Speech of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Metrobank 49th Anniversary Celebration

Speech of the Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during the Awarding Ceremony for the Search for Outstanding Filipinos – Soldiers, Policemen, and Teachers, Metrobank Plaza Auditorium, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, 5 September 2011, 5:30 P.M.

I would like to thank the Metrobank Foundation for the gracious honor of being with you this afternoon. I would also like to pay my greatest respects to its Chairman, Dr. George Ty. His distinction as a pillar of the banking and finance sector is exceeded only by his dedication to highlighting the beautiful spirit of the Filipino whether in the arts or in public service.
For more than three decades now, the Foundation has pursued its noble advocacy of granting recognition to men and women who stand tall in the most silent avenues of society. Beyond the just mission of paying tribute to the lives and contributions of the awardees, it challenges Filipinos to meet the bar of excellence that the awardees have surpassed in the pursuit of their callings.
When I was invited to share a few words of inspiration today, I wondered if I could achieve any degree of success. To my mind, the lives of the Filipinos we honor tonight ring louder than any discourse I can deliver. But I hope you will pardon my modest efforts to move the hearts that our honorees have already set ablaze.
I do not think the word profession fully captures what these Filipinos have undertaken. Yes, their recognition is closely tied to the duties that they thoroughly and sincerely fulfill, and doubtless, they continue to find better methods and means to do these jobs. But the very nature of their livelihoods reveals something more profound, something deeply personal. I would argue that what they pursue are actually vocations.
The fields of education, law enforcement and military service are cornerstones of the nation’s growth. The minds and hearts of our young are formed by their parents and elders but this learning is complemented and honed by teachers in the thousands of classrooms countrywide. The harmony of our communities are maintained by the sound relations that neighbors maintain with each other and their civic leaders, but ensured and sometimes facilitated by the police officers that patrol our streets every day. The integrity of our borders and the safety of our citizens from external threats is preserved by soldiers who stand watch while we sleep, and if called to, march towards what we flee from.
They took oaths to serve their assigned communities and these duties demand their full attention and time. Often, the requirements of the job stretch beyond the official working day and just as often, or maybe even less so, the only additional reward is the bright smile of a student who passed, or a sincerely uttered thank you from a stranger who needed help. And as they do their best to be of service to others, their jobs can take them away from their own families or lessen the time they can spend with spouses and children.
Few would consent to spend their entire lives within these practices, as they require great sacrifice not just from the professional, but most especially from their families. They bravely make the most of the circumstances. They endure and they prevail. If this is not vocation, I do not know what is.
It is difficult enough to survive the rigors of serving a public that is quick to point out what is lacking, and what is ideal. But to go beyond their expectations and continue to willingly and cheerfully serve, is a heroism that is more uncommon than the rarest gem.
You, our honored awardees, live this heroism. The recognition you gain tonight is not a product of overnight success. It is the result of constancy, and faithfulness to your callings, under the most difficult times of your lives. You have risen above many others not because you’ve done ordinary things in an extraordinary way. You were selected because doing extraordinary things in a most ordinary way has become as natural to you as breathing.
You give flesh to what we are all commanded us to be: the salt of the earth. Your labors give dignity to so many lives. Your sacrifices keep our nation rich, despite the turbulence of world affairs and personal realities. As the times inflict various crises that leaders and citizens struggle to solve, you joyfully continue with your mission fully knowing how the futures of generations and our nation depend on the success of your daily work.
With confidence, I can assume that you did not view the realities of parenting and running a household as obstacles to your vocations, but rather an integral part of your callings and have lived up to these duties as well.
Like the light that no sane man covers with a basket, it is just and proper that you be set on a perch so that your brilliance may spread around the house, and those in darkness may gain sight of what is possible and what we are all called to fulfill regardless of our jobs or stations in life.
You are all aware of the challenges we have pledged to overcome as a government, and as a nation. The demons of poverty and corruption stand as our foremost foes and often, we are quick to blame our ills on our being poor. Yes, poverty inflicts a great injustice on so many Filipinos who could be more. We in government, have sworn an oath to the nation, to create that environment where any Filipino can be what he chooses to be and poverty eradication is one of our most ardent goals. Though this road will take time to cross, I think it is clear that the stones are being laid purposefully and sincerely.
But the road to dignity begins with a personal decision to be the best we can. I believe that most of our ills are caused by a lack of courage to make that decision. The government’s good will is all for naught if the citizen himself, is unwilling to take that first great step. What we see as a sentence handed down by fate is almost always nothing more than a prison our own wills have built. To paraphrase the wise saint of ordinary life, St. Josemaria Escriva, though weakness is a necessary consequence of human nature, it does not condemn us to mediocrity.
Looking at all of you, I see that you have condemned mediocrity itself. It is clear that long ago you decided to never be satisfied with being less than the best. You made a solemn vow to better yourself each waking hour, to get up when you fall, and use all that you are for the good of others. You have sacrificed a lot of personal comfort in order to do all things well. And we, as a nation, are better off because of your commitment.
I came here to try and inspire you. I must confess that it is you who have inspired me. I ask that you continue to perform this same service to others. Just as your light shines even brighter tonight, let the fire in your hearts engulf all that you work with.  Be the bar that others strive to meet and show them that what was believed to be impossible can indeed be achieved with hard work and a sincere heart.
Beyond my congratulations on your success, I thank you for fueling the nation’s spirit and enriching our hopes for the country.
Maraming salamat po!
Mabuhay kayo, at mabuhay ang Pilipinas!