Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

A senior citizen graduates

Manila Standard Today

April 29, 2013

This summer, I found myself wearing a toga during the 66th Commencement Exercises of De La Salle Araneta University at Our Lady of Victory Chapel, Malabon. There, as faculty member, I witnessed some 300 candidates moved the tassel of their head gear from right to left; it signified an academic passage.  They were students of the Graduate School, College of Veterinary Medicine and Agricultural Sciences, College of Business, College of Education, and College of Arts, Sciences and Technology. President Br. Narciso Erquiza, Jr., FSC, assisted by Dean Rosemarie Montano, Chancellor Christopher Polanco and Registrar Amelia A. Ajoc, pronounced them graduates.

As I listened to the commence address of Dr. Daniel Ventura, Jr. of the Philippine World Society for the Protection of Animals and the response of appreciation Ms. Ellen B. Nobleza, I recalled my graduation speech seven years ago at De La Salle University.

“This Recognition Rites of the College of Liberal Arts are a preview of our academic milestone at the 145th commencement exercises of the university.  I am privileged, academically as a senior student and chronologically as a senior citizen, to share with you my thoughts as I formally end my formal schooling. My Lasallian schooling – Grade VII, high school, college, and graduate school – has empowered me to make a living and more importantly to find the purpose and the meaning of my life.  Please allow me to recount with gratitude what Lasallian education means to me.

The Christian Gentleman                                                                                                                                                        “In 1961, I entered the South Gate of De La Salle College to begin my double-degree course in Bachelor of Art and Bachelor of Science in Education.  It took me five years and five summers straight to earn an AB-BSE diploma, novel idea of the College of Liberal Arts.  Today, the trimestral innovation allows you to do it in half a time.

“The crowning jewel of Lasallian education then was the College of Liberal Arts. The founding Brothers and lay educators considered CLA as heart and soul of the college. It was the key to the making of a Christian Gentleman, a concept anchored in Cardinal John Henry Newman’s humanistic education in a Catholic university.

“The College of Liberal Arts was a primary channel for “the formation of the whole man through the integration of a liberal Christian education with professional competence for the needed leadership in Philippine development.” The Christian gentleman of my time was schooled not only in technical skills but also in etiquette, ethics, and aesthetics; he was considered “a resource of God and country to lead in building a just, peaceful, stable and progressive Filipino nation.”

“A span of 45 years of years has passed from the time I entered college to the time I finished my doctoral degree. It may appear a long period of time, but Tom Clancy of CNN considers five decades as mere transition.  Those 45 years were devoted to family, work and studies.  But my liberal education taught me once in a while “stop and smell the flowers.” While visiting my daughter in Sydney, Australia, I gained a new insight on William Blake’s poem, Auguries of Innocence. At Bondai Beach I saw ‘the world in a grain of sand’ and at Hunter Valley Garden ‘heaven in wild flowers.’ My liberal education helped me make a living in the corporate world and develop a passion for teaching. I believe, if you love what you do, you never work a single day in your entire life.

Life Long Learning                                                                                                                                                                                                   “We are all students for life.  For me, our academic degree initiated us for a life long learning. The education of the whole person is what liberation arts is all about.  The life skills I learned from this university, such as flexibility, adjustment, and openness helped me survive the challenges I faced – deciding for a dispensation from my religious vows, coping with my wife’s   loss of voice, changing corporate jobs, and working and studying at the same.  I was transformed when I changed my frame of reference in meeting these challenges.  In faith, after high school graduation I  moved from Bacolod City and studied in Metro Manila; I moved from the academe to the corporate world; I renewed my Catholic faith through Bukas Loob sa Dios charismatic group.  I even discarded my portable typewriter and replaced it with a personal computer; I tried to learn to use the Internet and I invested in mobile communication from a pager to a cellular phone.

“Jean-Baptiste de la Salle conceived schooling as a free enterprise for the poor children in 17th Century France.  The scholarship I received from the De La Salle Brothers debunked the myth that De La Salle schools are for the economically elite.  As a scholar, I received my Grade VII, high school, college, master’s and doctoral education through a series of scholarship.  I am wholeheartedly grateful to Br. Francis Cody, FSC of University of St. La Salle for my Grade VII and high school education; to Br. Gabriel Connon, FSC of De La Salle University and Brother Provincial for my collegiate double degree and master’s degree; and to Br. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC of the De La Salle University System for my doctorate.

Sons and daughters of St. La Salle                                                                                                                            “As loyal sons and daughters of St. La Salle, we vow to remain faithful to the ideals of this institution.  Jean Baptiste de la Salle himself journeyed in the spirit of faith and with zeal served  society to advance the educational mission of the Church.

“Our 145th commencement exercise begins on January 23, 2006.  It signals a new beginning. And for a senior citizen-student like me, I advocate a life long learning.  May our liberal education remind us on what is truly important in life, so that we work to live and not live to work.

“To our beloved alma mater, and in particular to the College of Liberal Arts, in behalf of my graduating batch, I say, Maraming Salamat.  Thank you very much.  Merci beaucoup.  Mabuhay.”

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