bahala,” Aggabao, a leadership awardee, said.
For USC chair Pura Beatriz Valle, serving the people is easier said than done. “It’s not just about finding a job, paying taxes and donating to charity. It’s about going out of our comfort zone and reaching out to the people who really need our services, not the people who are willing to pay more for our services,” Valle said.
Valle said that she would understand if most graduates opt to seek for greener pastures given that their families have invested a lot on UP education following the 300 percent tuition increase in 2007. She said, however, that UP honed us to build a nation and not to feed “corporate greed”.
“Who do we serve then? The workers who are still struggling for decent wage increases; the farmers who still do not have their own lands to till; the youth who suffers from the commodification of education; families of overseas Filipino workers that have to endure being apart; families who are forcibly evicted from their homes and livelihood. We should always keep these in mind wherever our education takes us.”
Valle mentioned in particular the struggle of workers for P125 across-the-board wage increase, the lack of genuine agrarian reform in the country, the Silverio Compound bloody demolition and the recent onslaught of oil price hikes and the power crisis.
Aggabao finished her speech with a challenge to UP graduates to lead the nation to genuine social transformation.
“Now more than ever, we should strive for a society where depriving others of their rights is unnecessary because there will be no reason for the few to have more, while others perish; where the basis for acquiring education is the insatiable hunger for it and not by how much one can trade for it,” Aggabao said.
The iconic “Serve the People” banner was unfurled during the singing of “UP Namin Mahal”—the University hymn.