For Brent Manila’s 35th commencement exercises, Pasig Mayor and Brent alumnus Vico Sotto gave a speech to students during a global crisis. But busy as Mayor Vico might be, he still gave his words of encouragement to these future leaders.
He didn’t give a cliche “follow your dreams” spiel. Instead, he reminded the youth why they’re the catalyst of change—Jose Rizal be damned (in a good way).
“It’s clear that our world needs changes and fast—but I have faith. As we see what’s wrong in the world we live in, us young people as the next generation of leaders in the Philippines would be the catalyst of positive change that we so badly need,” says the Pasig mayor. “I know it might sound a bit cliche but the truth is, if our society and the world need to get better, there’s no one else that’s going to do that job but you.”
The Brent alumnus didn’t gloss over how this pandemic revealed our broken system and the alleged corruption in our bureaucracies. “We see economic inequality, how politics causes [a divide] among us, how corruption is ingrained in our bureaucracies, and we see how these issues have prevented better response in times of crisis when we should all be working as one.”
Normally, leaders like him will give us a “kabataan ang pagasa ng bayan” spiel in a condescending manner. But the youth always yearns for the truth. Keeping it real is our ethos—and he respected that all the way.
“I know it might sound a bit cliche but the truth is, if our society and the world need to get better, there’s no one else that’s going to do that job but you.”
“It’s not that your generation is naturally better. It’s not that you’re wildly more intelligent or talented. The difference is in your potential to affect change,” explains Sotto. “All generations, especially coming out of a crisis, has transformed the world to some extent—but your generation has the potential to make changes faster and more efficiently than any other generation has done in the past.”
Mayor Vico’s speech doesn’t intend to pass the pressure on young folks like us. At the time of a global pandemic, we are in a weird-ass position in our lives—and he acknowledged that. And despite our future plans getting delayed, he reminds everyone that our potential to be great still remains.
“Well, nothing has replaced the importance of physical contact. With the tools available today, not even a pandemic can stop you,” reminds Sotto. “I know that you will find it in you. Not just to stay safe, but to stay strong. Don’t let any situation dampen your dreams or visions for the future.” He also reminds students that money and success wouldn’t mean anything without empathy for the community. “All the future money and success you might have will mean next to nothing if we’re not connected to other members of society.”
These trying times are a lot for students. Juggling the new normal of online classes and the uncertainty of continuing their education really takes a toll on them. Most of the time, thinking about our futures now is panic-inducing. No one knows what our lives will be like a year or a week from now.
Hearing a public servant affirm our potential means a lot. It’s nice to see that there are people out there who still believe in us—even during a crisis like this.
Excuse me, I might have some emotion in my eye. You can get all the words of encouragement you need from Vico below: