By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
I did not expect the induction of officers of the University of Iloilo-PHINMA College of Law student council would be different from what we had decades back when we dressed formally and behaved accordingly, that is, we refrained from drinks and listened to speakers, as the program progressed.
Iloilo Press Club president Rommel Ynion, supposedly the guest speaker at the ceremony on July 16 at Punta Villa poolside, on “media and the legal profession”, begged off that sent his “tokayo” Rommel Dilag, president of the law student council, to scrounge for last minute replacement.
Dilag cornered me at the alumni general assembly noon of that same day, when it was difficult to decline. At the induction, I forewent reading my prepared piece and instead spoke extemporaneously to give justice to the occasion when serious discourses was the last that anybody needed. The students, in Hawaiian shirts, many in shorts and slippers, huddled around tables over bottles of beer, while others took a dip at the nearby pool with their kids.
My prepared piece was serious and out of place: press freedom and the constitutional right of people to know, with statistics on extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances from 2001 through 2010 in the inglorious reign of one misnamed “Gloria”, and the casualties in the media community from 1986 through 2010 that hit past 160, of whom 34 were killed in a single incident, the infamous Maguindanao Massacre of November 2009. Four more journalists were killed since PNoy came to power.
That topic is deadly serious and presumably, the last thing the students needed in that situation. President Rommel Dilag’s valedictory piece was a serious intellectual discourse but he gambled delivering it and paid for it dearly – the crowd preferred to continue their fun than listen to him. Only those seated at the presidential table, mostly faculty members, took his delivery seriously and applauded him at the end.
I asked him for a copy to give justice to his piece by reprinting it here for the benefit of the students who preferred to trade banters with tablemates than lending their ears to their president. Here goes:
“Our beloved dean, Atty. Pauline Grace Bunol-Alfuente, officials and members of the University of Iloilo, officials and members of the alumni association, elected officials of In Solidum Frasority, fellow students, good evening.
“Ours is a great privilege having shared a piece in the future history of development in UI-PHINMA College of Law and the In Solidum, an institution which has made a number of illustrious and renowned leaders, brilliant legal luminaries and lawyers. The institution has molded the aforementioned into people of commitment, of values, of strong disposition, whose integrity is beyond reproach and whose passion to serve is commendable.
“As your president, I commit myself to the happy world of service; service to fellow students. Being the head of this frasority (fraternity-sorority) may be a great burden but this gargantuan task will not hinder me to experience how great it is to serve and how rewarding is being concerned for others.
“It is fitting to express in this occasion our warmest thanks and convey our deepest gratitude to the trust you repose on us. You chose us your officers in In Solidum with overwhelming confidence. Rest assured, your trust will not be in vain. Through your cooperation and with God’s help, we will plan great things, work on our plans and yield good fruits, our labor of love for our Alma Mater.
“This year’s theme is ‘Media and the Legal Profession’. Allow me to start one of the famous quotations: “Democracy may live without a government but it will not live without the media – the watchdog, the vigilant protector of society.
“The media are the vanguard of democracy. They are the frontliners in protecting the sacred rights of the people. As our Constitution enumerates and protects the rights of our citizens, the media are vocal and vigilant, in order that these rights are not trampled upon.
“Greed has grappled the conscience of many leaders be it in the government or private sector, the media are awake serving as checkpoints over the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
“As law students, we should not ignore the reality, saying that all our time is for study. Remember, we dream to become lawyers. Lawyers are sworn to serve the public, as we are taught in law school.” (To be continued)
at the presidential table
Dean Pauline Bunol Alfuente delivering opening and welcome remarks
In Solidum officers taking oath