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To our recognition speaker, Atty. Vyva Victoria M. Aguirre; Dean, Professor Kathleen Lourdes B. Obille; College Secretary, Professor Benedict S. Olgado; SLIS Faculty and Staff, distinguished guests, alumni, relatives, families, parents, and fellow graduates, a pleasant afternoon to you.
I stand here in front of you today not because I am the most brilliant, but because I was blessed; not because I am the most exceptional, but because I gave my all to reach this very dream. A dream I would like to share with you today.


When I graduated valedictorian in elementary, I was deprived of the opportunity to deliver a speech, so was in high school when I graduated second honorable mention. That is why today I am very thankful for this chance given to me to speak in front of you; to represent the SLIS Graduating Class of 2017. I am humbled by this honor as much as I will savor it, given that only few people are given such an opportunity. And I would like to begin by briefly sharing with you my lifestory and the motivations that lead me to this day and toward this achievement.
My story is not a lazy-turned-smartass student tale, but that of a right-from-the-get-go-claim-the-trophy one. Though as much as I would like to say that the journey was smooth sailing, I experienced the opposite. I never thought that I would survive the rough waters that almost had me quit. You may ask me, “Sylvan, bakit 2.25 lang ang pinakamababa mong grade?” or “How come wala kang tres, kwatro, or singko?” to which I’d reply, “Probably because I experienced how it feels like to have a tres, an INC, and a singko in real life; that is why I promised myself I would try never get such grades, at least in my education.” Seriously.
My family has long stayed in the lower bracket of the social strata. My father used to be a merchandiser and my mother was once a cashier at Glory Supermart, a known supermarket store in the early ‘80s. However, as financial issues plagued the company, my parents were forced to resign. All of a sudden they found themselves in a world of trouble, with the needs of their growing family as their primary concern. My father ended as a shoe repairer, and my mother went from a working mom to a full-time housewife. What’s worse, we ended up sleeping at a barong-barong – if a pile of shoe sacks and a single makeshift-bed can be categorized as such. And if hearing barong-barong already sounds bad to you, that barong-barong we used to live in was under a bridge. Sa ilalim po ng tulay kami tumira, sa lugar na dapat sana ay tambakan lang ng mga ipinapagawang sapatos at paradahan ng mga jeepney.


We were contented with the three-hundred-peso daily average income of my dad. Imagine sending your sons and daughter to school with only three hundred pesos to work with. There were times we only eat once a day, and if my papa was lucky enough to have many customers, we get to eat thrice. There were numerous attempts by my parents to provide a better shelter for us, as we jumped from one house to another, 12 times to be exact, in just a span of eight years. Despite their hardwork and sacrifices, sa ilalim pa rin po ng tulay ang naging bagsak namin. Biruin nyo po, walang maayos na naging hanapbuhay ang aking mga magulang, at sobrang hindi po sapat ang kinikita nila para maitawid ang bawat araw. Ang totoo po, kung mahina ang loob namin, baka maaga pa ay sumuko na kami sa buhay, namalimos na lang, o kaya ay nabaliw, nagpabaya. Who would know our fate exactly? Pero gaya nga po ng sabi nila, “Habang maiksi ang kumot ay matutong mamaluktot”. That is why I really admire the resilience of my parents despite reaching rock bottom. Sobrang kritikal ng mga ganoong sitwasyon, dahil kung sumuko ang mga magulang ko, hindi ako makakatuntong ng high school, at wala sa hinagap ang pagtapak sa UP. Mabuti na lang ay tinuruan nila akong mangarap, at nangarap na rin ako nang mataas, tutal libre naman. The problem is, while everyone is entitled to have their craziest and almost-impossible dreams, the means toward getting those goals are a different story.
Thank God I found a bridge, a bridge that connected me to my dreams. God has instrumented Eat Bulaga to assist me financially for my high school education. All around the Philippines, 30 students were selected and were hailed as Eat Bulaga’s Excellent Student Awardees (EBESt). Because of that, I was able to continue my dream for another four years, until they decided that they would support all of us until we finished college. “A green light from heaven”, I always say. The heavens allowed me to continue aspiring, to continue dreaming for a better life.


The UP Experience
Entering UP was a dream which provided me with a set of totally new experiences. There were only three of us who passed the UPCAT in 2013 who chose to enrol in SLIS. Clueless at first, I remember asking my mom “Ma, paano yung klase kung tatlo lang kaming pumasa? Parang one-on-one yung prof samin, tapos tatlo lang kami sa isang classroom?”, which never really happened by the way. Through the years, I realized that studying in UP actually exposed us to public scrutiny. Every time there is an issue, whether local, nationwide, or international, the UP community always makes a stand. To the people outside, those acts are bayaran or dilawan. But for us, such acts show how proactive we are when it comes to society; that we actually translate into action what we learned inside the classroom.
While the taste of flat unos and near-perfect exams are so sweet, I have also had a fair share of disappointments and failures. Quite frankly, when I first entered Gonzalez Hall, there were two goals in my mind: first, to win the LIS Wizard, and second, to stand at a podium and deliver a speech. While I managed to achieve the latter, I was very frustrated I did not have the chance to represent our beloved school in that contest. Probably because of the system of selection of participants, or that contest was not really for me. Even if that is the case, I have full confidence that this developing process will soon reach maturation, and will harvest sweet fruition.
I also had a shot in a student exchange program. In the second semester of academic year 2014-2015, I applied with the Office of International Linkages for a student exchange program to Japan. Luckily, I passed the panel interview, and basically all of the necessary requirements by the program. While that may be the case, financial issues again stopped me from pursuing such a rare opportunity. The scholarship offered by the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University would only be determined upon arriving in Oita, Japan. Technically, I would not know if the scholarship would be given to me unless I gamble to go to Japan first.
Lastly, seeing my name on the nomination for best thesis award was such a rewarding experience. However, only few of my batchmates know that my first proposal was rejected by the panel. In fact, if I am not mistaken, I am the only student who chose to rush my second proposal, just to graduate on time.
Those experiences may not be exactly the same as the hardships and the trials endured by my parents in the past years, but there are similarities between those challenges we faced – instead of giving up easily, we fought hard; instead of seeing the negative, we saw the positive.
This persevering spirit is the something I have in common with every single graduate of the UP SLIS Class of 2017 who, like me, have their own share of triumphs and failures and today stands proudly wearing their sablays.

Iridescent
The Class of 2017 chose the word ‘iridescent’ as our batch theme. Consulting the Oxford Dictionaries, iridescent is an adjective that means “showing luminous colors that seem to change when seen from different angles”. I could not think of a more appropriate word that fits this Class. All of these people wearing their sablay have different stories to tell. We all came from different places, yet we are bound by one common thing – UP. Through the years, UP has consistently been the the home of people across the nation, from Batanes to Jolo, from Tagalog to Maranaw, from Catholic to Muslim to Iglesia Ni Cristo. We in UP choose not to look at our differences, but appreciate the things that make us the same, while also celebrating our diversity. Instead of seeing the barriers, we choose to break them and build bridges.
Like most of you, I found a home in SLIS. Our school harbors all types of students. There are those who pass the UPCAT, those who shift from one degree program to another, and those who transfer from another university to Diliman. This college has become our home when we have all but ended our UP education. When we felt the need to transfer school, SLIS wholeheartedly welcomed us, and treated us as legit iskos and iskas. When the rest of the colleges in UP Diliman refused, the SLIS that we never knew accepted us, healed our wounds, and made us feel better. Bottomline here is, we all were once haunted by our traumatic pasts, but this very school first sympathized, and then empathized with us. We even found some of our valuable friends in SLIS, those that celebrated with us in our victories, and consoled us in failures. For all of these, we are thankful to SLIS. And the best way to repay everything the School has given us, is to live up to our calling as library and information professionals.
We are faced with the task of upholding what is written in the books, recorded in the videotapes, and falsifying uninformed opinions or trolls. But before that, there is a need to cultivate within ourselves the virtue of respect. Respect that emanates from the definition of iridescence. From that, we can draw that there are, and there will be different ways to approach a specific issue. What we need is to bring the light with us, and not just to bring it with us but to proudly hoist the torch, so that everyone stays out of the darkness where the lack of respect resides.
Fears will be in our way, definitely.  As creations of God, we are given the capacity to feel and express our emotions. There will be times when our feelings would interfere with the decision of the mind, creating a series of thesis and antithesis. Nevertheless, we are always free to seek the spiritual, where we can find definite proofs and guidance as we continue our journey.
As I said before, libre lang mangarap. I know that after this recognition rite and our commencement ceremonies on Sunday, some of you will have jobs right away. Some will choose to pursue their second degree, some will immediately take their graduate studies, and some will surely take a much-needed rest/break/hibernation. But as we go on our separate ways, we should never cease to dream for our future. As UP students, we are expected to be the forerunners of the workforce of this country, and I encourage everyone of you to be at the battlefront of the LIS field. It is never wrong to aspire for the betterment of ourselves, but we must also dream for the improvement of the field we all belong to.

To always look back
While the sight of sablays and barongs and fancy dresses makes us feel ecstatic at this moment, let us not forget all the struggles that we have been through. All the sleepless nights we endured just to review and cram our papers and projects, especially our thesis. Let us not forget all those singkos, for every time we fell, we always managed to stand back up. Let us not forget the people who rejected us, for their rejection ignited the dragon inside our hearts. UP made us resilient, that whatever hindrance we faced, we always see to it that we’ll reach the endpoint. As we end this journey, let us all be grateful to the wonderful faculty and staff of SLIS, and I think they really deserve a huge round of applause.

To our Dean, Professor Kathleen Lourdes Obille, who exerted her full effort to check our thesis not just once, but even thrice, in a span of two weeks, thank you. Thank you ma’am Kate for extending your patience to this batch, and for believing that we can make it. We know that you have other more important duties and personal obligations to attend to, yet you never left us.

To our College Secretary, sir Benedict Olgado, who have overseen all the struggles, the drama, the tears of grief and tears of joy of this batch, thank you. We thank you sir for all those efforts you have made to assure each and everyone of us will reach this day of our lives. Thank you for all the FB posts, motivations, and words of encouragements just to push us.

To my adviser, sir Mark Anthony Santos, who was not only patient but also true to his words, thank you. Thank you for nominating me for the best thesis award, and thank you for trusting in my capabilities. The thesis experience would not be so complete without your guidance. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! :)

To the SLIS Faculty, we are always indebted to you for planting the seeds of wisdom and inspiration as we take the LIS journey. Thank you sir Mark, ma’am Rhea, ma’am Yhna, sir Igor, sir Dan, ma’am Iyra, ma’am Sonia, sir Eli, ma’am Rochelle, sir Martin, sir Jonathan, and ma’am Alana for sharing all your expertise and experiences in the field. We had a wonderful undergraduate experience in SLIS because of you, our dear professors.

To ate Oda, who always attend to our document needs and queries; who tirelessly gave her effort to secure and assure our pertinent documents, thank you. Thank you for allowing us to use the telephone to follow-up on our data gathering, or even when placing our orders in Jollibee and Mcdo.

To the SLIS staff, ate Rina, ate Shelly, ate Josie, kuya Jay, and kuya Mike, thank you for your technical support in every enrolment in our years in SLIS.

To the SLIS Library staff, ma’am Jessie, ate Geli, and ma’am Betty, we thank you for your assistance to all of the students. Thank you for your continued innovations in our library.

To my orgmates in UP Future Library and Information Professionals of the Philippines, UP FLIPP, thank you for the bond that we had, for the unlimited kwentos and the unforgettable memories we all shared together. Through UP FLIPP, I learned to organize events such as Junior LIS Wizard and LibSpeak. Thank you for the exposure you gave to me.

To the Graduating Committee and the SLIS Student Council, thank you for the logistics and the overall preparation for this graduation.

To my friends, thank you for choosing me as a friend. In one way or another, I hope I influenced you just as how you influenced me.

To Alpha, the best guys who were there for me. I hate you. Kidding aside, thank you for showing me the real meaning of iridescent. We may have differences, in fact we four have different religions, but we were bonded by the friendship we had over the years. Thank you Psalm, thank you Ally, thank you Sassy for the four great years. I will miss you.

To Eat Bulaga, who had given me all the resources that I need through their financial assitance, words such as thank you would never be enough. Thank you for the solid eight years of financing my high school and college education. If God had not used you as an instrument, I would probably be there on the streets begging for food. Thank you to Tito, Vic, and Joey, and all of the people on and off the camera. To ma’am Jenny Ferre, to ma’am Ruth Garcia, to ma’am Maricel Vinarao, to ate Naomi Vergara, and especially to ma’am Malou Choa Fagar and sir Tony Tuviera, you have shown that Eat Bulaga works even off-camera.

To my siblings, ate Dianne and kuya Andrew, who have assisted me in my education since elementary, thank you. I just want to let you know that I appreciate all your efforts, no matter how big or small those may be. Thank you for the bond that we shared through the years. Now that all of us three will be working, I hope that we put our parents in our priority, next to our duties in the Church.

To my parents, Mama Annie, and Papa Danny, I may not be expressive when it comes to how much I love you, but deep in my heart, and in my prayers, I always hoped that I would reach this point in life where I can have the opportunity to help our family. You have courageously raised this family by instilling faith in God. Thank you for teaching us how to pray and how to actively perform our duties in the Church. Salamat Ma, dahil hindi mo ako iniwan. Marami man po akong pagkukulang bilang anak, minahal nyo pa rin ako nang buong buo. Salamat Pa, dahil sa lahat ng pagsusumikap mo, mas lalo akong ginanahan na gawin ang lahat ng makakaya ko, para dumating yung panahon na kami namang tatlo yung magtatrabaho, at kayo naman ni mama yung lulutuan namin ng pagkain, bibilhan ng disenteng mga damit, at patatayuan ng magandang bahay. Hindi na ulit tayo titira sa ilalim ng tulay, hindi na magugutom, o mangungutang. Mahal na mahal ko po kayo, at patuloy ko pong pagsisikapang maging mabuting anak sa inyo.

To my aunties who are here, tita Lit, tita Beng, tita Clen, and to my cousin, ate Pierce, you have extended your help whenever we needed you. You stayed with us in good times and in bad. Thank you for all your assistance to me and to my family. I love you.

To all of the parents in this auditorium, thank you. There may be times where you just cannot understand your daughter or your son, but you have chosen to support them all the way. Nagagalit po kayo kung gabi na kami umuuwi, pero hindi naman po lahat ng mga gabing yun ay gimik, kadalasan may mga projects po talagang kailangang tapusin. Salamat po sa pagsundo sa amin sa school pag tinext po namin kayo. Salamat din po sa pagtitiwala, na kahit pa apat, lima, anim, pito, walo, o higit pang mga taon ang hinintay nyo para lang po makapagtapos kami, ay hindi kayo nainip, dahil heto na po at sasablay na kami.

This moment is also for all the people who, directly or indirectly, helped us get through this journey. We may not have the chance to personally thank you, but through this speech, we express our sincerest gratitude for your help.

To the Church of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) Administration, thank you for your support to all the brethren studying in UP through UP Christian Brotherhood International. Thank you for your continued guidance for the sake of our faith, so that we may receive the promised salvation on Judgment Day.

Above all, I am most thankful to God, for hearing all my prayers. This very moment is dedicated to You, for I am never worthy. Thank You, my Lord, for all the blessings that you give. A lot of times I almost quit, but You constantly reminded me, through the Church Administration, that faith can move mountains. I promise to always uphold Your teachings and to never turn my back against You.

Indeed, this is a dream come true. As we close one chapter of our lives, we open another. That is why I encourage everyone of you to never stop dreaming. Libre lang mangarap. Kaya mangarap tayo nang mangarap. However, our dreams will remain as abstract concepts until we decide to translate those dreams into action. Dreaming requires strong faith and commitment, so that trials would not have a chance to hinder us. Let us continue the tradition of honor and excellence. Padayon UP SLIS Class of 2017!

I am Sylvan Dan Macabante Moldes, and I am proud to be a member of the Church of Christ!