Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, known worldwide as “Pacman”, “Boxing Champion”, “People’s Champ”, “Pambansang Kamao”, was conferred an honorary degree or honoris causa, Doctor of Humanities (H.D.), at the same time, Commencement Speaker, during the 2019 Higher Education Commencement Exercises of Filamer Christian University, FCU Gym.

Conferment of Senator Pacquiao: in Gown. (From left: Dean of the Graduate School Dr. Felimon A. Pimentel, Jr; University President, Dr. George O. Cortel; Senator Manny Pacquiao; and FCU Board of Trustees Chairman, Atty. Zacarias D. Bedona, Jr.

According to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Memorandum Order No.19, Series of 2014, based on long historical origin and international academic practice, an honorary degree or honoris causa, is an extraordinary academic degree awarded to an eminent individual who may be an alumnus, or one who has never been connected with the awarding institution. Consistent with the institution’s mission and values, the honorary doctorate degree shall be awarded in recognition of an individual’s meritorious contribution/s to the advancement of a field in a particular discipline, through exemplary accomplishment/s in instruction, research and practice and his/her personal humanitarian accomplishment/s and/or contribution to the institution or society, rather than as a result of academic matriculation and study.

Filamer was able to confer an honorary doctorate degree because it has met the requirements set by the CHED for awarding institutions: has existed as a higher education institution for a period of at least 25 years (FCU has been existing for 114 years), has well-acknowledged academic reputation and institutional values and mission as adjudged by the CHED, and private higher education institution with autonomous status.

Below is the script of his speech, (the actual speech included ad-lib, the full video will be posted soon) thanks to his staff for providing us the copy:

“University President, Dr. George O. Cortel, Board of Trustees, and the other esteemed officials of Filamer Christian University. distinguished members of the faculty and staff, beloved parents, dear graduates, alumni, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Maayo nga hapon sa inyo tanan. Madamo gid nga salamat sa inyo nga imbitasyon!

I have started my training camp for my next boxing fight and I am preparing for the resumption of our Senate Session next week, but I decided to fly to Roxas City to honor the invitation of Filamer Christian University, “a globally-linked Christian university nurturing people and communities for transformative leadership and nation building.

I look at all of you and I am convinced that God’s grace is upon Filamer amids Global Changes and Challenges. At this point, I would like to commend Filamer Christian University for promoting holistic education. Let us give all the members of Filamer Christian University a round of applause.

Dear graduates, I believe that with your holistic education and  the core values of spirituality, social responsibility, and service excellence, you will be able to contribute to local and global community building.

We recognize that before we become relevant in the global community, we have to start with our own families and local communities. Our personal adversities and challenges are designed by God to develop us to become refined in our character and excellent in our competence so that we can be ready to make a difference in a bigger platform.

My mission today is to remind  you that personal changes and challenges are part of God’s preparation for us to confront global changes and challenges. Let me accomplish this by sharing my story which proves that my personal changes and challenges prepared me for my destiny.

Let me remind you that I was not born rich and famous. Gipanganak na pobre si Manny Pacquiao. At a very young age, I had to fight with various forms of adversity. I had to start working when I was just seven years old. I took it upon myself to help Mommy Dionisia earn some more money so that we can survive through the difficult days when resources were very limited and the financial problems were multiplied.

Each day was a struggle, but every single day, I showed up in the open university of life. In elementary, I attended classes without sleep and without food. There were days when it is only water that kept me going. We could not even afford school supplies.

I was young and innocent, but because I confronted challenges I learned how to be a fighter, first for my family and then eventually for our country. In the process of confronting changes and challenges, my mother served as my inspiration. 

At this point, I would like to request all the parents and loved ones of our graduates to please stand. Palakpakan naton ang mga tatay kag nanay, pati na ang mga lolo kag lola, tiyoy kag tiyay, pati na ang mga pakaisa, ang inyo nga mga palangga nga nagsakripisyo para kamo maka-eskuwela sang maayo. Hatagan naton sila sang mabaskog nga palakpak! Thank you, parents and loved ones. You may now be seated.

Boxing turned my life around. I was only 14 years old when I left my hometown in Mindanao so that I can train in Manila. There I got connected to people who became God’s instruments of blessings. The Lord made a way where there seemed to be no way for me to transition from being a local fighter to a global fighter.

Through the years, I realized that it is the grace of God that transformed me from nothing into something. I know how it is to be physically hungry, but I intentionally feed my mind through reading. Reading is one of the most important life skills that we can learn in school and I believe that it can open our minds to a lot of ideas.

Now that I am older and wiser, I make sure that I feed my mind, my heart, and my spirit with food that does not expire: the Word of God. When I wake up, I read the Bible. Before I go to sleep, I read the Bible. I believe that God’s Word is a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our path.

The Word of God says that if any of us lacks wisdom, all we have to do is ask and He will give without finding fault. In my journey as a boxer and as a public servant, God’s wisdom is my guide.

Maski sin-o pa ang akon nga maka-engkuwentro sa boxing ring, sa senado, o kung diin pa man, hindi ako mahadlok kay ara man ang Ginoo. Subong, naga-eskeskuwela man ako sang college kag lapit naman ako ma-graduate. Hulata nyo lang bala, makakuha man ako sang akon nga diploma.

Manny Pacquiao is a lifelong learner. I keep improving myself so that I keep growing in all areas of my life. I may not be a graduate of Filamer Christian University but just like you, I also advocate holistic education. Together, we should keep learning and growing.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing multiple global changes and challenges that require solutions and collaboration beyond our borders. Even the superpowers and first world countries cannot solve on their own the problems of climate change, poverty, illegal drugs, and many others. What our world needs today is creative cooperation among nations. We need to tap and maximize resources from all levels and all sectors. We desperately need creative ideas from you, the millennial graduates. We all need to work together in the midst of changes and challenges.

Dear millennial graduates of Filamer Christian University, do not be surprised when bigger problems come after today. Do not be afraid. Remember, you are solution providers. You are equipped to confront tougher challenges and greater difficulties.

I look at all of you and I am convinced that I am not the only influencer in this gymnasium. We all have our own circles of influence and God wants all of us to be influencers because we are called to be the Salt and Light of this world. We are God’s ambassadors.

In closing, let me declare that God’s plans for you are to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. You will be the head and not the tail. You will be blessed in your coming in and in your going out. You are over-comers! You are more than conquerors!

You are blessed to be a blessing to your family and to our communities in the midst of all the personal and global changes and challenges, put your full trust in the Lord, depend on Him always. He will crown your efforts with success. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, far above you could ever ask or imagine!