“Tayo sa UP ay Iskolar ng Bayan at hindi Iskolar para sa bayan. Malaki ang pagkaiba nito. Bahagi tayo ng bayan at hindi hiwalay. Pinaral tayo ng bayan at dapat lamang na paglingkuran natin sila. Eto ang pinakamahalagang paninindigan natin bilang Iskolar ng Bayan.”

A social worker, educator, human rights advocate, and presently the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) , she exemplifies the mark of a true Iskolar ng Bayan and befitting as Guest Speaker in this year’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Recognition Ceremony with the theme “Iskolar ng Bayan; Manindigan para sa Katotohahanan, Karapatan at Katarungan.” Indeed, Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo’s inspirational words to the 2017 CAS graduates were aimed at fairness, sense of justice, resilience, and love of country which are expected of new Iskolar ng Bayan.

Sec. Taguiwalo addressed the new graduates of CAS as survivors of a difficult journey filled with trials and obstacles. She recognized the sacrifices and support of their parents, guardians and loved ones and also acknowledged the importance that CAS faculty and staff played during the students’ academic journey,the “lingkod bayan,” as Sec. Taguiwalo referred. To convey her message clearly, Sec. Taguiwalo reminisced of her speech to freshmen during the UP Manila Welcome Ceremony in 2009. She mentioned the four contradictions that a new student starting at UP should see and discover.

Speaking this time in front of CAS graduates, Sec. Taguiwalo told them that UP education should have opened their eyes to society’s ills and transformed them from idealistic young freshmen to accomplished graduates. She expected them to have matured with confidence and integrity and to stand and contribute to solutions of the issues and concerns faced by the country.

"Tayo sa UP ay Iskolar ng Bayan at hindi Iskolar para sa bayan. Malaki ang pagkaiba nito. Bahagi tayo ng bayan at hindi hiwalay. Pinaral tayo ng bayan at dapat lamang na paglingkuran natin sila,” she said.

The DSWD Secretary stated that the essence of public education is accountability to the people, not just to parents or private benefactors, but to the nation who awaits the service to its communities and its people. “Eto ang pinakamahalagang paninindigan natin bilang Iskolar ng Bayan. Paglingkuran ang sambayanan,” said Sec. Taguiwalo.

“Nagtitiwala ako na natutunan ninyo sa loob o labas man ng mga classooms ng Rizal Hall na ang malawak na kahirapan at kakulangan ng oportunidad ng nakakarami sa ating bayan ay may pinagugatan.”

Sec. Taguiwalo said that graft and corruption could be attributed to poor governance. She enumerated the many problems the country faces including contractualization (ENDO), increased drop-out rate in basic education, street children, housing problems, no access in medical care, war in Marawi, war on drugs, terrorism, martial law in Mindanao, among others. She challenged the graduates to fight or flight, but reminded that flight is not synonymous to going abroad but being blind to the realities that the nation faces. “Linawin natin na ang pagtakas ay hindi equivalent sa pangingibang bansa kundi ang pagiging bulag sa realidad ng ating bayan,” she explained.

As an educator and an Iskolar ng Bayan herself, Sec Taguiwalo expects positive response from CAS graduates. She said there are so many ways they can serve the country, quoting Antonio Luna’s famous line “Bayan o sarili, negosyo o kalayaan. ” She also said to always remember that as Iskolar ng Bayan from the University of the Philippines the recognition they receive - diploma or latin honors is meaningless if it’s not in service of the Filipino people.

Sec. Taguiwalo closed her message by sharing her favorite line dedicated to the Filipino youth:

“Nasa inyo ang aming pag-asa. Sa inyo ang daigdig. Sa inyo ang kinabukasan ng ating bayan. Humayo itanghal giting at tapang. Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan. Mabuhay mga Iskolar ng bayan. Serve the people wholly and with humility.” (Dina A. Estanislao)