Office of the Vice President
September 1, 2017
Only a “culture of empathy” may combat the rising trend of hate and violence at present, Vice President Leni Robredo told new graduates, as she underscored the youth’s role in securing the nation’s future.
Speaking before the 71st Commencement Exercises of the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio City on Thursday, VP Leni noted that the nation “is caught up in a clash of opposing values,” punctuated by seeming efforts to promote doubt and anger upon the people. Moves such as that, she said, gave rise to populism, protectionism, and nationalism, not only in the Philippines, but in other parts of the world.
“I do not look down on that anger; I, too, believe that more attention could have been given to the last, the least, and the lost. But the question is: Are we willing to give up our principles because of this? Are we really ready to throw out our freedoms and our rights for change that goes against old-fashioned values of empathy and collaboration?” she said.
“My dear graduates, the only way to stop this emerging culture of violence and impunity is to counter it with a culture of empathy,” she added. “Genuine service demands that we always come from a place of understanding and empathy. Empathy gives voice to the weak and powerless. Empathy teaches us to listen and not to impose ourselves on others. Empathy translates into empowerment; it makes people dream and realize their full potential.”
VP Leni, whose political awakening happened in the midst of the 1986 People Power Revolution, said today’s youth will now be “at the fulcrum of the fight for our nation’s future.”
“As you enter this crucial stage in your life, may you fight anger with empathy, hate with compassion, and hopelessness with action. Stay true to your core and you will be surprised how the darkest of times will reveal the light inside you,” she said.
The Vice President called on them to ensure that the welfare of others is considered and protected, even amid their own personal plans.
“I know many of you here today have big plans for the future. Some of you may perhaps become doctors, lawyers, teachers, artists, public servants, and even CEOs of your own companies. When that time comes, I hope you will choose to go where you are most needed,” she said.
“As you leave the hallowed halls of this university and carve your own paths, I hope you will keep in mind the poor and the powerless. Our people need you, now more than ever. Remember that the task of creating a just and more humane society falls on everybody’s shoulders. And there is so much that we can do, if we can get everyone on board,” she added.
During the ceremonies, the UC conferred upon VP Leni a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, citing her work as an alternative lawyer and the continuation of her advocacy for the poor and marginalized when she became an elected official.
This is the third honorary doctorate that the Vice President has received, including one in Public Administration from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 2015, and another in Humanities from the University of Saint Anthony in Iriga City last April.
VP Leni went to Baguio for several activities, including the opening of the Istorya ng Pag-asa photo gallery at the UC, distribution of assistive devices to persons with disabilities, and an informal audience with student leaders of St. Louis University.