Inspirational Message of Phares Paryno,Ph. D of Batch 1979
Finding Strength in these Turbulent Times
Phares P. Parayno, Ph.D.
Talk given on 21 November 2009 during the DWAD Alumni Homecoming
Her Excellency Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, Fr. Edsel Demillo, friends, good afternoon! Stephen, thank you very much for that kind introduction. It is nice to be back here again, standing in front of you on this quadrangle. I was expecting I will give a talk in the school gym, which was memorable to me. I remember the school gym was being completed when we were seniors. I think we were the first batch to use the gym as the venue of our graduation. We are batch 79. Do the math and that must have been a long, long time ago.
There are many noticeable differences between now and then. I am sure you are using computers in school. You also have your smart cell phones where you can send pictures, music and text files. I wonder how the school manages the use of cell phones by the students during classes. The use of computer only started when we were in fourth year. I remember, in our class, only Wilson Chua had a computer, an Apple computer. I did not even know how to use a computer until I was in my senior year in College, when I had to do a computer program, which, however, did not run successfully.
Remembering high school lessons
I remember one time, as part of our assignment in English, we had to write a letter to a student of another school. This assignment might have been given by Miss V. Masadao. A grade would only be given if a response letter was sent to me. How will the letter reach the other person? I have to mail it, not by email, but by snail mail or through the post office. This means I have to wait for another two weeks to get a response, even though the other student lives in Dagupan City or neighboring town. You would laugh at you teachers now if this is the kind of assignment they give you. What you would do instead, if you were given this kind of assignment, is open your computer, connect to internet or open your Yahoo Messenger, and then chat with your new friend. Some of you would even communicate face-to-face with another person from another part of the world. Anyway, internet cafes, which are found everywhere, have computers equipped with web cam. I would expect almost all of you have a Facebook or a Twitter account. You would not now hear someone say, “Sulat ka, ha?” instead you would hear, “You twit me.” Or you visit the Farmville and invite friends to plant various vegetables in the cyber farm. If lolo and lola could hear you say these, they would say, “What is a Farmville? What is a Facebook?” This may be the reason why the new telecommunication commercial is targeting grandmothers.
I think your teachers and parents now would have different kinds of problem than our teachers and parents before. Would parents and teachers know whether you, schoolchildren, are doing schoolwork or are members of Friendster or are into online gaming? My observation is that schoolchildren now can do all of these at the same time. You are such good multi-task agents, doing assignment while communicating with a friend through YM (Yahoo Messenger) and holding a cell phone on another hand talking to another friend, or switching cable TV from one channel to another every now and then. I wish I had your skills of multitasking, especially now that I have to attend to a lot of different problems. According to a pioneering study of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), almost three-fourths of Filipino schoolchildren have access to the Internet. Maintaining and visiting social-networking sites (SNS) is emerging as the number one online activity. Almost nine of ten schoolchildren who connect to the Net are members of the Friendster, AIJC said. The study also found out that there are “more grade-school pupils than high-school students who play online.” Hala, buking na kayo. Grade school teachers, pay very special attention to what your students are doing. It may be taking them a long time to complete their assignments.
There is a positive side, however, to the use of social networking such as Facebook or Friendster, or Twitter. I am sure you all have very fresh memories of the flood brought by typhoons, Ondoy and Pepeng. Except that these are nightmares. A story was told that as flood was rising very rapidly in Marikina, Pasig and neighboring cities, one parent was very worried where he could find his son, since he could not get in touch with him through his cellphone. Signals were down, but there was internet connection and Facebook was available. I don’t understand why telecommunication network signals were down when you most needed them. He started writing his Facebook friends and asked them to look for his son and to provide needed assistance to him. He must have more than 1,000 friends. Lo and behold, friends saw the entry of the father and immediately searched the young boy. Not long after, friends found the boy and extended the necessary assistance.
The value of not having computer and maybe sophisticated calculator in high school is the training it adds to our arithmetic and mathematical skills. It might have helped if you had Ms. Felipa Rapacon as your teacher in Algebra or Consumer Math. Her focus on you making the right calculation and getting the right answer has challenged me to be my best. Well, her dedication led to my diligence in her class, allowing me to obtain perfect scores in all her algebra exams.
I have another comparison to make between then and now. The emergence of cell phones has made many of us bad spellers and terrible constructers of sentences. Pati mga spelling sa Pilipino, mali mali na rin ang mga nababasa ko sa text. You might have disliked, as did many of my classmates, Ms. Cambay for her being strict in spelling and using the right words, specially when you had to compose a sentence during recitation. Thank you very much, Ms. Cambay. Despite being a probinsyano going to Manila to study, I gained much confidence in conversing in Pilipino with my classmates who all come from different provinces in the country.
Experiences in College and Graduate School
It was a good opportunity to attend college in the University of the Philippines, Diliman. I think my training under my high school teachers have strengthened my confidence to interact with competitive classmates who are considered the best from their respective high schools. Away from parents and feeling alone in a big university, I learned to be independent. Activities in college have exposed me to new learning experiences. I think no one graduates from UP without participating in any of the rallies organized by various organizations in the university. One memorable for me is my joining the rally against the Education Act, which was recently passed then. From the campus in UP, I found myself in the middle of Manila with student leaders speaking loudly, and sometimes shouting, their concerns and feelings about the new law. Soon after, heavy rain started to pour and students who were gathered were eventually dispersed. Policemen started approaching us with their batons, hitting many of the students. It was my first time to be in downtown Manila, but, to my surprise, I found myself riding the right bus going back to my aunt’s house where I was staying. I wonder how my parents felt had they know I participated in downtown Manila, heavily drenched and almost got hit by a policeman.
After a good academic training in UP, Diliman, I was able to get to the graduate schools in Bangkok, Thailand for my master’s degree and then to the University of Pennsylvania for my doctorate. Again, thanks to my English teachers and my classmates in college, I gained much more confidence conversing with new classmates and friends who now came from different parts of the world. Graduate studies had brought again new experiences such as exposure to difference cultures in the world and new exciting food from different countries. I now became very fond of Thai and Vietnamese foods. These had developed in me wider understanding of different people.
Challenges Never Seem to Subside
Let me come back to the present. We are experiencing various different difficulties right now. Economic and environmental problems may have reduced our hopes for a much brighter future. Last year we saw the collapse of very huge corporations in the US, whose annual income may even be much higher than the annual GDP (gross domestic product) of many developing countries. The closure of big banks brought the end of other companies that depend on these banks. This has led to increasing unemployment. Americans don’t know how to handle cutback; many of them committed suicide. Here at home, we don’t even notice very much how many workers are being retrenched. When Intel Philippines, one of the largest corporations in the country, moved to China and Vietnam, how many of us felt their absence? Probably, the families of Intel Philippines did mourn their departure. I guess we are used to high unemployment already.
We have had recently massive flooding in the different parts of the country. Although we have seen worse flooding that these in the past, we received so much rain pour in just a few hours. Much more rain took placed in the past, but this rain brought by the typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng poured over a few days. Climate change experts say we will have more of like these phenomena in the future—more frequent and stronger typhoons. As the climate changes, we expect to have more disasters and casualties. I am beginning to believe that many of the casualties are man made and not acts of God. Marikina lost so much properties and lives. However, the many lives lost and properties destroyed should have not have happened, had we planned our urban communities properly. I heard that Dagupan did not have any life casualties. Thanks to the preparation the leaders made in the evacuation of the people before the flood.
We have much to change, much to learn, and much to improve if we have to minimize the effects of economic and environmental problems and make this world a better place to live for the young and the helpless. An Indian tribe chief once said, “This we know: The Earth does not belong to Man; Man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” I hope environmental education becomes part of the program in this school.
Despite having much problems, sometimes with not much to eat and money to spend, our fellow brothers and sisters still appear to be happy. In a way, the winning of Manny Pacman came at an opportune time after much devastation hit the country. Somehow the example of Pacman is providing inspiration to us all in meeting our challenges.
Pacman, an inspiration to us all in meeting our challenges
The winning of Manny Pacman has given us some inspiration and hope amid the challenges we have just gone through. I would like to point out observations made by a newspaper columnist of Manny Pacquiao. She mentioned four admirable qualities of Pacman, which we can all develop. The first admirable attitude of Manny Pacquiao is his openness to self-improvement. According to his trainer and coach, Freddie Roach, Manny always looks forward to learning something new every time he has a boxing match. He wants to learn new movements, skills and new tactics, both defensive and offensive. He wants to use these to exploit the weaknesses of his opponent and beat him. His coach said the he is improving all the time.
The second admirable attitude is his being disciplined mentally and physically as he undergoes his training. Being famous, he has a many possible distractions such as singing, taping a commercial endorsement, acting in a movie, and planning a political career. Yet he went through the needed workouts with such great enthusiasm to sharpen muscles, bones, and mind. Coach Roach got worried about this when Pacman chose to undergo his training in Baguio. Pacman showed the discipline to train and keep on training. He continued even more even though his sparring partners wanted to give up.
The third admirable attitude, which allowed him to exhibit easily the two attitudes, is his humility. He recognizes that he is nothing if does not develop the new skills and tactics he could deploy against an equally powerful fighter. He knows that he is nothing without his coach who teaches him what he needs to know. He recognizes the blessings of God every time he wins a match.
The fourth admirable attitude of Pacman is providing valuable experience to his boxing fans, including the fans of his opponents, every time he has a boxing match. He thinks of fans first and himself second. His concern for his fans and their entertainment energizes him to do his best to fight and then win.
Pacman is very open to new improvement, humble, disciplined, and thinks of others enjoyment. These qualities have led him to achieve great achievement which he is now enjoying. We too can achieve similar greatness if we cultivate these qualities.
Let me add one more quality. This is the recognition of Someone whose strength is much greater than ours and who can always help us. Let me quote these comforting words, which I hope, would strengthen us all as we face many of our challenges.
“If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations;
if thine enemies fall upon thee;
if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; . . .
And if thou should be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee;
If thou be cast into the deep;
If the billowing surge conspire against thee;
If fierce winds become thine enemy;
If the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way;
And above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
The Son of Man had descended below them all.
Art thou greater than he?
Therefore, hold on thy way. Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”
It is a pleasure to meet you all today! Thank you very much!
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