The Honors Code; (Speech Delivered at the Recognition Day of the Manila Doctors College.)

Manila Bulletin, May 27, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Honors Code; (Speech Delivered at the Recognition Day of the Manila Doctors College.)


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IT is graduation season once again. Colleges and universities will once more confer summa, magna, and cum laude titles on graduates who will lead the 2007 batch in their respective institutions. The Honors Code is addressed to these honor graduates to whom "much is given but also much is expected." The Honors Code is a set of rules that will keep the graduates' feet planted firmly on the ground, even as their heads are high above the clouds. So that they will be easy to remember, they are anchored on the word EXCELLENCE, which has been broken down into five little words and interpreted as in an anagram: X, CELL, EXCEL, EN, and LENS.

X in EXCELLENCE. The X in excellence symbolizes the X factor that makes you, excellent students, stand out. The traditional intelligence theory assumes that there is only one kind of intelligence, called the general or G factor. The X factor is a mix of different variables:

Last night I gathered some students taking up different courses at the University of the Philippines and had a brainstorming session with them on what their X factor is - what makes them excel - and they came out with different answers, among them, natural intelligence, ambition, love of learning, being appreciated, enjoying high grades, being practical, having a social life, knowing myself very well, good in relating with teacher, prayers, and good in reasoning. Their answers affirm Howard Gardner's nine intelligences. Gardner put forth a theory that, aside from what we recognize as mental intelligence, there are other intelligences: body/kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, musical/rhythmic, verbal/linguistic, visual/spatial, environmentalist/naturalist, and spiritual intelligence.

There are those who humorously classify students into wise and otherwise. Seriously speaking one can probably locate the "wise" in logical/mathematical and verbal/linguistic and the "other" wise acknowledges the seven other intelligences. No longer funny.

Honors' Rule # 1: Know your talent and nurture it. Remember: God helps those who help themselves.

CELL in EXCELLENCE. The cell is the smallest organizational unit of a group. All living things are made up of one or more cells that combine to form various tissues. You are like a cell. You cannot exist without others. You could not have excelled by yourself. You needed other people to help you get to the top - groups wherein you are a member of: Your classes with your classmates, the organizations you joined, the faculty and officials of your school, your friends, your family. All of them helped you in one way or another to get to where you are. Now, did you help others get to the top, too? Did you help others to excel? In other words, how have you paid back? Or, did you step on somebody to get to the top?

Let me share with you the analysis of the Filipino anthropologist, Dr. Felipe Landa Jocano about the "crab mentality" of Filipinos. Dr. Jocano taught anthropology at the University of the Philippines and one time he required his students to research on the "crab mentality" of Filipinos. Contrary to what others believe, he said that the crabs are actually forming a pyramid so that they can get out of the basket. They are not really pulling each other down; they are actually helping each other up. It's not "Come down to where we are" but "Help us get to where you are." When the crabs have formed a pyramid, their sheer weight would topple the basket and they would all be set free. The story of the crabs is actually a metaphor for bayanihan. When you help somebody reach the top you will also be near the top.

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