University of the Philippines Los Baños


“How do you thank your benefactors? How do you thank the Filipino taxpayers? How do you thank the Filipino people as a whole?” asked UP President Alfredo E. Pascual to the 2,245-strong UPLB Class of 2016 on June 25 at the DL Umali Freedom Park.

President Pascual was the keynote speaker during the 44th Commencement Exercises of UPLB that started at six o’clock in the morning, a deviation from the usual afternoon-to-evening ceremonies in the University. He was introduced by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr.

 “Being the best in what you do is the best tribute that you can offer to our University and to our nation,” President Pascual said.

He called the Filipino taxpayers as the UPLB graduates’ “faceless supporters” for collectively subsidizing their education.

Working towards the perfect time

President Pascual called on the graduates to conduct their future professions with honor, excellence and integrity.

“As you make a living, get the accolades, awards, the praises; any of these is a mark of achievement and the epitome of excellence. But in your pursuit of excellence, do not overlook honor. Honor determines the value of excellent work,” President Pascual said. “Dangal at husay (Honor and excellence) go hand in hand. Both together will make the whole and define your integrity.”

President Pascual also enjoined the graduates to serve the Filipino people. “This may not come instantly for many of you, because of the immediate need to make a living. But as you make a living, continue to better yourselves and your capabilities. Hone your skills and expertise, build up a career and work towards financial sufficiency so that when you are ready to make a full commitment, that’s the time when you will have more to give,” he said.

President Pascual also encouraged the graduates to pursue higher studies and join academe so that they could contribute to finding solutions to the country’s problems. “The country needs to develop its human and knowledge capital, which is considered the key for technological innovation. It is needed to achieve and sustain inclusive growth that reduces inequality and poverty. Higher level education and training will enable you to create knowledge, products and processes, and improve productivity in our country,” he explained.

Conferring Doctor of Laws to a former regent

Another highlight of the 2016 graduation ceremonies was the conferment of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) upon Dr. Nelia Teodoro Gonzalez, former member of the UP Board of Regents.

The conferment ceremony was led by President Pascual and witnessed by Hon. Philip Ian P. Padilla, Hon. Alexis M. Mejia and Hon. Miguel Enrico A. Pangalangan, faculty, staff and student regents, respectively. The honorary degree was approved by the UP Board of Regents on May 27 at its 1318th meeting.

Dr. Gonzalez, in her message of gratitude, expressed her love for the University. “I have loved and served this University for more than 70 years,” she said. ”I take great pride in saying that UPLB is my alma mater!” She graduated from the UP College of Agriculture in 1944.

Dr. Gonzalez cited her achievements to the graduates to show that it is not only success that comes in many forms but also service. She said that one can leave a mark and a positive impact by serving in both the public and private sectors. She ended her speech with what she said was essential: “in big things and small things, you live to serve God and your fellowmen.”

Unity in diversity

Class valedictorian Christian Jirard Z. Custodio, BS Biology, magna cum laude, cautioned Class 2016 in his valedictory address that the changes that lie ahead of them are as diverse as their differences. However, he expressed confidence that UPLB has prepared them to survive this reality.

He encouraged his fellow graduates to take on their own challenges and battles and to see their individual advocacies as a collective thrust towards a better future. “These differences are not designed so that there will be conflict,” he said. “All of these are tiny lights; each one that is lit contributes to a brighter light at the end of a dark tunnel.”

Custodio led the 177 honor graduates of Class 2016, which includes 20 and 157 who graduated magna cum laude and cum laude, respectively. The Graduate School also released the roster of its top graduates who were recognized a day earlier at the Graduate School’s recognition and hooding rites. They were led by Dr. Adeliza A. Dorado (Ph.D. Agricultural Engineering) and Glaiza J. Visitacion (MS Agrometeorology).

Starting the day at UPLB

As early as four o’clock in the morning, people started to gather at the UPLB field for the break-of-dawn graduation rites.

Chancellor Sanchez and President Pascual declared and confirmed the conferment of degrees to the graduates, respectively. Chancellor Sanchez also led the awarding of diplomas and medals to the graduates. Assisting him was Dr. Myrna G. Carandang, university registrar. Present during the ceremonies were the officials and faculty members of UPLB.

Among the guests were UP vice presidents Dr. Gisela P. Concepcion (academic affairs), Dr. Maragtas Sofronio V. Amante (administration) and Dr. J. Prospero E. De Vera III (public affairs). Also present were Dr.  Emil Q. Javier, former UP president, Dr. Ruben L. Villareal and Dr. Rogelio V. Cuyno, former chancellors of UPLB and UP Mindanao, respectively; Dr. Jose Wendell P. Capili, assistant vice president for public affairs and director of the UP Office of Alumni Relations; and Dr. Melinda DP. Bandalaria, chancellor of UP Open University.

Dr. Amante, on behalf of President Pascual, led the graduates in reciting the Pledge of Loyalty to the University. For. Leo R. Ballesfin, president of the UPLB Alumni Association (UPLBAA), inducted the graduates to both the UPLBAA and the UPAA. (Jessa Jael S. Arana and Mark Jayson E. Gloria)