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ERAP's SPEECH AT THE ATENEO HOMECOMING

 

I hope you enjoy reading this excerpt from ERAP's speech at the Ateneo Alumni Homecoming of which he was finally invited to come and become their guest speaker. Very ERAP ang dating...so here goes: The intro comes from someone who actually attended the grand reunion.

Speaking of the Ateneo, where a number of Elizaldes have studied, including our great-grandfather Francisco Elizalde, and two of his grandsons, Tito Augusto & Tito Francis, as well as several from among his grandchildren, including CHOW, I was at the Ateneo Grand Reunion last Dec. 5, being a Ruby Jubilarian for High School, Class of 1958, Silver Medalist (ahem). Guess who attended as surprise guest? None other than President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who was formally recognized as an Ateneo Alumnus having graduated from Ateneo Grade School in 1951 and reaching 2nd year at the Ateneo High School before he was expelled from fighting.

He gave a terrific speech which I would like to share with the members of the clan. Even the non-Atenean will I'm sure enjoy it. I was able to get a transcript of his speech and here it is, at least the main part of it.

"I like to thank Jun Siazon for his kind introduction. You know, I used to copy from Jun when we were in grade school. Now, I am the President and Jun is only my Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

I wish to thank the Ateneo Alumni Association for bringing me back to where I always belonged. As I have always said, for me there are only two schools: Ateneo ... and others. However, during my entire career as a movie actor I was never invited to any Ateneo alumni homecoming. Nor was I invited here during my entire sixteen years as mayor of San Juan. I became a senator, and still no invitation came.

Then, in 1992 after, my election as Vice-President I was finally asked to come. At that time, since I was not even part of the scheduled program, I had to give an impromptu speech. As we all know, no speaker, not even the Pope, can keep an audience of Ateneans quiet during their homecoming. But the crowd fell into a hush when they saw I had no prepared speech. They were all waiting for me to make a blunder in my English, but I am sorry I disappointed them.

Now that I am President, I finally got an invitation to be your guest speaker. For those of you still expecting grammatical mistakes, I am afraid I will have to disappoint you again.

During the campaign, one of the issues against me was that I was not a college graduate. Normally, it would have been a valid issue. If you come from some other schools, you would probably need at least a college degree to be considered qualified to be president. But if you come from the Ateneo, all you need is to have finished second year high school.

So now, for the first time in history, an Atenean has been elected president of our Republic. Other brilliant alumni like Claro M. Recto, Raul Manglapus, and Emmanuel Pelaez tried in the past but unfortunately, were not successful. It took a drop-out Joseph Ejercito Estrada to bring home the trophy to the Ateneo.

Even after what the Ateneo did to Joseph Ejercito. During the campaign, my critics called me a drop-out. That was a mistake. I did not drop out from the Ateneo, I was expelled! And not for academic reasons -- my grades then were quite respectable, thank you-but for a disciplinary issue. This is why maybe if in other places they address me as "His Excellency", here at the Ateneo you can address me as "Your Expellency".

My offense was fighting a burly American classmate who was bullying another classmate much smaller than he. I told him to pick on someone his size, and he took up my challenge. Who won the fight? Because I am now the president, that must remain a state secret. But this much can now be said: Had I not been expelled from the Ateneo, I probably would not have ended up as president of the Philippines!

The small classmate who was being bullied was actually Mario Tiaoqui. He is now my Secretary of Energy but at that time he still did not have much energy. In fact, Mario was pretty frail-looking then. No matter that it is now a state secret, I and Patrick Hilton closed the door to the toilets for the fight. However, after a while, I asked that the doors be opened because I was being beaten up!

But the Ateneo also paid a price for my expulsion. My cabinet now is not all Ateneo. While my secretaries of foreign affairs and energy are Blue Eagles, my executive secretary and my trade and industry secretary come from-what's the name of that school again-the one on TaftAvenue?

I must say that I was proud to be expelled for the reason that it would be driving force not just in the movies I appeared but throughout my political career. I was defending the underdog. And I will continue to do so, regardless of the consequences to me.

And so, I now say to the Ateneo: I forgive you! Obviously, you also want to forget what you did to me! Let me put it this way. The school was just doing its job, and I was doing mine. I will now embarrass you by asking how many of you did not vote for me in the last elections.

But I will now give you a chance to redeem yourselves by asking how many of you support me now. (Loud and prolonged applause). Your applause shows that, contrary to the rumors, Ateneans are humans after all: They will support any winner after he has won!

I am pleased to inform you that the overriding theme of any administration derives its inspiration from something I picked up at the Ateneo. When I was a young student, both at Padre Faura and here at Loyola Heights, our most memorable cheer was "One Big Fight!" That is what my presidency has launched; One Big fight-against poverty. This is the meaning of 'Erap Para sa Mahirap". It is the vision and mission of my administration. It is also my personal, philosophical and organizational driving force. It is the animating principle of my program of government."

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Everyone enjoyed Erap's speech. Hope you enjoy reading it too although it was more enjoyable listening to the actual speech, with all the pauses and facial expressions. Erap is really a good actor. And I think he will make a good president. I hope he does for the sake of our country. At saka para hindi mapahiya ang Ateneo since he is now considered officially an Ateneo alumnus. Till next time.'

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