Senatorial eloquence and humor
ESSENCE - Liagaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - May 3, 2014 - 12:00am

The sun burst through the clouds with its excruciating heat in the afternoon of April 30, 2014 on the occasion of UP Cebu's 77th Commencement Exercises.  And on the same event, a supernova surfaced with rising temperature, plus eloquence and humor.

Year after year, I attend commencement rites to listen to neither the valedictory address nor the commencement speaker's speech, but on one's own responsibility. For more than three decades of attending reiterating ceremonies, I consider this year significantly notable.

I was looking forward to hear from somebody who is known to use jokes or pick-up lines for serious topics of national interest. Yes, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is very much known to be feisty in the senate. The upper chamber would never be as colorful without her. Known to insult those who display stupidity, an obvious gesture that her high and mighty expectations were not met.

In this year's UP Cebu graduation with Senator Santiago as speaker, she did not disappoint her audience. She gave the estimated 1,500 people in attendance the stomach cramps with her contemporary jokes that left the graduates, faculty, staff, parents, guests, and spectators alike bursting into laughter.

Senator Santiago is conscious that as a public speaker, with generally serious and profound topics, she needs to inject humor in order to sustain the interest of her audience. With jokey style using pick-up lines, popularly used by local comedians, it is indeed exhilaratingly rousing.  

Wikipedia defines pick-up lines or chat-up lines as "conversation openers with the intent of engaging an unfamiliar person for romance or dating. Overt and sometimes humorous displays of romantic interest, pick-up lines advertise the wit of the speakers to their target listeners. They are most commonly used by men who pick up women. Pick-up lines range from straightforward conversation openers such as introducing oneself, providing information about oneself, or asking someone about their likes and common interests, to more elaborate attempts including flattery or humor." 

Why does this format work? This is a Filipino characteristic. In the midst of trials and difficulties, we are known to make things easier to bear through jokes. As social beings, jokes provide instant and, at least, temporary relief. As a coping mechanism, we hope to transform serious concerns to something bearable; therefore acceptable as part of the realization that life can be perceived and taken flippantly.  

But notably, very much conscious of the need for her to inspire her target audience-the graduates, she didn't fail to inspire them with lessons that they can use after their academic life. 

She stressed the importance of the graduates to show appreciation to their parents, relatives and professors. Specifically for the professors that despite students feel miserable and making it seem impossible for them to graduate. Students may feel, sometimes or oftentimes, that their professors are not on their side. So they feel disregarded or disadvantaged. 

Emphasizing the need to recognize God that is found in the human brain and conscience, the senator advised the graduates not to disregard Him in the pursuit of knowledge and excellence so they would have the moral conscience. This shall guide them away from corruption, a social malady that has become, unfortunately, a way of life by some public servants.

What makes it more remarkable is she highlighted for the graduates to find meaning in life. The fulfillment of one's purpose in life would provide significant impact to one's existence. A meaningful life is when it is purposefully shared with and lived for others. 

At first glance, taking the entertainment merit of a big issue would manifest lacking in seriousness. And this would bring its value to a slighter importance, a trifling matter. But every so often, like the spirited senator, in accepting life's great lessons in the midst of quandaries, we seek ephemeral refuge in mirth. And we remain unswerving in realizing the ultimate goal of the message: to challenge, to move, and to change.

For the good senator, the great challenge is for us to be moved to change the world and this should start from changing ourselves.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with