Last September 20, 2017 (Wednesday), Philippine Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona-Robredo graced the 84th founding anniversary convocation of the College of Commerce and Business Administration and spoke on the need for service. The convocation was held at the Medicine Auditorium.

Consistent daily commitment for survival
Acknowledging UST’s laurels and recognitions, Robredo said that UST’s consistent prominence in local rankings and its entry into the world’s top 1000 universities list, as certified by Quacquarelli-Symonds (QS), comes “with consistent daily commitment to do away with mediocrity.” The Vice-President encouraged the students to ensure they “turn the best work in,” to develop a work ethic that is “critical for survival.”

Explaining her statement on survival, Robredo highlighted advances in technology that have redefined the ways we do things. She told the students that upon their entry to the workplace, they will not only compete with fellow human beings from all over the world, but with “machines that can do deep learning.”

The Herculean problem
Apart from these technological challenges, Robredo cited that the biggest task of the modern generation is to address “global inequality,” which is causing an ever-growing divide between the “rich and the poor.” “This is causing massive unrest in different parts of the world as well as on social media, where everything is noisier and more chaotic,” the Vice-President said, lamenting that “the divide is breaking societies and challenging liberties.”

Robredo said that the divide can cause confusion, which historically, has precipitated the need for society to look toward “a savior—one man or woman who promises to solve everything and make all problems go away.” To this, Robredo challenged Thomasians to ensure the sustainable future of the country by selfless service, using “old-fashioned values that can solve our modern troubles.”

More than sympathy: empathy
Serving as the anchor of selfless service, empathy is more than simply hearing. Rather, it is listening and understanding, as well as putting oneself in another’s shoes. The Vice-President proposed empathy as the “inner transformation that will heal society.” In explaining, she cited the Office of the Vice-President’s ongoing program named “Angat Buhay,” which is being conducted with partner public and private agencies.

“We devote at least two to three days every week to visit the poorest places and communities in the country,” Robredo revealed, showing community engagements with areas like Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte; Agutaya, Palawan; and Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. She revealed that support given to the communities included educational programs, livelihood and entrepreneurship programs, as well as health-related activities.

Unshakable in the face of blurring
In closing, the Vice-President called on Thomasian to imbibe unshakable values that will insulate them from the allure of success, fame, and power, which can blur the lines of right and wrong. She cited present-day circumstances as manifestations of such confusion.