Below is a condensed version of MVP’s speech at Manila Tytana Colleges’ 2017 commencement exercises on April 7, 2016 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
Story of George S.K. Ty
Tytana expresses Dr. Ty’s profound belief in the value of education to our youth and its contribution to nation building. This conviction flows from the values of Doña Tytana herself — thrift, honesty, hard work, discipline.
I met Dr. Ty upon my return to the Philippines late 1998. He has been, for almost for 20 years, our group’s main banker, supporter, mentor — and last year, a partner in business.
The abiding lesson we all should learn from him is that education does not end with graduation. Instead, education is a continuous, life-long process. Your real education, in fact, starts when you leave the gates of this school. That’s why today is named your day of commencement — a beginning. Dr. Ty himself learned banking first hand — the hard, hands on way — as he built Metrobank to become one of the largest Philippine banks and one of the strongest in Asia. He is indeed the taipan of Philippine banking — and its titan.
Dr. Ty's capacity to learn never diminished, but instead grew over time and went beyond banking and finance. His holding company, GT Capital, is one of the largest publicly listed companies in the Philippines. It owns Toyota and AXA Philippines, property companies, and major infrastructure where we are partners.
You should, therefore, bring with you the life-long lessons from Dr. Ty — one of the best businessmen our country has ever produced.
My own story
Dr. Ty’s story and values resonate in my own life.
I grew up in Little Baguio, San Juan. Our house stood right on the boundary of a squatter settlement. From my bedroom window, I could see, smell, and feel the lives of the poor and see its face.
My lolo started as a public school teacher in Pampanga, rising through the ranks to become superintendent of public schools and, eventually, secretary of education — despite the fact that he did not finish college.
My father began his career as a messenger at Philippine National Bank. My mother was a simple housewife.
Noong nag-aaral ako sa San Beda Elementary at High School, ang baon ko ay beinte-singko sentimos kada araw — pambili ng coke, MY San Crackers, kasama na pamasahe sa bus pauwi.
Ganun rin po ang buhay ko sa college sa Ateneo.
After Ateneo, naghangad akong mag-MBA sa America. Pero alam ko na hindi kaya ng aking magulang ang gastos. Kaya humanap ako ng ibang paraan. Fortunately, Procter and Gamble offered a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. It was a national competition. I entered and won.
Kaya ang pahiwatig ko sa ating mga mag-aaral ay ang inyong pinag-aralan, at pagsisikap, ay susi sa inyong tagumpay. My education played a big role in my life — just as it will in yours.
After seven years here, I flew to Hong Kong believing I was young enough to make mistakes, to be independent and accountable to myself and my career. I knew that if I waited any longer, I’d be too afraid to take risks. I formed First Pacific in 1981 starting from a rented space — 50 square meters, no bigger than your typical classroom — with a team of only six people using modest start-up capital.
Three decades later, First Pacific has turned into a regional conglomerate, employing more than 100,000 people in various parts of Asia.
Secrets to success
A few years back, I was asked to return to the Ateneo to deliver the commencement address. I found myself talking about my past and the young graduates’ future. And I let them in on the greatest secret of all — that when it comes to success, there are no secrets, no magic, no mystery.
I told them that success springs from old-fashioned values — values as fundamental as being honest and truthful — with yourself and with others. And so is being diligent, hard-working, and disciplined.
But most of all, success is about passion — passion to succeed, passion for excellence, passion to compete. There are many of you here who were born poor but have succeeded in graduating today, some with honors. The examples of Darren delos Santos, Beatriz Oliva, and Marione Yaoyao should lead us to believe that your passion can break the chains of poverty, that a spirit of purpose can propel your energy, that the power of ambition can enable you to achieve what you may now think is impossible.
The new world
We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. This is the world you will meet as you take your leave of these colleges.
Change has now become the law of life. The tempo of change has accelerated at the turn of this 21st century.
In business, technology is the biggest story. This means living with data and digital, relating with programmers and coders, with IT practitioners, with apps, platforms, and solutions and devices on which they ride — smartphones, laptops, notebooks, wearables, hearables. You should understand the psychology and needs of millennials — of which you are a part.
In two years, wireless technology will move to 5G platform, and fiber to the home will be ubiquitous. Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will soon come — changing profoundly our work and our lives.
Nagpapasalamat po akong muli sa pagkakataon na maging bahagi sa isang mahalagang yugto ng inyong buhay. Malamang ilang beses na nating narinig ang salita ni Dr. Jose Rizal tuwing pagtatapos — ang kabataan ay pag-asa ng ating bayan. Binabanggit ko muli ang kanyang sinulat upang mailagay natin ito sa ating isipan.
Sa mga mahal naming mag-aaral, ituloy ninyo ang pagiging uhaw sa kaalaman. Walang hihigit pa sa biyaya na binigay ng inyong magulang, at ng Tytana, kundi ang inyong pag-aaral.
Kaya, isa lang ang hihilingin ko sa inyo ngayon — ipangako ninyo na kayo ay magiging bahagi sa ikabubuti ng kinabukasan ng lupa nating sinilangan. Ipangako ninyo na ang Pilipinas ng bukas — at ng lahat ng mga bukas pang darating — ay magiging mas maunlad kaysa Pilipinas ng kahapon. CC: