Message delivered during the 12th PMDP Graduation Ceremony last March 24, 2017

Our Graduation Speaker, DAP PMDP officials and faculty members, agency heads and representatives, Institutional Partners, Faculty Advisers, family members, fellow graduates, friends, good afternoon.

Exactly eleven months ago from tomorrow, we set foot at this DAPCC facility clueless of what was in store for all of us. Our first day here was nothing but hectic, and it basically mirrored the rest of our residential training stay. I remember us being told to immediately rush to the orientation venue after depositing our luggages in our respective rooms. We also had to dash for the photo session and the welcome ceremony, having to don our Filipiniana gowns and barongs at close to lightning speed. I likewise vividly recall the “HP, HP” or “hi-per, hi-po” chant of our wingmen from Batch 11 that night alluding to PMDP MMC scholars as a “high-performing, high-potential” breed of bureaucrats.

While the “hi-per, hi-po” label sounded great to our ears in the beginning, it kind of took on a different meaning midway our training as some students, whether in our class or somewhere else, started becoming really “hyper, hypo” or “hypertensive, hypoglycemic”.

Kidding aside, our live-in training afforded us a gruelling yet exciting five (5) months of our lives. Apart from attending lectures, we managed to write our own eulogies which means we should have been long ready to die anytime because our significant others already have something to read for our funerals. During our isolation here in DAPCC, we also drafted our Personal Strategic Development Plan and Action Agenda, staged a team presentation cum beauty pageant, performed a military drill, initiated a joint sportsfest with Class Bagwis, embarked on a Sensing Journey for the first time in a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA) like the Municipality of Bagulin in La Union, etc. Through those times, we fought exhaustion, sleep-deprivation and even discouragement by downing cups of coffee until more of it ran inside our veins than blood itself, munching Boy Bawang, dancing to energizers the way a policeman whose identity we shall hide under the fictitious name of “Jon” had never grooved before, enjoying the company of classmates, and more importantly storming the heavens with our prayers for God to grant us superhuman strength because ours was already failing us.

I bet many in our class, myself included, thought that the Re-Entry Project (ReP) implementation phase would provide a little breather, only to find out that it had actually been more demanding of our time and resources. The dark circles that are still around our eyes today are testimonies of those nights when we had to stay up late to finish reports while most everybody was already in deep, sweet slumber. I also suspect that many of us got sick at certain points while trying to hurdle this course.

The struggle then had been very real but our presence in this gathering tonight highlights one thing— that by God’s grace we have proven our mettle, that we are a tough nut to crack for having measured up to the standards of the best professors in this country.

As we celebrate this painfully-won victory, we thank everyone who had been instrumental to our success in various ways. First off, our immense gratitude goes to our Ultimate Enabler, the Lord, for sustaining us throughout our arduous PMDP journey. Personally, I was tempted many a times to already throw in the towel but the thought of dishonoring our limitless God by sporting a defeated stance in the middle of the fight rebukes me to the core, and so I persevered. In His goodness, He saw me through one deliverable at a time and even catapulted me to this podium right before your eyes. By His grace alone, I was finally offered this spot which was actually denied me half my lifetime ago when I graduated with the highest Quality Point Index (QPI) among my batchmates in college but was never assigned to deliver the valedictory address. I didn’t bother asking why and didn’t take offense about it then and now. In fact, I buried it in the deep recesses of my memory, only to be reminded about it lately. The Lord has a funny way of letting us realize that truth behind the saying from Thomas a Kempis that goes: “Man proposes but God disposes.” This feat also impressed upon me that no effort is so little when surrendered to the Master to be infused with His powerful touch.

Our profuse appreciation is next directed to the pillars and staff of the Public Management Development Program (PMDP) which is ably led by President Antonio Kalaw Jr., SVP for Programs Magdalena Mendoza, and Managing Director Nanette Caparros.

We also laud our illustrious mentors who, despite already basking in the adulation of the learned community from the famous universities, still opted to wind their way up to Tagaytay City to impart to us precious nuggets of wisdom and expertise, all for the lofty cause of professionalizing the Philippine government. I would have loved to name you all but time is sadly a constraint. Rest assured you are all regarded with utmost estimation and respect.
We would also like to acknowledge our agency heads and representatives, Institutional Partners, Faculty Advisers, Program Representatives, MMC12 ReP Faculty Lead Dr. Nicasio Angelo Agustin, MMC12 Session Management Team led by Ms. Elizabeth Tungol, and our respective ReP Teams for the immense support they willingly extended us to nail our chances at course completion. My personal tribute goes to NEDA7 Regional Director Efren Carreon, Mr. Tomas Africa (my FA), Ms. Ruth Cruz (my IP) and my self-sacrificing ReP Team in Cebu City.
Most of all, we sincerely thank our family members for the continued push they gave us to boost our tired spirits and for loving us just the same, zombie-looking or otherwise. I’d like to especially mention my husband Wilson and my kids Brandon and Trisha for allowing me some “student time”.

To our classmates as well as our friends in Batch 11, we value the friendship we have forged in the brief moment we had been together in this place that some people likened to a “concentration camp” due to the program’s distinct reputation. I honestly didn’t understand it at the outset why we had to endure so much for a masteral study until it was indirectly revealed to us by President Kalaw during our closing ceremony in September last year. He mentioned about the rigors of PMDP training being patterned after that of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) so that the hardship we all went through would hopefully glue us together in a way that a superficial association just could never achieve. For this, I think we are bonded for our entire public service life. It is primordial then for us to effect easier inter-agency collaboration through direct personal contacts if need be, especially as most of us land positions of greater influence and responsibility in the future. Let us then cultivate this sense of kinship and allow it work for the common good as the PMDP has envisioned its graduates to do. I know we enrolled in the said program a year ago for varied reasons, most of which were not exactly patriotic or altruistic, but given our learnings from the MMC and having experienced first-hand the realities of poverty during our immersion with our foster families, I pray that we will all be stirred from our apathy and will genuinely strive for the upliftment of every Juan and Juana. I appeal to that unselfish streak lurking in the chambers of our hearts to shine forth and commit to our nation’s progress by persistently creating ripples of change that have been started by our RePs, so that in time, the combined effect of all those ripples will become forceful enough to create a wave of change that is difficult to subdue.

I also urge everyone to stand up for honesty and moral uprightness in public service because what is the competence that we are being rewarded today for if we would not even uphold what is just and proper?

In closing, while we know for ourselves how hard our lives had been over the past year because of the requirements of the PMDP, we should always bring to mind that the poor among us will continue to face the daily reality of a hard, hopeless life if we wouldn’t take pains at improving ourselves and our services for the betterment of their lot. This country needs us to make the difference. Are we up to the challenge? I certainly hope so.
Mabuhay ang ating bayan! Mabuhay ang mga lingkod bayan!