‘5 Fundamental Phenomena’ Cap Commencement Speech
COMMENCEMENT 2011 SPEECH
Hon. Juanita Dy Amatong
Member, Monetary Board of the Republic of the Philippines
Chairperson, Silliman University Board of Trustees
I was invited to deliver the commencement message for the 2011 graduates, and I must say that I have accepted without any hesitation the invitation because this is also my opportunity to make my farewell address to the Silliman Community. As a member and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, I am ending my term in May this year. I am so privileged and honored to have served for a total of 20 years in the Board of Trustees of this distinguished academic institution.
We, the members of the Board of Trustees, the administration, headed by Dr. Ben Malayang III, the faculty and staff and the students are fortunate to be here in Silliman University, to serve, to impart knowledge, and to learn. We are here because we believe in Silliman's vision and mission. For a reminder, let me quote the vision of Silliman University:
“A leading Christian educational institution committed to total human development for the well-being of society and environment.” To operationalize this vision, Silliman University's mission is embodied in the following objectives:
a) infuse in the academic learning the Christian faith anchored on the gospel of Jesus Christ and provide an environment where Christian fellowship and relationship can be nurtured and promoted;
b) provide opportunities for growth and excellence in every dimension of University life in order to strengthen competence,character and faith;
c) instill in all members of the University community an enlightened social consciousness and a deep sense of justice and compassion, and, finally,
d) promote unity among peoples and contribute to national development. In short, Silliman University's existence is based on a tenet of building competence, character, and faith anchored on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Against our vision and aspirations, we must also be realistic to recognize the milieu which, in many cases, defines how Silliman University operates.
On the global front, we are presented with events that pose challenges and opportunities. For example, the internationalization of communication via Internet, Facebook and Twitter, and the development of technological advances in IT challenged us to come up with a program to be in step with these innovations. Our courses in computer science and engineering and the introduction and updating of our curricula are our answers to the growing needs of a knowledge and innovation economy. The Silliman University web allows us to disseminate information here and abroad on the goings on in the University and in our campus, thus connecting us to the Sillimanians, wherever they are. Another global event which is a concern here in the Philippines is the global financial meltdown which started first in the United States and spread to Europe and other countries, including some countries in the Asian region. For the Philippines, in particular, the hit is the loss of employment opportunities for nurses and other skilled professionals. Another effect of the financial crisis is the weakening of the value of United States dollars and the consequent appreciation of the Philippine peso.
This episode affected our students who are receiving allowances from parents or relatives working abroad, thereby reducing the number of our enrollees. It has also reduced the amount of grants we received from donors from abroad, so much so, that it also impacted on the University's financial resources. In more current times, the unpleasant events in the Middle East and North Africa brought about two immediate consequences: the unprecedented price increase of an important commodity that we are dependent on: oil and the deployment of Overseas Filipino workers. You can see the cost of gasoline products have started to increase.
What does this mean for the Philippines in general and to our University in particular?
The price of pump prices of gasoline products will increase the cost of transportation, electricity in the first round. The second round effect is the increase in consumer and industrial items, fanning inflationary concerns. For Silliman, this will definitely increase our operating budget and lead to the possibility of reduction in our revenues from tuition and other fees.
Do you know that Filipinos employed in the Middle East alone, constitute 37 percent of the total Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)? Some of them have to be repatriated back home, and some of them will have to seek jobs somewhere else. Imagine the effect of this on the amount of foreign exchange that is remitted to the Philippines. In 2010, total foreign exchange remitted by the OFWs amounted to 18.7billion US dollars. The loss of jobs of our compatriots in the troubled Middle East and North African countries will drastically reduce the foreign exchange inflows, and consequently the loss of income of many Filipino families who are dependent on overseas employment.
On the domestic front, the culture and the socioeconomic and political environment have a tremendous influence on our individual and collective decisions. For Silliman University, we have to grapple with government policies and regulations affecting the education sector, inflation and its prospects, and other economic developments, competition, and the internal (within the University) inter-relationships.
The Board of Trustees, together with the administration, has recently ironed out the relationships of the University with the Silliman University Church. We have clarified that Silliman University Church serves the spiritual needs of our faculty, staff and students as well as the spiritual and Christian needs of the wide circle of our community.
Just a few months ago, there have been some concerns expressed here and abroad about the role of the Silliman University Medical Center in the life of our bigger Silliman community. I wish to inform all and sundry that we have threshed this concerns with a joint statement which the Board of Trustees of Silliman University and the Board of Directors of the Silliman University Medical Center issued. In essence, this joint statement reaffirms that Silliman University Medical Center serves as the venue for learning and healing primarily for the students, faculty and staff and provide medical services to others.
To the graduates, congratulations and we thank you for spending four, five or more years with us here in Silliman University. The holistic nature of your development and the education that Silliman provided you, prepared you to face the world with its attendant vulnerabilities, challenges and opportunities.
And to the parents and guardians and supporters of our graduates, thank you all for entrusting your children and relatives to spend their youthful and learning years in Silliman. We believe that we have given your beneficiaries the best education and campus life that we can offer.
For all of us, we must however, remember that we are facing a world and a future which is characterized by basically five fundamental phenomena. These are enumerated by Dr. James Canton in his book, “The Extreme Future.”
(1) Speed. Things move so fast that we must be ready to adjust quickly and as fast to the speed of change. Every happening anywhere in the world is known on real time basis. The speed that knowledge is transmitted and news around the world is broadcasted does not allow us to be delayed in our responses and play the catch up game;
(2) Complexity – life is no longer simple and innovations in technology, processes, products, and methodologies elicit adaptability, flexibility, and spontaneity and a lot of analytical inputs into the end-result of our actions.
(3) Risks — in a complicated, globalized environment with the super speedy developments, risks abound. New risks, high risks, risks coming from natural (floods, typhoons, earthquakes, etc) and man-made causes such as terroristic threats, economic and other upheavals will alter every aspect of our lives;
(4) Change — changes are natural to a dynamic society. Changes in work environment, in community, in relationships call for reasoned engagements and adjustments. We must be prepared for changes that oftentimes alter our lifestyle; and finally,
(5) Surprises. Dr. Canton admonishes that surprises can be sometimes good, sometimes difficult to imagine. Surprises will become a daily feature of our lives and often challenging sensibility and logic.
To be prepared for these phenomena is what we believe we have imbued our students with. We are confident that as graduates of Silliman University, you have earned your place in a complex world filled with challenges, surprises and risks but with much dreams and hope for a brighter and a desired future.
Again, congratulations and God bless!