Keeping our humanity intact: A message to the graduates of MSU Maguindanao

Full speech of MP Rasol Mitmug, Jr. as Guest of Honor during the 47th Commencement Exercises of Mindanao State Univeristy – Maguindanao on March 26, 2021

“Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu…A good and prosperous day to everyone!

I am honored and elated to be invited to deliver, what I hope to be a motivating and engaging message, to the promising young men and women in front of me.

Last year, we had an unexpected turn of events due to the pandemic, and graduation rites were postponed. The myriad cancellation of ceremonial events for the students has been a source of distress, adding to an already depressing situation. In the midst of everything, there was one little post in our page that garnered a lot of engagement. Since we could not deliver graduation messages last year in person we decided to post something for our students in our facebook page. It was a simple message of “Kamusta po kayo? How are you holding up?” to our students and empathizing and understanding their confusion and disappointment of having a rushed goodbye with their institutions and schoolmates. Surprisingly, the post blew up with thousands of likes and shares. We felt that students in the Bangsamoro, even outside BARMM, have been comforted by the message that in the midst of pandemic their worries are validated, and that it is important to acknowledge their anxieties and fears, and reach a level of optimism as we all face a new reality. From this, we could learn how important compassion and mindfulness in those trying times. Now we have come to this. We are slowly getting back some semblance of normalcy, although in a form of new normal, and only hoping that we can adapt accordingly to our situation.

The Mindanao State University – Maguindanao is an institution for academic development and excellence. But it is more than that. From what I’ve seen and witnessed, it is committed in providing cross-cultural and inter-religious understanding across the campus colleges and communities, academic and social programs, all in achieving its goal for producing highly competent leaders and workers in various fields for the development of the Bangsamoro. It is an educational institution aiming and hoping to generate value-laden professionals who take their roles responsibly with integrity and honesty. In Shaa Allah.

One of the most powerful instruments in attaining transformational change is EDUCATION. It is a game-changer for the future, an arbiter for decision-making, and a tool for empowerment. Empowering the people is empowering the community where they belong. In the same vein, sustainable reform requires active regional citizenry.

When teachers or professors encourage the students to be more responsible in a general context of handling consequences of their actions, they are actually preparing you, their students, for the greater arena, outside of your training ground—which is ADULTHOOD. Keep in mind that there are certain things that are not explained by some proximate events. Along with the guidance and instructions of your professors, as well as the realization of your subject realities, you will be able to pursue and achieve their essence and value. Your potentials will be discovered and in turn, be your guide on what path to choose in your respective careers and direction in lives.

The challenge now lies within us, within the new graduates.

This graduation is not an ending but rather a beginning. That is why we call it “commencement.” Thus, education does not stop here. Life is a learning curve. Expect anything to be thrown at you. Learn to overcome them but while doing so, acknowledge your weaknesses. Fess up to your mistakes. We don’t have answers to everything but, believe, that as you journey on, you will get to your answers. And when you found your passion or calling, devote fully to it. You are now part of something special, cherish it, and defend it. Bear in mind that when priorities clash and greater opportunities come along, always remember your values and be guided by those, not your perceived necessities. As

Adam Braun said, “Necessities exist in a state of mind that will not last, whereas values are transcendent and enduring.”

As you traverse the professional arena, you will encounter adversities, as well as diversities. We learn that diversity is not only by religion, race or culture. Sometimes, diversity in perspectives is what troubles our society the most, but whatever side you belong to, there is always a room for a dialogue, a conversation, a way to manage disparities so that it would not define our relationships in the long-run.

Just a little glimpse of what we do in the BARMM — As someone who worked in the education sector, and now part of the committee on education in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, we are exerting efforts to establish a quality and accessible Bangsamoro educational system that is complete, relevant and responsive to the “educational” needs of the Bangsamoro people. The Bangsamoro government is mandated, like any other form of government, to put emphasis and prioritize the development and growth of educational institutions. The thirst of students for education should be satiated through efforts to improve the standard of education, and to enable students ample opportunities to pursue their education knowing that there are institutions accredited to provide quality education.

To this year’s graduating class, as you go through an important transition in your life, and I just want to reiterate this since this is where I’m coming from, I want to encourage you to place more importance to what our community needs. Because the quality of service we impart to the people is in itself an immeasurable achievement. It is through giving back to the community where we belong where we experience true satisfaction.

And with that, whatever you do in life, after this graduation, after achieving everything that you’ve envisioned, remember to blanket your journey with respect, integrity and humility. The world, with all of its complexities, will challenge your humanity. But the choice and responsibility is yours to make, whether you would compromise your values over circumstances beyond your control. At this moment, the most important thing is to keep your humanity intact.

Mabrouk to all the graduates. Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu.”

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