Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Advisory: Fake Friendster Account

Please be advised that I do not own any Friendster account. All
Friendster accounts under my name, or those purportedly about me, are fake and unauthorized.


Tribute to Teachers

Araneta Coliseum

September 1, 2007

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I stand here in front of you today: 10,000 teachers from all over the country, attending this annual event: Tribute to Teachers. And I commend the Bato Balani Foundation and Diwa Learning Systems for showing our teachers that they mean a lot to us.

10,000 teachers – wow, that’s a lot of people, and I was actually very happy for Bato Balani and Diwa that a lot of teachers come to this event. And that was the way I felt, until last night. Because last night, a very disturbing thought came to me: why would thousands of teachers, some even from far provinces, come to Manila, wait in front of the Araneta for hours, sit here for a long time, and come back home late at night?

Is it for the experience? Probably not. Is it for the snacks? I don’t think so. Is it for the tribute?

Tribute to Teachers – that’s what this is all about. So that we can show you how much you really mean to the Filipino people. So that we can show you that your profession is a noble one. So that we can show you that it is you, the teachers, who can inspire Filipinos to greatness.

And 10,000 teachers had to go to Araneta, to Manila, just to hear that. What a shame!

“Shame?!”, you may cry in outrage. But yes, it is such a shame – because you shouldn’t have had to come all the way here to know what your community, your country, should have told you, should have made you feel, everyday all these years of your labors.

It’s a shame how many Filipinos look down upon teachers. It’s a shame how many Filipinos denigrate teaching, both as a profession and as a vocation. And most of all, it’s a shame how many Filipinos fail to see that our nation is in this pathetic state because we have forgotten to respect and value teaching.

My grandmother and my mother were both teachers, and I became one too, just this June. In my whole life, I had never thought of any other career but teaching, because I admired how my mother, my first teacher, shared so much knowledge, to the point that, in my younger years, I thought my mother was omniscient. At a young age, I said to myself, “Teaching is a noble profession.” And I thought that everybody, or at least everybody who went to school, felt the same way.

But soon after I told the public that I wanted to teach, an educated businessman wrote a letter to me and published it in a newspaper. He said many things, all leading to the “you’re-so-young-to-know-the-real-world” theme, but what really irked me was when he told me to get out of the comfortable confines of UP Diliman and instead join the rat race in Makati.

I was irked – because teachers are NOT inferior to the managers in Makati. Teaching is NOT easier than any other profession.

Quite the contrary! Teachers are the conduits of knowledge that enrich young minds. Teachers mold these minds, equipping them with the skills to discover knowledge on their own. And because teachers are the ones whom the students see and emulate, they must set a good example for the students – an example of diligence, perseverance, and thirst for knowledge and progress.

No scholar gets to learn everything by himself. No government official is born so knowledgable he never had to study. No captain of industry is so unschooled he was never taught by a teacher.

Can any other job be more difficult? Can any other responsibility be more daunting? Can any other profession be more noble?

I’ve been told that long before I was born, teachers were held in high esteem. They were called “guro” or “maestra”, which derived their meanings from “guru” and “master” – leaders, experts, great figures. Those were the times when communities, recognizing the value of excellence of the intellect, knew the value of teachers, and showed it. Those were the times when our country was ahead of all others in this part of the world.

But the advent of new job opportunities that paid more and demanded less eroded that esteem. Those who bravely venture into the profession are no longer called “guro” or “maestra”, but are described as “teacher lang”. Those who don’t do well in high school are told “mag-teacher ka na lang”. Ironically, that businessman who thought that the Makati or Ortigas rat race is more challenging than teaching is, himself, a professor. So now, even teachers think themselves inferior to businessmen.

This is insidious – when we start to believe we are less than we really are; when teachers start to believe teaching is inferior to business, or politics, or industry; when no more bright minds join the profession. When, as a result, teachers stop trying to be better teachers, stop learning new things, stop aiming for excellence, that is when the country will grind to a halt.

For knowledge, like water, does not rise above its source. The teacher can only give that much that she has, or thinks she has. And the student gets only what the teacher can give. For learning to take place, the teacher must know more than the student.

What then can we expect when teachers are made to feel low? Don’t the students become even lower? And even when these students get out of the “small” shadow of their “small” teachers, aren’t they the poorer for starting out with less?

Small minds, small people, small progress. In Japan, Singapore, and the Scandinavia, teachers are highly respected and much valued. Look where they are, and weep.

No, ladies and gentlemen. Our country’s slide from the region’s #1 spot to the tail end is not due to corrupt politicians, though we have them, too. It is not because of natural disasters, because we’ve had them for the longest time. It is not because of laziness, because our people work hard.

It is because of this: much of the country has lost its high regard for teachers. So much so that you have to come here for a tribute, and be reminded of the nobility of what you do, when you should all be enjoying both spoken and unspoken gratitude in your respective communities, never made to forget how exalted you are, and forever driven to excel in your craft.

I dream for the day when our teachers will again be called “maestra”, “maestro”, and “guro”, with all the respect and high regard due them. I dream for the day when people would stop saying with disdain “teacher lang kasi”. I dream for the day when 10,000 teachers do not need to come to Manila to feel good about their profession.

But for now, let not those who disparage teaching distract you from your noble work. Let not those who look down on teachers steal your respect and regard for yourselves. Know only that you have the capacity to inspire children to greatness, and in that, you, yourselves are great.

The majority of you who still carry the ideal must carry on, until our country wakes up from its stupor. You must inspire your peers to rise with you and regain their pride. You must insist to excel, to be called once again, “maestra”, “maestro”, and “guro”.

Let me be a testament to your work: the product of the best that teachers have to offer – the openness of mind, the unflagging of the spirit, the unquenchable thirst for learning. In joining you, I pay tribute to all teachers, to the hardships you endure, to the ideals that drive you. I vow to become the best that I can be, so that I can proudly proclaim:

Ako si Mikaela Irene Fudolig. Guro.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Intellectual Achievement Under Siege

Mikaela Irene Fudolig

Speech at the Phi Kappa Phi Recognition Rites, Jan 31, Benitez Hall, College of Education, UP Diliman

On behalf of Phi Kappa Phi honorees

Good afternoon, everyone.

Today, we are honored by our nomination to the International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Today, our academic achievement is recognized, our intellectual pursuits rewarded. Today, we confirm that passion for academic excellence is rewarding, in-style, and relevant.

We stand in gratitude for this recognition. We bask in the glory of our validation. We take comfort in its implications.

Comfort, you ask? Why comfort?

For the past few years, outside and inside the academe, intellectual achievement has gone under siege. Opinion makers from all over have sought to belittle intellectual competence as an ingredient for success. They claim that academic achievement is an elitist criterion that should be abolished. The emergence of new theories on intelligence has led many un-informed self-styled experts to reject academics as a valid objective of passionate pursuit. Some have equated -- wrongly, I must emphasize – high intellectual achievement with low emotional quotient. Even others whose careers have been anchored on superior academic credentials have joined the bandwagon to demand that academic achievers not just participate, but also excel, in some other fields, in order to be truly recognized.

Please don’t get me wrong. I appreciate and encourage the development of multiple talents. But to put down academic achievement as nothing without other activities: that leads to brain drain in its worst and most insidious form.

I have heard people talk. Honor students, especially those with the highest honors, are dismissed as nerds. (I really don’t mind being called one, but do they have to be so derisive?) When some teacher says a student is very bright, another says, he must have an emotional problem. When one talks about a student’s high grades, another asks, “so how many student organizations has he joined? Can he dance? Can he sing? Can he play a musical instrument?” Why, these faultfinders even count your friends, and wrongly conclude that you don’t have any.

The heavy social pressure to belong to one or several groups has taken its toll on some of our most promising batchmates. Not a small number of them have fallen by the wayside of academic life, having lost their passion to excel in their studies. And though they salve their wounded pride by saying “grades are nothing,” a number of doors have closed on them, excluding them from opportunities to serve the country in the best way they can.

I am told that in the 1950’s and the ‘60’s, intellectual achievement was held in awe. Now, with a few, but well highlighted cases, it is dismissed as irrelevant. The media love to point out that the best of our sports heroes have not finished school, making it more difficult for parents to motivate their children to study. Even in Philippine politics, high academic achievement has all but lost its value; for when was the last time any politician was appreciated for high intelligence more than grandiose rhetoric? And, with a perceived prevalence of low-end outsourcing jobs available to graduates, is academic achievement still all that necessary?

Has academic excellence gone out of style?

Has academic excellence become an anachronism?

Is academic excellence now irrelevant?

If we follow the thinking of our detractors, the answer could be “probably, yes,”

But today, we answer these questions with a resounding “NO”!

Those who seek to discredit academic achievement as elitist, those who seek to promote the advancement of talent at the expense of intellectual pursuits, they miss the point. The importance of rewarding academic achievement, of recognizing it as a valid pursuit by itself and in itself, lies not in the achievement alone.

What is more important is the process that goes on as a student achieves from day to day. More than being summa cum laude, it is becoming summa cum laude. More than being here, it is becoming qualified to be invited here.

That process, ladies and gentlemen, is called the pursuit of excellence. Not just excellence by other people’s standards, but the true excellence one feels achieved when one has done his best. The consistency in effort, the single-mindedness of ideal across the disciplines that we study, the relentless passion to deliver one’s best – these are what are being honored today.

The pursuit of excellence is never irrelevant. It drives the progress of nations. It elicits the respect of our neighbors. It propels people, and countries, to greatness.

It is the reason why we are here.

Soon, most of us will leave the University for what is called “real adult life,” the real world out there. Some will join industry. Others will join the government. Others will move to other fields. The rest will stay to teach and do graduate studies. There may be no grades nor academic honors outside the academe. But that doesn’t matter.

Our passion for excellence will keep us relevant even outside the University. It will be our best weapon against the harsh realities and vicissitudes out there. It will make us the best we can be. Managers who lead. Politicians who deliver. Lawyers who win landmark decisions. Scientists who change the world. Teachers who inspire to greatness.

We will become successful farmers, well-read authors, sought-after consultants, great parents. If we inspire people to be like us in the way we do things, they will be more productive and successful.

And maybe we can rebuild this nation, regain our neighbors’ respect from those old days when we were the most advanced country in this part of the world. Those old days when we, as a nation, honored passion for excellence and held academic achievement in awe.

Let those days begin – again. Today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Take not the road less traveled

Mikaela Irene Fudolig – BS Physics

Speech at the 96th General Commencement Exercises,

University of the Philippines, Diliman

April 22, 2007

(Click here to hear my speech.)

One of the things that strike me as being very “UP Diliman” is the way UPD students can’t seem to stay on the pavement. From every street corner that bounds an unpaved piece of land, one will espy a narrow trail that cuts the corner, or leads from it. Every lawn around the buildings sports at least one of these paths, starting from a point nearest to the IKOT stop and ending at the nearest entry to the building. The trails are beaten on the grass by many pairs of feet wanting to save a fraction of a meter of traveling, no matter that doing so will exact some cost to the shoes, or, to the ubiquitous slippers, especially when the trails are new.

What do these paths say about us, UP students?

One could say that the UP student is enamored with Mathematics and Pythagoras, hence these triangles formed by the pavement and the path. Many among you would disagree.

Others could say that the UP student is naturally countercultural. And the refusal to use the pavement is just one of the myriads of ways to show his defiance of the order of things. This time, many would agree.

Still, others will say that the UP student is the model of today’s youth: they want everything easier, faster, now. The walkable paths appeal to them because they get to their destination faster, and presumably, with less effort. Now that is only partly true, and totally unfair.

These trails weren’t always walkable. No doubt they started as patches of grass, perhaps overgrown. Those who first walked them must have soiled their shoes, stubbed their toes, or had insects biting their legs, all in the immovable belief that the nearest distance between two points is a straight line. They might even have seen snakes cross their paths. But the soiled footwear, sore toes, and itchy legs started to conquer the grass. Other people, seeing the yet faint trail, followed. And as more and more walked the path, the grass gave in and stopped growing altogether, making the path more and more visible, more and more walkable.

The persistence of the paths pays tribute to those UP students who walked them first – the pioneers of the unbeaten tracks: the defiant and curious few who refuse the familiar and comfortable; the out-of-the-box thinkers who solve problems instead of fretting about them; the brave who dare do things differently, and open new opportunities to those who follow.

They say how one behaved in the past would determine how he behaves in the future. And as we leave the University, temporarily or for good, let us call on the pioneering, defiant, and brave spirit that built the paths to guide us in this next phase of our life.

We have been warned time and again. Our new world that they call “adulthood” is one that’s full of compromises, where success is determined more by the ability to belong than by the ability to think, where it is much easier to do as everyone else does. Daily we are bombarded with so much news of despair about the state of our nation, and the apparent, perverse sense of satisfaction our politicians get from vilifying our state of affairs. It is fashionable to migrate to other countries to work in deceptively high-paying jobs like nursing and teaching, forgetting that even at their favored work destinations, nurses and teachers are some of the lowest paid professionals. The lure of high and immediate monetary benefits in some low-end outsourcing jobs has drawn even some of the brightest UP students away from both industry and university teaching to which they would have been better suited.

Like the sidewalks and pavement, these paths are the easiest to take.

But, like the sidewalks and pavement, these paths take longer to traverse, just as individual successes do not always make for national progress. The unceasing critic could get elected, but not get the job done. The immigrant could get his visa, but disappear from our brainpower pool. The highly paid employee would be underutilized for his skills, and pine to get the job he truly wants, but is now out of his reach. And the country, and we, are poorer because of these.

Today, the nation needs brave, defiant pioneers to reverse our nation’s slide to despair. Today, we must call upon the spirit that beat the tracks. Today, we must present an alternative way of doing things.

Do NOT just take courage, for courage is not enough. Instead, be BRAVE! It will take bravery to go against popular wisdom, against the clichéd expectations of family and friends. It will take bravery to gamble your future by staying in the country and try to make a prosperous life here. It might help if for a start, we try to see why our Korean friends are flocking to our country. Why, as many of us line up for immigrant visas in various embassies, they get themselves naturalized and settle here. Do they know something we don’t?

Do NOT just be strong in your convictions, for strength is not enough. Instead, DEFY the pressure to lead a comfortable, but middling life. Let us lead this country from the despair of mediocrity. Let us not seek to do well, but strive to EXCEL in everything that we do. This, so others will see us as a nation of brains of the highest quality, not just of brawn that could be had for cheap.

Take NOT the road less traveled. Rather, MAKE new roads, BLAZE new trails, FIND new routes to your dreams. Unlike the track-beaters in campus who see where they’re going, we may not know how far we can go. But if we are brave, defiant searchers of excellence, we will go far. Explore possibilities, that others may get a similar chance. I have tried it myself. And I’m speaking to you now.

But talk is cheap, they say. And so I put my money where my mouth is. Today, I place myself in the service of the University, if it will have me. I would like to teach, to share knowledge, and perhaps to be an example to new UP students in thinking and striving beyond the limits of the possible. This may only be a small disturbance in the grass. But I hope you’ll come with me, and trample a new path.

Good evening, everyone.

Pinagpapala ang Pinagpapalà: The Role of the Scientist in Nation Building (Speech at the CS Recognition Program)

Mikaela Irene D. Fudolig

College of Science Recognition Speech

April 22, 2007

(Click here to hear my speech. Will upload a video on YouTube soon!)

Good afternoon.

Let me start my speech with this quote: “Pinagpapalà ang pinagpapala, at pinagpapala ang pinagpapalà.”

For those who didn’t get that, let me literally translate it in English: “Blessed are those who shovel, and those who are blessed are made to shovel.” Of course, it loses its lyricism, so I repeat: “Pinagpapalà ang pinagpapala, at pinagpapala ang pinagpapalà.”

From the various talks that I have attended, I noticed a general theme: that aside from being good students, which is the primary reason why all of us are here today to be recognized by the College of Science, we should have leadership capabilities and social responsibility. Of course, the fact that we’re from UP sets great expectations.

Do I agree with that? I will make this clear: yes, I do agree. Academic excellence alone is a joy that you will most likely keep to yourself, and if not put to good use, then the University has invested on something for nothing.

The question now is: how do we, as scientists, help in nation building?

I have noticed, again, from the many talks that I have attended, that the common idea of “community service” is Sangguniang Kabataan. Red Cross. Gawad Kalinga. Opinion leaders view community service, which they correlate to nation building, as using physical energy to help the poor. You want to do community service? Solicit money from your congressman and donate a school building. You want to do community service? Help during calamities. You want to do community service? Build houses for the poor.

Again, let me make this clear: These ways are indeed community service. But are these the only ways to do community service? Should community service simply be giving something for nothing? Should community service necessarily involve a lot of legwork? Should the effects of community service be immediate?

Let me ask you now: When Michael Faraday discovered magnetic induction, was that community service?

When James Hutton developed and Charles Lyell promoted the theory of uniformitarianism, was that community service?

When our very own Alexander Edward Dy made it possible for amoebiasis to be tested based on salivary IgA instead of stool, was that community service?

Current conventional wisdom would answer: NO. Faraday had been criticized before for discovering something without practical use. And so what if slow geological processes occurred eons before and continue until now? And how can Alexander Dy’s amoebiasis test serve the poor in the squatters’ area? His method will definitely not give jobs to them. It wouldn’t give them shelter. And it’s not FREE.

But Faraday’s discovery of magnetic induction is what led to using AC power in our homes. It is the reason why we can power this microphone. It is the reason why you have lights at home and in the classroom. It is the reason why you can power your refrigerator.

The concept of uniformitarianism did nothing to help the poor, but it helped gain more understanding of the Earth. And it is uniformitarianism that influenced Charles Darwin in formulating his theory of evolution. And I think you know how influential Darwin’s theory of natural selection had been.

Mr. Dy’s amoebiasis test would probably not be given for free. It would not give them shelter, and most probably, wouldn’t give jobs, at least not to the usual recipients of charity. But if amoebiasis can be diagnosed faster simply by getting the saliva of a patient, something which can be readily obtained, then more amoebiasis patients would be cured. More lives would be saved.

The community service of scientists is often underestimated. Our discoveries are often tagged as having no practical applications, of no use in calamities, and of no immediate help to the poor. If Faraday had concentrated on donating blood, if Hutton and Lyell focused on building houses, if Alexander Dy, now magna cum laude, insisted on tutoring every single kid in his barangay FOR FREE, then they would be considered by the majority as excellent servers of the community. But they would not have done what they have done. Where would we be now?

Fellow scientists, do not be disheartened. Our efforts may be devalued by those who seek immediate, visible, and tangible results. But the fact remains: science drives the technology that makes lives better all over the world. Our devotion to our craft, our unceasing search for our holy grail, that piece of knowledge that will change the way things are, is as much community service as the more popular and immediately recognized forms of giving. Let not the pressure to be recognized make us stray from our efforts to improve the life of humanity in the best way we can.

Thank you.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Mikaela Irene D. Fudolig
April 20, 2007
Speech delivered at the NIP Recognition Program
as Best BS Physics student

(Note: The NIP is the National Institute of Physics, my home institute.)

Good afternoon.

The NIP is a great place to be. It is the only place where people’s interest range from as great as the stars to as minute as subatomic particles. It is full of very interesting people. It takes in children as young as 11, wearing baby-doll shoes, and retains Physics cult followers who love the subject so much to the exclusion of everything else. They can do sophisticated research with pen and pencil or even the simplest equipment (attributed to lack of budget). You can find them here working in the day, and working in the night, and you actually wonder whether they go home at all. Also in this curious mix of interesting people are coffee addicts, insomniacs, Naruto fans, closet rockers, human computers, and those who, when asked “What instrument do you play?”, would answer, “The Titanium:Sapphire Laser”.

Truly, if you’re interesting, NIP is the place to be.

But Physics has PR problems. Though we are a happy group that can pack a videoke joint and sing the night away, trying to be like linear control systems (who strive to mimic the input) but unfortunately have inherent nonlinearities, people from other disciplines tend to shy away from us. Physics, and we, by extension, have a high fear factor. Notice the bewilderment in the eyes of new acquaintances when we tell them we are physics majors, and hear the silence following a resigned “Ah, Physics”, before a hasty change of topic.

The fear factor does us, and the Institute, no good. Potential students who may have become excellent Physicists turn to Engineering, where they are reduced to wearing black t-shirts sourgraping about their state of grades. Others refuse to be associated with us, and call us nerds, spitting it out like a dirty word.

This has got to stop. We should be holding our heads high. In this light, I suggest: let us launch an organization named, New Energy in Research and Development – or NERD. Consequently, the members shall proudly call themselves NERDS. No tambay hours required! The only requirements are, well, to be what we are and do what we do now. Study, do research, and contribute to the development of science in any possible way. That’s all. Maybe, we can meet once a month, drink coffee or tea (for non-coffee drinkers like me), and give progress reports with videoke singing as intermission..

Of course, the membership is initially available only to physics majors and physics graduates. That’s what we call “home advantage”. But then, once the other institutes learn about us, I suppose they’d want to join, too. You know, they might want an organization where they just need to be who they really are. So we’ll have members from Biology, Geology, Chemistry, Mathematics, MBB, MSI!. And probably, the Engineering students will stop sourgraping and learn that being a nerd is the way to start getting 1.0s.

We will lift the term “nerd” from being derogatory to honorific, synonymous to a passion to excel. And once “nerd” becomes honorific, people will no longer be afraid of us, or of becoming like us. And I think you’d agree that the more nerds there are, the more progress we will have in science. (Oh come on, don’t deny it.)

Some of us will be leaving NIP and will not be coming back, although I think that’s not exactly what NIP is hoping for. But I hope that wherever we go, whatever new fields we study, whatever we’ll work on, we’ll live by the principle of NERD – to do our best, to share the passion for excellence with others, and show people that excellence does not mean social ineptness. Let’s make nerd an honorific term.

So soon, we can say, with a glint in our eye: Are you one of us?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Human 2.0

Mikaela Irene D. Fudolig
Speech delivered at "Celebrating Herstory",
under the umbrella of a UP-wide program, "Womancipation"

March 12, 2007

First things first: I’d like to thank the women who have brought me here, and made possible the way my life has been so interesting these past 5 years: Dr. Amy Guevarra, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who referred my request to Dr. Letty Ho, who accepted my credentials, recommended me for admission, and closely monitored my progress, then-Chancellor, now President Emerlinda Roman who allowed these things to happen, then-Vice President Serena Diokno, for sponsoring my case at the Board of Regents, and of course, my mother, who taught me to ask the questions: “What if?” and “Why not?”. These women are all extraordinary iconoclasts: they went around the rules so this promising then-little, and still little, girl, could be what she could be. And I hope they’re mighty pleased with the results. To them (and the enlightened men who agreed with them), my profound “Thank you”.

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Dr. Lucero to talk about my story, in connection with Women’s Month. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I learned that this event was actually under the umbrella of a University-wide, month-long activity, with the theme “Womancipation: Ending the Impunity of Violence Against Women.”

What is women’s liberation? A few days ago, on International Women’s Day, a DJ said on air, “Kung kaya rin ng lalaki mag-drive ng jeep, kaya rin yan ng babae.” Is that women’s liberation? Is women’s liberation about women doing the same things as the men? Is women’s liberation about equality?

I must confess that I wasn’t aware of women’s rights activist groups until a few years ago. I didn’t know that there were women here in the Philippines lobbying for women’s liberation. I didn’t even know what women’s liberation was – probably because I was never bound.

All throughout my school life, I had more female classmates than male ones, and more female teachers than male ones. And in school, the girls surpassed the boys in academics. I was told once that one of the reasons why there are separate rankings for boys and girls was that if there were only one ranking, then almost all in the cream class would be women. By hard work, determination and intense study, I was able to excel in my studies and even be among the top students in class, all the way from elementary to college.

But never did I desire to be equal to a man. I did not dream of doing what men can do. It never dawned on me to gauge my achievement with respect to that of my male classmates. And no, I never dreamed of driving a jeepney, although I know that if I have to, I can learn to do it – or make enough money to drive a car or fly a jet instead.

But I do consider myself a liberated woman.

One of my mother’s favorite phrases is, “All men are created equal. Women are created superior.” Why? My mother’s argument is very simple. The Book of Genesis tells us that God created man on the sixth day of creation. God made Adam first, and then Eve next. But when you create something, do you create something worse? In advertisements, do you ever hear: New! As good as before? Or, “New, worsened!” It’s always, “New, improved!” And who was created later? Eve. New, improved.

In industry, or in making research, do you ever submit something that wasn’t the best you did? Do you make a second draft that is worse than the first, and then present it to the public? No! And what did God make after Eve? Nothing.Why? Because with Eve, the Creator has created perfection.

“All men are created equal. Women are created superior.” To me, women’s liberation is not the equality of men and women. Rather, it is about being who we really are, as women, without comparing ourselves to men. And if all we try is to prove that we can do what men can do, and that we should have what men have, that is not liberation.

I have achieved what I have achieved, not in spite of being a woman, but because of being a woman. And I was lucky to be raised by my parents in an environment where I was allowed to be who I want to be, to be who I am, to reach my full potential. To me, that is liberation.

Ladies, you have achieved much, and have broken many barriers. I now ask that you help my generation go to the next level – to believe in who they are, to achieve because of who they are, not in spite of it.

(Before I end, I would like to share with you a song sung by Helen Reddy in 1972. I hope that it will inspire all of us to dedicate our energies to be the best women we can be, instead of the best male counterparts to ever exist.)

Thank you very much.