Anak ng Jeepney Driver, Nagtapos Bilang Valedictorian sa Ateneo!


Sa valedictory address na ibinigay ni Reycel Hyacenth Bendana para sa graduating class ng Ateneo ngayong taon, sinabi niya ang isang bagay na napakasakit: “I am here as a reminder that the unseen poor are real.”

Ang batang nagtapos, na nakakuha ng bachelor’s degree sa Management Economics cum laude, ay anak ng isang jeepney driver at isang saleslady sa SM. Halos hindi sila kumikita ng sapat para sa pangangailangan ng pamilya.

Kinailangan niyang magtrabaho bilang “barker” sa isang terminal ng jeep at ang kanyang kapatid na lalaki ay nagbebenta ng mga lokal na delicacy mula sa bahay-bahay upang matugunan ang mga pangangailangan.

“My story has been celebrated, even romanticized, for its sheer improbability. Kahit mga magulang ko, hindi pa rin makapaniwala. But a story like mine is the lucky exception, not the rule.

“As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for the generosity of those who helped me get here. But generosity is not enough. Generosity means inequality. Inequality means that there is a hill, and the rest is down from the hill.”

Siya ay nagpatuloy upang bigyang-diin ang panlipunang kawalang-katarungan na ating kinabubuhay sa araw-araw.

“Hindi makatarungan ang hindi pagkapantay-pantay. Sino bang makapagsasabi na dapat tayo lang ang nandito ngayon?”

“Hindi dapat kailangang um-absent ng isang bata para tumulong mapakain ang kaniyang pamilya… At hindi dapat kailangang maramdaman ng isang bata na nag-iisa siya sa laban niya.”

“These realities are systemic, complex, and intertwined. It will take more than one batch of graduates, or even one generation of Filipinos to even begin to unravel the knots that have been tied over and over for decades until we no longer see where one problem ends, and where another begins. We are called to do better than this…

“As long as society has not overcome bigger, deeper problems — social discrimination, stark economic inequality, and the concentration of political power in the hands of the few — there will always be something better to struggle for…

“Pero kahit hindi makatarungan ang mundong minana natin… ito ang hamon sa ating lahat. Bumuo tayo at mag-iwan ng isang Pilipinas na mas makatarungan kaysa sa lipunang dinatnan natin, isang lipunan na ikararangal nating ipamana.”