Nation-building and making lives better
This Christmas has just become more special with an invaluable gift given to me by my alma mater, De La Salle University (DLSU): an honorary doctorate degree in business administration conferred upon me last Dec. 10. I wish to share some excerpts from my acceptance speech and my message to the young graduates.
I believe that among the highest honors a person can receive are those bestowed by his own alma mater. For today’s great honor, I am truly humbled, and I am also overflowing with pride and gratitude.
In truth, as outlined in the citation, De La Salle has been extremely generous in bestowing far more honors on me than I can possibly deserve. But while these awards are deeply appreciated, what has been most precious to me, and has had the greatest impact, are not so much these honors and awards, but my 17 years of Lasallian education, and the values, and principles, and life lessons these years have imbued in me, as well as the lifelong friendships that I forged that have played a very major role in whatever I have become. For all these, I profusely thank my beloved alma mater.
Now that I have grown into a super senior citizen of 78 years, what is it about Lasallian education that has meant the most to me? What lessons would I now like to share, especially with the De La Salle graduates of 2022?
The first is that we should take our Catholic education seriously and live our faith fully, not just on Sundays or when people are watching or when cameras are present, but every day of our lives. At the core of this, I submit, should be integrity. And by this, I mean the integrity that induces us to live up to our core values and principles, and adhere to them, no matter the cost. Integrity as the foundation that leads us to compensate our employees fairly, produce products that improve the lives of our customers, pay our taxes fully, even when it is much easier to cheat. Integrity, as our guide, to improve by what we do to the lives of our employees and the communities we serve. Integrity that means standing on principle, and taking a stand when called to do so.
The second follows from the first: by virtue of the gift of our Lasallian education, we cannot be bystanders. When confronted by the immense problems facing Philippine society, do we shrug our shoulders and say that these are for our politicians to address, and that, anyway, we are too young to make a difference? Yet, we know that we are among the privileged few who have been gifted with the finest Catholic education our country can offer. If we do not respond, who will? And if not now, when? If you were not aware earlier, I have news for today’s graduates: Yes, your Lasallian education, hopefully, will provide you a path to good, productive, and comfortable lives, but this gift comes with serious strings attached: You must give back! And this you do by doing all you can to help build a more just, progressive, and equitable society that makes lives better for all, especially the underserved.
But how can I realistically do that, you may ask. What difference can a young Lasallian graduate truly make? Perhaps the story of a 1938 commerce graduate of De La Salle College will help provide an answer. His name was Ramon V. del Rosario, whom we affectionately refer to as RVR, and it is after him that DLSU College of Business is now named. I hope you will not only be inspired by his story, and how he built the Phinma group into what it is today, but those of you from the College of Business will also learn to be prouder that you are graduates of the college named after him.
Learning from RVR, do live your faith fully, built on a foundation of integrity. Do not be bystanders. Be a force for good. Do good while doing well. And go and make many, many lives better!
MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!
Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. is a trustee of Makati Business Club. He was conferred an honorary degree of doctor in business administration by the De La Salle University earlier this month.
Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club ([email protected]).
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