Thursday, March 26, 2009

A "Spartan" Graduation Rites Message from PGMA

26 March 2009

In an exception to the rule. this blog now gives way to to an important message from PGMA to DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus and to CHED Chairman Angeles:

To: Sec. Lapus, Chairman Angeles
Re: No Frills Graduation Rites
Date: 20 February 2009

In time for the graduation season, the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education should issue reminders to schools that graduation rites should be lean on cost and long in the imparting of valuable messages.

It has become a habit for lavish and excessive graduation ceremonies to be paid for by collections from students.  Schools at all levels should desist from such practices.

We should usher in a paradigm shift.  Graduation rites should not be exercises in splurging and display of pomp and pageantry but should be Spartan affairs that exhort civic duties, sense of community and personal responsibilities.

School administrators should be reminded that it is their duty to curb excess in every form and guise, especially with the cost being borne by others.

Curbing excess also makes economic sense.  Money saved from tempering excess in graduation rites can be used to fund the cost of an elementary student going to high school, a secondary student going to college and a college graduate moving to graduate school.

Across the globe, citizens are more aware now of their civic duty to curb excess and immoderation in their lifestyles.

That the global economic meltdown was partly driven by Gilded Age lifestyles -- with excess and intemperance overridding good economic decisions -- has pushed the citizens and leaders further into the realm of prudence and responsibility and away from irresponsibility.

We are lock-step with the global movement.  In that light, the curbing of excess should start at the basic level.  That includes graduation ceremonies.

Graduation rites can be memorable, exciting and animated without the baggage of extra cost and excessive spending.

I would like to thank Mrs. Corazon Gonzales, Asst. Superintendent/OIC of the DepEd Division Office in Caloocan City for giving me a copy of this memorandum from PGMA.  

This is a seminal message loaded with recurring appeals to "curb excess in every form and guise."  The paradigm shift has began, from an unexpected quarter, and we should sustain it--  because it will benefit not only this generation of Filipinos but also future ones -- to include not only excessive graduation fees and other expenses but also to place a moratorium on increases in tuition and other school fees.  It's about time!


  1. About time! I remember my high school graduation where I have to scramble from one relative to another just to come up for the money to pay this ever lavish graduation rites that only resulted to some used seats with holes and a white toga that smelled like it has been worn hours before it was passed to me. Ech!

  2. It's about time, Riza, really! But guess what?!

    How many parents were able to read this memorandum? I don't know of any private school that posted this in their premises. It's a good thing that Dr. Corazon Gonzales of DepEd Caloocan City gave me a copy just last Monday, March 23. I was at the DepEd NCR yesterday, March 25, and even the DepEd education supervisors I was talking with did not even know about it.

    Our common expensive experience regarding these lavish graduation rites need to end but no pronouncement alone, even if it be from PGMA will be able to do it.

    Sabi nga nung kaibigan kong parent din, "Sayang! Minsan lang may magandang sasabihin si GMA, tapos wala pang nakapansin."

    So, we can begin by disseminating this information widely. From now on, every President of the Philippines should reiterate this repeatedly and often and make sure that private school administrators comply. Parang redundant ano, pero ganun dapat kakulit ang pagre-remind. Di na bale kung sinong Presidente nagsabi, ang mahalaga, tama yung mensahe.

    We parents need to work together with students and other concerned groups in order to finally put a stop to this abusive practice especially in private schools. Ginagawa na lang tayo palaging gatasan!

    Just to cite some concrete figures, in the school where my 4th year high school son is graduating on April 4, the graduation fee is P1,400 and the graduation picture package is P1,425.

    This already adds up to P2,825 pero yung "PTA officer" kuno na hindi naman namin inelect ngayong school year na 'to was even trying to convince the parents to shell out an additional P1,765 for the yearbook! Grabe! Prior to that, ininsulto pa nung Assistant Principal ang DepEd when he told the parents that the DepEd could not tell him what "simple and austere graduation rites" mean.

    That's the reason why I filed a complaint before the DepEd, the DTI and other agencies of our government. Unfortunately, in retaliation for my advocacy, my son has suffered harassment and psychological abuse from two of his teachers one of whom happens to be the Assistant Principal. I have reported the matter to the office of Chairperson Leila De Lima of the Commission on Human Rights on March 23 and I intend to pursue it all the way up to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    I'll have something more specific -- a concrete step to find a solution to this problem -- very soon.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Riza and I hope we can really work together on this one. I hope other readers can also share their experiences.

    God bless to all.

  3. Wow, grabe naman at ang gagaling ng mga teachers ngayon ha! When I was growing up, my prefects were my advocates, they are the ones who teaches us about morales and they push us to speak up if we're being harassed or if we are experiencing injustice, kaya nga may mga teachers na namatay na sa hunger strikes because they have principles na ipinaglalaban...pero I guess, its really the money that makes the world move nowadays...if you'd notice, may mga camphone na ang mga teachers ngayon, whereas, in the later times, kahit may mga latest gadgets out in the market, teachers are more concerned na hindi sila lumabas na lavish kase they have a reputation na iniingatan at ayaw nilang masabihang maluho sila for an educator, it would contradict what they are teaching. And what is this additional expenditure for a Year Book? You'll never really read it, yes its good to have memories, but then, its not compulsory as I remembered it no. Plus, to insult your superior is so unbecoming of a teacher's character, dun pa lang malalaman mo na ang personality niya at kung anong klase ng standards meron siya sa buhay. Kawawang nilalang!

    Regarding to the President's announcement, ganun naman talaga sila, kunyari palabas ng ganitong anunsiyo, but they don't really do it, kunyari lang, kaya only few hears it, that's why if you raise it to other people, they think you're crazy, naranasan ko na lahat yan, sa work, my children's school, kahit saan ang pulitika ay pulitika, madumi at mabaho...all we can do is either let it pass us or we fight...hindi naman futile ang ginagawa mong ito, that's not what I meant, and it's good. Don't worry, I will pass this on to my other blogs too. Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Riza, I really appreciate your encouragement on this one.

    You got it right when you said, "When I was growing up, my prefects were my advocates, they are the ones who ... push us to speak up if we're being harassed or if we are experiencing injustice."

    Anyway, more parents standing together on an issue is always better than having just having one parent advocate shoulder the load. There's always strength in unity and numbers.

    Can you imagine a day when parents will sit down with the DepEd Secretary, the CHED Chairman, the DTI Secretary, the CHR Chairman and other high-ranking officials of our government together with top-level school administrators so we can tell them to take their jobs seriously in order to secure a better future for our children -- get serious on their announced promises of tuition fee increase moratorium, curb excess in every form and guise as PGMA insists in her Feb. 20 memo, treat parents and students with respect not only because they are paying customers but fellow human beings ... That will be a day!

    Yet somehow, we're already doing something like that as we exchange notes over the Internet. Other parents are bound to pick it up, share their own experiences, blog about it, discuss it in parents' meetings, write their mayor and councilors, email senators and congressmen and other top policy makers.

    Soon, the bonfire will turn into a firestorm that will light up a brighter future for generations of Filipinos! That bright future belongs to our kids and it's a legacy that we can leave them! The effort we're putting into this is really well worth it.

    I really hope we can continue this discussion and widen our online parents' forum in the days ahead.

    Riza, mabuhay ka! God bless always.

  5. If only PGMA can curb her own lavish and excessive foreign travels with huge delegation costing billions of pesos in tax payers' money. At least parents spend their own money to celebrate their children's graduation (actually parents also graduate when their children graduate because they are now free from huge education expenses!)..PGMA must walk the talk...no sense talking about being frugal when one is traveling every month, living in posh hotels, etc, and spending other people's money.


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