Of graduate school, redemption and Jollibee

Yesterday, five years after donning it for the first time, I finally wore my sablay again. It is done. If I choose to, I may now append “MTM” after my last name.

Me, MTM.

Truth be told, I decided to take graduate studies primarily to redeem myself from the mediocrity that was my bachelor’s degree. Don’t get me wrong, getting a Physics diploma is no small feat, and I’m not short-changing myself. I just knew then that I didn’t do as well as I could have.

I believe I’ve achieved that goal. There was still the occasional procrastination and last-minute cramming – ok, fine, maybe not just occasional  :-P – but by and large, I’m proud of how I handled the course and of what I learned beyond all the theories and frameworks we covered. I would’ve said that the proof was in the waaay better general weighted average I got this time around, but I would be kidding myself. I recognize that it really is with the practical lessons and valuable connections I’m taking away with me after those three quick years. Cliché, yes, but no less true.

I’d like to share this speech that my co-graduate delivered during our commencement exercises. This guy has a lot of things going for him: comprehensive exam top scorer, a final GWA of 1.06 AND he’s on his way to Cambridge for another Master’s degree. Certainly, no one can argue how deserving he is of the title “most outstanding graduate student “. Thanks for allowing me to post this here Stephen. I’m truly excited to see what’s in store for you.

(By the way, he gave this speech with such gusto so much so that simply reading this is actually an injustice. :-D)

***

Stephen Michael Co
UP Diliman – Technology Management Center
Recognition Ceremonies, 22 April 2012

Prof. Edison Cruz, Ms. Edna Barin, professors, family, friends, my fellow graduates, a good morning.

As I was preparing my speech, I asked myself, “What are the top 3 things that I will remember the MTM program by?” On one hand, I will never, never forget Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction Innovation Model, Osterwalder’s Business Model Framework, or even the Posadas’ Ladder of Firm-Level Technological Capabilities. Yet on the other hand, what are the little things that will forever remind me of MTM? Without much ado, here they are.

Number 1: The 6 to 9 Classes.

While I tell my parents that the reason why MTM classes are at night is because most of us are working students, I love to think that the real reason is that we need time to cram in the morning. A month ago, I chanced upon a comment in our batch Facebook group. It read something like, “Yes, beat the deadline by 15 minutes. O di ba? Pwede na akong double degree! Bukod sa MTM, I can go for Masters in Requirements Cramming!” Itago nalang natin siya sa pangalang Ver Ramos. Wala naman siya dito.

But I would like to take this opportunity to thank our loved ones, our families, our significant others who are our bosses, I mean, and our bosses for bearing with us as we crammed our way to the finish line. Let’s give them a warm round of applause.

Number 2: The TMC solar-powered signage

I hope all of you have noticed that for the past 7 months, the TMC signage has been a source of guidance and inspiration to many of us. That signage has yet to fail to light up from sunset to at least 9pm, when the latest of the late students finally arrive. It’s now easy to tell the taxi driver, “manong pasok po kayo doon sa may lighted solar-powered signage.

I would like to proudly inform you that that signage was my TM 291 project along with fellow graduates Mark Nicholas Angeles, Joyce Pagkaliwangan, Mae Joyce Calag, and Cristina Ang. It is the product of our blood, sweat and cash.

That project is truly a work of management of technology. While it may seem simple, we were actually able to apply many of the concepts we learned in class. We applied technology marketing as we tried to solicit funds, technology entrepreneurship as we couldn’t find the funds and had to use our own money, technology acquisition as we negotiated with suppliers, and finally, anger management as we had to talk to stubborn people.

Now is the perfect time to thank those who taught us everything there is to know about technology management, our beloved teachers. Isama narin natin ang lagging maasahang sina Ms Tonette, Ms Rose and Ms Ellen. Maraming salamat po.

Number 3 are the summer workshops held at Jollibee La Vista.

During those summer workshops, I had very serious questions that needed answers: 1. Is the MTM program sponsored by Jollibee? 2. Is Jollibee also the venue for our 6-9 classes with free Chicken Joy? And as I found out that Ms Edna Barin was speaking today, I just had to ask Ms Tonette, are we having Jollibee for lunch? To my great disappointment, the answers to all questions were NO.

We all came from different backgrounds. We had as many different reasons in taking up MTM as there are strands of potatoes in an order of French fries – yung large para marami. Some of us enrolled to learn something new; others wanted a promotion; while a few wanted some nights away from the missus. But I’d like to share with you my personal goal:

In the Philippines, a science graduate is by its very nature less lucrative and marketable than a marketing or management graduate. Biology graduates, like me, either proceed to medical schools or to graduate schools to pursue research, which many have described as akin to taking a vow of poverty. Moreover, I have seen many a physics or chemistry graduate end up working as sales or marketing executives at multinational companies. This is exactly the reason why my passion lies in bio-entrepreneurship.

After obtaining my Masters in Bioscience Enterprise from Cambridge, which I plan to do this year, I will return to the Philippines and establish my own biotech company. It shall offer employment opportunities to science graduates of local universities. In order to convince more Filipinos to take up careers in science, we must show them that science and innovation are lucrative alternatives to becoming overseas contract workers or call center agents.

It is my ultimate dream to lead in the establishment of bioscience entrepreneurship as an industry that significantly contributes to the Philippine economy. With a critical mass of young, bright Filipino scientists, the Philippines might someday be recognized as a country of innovations.

As graduates of MTM and the University of the Philippines, we are privileged enough and entitled to dream as big as we can. In fact, let’s dream big enough, my fellow graduates, so that others may dream, too.

The summer workshops were particularly memorable because those were the first and last time that an entire batch was to be complete. I guess in anything that we do, whether it’s a project, a job or a business, it’s actually the people that we meet and friends we make that truly make something unforgettable. And I am very happy to be graduating among friends. Sabi nga ni Jollibee, dito ang saya.

Once again, congratulations my friends and fellow graduates. So paano ba iyan, kita kits sa labas.

Thank you and good morning.

***

What would summer at UPD be without these sunflowers? :-)

So what now? Another degree? A PhD perhaps? Naaah. At least not yet. One word my friends: rest. Haha! Andaming sleepless nights din nun no! One thing is for sure though: finishing my graduate degree in Technology Management (still in UP)” has now been updated to “continuously learning“. ;-)

Finally, congratulations again to my fellow graduates. Special shout out to my very own Batch Tuna Pie and my adoptive Batch 2010. Cheers you guys! We did it. :-D

Of Archers, Maroons and excellence

Last week, four of my batchmates from Batch Tuna Pie finally graduated with a degree of Master of Technology Management. That, two years since we started with the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Technology Management Center’s said program.

Oscar, Niño, Marianne and Tax: Humayo't itanghal, giting at tapang. Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan. Photo credit: Oscar Salvanera

Below is the speech (I highlighted some text for emphasis) delivered by Niño, this graduating batch’s Most Outstanding Graduate student and this year’s Top Scorer for the program’s Comprehensive Exam.

I am so proud of this guy, accomplishing all of these while working full time AND studying with a full load. I can’t imagine the sacrifices he made and all the hard work that he put in. Good job Niño! Ang husay! :)

***

Christopher Niño N. Santos
UP Diliman – Technology Management Center
Recognition Ceremonies, 17 April 2011
Copyright 2011

Sa ating Executive Director Prof. Edision Cruz, sa ating speaker Mr. Nilo Poso, mga professors at staff, mga kamag-aral, mga kaibigan at bisita… magandang umaga!

Dalawang taon na pala simula nung una kong marinig na may kurso pala na Technology Management sa UP Diliman. Parang kalian lang ay asar na asar ako sa mga pangyayari dahil iniurong ko ang application ko sa isang sikat na business school sa bansa dahil sa mga di inaasahang pangyayari. Nakabayad na ako nun ng ilang libo na reservation fee, pero kailangan ko panindigan ang desisyon ko. Sa inis ay naghanap ako ng ibang mapapasukan na business school. Sa aking paghahanap ay niligaw ako ni Google sa website ng UP TMC, and the rest is history!

Noong una ay hindi naging madali para sa akin na makibagay sa aking bagong mundong ginagalawan. Kahit na ilang taon na rin akong nagtratrabaho sa ‘real world’, ang konsepto ko pa rin ng eskwelahan ay isang ‘sheltered environment’ na parang isang sanctuario mula sa tunay na mundo. Iba pala sa UP. Mas tunay pa sa tunay ang mundo na gagalawan mo! Oo, na-‘culture shock’ ako. Enrollment pa lang ay naging malinaw na sa akin ang pagkakaiba. Hanggang ngayon, damang dama ko pa rin ang pagkakaiba sa mga tao, kultura, at kapaligiran kumpara sa aking pinagmulan na pamantasan. Magkaiba man, tingin ko ay wala namang nakalalamang sa dalawa. Kung ako ang tatanungin, mas gusto ko sa kabila pero pakiramdam ko ay mapalad ako na naranasan ko pareho. Hindi lahat ay nabibigyan ng ganoong pribelehiyo.

Dalawang taon… ngayon ay palapit na kami sa aming pagtatapos. Naranasan na namin lahat ng klaseng propesor, mula sa pinaka mahinahon hanggang sa pinaka nakaka-sindak! Ngayon ay ginagawaran kami ng parangal dahil sa produkto ng aming paghihirap. Ang sarap ng pakiramdam! Hindi biro na mag-aral sa gabi at mag-trabaho sa araw, lalo na kapag naka full load ka palagi. Hindi madali lalo na nung nag-aaral kami para sa comprehensive exam kasabay ng pagsulat sa aming TM299 paper na hindi man pormal na matatawag na thesis ay pinagbuhusan pa rin namin ng dugo at pawis. Hindi ko masabing nakabubuti sa katawan ang aming ginawa. Sabi ko nga dati, medyo may pagka-suicidal yata kami. Pero eto na, malapit na magbunga ang lahat ng hirap. Buhay na buhay pa naman kami!

Sa puntong ito, masasabi ko na mahal ko na ang UP. Pero nakakalungkot dahil hindi ko pa rin ito kayang mahalin tulad ng pagmamahal ko sa aking pinagmulang pamantasan. Di ko pa rin kabisado ang UP Naming Mahal, pero ngayon ay medyo kaya ko na sya kantahin basta may kodigo! Kulay green pa rin nga talaga ako, nagkaroon lang ng accents na maroon. Sabi nga sa kanta, Luntian at Pula! Akalain mo nga naman, tumugma!

Sa UP TMC ay marami kaming natutunan bukod sa Techology Management. Sa akin ay natutunan ko na mas mahalin pa ang Pilipinas. Natutunan ko na hindi pala sapat na gumawa ng magaling, kailangan din ay may naitutulong sa bayan ang ginawa mo. Sa TMC rin ako natuto magmahal. Oo, at nandito sya ngayon. Cheesy pakinggan, pero totoo!

May habambuhay na mga pabaon ang pamantasang ito at ang TMC sa amin na dala dala namin hanggang sa hukay. Sa aking mga kapwa magtatapos, huwag natin palampasin ang mga pagkakataon na masuklian ang lahat ng naibigay sa atin ng UP-TMC. Kaya natin maglingkod sa Bayan sa ating sariling mga pamamaraan. Oo, marami sa atin ang mag-aabroad dahil sa pangangailangan. Pero sana ay wag natin kalimutan ang ating pinanggalingan. Ituloy natin ang pagbibigay parangal sa ating bansa saan man tayo mapunta. At kung aalis man tayo, sana ay bumalik tayo dito para makinabang naman ang Pilipinas sa ating mga nakamit. Ang iba kasi, bumabalik nalang para mamayapa. Huwag sana nating gawing pre-departure area lamang ang ating bansa.

Bilang pagtatapos, gusto ko kunin ang pagkakataong ito para pasalamatan lahat ng naging bahagi ng aming buhay sa TMC. Salamat sa lahat ng aming magagaling na propesor na hindi pinagdamot ang kanilang kaalaman, hamambuhay naming dala ang naibahagi ninyong karunungan. Isang malaking karangalan na naging mga guro namin kayo. Salamat din sa lahat ng staff ng TMC na sumuporta sa amin, pati kay manang na binibilhan namin ng pagkain sa tuwing kami ay inaabot ng gutom. Salamat sa aming mga kapwa mag-aaral na naging mga tunay na kaibigan at nagbahagi rin ng kaalaman mula sa kani-kanilang industriya. Salamat sa aming mga mahal sa buhay, pamilya at kaibigan na umunawa sa sitwasyon at buong puso na nagsakripisyo din para sa aming tagumpay. Muli, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Sa inyo rin ang aming tagumpay. Salamat at magandang umaga!

***

Once again, congratulations Niño, Tax, Oscar and Marianne! You inspire me. I hope I can wear that Sablay again some time soon. Let’s go Batch Tuna Pie!

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