Sunday, July 31, 2022

UN Sasakawa Laureate Glenn Banaguas brings Mapua University to tears at 2022 commencement

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

In a happy twist of fate, Mapua University’s 2022 commencement address was delivered by an alumnus who didn’t even attend his own graduation from the same institution: internationally-awarded science diplomat Glenn Banaguas.

“My dear fellow Mapuans, our graduates… Being positive does not always mean life’s perfection; it signifies that any form of trial or negativity creates a path of success and opportunity,” he said as he addressed a crowd of over 400 graduates of the Class of 2022 last June 20 at the PICC Plenary Hall.

Following his speech, Banaguas was conferred the Most Outstanding Alumnus Award by his alma mater—a very surprising turn of events, he admits. He recalls his undergraduate years as a particularly tumultuous time for him personally: “I did pretty well for the first few years in Mapua. But I was a disappointment in my last years…,” he recalls.

When the time came for graduation, he said, not even his own adviser could persuade him to attend the commencement ceremony. But in the years following his graduation, Banaguas found a path for himself in public service.

In 2010 Banaguas set out as a pioneer science diplomat and founded the Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute (ECCRI) with the mantra, “A Service to the People and Environment is a Service to God.” He also started the “Climate Smart Philippines” program, which brings science and policy closer to the poorest communities and marginalized sectors in the country. These initiatives aim to reduce disaster risks and prevent potential damages and losses through scientific wide-ranging assessment, risk and impact analysis, capacity development, project management, and multilateral cooperation.

For his work, Banaguas was conferred the 2022 United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, besting over 200 nominations worldwide to become the first individual Filipino winner in the award’s 35-year history. The award is bestowed on institutions, groups, and individuals that promote inclusive and resilient approaches to disaster risk reduction in line with the UN’s Sendai Framework.

The honor shot Banaguas to national fame, prompting his alma mater to invite him to this year’s commencement ceremony. “Lord, thank You for choosing me. Let Your will be done,” the proverbial Mapuan said, teary-eyed.

Below is the excerpt from his Commencement Speech that brought the graduation attendees to tears:


And for you, my dear fellow Mapuans, our graduates

This is my simple advice to you:

1.     Never ever get discouraged if you fail to get what you want. Remember God answer our prayers in 4 ways:

a.     Yes – Yes

I will give it to you because I know it is good for you.

b.     Yes – No

I will give it to you but not the way you want it.

c.     No – Yes

I am not going to give it to you today but you’ll have it someday.

d.     No – No

I am not going to give it to you because it is not good for you.


And if you fail, always remember these failures do not define who you are. What matters most is the number of times you stand up every time you fall.


2.     Never ever forget to be grateful for whatever undertaking that is given to you

Be like Simon of Cyrene. He was never an apostle of Jesus but had the chance to carry His cross on the way to the calvary. This cross may be defined as your difficulties, struggles, complications, and negativities. Embrace them constructively not because this is part of your destiny but because this will bring good things for you and your family.


3.     Never ever forget to be a wounded healer

You need to transform your pain into strength and suffering into learning. Yes, your greatest challenge is to provide the best services and bless others in your most difficult times. You need to heal the wounds of adversity and believe in the miracles of love and positivity.


4.     Never ever forget to be of service to others.

You have to have a heart for change. You need to respect the spheres of individuality invariably and penetrate the labyrinth of life unflinchingly. One day, you will build projects and develop programs for the industry.. for your company. And this is a guide,  no matter how technical your projects are, make sure that they will create positive changes in the lives of our people.

Touching their hearts, especially the local communities should be your top priority. You have to let them feel and realize that profession is not always a key in order to make a difference in society. It is their burning passion,  unquestionable character, and unswerving commitment that will make this world a better place.


5. Never ever forget to be humble

As you reach the top, never forget to look back.

There will come a time that the glory of the present will diminish. Things will evolve. The shine will fade. And if they happen, the virtue of humility will genuinely amplify integrity.

And last but not least,

6.     Never ever lose faith

Your experiences will teach you that no one was destined to be a victim, or condemned to be a martyr. It only means that your faith defines your journey.

Your experiences will educate you that being positive does not always mean life’s perfection. It signifies that any form of trial or negativity creates a path of success and opportunity.

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