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Doctor of Government Management
Honoris Causa

I do not know if you young souls have heard of the very popular 1970's Hotdog band song "Manila Manila" (but I am sure our University President, Ms. Leny De Jesus and some of your parents know this song by heart), Part of the song goes like this: "Manila, Manila, I keep coming back to Manila Simply no place like Manila Manila, I'm coming home…."

Manila, the PLM, has been your home for at least the last four years.

And today is indeed a coming home for me too:

  1. I was born in a clinic in Sampaloc, Manila;
  2. I am a proud product of the Paco Catholic School in Manila;
  3. I took up my bachelor's degree at Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros;
  4. I obtained my Bachelor of Laws degree from the San Beda College of Law in Mendiola, Manila;
  5. I took my Bar Exam at Manuel L. Quezon University, here in Manila;
  6. And of course, I signed the roll and officially became a member of the bar in 1976, also in the City of Manila.

I truly am a Mañileno too!!

Since then, I've been everywhere else, but true to the song, I keep coming back to Manila. After decades of being away, again, I am back in the arms of Manila, in the heart of Manila, at the Malacañang Palace, to be exact.

I am truly just like all of you, a proud Mañileno!!

Manila has many of the Philippines' firsts: amongst many, The Universidad de San Ignacio - the first university during the Spanish colonial period established in 1590 by the Jesuits; The Manila Stock Exchange, in 1927; and, of course, proudly, like a beacon of light, the first city-run university, our very own, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, established on June 19, 1965, coincidentally the same birth date as our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

Let's take a minute and give our school a robust round of applause for serving our city, our youth for the last 5 decades.

Congratulations to all the graduates of PLM! You are the 50th batch of graduates and indeed you are in esteemed company of outstanding, brilliant and excellent individuals that have shown the same resolve and dedication that you yourselves possess.

Stand proud and honored to be graduates of the 1st tertiary-level institution in the country to offer tuition-free education; the 1st university funded solely by a city government; and the 1st institution of higher learning in the country to have its official name in Filipino.

The Commission on Higher Education publicly commended PLM for its groundbreaking achievements, citing that "PLM's excellence is beyond doubt and a class of its own." PLM is truly a distinctive educational institution.

I am beaming with pride and honor, and very much privileged (I never imagined this day would come) to have been chosen by PLM to be a recipient of the Degree of Doctor of Government Management (honoris causa) today. I am humbled and appreciative of such conferment. My family shares this joy.

But the happiest with this conferment would be my beloved mother. She always dreamed of having a doctor in the family, Oh, ayan, Mama, may anak ka nang doctor! And true to her wishes, next time when she visits my office, she will see a sign on the door "the doctor is in", or "the doctor is out".

I am well aware that the PLM is guided by 3 pillars: Karunungan, Kaunlaran, Kadakilaan, translated as: Knowledge, Progress, Greatness. Knowledge is such a waste without service. Progress is adrift without compassion. And, greatness is fleeting without integrity.

As you step out of the hallowed halls of PLM, please do not forget what PLM has aimed to achieve in the years that you have been here: to produce responsible, productive, and respectable citizens. Whatever calling you may answer as you step out of these doors, please do not forget what PLM has attempted to inculcate in all of you our dear young graduates, that is, to be responsible, productive and respectable citizens.

Some of you may be given the opportunity to serve our country. I tell you, there is nothing more fulfilling than playing a role in nation building. If faced with that opportunity, I encourage you to - grab it. To borrow a phrase from the Bible, "Many are called, but few are chosen."

So when my call to serve the country came, though a bit late, I'm already 65 years old, I could not let it pass. Each day I serve our country, by the side of our determined, nationalistic, passionate and compassionate President, for me, is a day of privilege. And each day, I give it my best.

As you continue your journey, and as you advance toward your destination, do not forget where you came from. As you progress farther and farther, it is paramount that you understand that many are not as fortunate as you.

Have sympathy and concern for those who have less and remember that each one of you can extend a helping hand. Give back to this great institution by paying forward, especially to those hungry to learn and determined to better themselves. Be more supportive. Be kind. Your progress then will be meaningful and relevant. We are all prime examples of what this institution is capable of producing. Be proud of that. You are this institution's greatest achievement.

Congratulations and may our good Lord bless you all!

Maraming Salamat po!