What Awaits You?

What Awaits You?

Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences Pinning Ceremony
June 6, 2014, Silliman University Church
By Prof. Cleonico Y. Fontelo, Vice President for Finance and Administration

Perhaps at this stage of your academic life, you may be asking:  What awaits you from here? What awaits you outside Silliman? What awaits you in the world that you have all prepared yourselves to journey into?

We have a world that is riddled with issues of corruption, social injustice, poverty, pollution and crimes. Between here and your future is a picture of suffering, pain, greed and self-centeredness.

Do you now give up? I assume not.  You have gone this far already and you should feel challenged because you can do a lot to effect a better world through your life and through your profession.

In this chaos-perfect environment that I just described to you, what rises above at the end of the day is “you”. While others say it is change that is constant, it is actually you that continually defines the world that you live in. What remains constant is your drive to lead a good life – one that inspires and makes a difference in both your family and the greater community. It is you who will decide to either give up or move on. It is you who controls your actions and decisions in either letting the world be consumed by inequality or developing it into a better place for your generation and those after yours.

I believe most of you are familiar with the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” That movie is a close-to-perfect example of the greatness that people can bring out of themselves amidst the bad, dark and evil. While it is not a movie that is too pleasing to the senses, you can take admiration from the Stark daughters: Sansa and Arya. Their father had been beheaded, their mother and elder brother betrayed and slain, and their little brothers forced to fend for themselves in the woods. But despite the grief, the continuing pounding of harshness on them, they found strength within themselves to “hope” and to believe that one day, they will achieve their goals. Did they give up? At least Sansa and Arya did not.

For sure, your years at the Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences had a twist of “Game of Thrones” at some point. What you experienced most definitely though was not as graphic and violent, but it very much resonated with a test of who you really are as a person, what you really stand for, and what you really want in life.

Medical Technology is a difficult course. And we are happy in the University that a number are taking on the challenge. The Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences is among the academic units in the university which register high enrollment. And the Institute has been generating a good number of topnotchers for the University.

In the economy of scales, demand dictates supply. And that is true. Oftentimes the subscription rate of our courses is influenced by market demand. When demand for professionals in a certain field is high, enrollment in the course that produces those professionals is high as well. And so is true in the course Medical Technology. There is a higher demand for professionals like you in highly developed Asian countries, the United States and the United Kingdom. And this could increase in the face of ASEAN 2015 integration where economic opportunities in the ASEAN region will more or less be equal among nationalities from the participating countries.

While this is true though, we in Silliman strive to develop graduates who are not only in their course for the income. The desire for a good life is always present among us – and that is good. But the desire for a good life has to be reconciled with an equal desire for service.

What do I mean by service? By this I don’t mean you abandon an opportunity for you to provide for the needs of yourself and your respective families. I don’t mean you shun a chance at conquering your dream abroad. Service means you being convinced that your gifts, your talent, your course in Medical Technology were given also in order for others to see the goodness of life through you. Service is that silent whisper that encourages you to look beyond your own goals and see what those around you are aspiring to have also. Service is a discovery of a greater sense of self by being able to make life better and brighter for your patients and the ordinary people that you bump into.

Your pinning ceremony today symbolizes the mix of excitement and anxiety.  Your dreams and aspirations in life have kept you afloat and reaffirm your faith in the Lord. The pin represents your bond with what will become a lifelong journey. Let that pin remind you of what you ought to become – a person for others.

At the start of my speech, I said that “between here and your future is a picture of suffering, pain, greed and self-centeredness.” But note that I never described your future. No one can, except God. So as you venture into what lies between today and tomorrow, empower yourself to be a force that can influence the colors and strokes of the picture that you will find yourself in. Change it, if you so desire – and draw strength and inspiration from the future that you envision. As Gandhi said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Who knows, in your lifetime, you will be asked to deliver a speech, and in that speech you can tell your audience: “Years ago, I was told of a ‘picture of suffering, pain, greed and self-centeredness,’ but I dared myself to change that. And change I did.”

I congratulate you all on your pinning ceremony. This is an occasion that you need to share with your parents and be thankful to them for. What you have become – and will become – is in large part the fruit of your parents and guardians’ unending love, care and support for you.

I extend to you my best wishes as you move on to reach your goal.  A pleasant day to all of you.