As De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde adapted a full online modality for A.Y. 2020-2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, the College held its second Virtual Commencement Exercises in lieu of an on-site graduation ceremony with a total of 435 graduates hailing from different degree programs. The event was streamed live on Benilde’s official Youtube channel earlier today, March 20.
The virtual graduation rites began with a thanksgiving mass for the graduating students, which was streamed live on the official Facebook page of the College’s Center for Lasallian Ministry (CLM).
Following the mass, Vice Chancellor Geronio Ulayao, Chancellor Robert Tang, and the Provost of Benilde Antipolo Dr. Pedro Simon Ledesma took to the stage and gave inspirational messages to the graduates.
“While this occasion is indeed less than ideal, consider this time as a moment of great triumph for you were able to complete your studies in the face of the greatest adversity in our generation. [...] The horizon will eventually clear up to welcome you, Benildean graduates,” Mr. Ulayao expressed, thanking the Benildean graduates for being part of the College’s achievements in the past years.
Chancellor Robert Tang also took the opportunity to express the College’s feat in successfully shifting to online, distance learning. Furthermore, he acknowledged that due to the College’s “innovative character,” the character and system of education had to change to adapt to the new normal.
Lastly, Provost Dr. Pedro Simon T. Ledesma congratulated the graduates for all their hard work despite the pandemic. “Most difficult roads lead to a beautiful destination, our stop over for today will remind us that taking time to celebrate and to value hard work is worth our journey,” he said.
Following these messages, Benilde President Br. Edmundo “Dodo” Fernandez FSC then delivered his inspirational speech to the graduates.
Br. Dodo spoke on behalf of the administrators and faculty of the College in celebrating this momentous occasion for the entire community.
“Our virtual graduation may not be something that you have envisioned when you entered Benilde. [...] Yet the value of what you have accomplished is still as significant, and your College memories remain unforgettable.”
Br. Dodo also acknowledged that this batch of graduates is part of the only generation that experienced “the pre-pandemic norm and the development of a new normal,” stating that they have the opportunity to redefine a new normal.
“We often tend to equate our sense of worth with our success and achievements. Remember that your success or failure do not and will not define your worth as a person, because your intrinsic value is engraved and given to you by God,” Br. Dodo declared, furthermore explaining that valuing oneself entails accepting their entirety, including one’s values, flaws, strengths, and limitations.
Following the inspirational messages, the school deans from Benilde Manila and Benilde Antipolo presented the graduates and their achievements for the 1st Term A.Y. 2020-2021 through a slideshow.
Lastly, the program ended with a speech from Magna Cum Laude Erika Mae Ng giving advice to her fellow graduates about pursuing their dreams. “A salient piece of advice I’d like to share with all of you, this may not be rocket science but has taken me on the different realizations: Follow your dreams, learn about them and grab every chance that comes along.”
“During the pandemic, as everyone else was occupied with the sudden shift in learning instructions, Benilde was putting together the best of the best from its roster of mentors to help us grab a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent the school in a global competition,” she added.
Based on the list of graduates posted on Student Information System (SIS), the number of graduates for the 1st Term A.Y. 2021-2021 (435) decreased from the number of graduates from the first ever virtual commencement exercises (568) held during the 2nd Term and Benilde Online Learning Term (BOLT) of A.Y. 2019-2020.