UPV grads urged to help improve Filipino’s lives

Dr. Dina Joana Ocampo is this year’s commencement speaker of UP Visayas. (Photo from UP Visayas Official Facebook Page)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The commencement speaker of UP Visayas urged more than 700 graduates of the state university to improve the lives of Filipinos.

In her speech during the commencement rites at UPV Campus I Miaga, Iloilo on Thursday, Dr. Dina Joana Ocampo of the UP Diliman College of Education and editor-in-chief of the Philippine Journal on Education Studies said “every UP student’s inner voice always speaks to achieve social justice for all.”

“Our role in society as UP graduates is to be beacons of light that will attract everyone else’s light so we can collectively progress towards agility, peace, and justice. All people, including those despicable trolls, deserve to be safe and happy; to have enough to live a life of integrity; to be empowered enough to fight against falsehoods and manipulation, and to be free from corrupt politics that undermine our dignity and freedom,” she emphasized.

Ocampo is an alumna of the College of Education, University of the Philippines, Diliman, who graduated cum laude with the degree in Bachelor in Elementary Education (Special Education).

She completed her Master’s in Education (Reading Education) also at UP Diliman and received the Most Outstanding Student Research for Master’s Level Award. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology from the Department of Psychology, School of Human Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom.

Dr. Ocampo also shared her journey of overcoming her fears, especially her anxiety created during the pandemic.

She inspired graduates with a heartwarming message citing meaningful lyrics from popular Filipino songs and encouraged students to use their critical thinking and perspective-taking skills, adding empathy to it.

Ocampo also stressed the importance of striking a balance between taking care of others and taking care of oneself: “Eat when you are hungry, rest when you are tired, find something interesting to do when you are bored and sleep when you need to.”

“I honestly did not remember what the commencement speaker said during my graduation and you will probably not remember everything that I have said. But let me just give you one thought to take away from my speech this morning. I request you use your UP capabilities to make better, the lives of all Filipinos,” she said.

UPV granted various degrees to 744 graduates at the end of Academic Year 2022-2023. There were 381 who graduated with honors, with 3 summa cum laude, 98, magna cum laude and 280 cum laude.

UP President Angelo A. Jimenez led the UP System officials in attending the ceremony. Also present were members of the UP Board of Regents Gladys SJ Tiongco and Carl Marc l. Ramota (Faculty Regents), Siegfred R. Severino (Student Regent), and Robert Lester F. Aranton (Alumni Regent & President, UP Alumni Association).


Benreo Rex N. Rembulat

Benreo Rex N. Rembulat, BS in Applied Mathematics Batch 2023 of the College of Arts and Sciences is this year’s valedictorian with a 1.10975 general weighted average (GWA) score.

In his valedictory address on behalf of the UPV Class 2023, Rembulat left a meaningful message about “luck, and how unlucky it is that he is lucky” as he began. He shared his story about being once a kid who enjoyed riches to being deprived of financial ease and how his luck as someone gifted in mathematics paved the way for him to achieve his success today.

“Mine is not a story to inspire but a cautionary tale, we should not celebrate someone who got lucky, but we should make sure that luck never has to play a role in someone’s success again,” he remarked.

He concluded his speech by sharing his life mission and encouraging his fellow graduates to be a catalyst for change.

“I will make it my life’s mission to make sure that opportunities and chances are available for all, not just for me and not just the lucky. As I conclude my speech, let us be reminded that we must be the catalyst for change, the catalyst for progress. Change begins with us,” he said.


Mary Manuelita B. Tan, BS in Public Health Batch 2023, made a remarkable legacy as she graduated as the first summa cum laude UPV Division of Biological Sciences.

Tan gave a powerful message with her call for inclusivity resonating in her deaf-inclusive speech. She sought the help of sign language interpreter, Ma. Teresa Caratitativo, in sharing her message to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Her message focused on Pagpasalamat, Pagpanimaan, and Pagbato.

Pasalamat, or to be thankful, Tan expressed her gratitude to everyone significant in her academic journey. 

In Panimaan, or to know and be aware, she voiced the stirring realities surrounding the marginalized and often excluded. She particularly called for an inclusive society where people with disabilities and distant rural communities are empowered and have access to equal opportunities and resources.

Pagbato, or to challenge and defy, she emphasized the vitality of inclusion, urging her fellow graduates to continue fighting against the oppressive system.

“Instead of celebrating our head-start, we should be aiming to run and finish the race together with equity. With the privilege and higher standing we have, we should use this power to dismantle abusive and unjust systems that only serve us the privilege. We must listen to those excluded and marginalized and join them in their struggles. Inclusion is vital, so we must promise to serve and not belittle their cry for help.”

Meanwhile, Mary Ann T. Torda of the UPV-CAS Division of Humanities proved that there is no age limit to reaching one’s dream.

After 25 years at the age of 44, Torda finally obtained her bachelor’s degree in communication management and got to wear the Sablay or UP’s traditional academic garment.