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.

27 comments:

sexy mom said...

Congratulations, Mikki! you make the Filipino youth proud! you make us mothers proud!

twas nice meeting you yesterday--me and my kids had a FUN time chatting with you, your mom and your 2 brothers.

keep up the good work, the charm, the friendliness and the humility! God bless you and your family.

yan said...

I'm honored that you took the time to visit my blog. I'm truly awed by your wisdom. Thank you for inspiring me.

mikki fudolig said...

Thank you po, Mrs. Racoma and yan!

banggigay said...

mikki the moment i heard your famous lines on telly the other day, i immediately researched for your info.

lo and behold! i cannot contain now my awe to your achievement and to the very ideals you wish other people emulate.

hope there would be more young blood like you!

cheers for a better philippines! :p

des said...

hi mikki,

may i call u mikki? ur speech was so empowering! this is the first time i heard and read about a speech wherein every line sends me goosebump from hair to toe. u make us, Filipinos, proud!

congrats! so happy to chance upon ur blog. may i link u?

des

des said...

CORRECTION to my earlier post:

ooops, sowee...it's head to toe, i should say. :)

des

mikki fudolig said...

hi des! thanks!

yes, please link me sa blog mo! salamat! :)

des said...

hi mikki!

ur welcome!

will link your blog URL now...here

Belle TH said...

hi Mikki, we have been talking about you in our egroup, of which your dad is a member, up until now. i listened to your speech raptly and boy, did i have goosebumps. you made us feel like your proud parents cheering and awe struck for the extraordinary achievements you have attained thus far.

hope to meet you and your family on one of our future meetings.

banggigay said...

i'm goin' to add you to my blogroll, k? :-)

tnx!

Anonymous said...

Mikki, lagi ka lang kumain sa Casaa ha.

Myraq Moonfall said...

Nice speech. One day, I would take your Physics class.

jong lardizabal said...

i graduated from UP twice (2002 and 2006) but yours is the grad speech that truly inspired me. your superior intelligence comes with a perceptive intellect that only a few people have.

a few days after i read your speech (and listened to the podcast), i decided to make a career shift! thank you very much for enlightening me.

jadeD said...

Hi Mikki!
I'm Mari-An from Cosmopolitan magazine. I'd like to know if we can feature you in the fun, fearless female section of the mag, to inspire more of our readers. Pls let me know how I can contact you to arrange for a convenient time and place for you.
Thanks!

mikki fudolig said...

Hello, Ms. Mari-An. Thank you for contacting me. Please post your email here so I can email you back. Thank you very much.

jadeD said...

It's actually mcsantos1@gmail.com. Thanks and I look forward to hear from you.

Precious Amor said...

hello Mikki! I am happy that you're featured in Candy Magazine...
Though I hate math and physics (forgive me...) I started wishing to be your student when I finished reading you speech.haha!

Vladimir said...

Hi, Ms Mikki!

Before everything, I would like to say that I really never knew this site exists. Well, I'm glad to find this site in order for me to find inspirations through your words upon studying physics and beyond.

Anyways, this is such a good speech. It is so right that we should not take the road less traveled because as said by Murphy's Law:

"Nothing is as easy as it looks. Everything takes longer than you expect it to be. And if everything can go wrong, it will at the worst possible moment."

Well, sometimes, we think that the road less traveled is the easiest way through things. But hindrances cannot be avoided and once they come, we take a little longer and become frustrated.

We all want to accomplish many things in life, and in order to accomplish that, we should make the pace of our growth fast. And we make it fast not by taking the road less traveled, but as you said, making our own ways.

Well, in fact, I want to make my own way by also teaching physics in the University to spearhead pedagogical steps for the Philippines' development.

I'm so inspired your words. Thank your for such a beautiful speech. It empowers me in my studies in the UP as a BS Physics freshie.

Sem. Hark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sem. Hark said...

hi mikki... uhm, may i just ask you to link me to your blog so that i can have a connection with you even if i'm inside the seminary?

my URL: harkheraldsarmiento
email: harksarmiento@yahoo.com.ph

ha ha. as you know, i only go home and have my phone once a month...

so, i found it better to talk to you here miss...

missing your words of wisdom,

sem. hark c. s.

Anonymous said...

Mikki, you're such an inspiration for young and old alike. Magtagumpay ka nawa sa lahat ng iyong adhika.

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rommel_pamintuan@yahoo.com said...

i happen to read your story just now on one of the many post here on facebook, ang galing mo naman, you're such an inspiration...

Supergirl06 said...

Hi Mikki, I am inspired by your story.. Keep it up and it would be better if you will continue to share it with other people especially in the Philippines. I'm praying for you! God Bless. So proud of you!

Supergirl06 said...

Hi Mikki, I am inspired by your story.. Keep it up and it would be better if you will continue to share it with other people especially in the Philippines. I'm praying for you! God Bless. So proud of you!