An uneducated farmer’s son who graduated from Unversity with the highest honors talks about Jesus Christ in his valedictory speech.
Thanks to the help of the Philippine Government and the scholarship he attained, Helbert Paat was blessed enough to go to college for free and was able to bring back to his family something that hadn’t been achieved in their line: a college degree.
Helbert is a proud graduate of the University of the Philippines in Los Banos. He graduated as the only student with highest honors in his year. Finishing at the top of the class, he was given the privilege of delivering a valedictory speech that ended up going viral!
In his speech, (see video below) he talks about poverty in three aspects of life and how we can overcome it: the poverty of resources, poverty of knowledge and poverty of the soul.
1. Poverty of resources
He first shares about his own family’s struggle to simply meet their daily needs – Poverty of resources.
“I came from an impoverished family. My father did not finish his elementary education, busy working as a farmer since he was a teenager. And he still is. My mother works as a saleslady. And she still is. Every person is a product of their labor. Every day is a battle to get our needs met,” Helbert says in his speech. “This is the battle of our people”
Helbert makes the point that it is important to understand where we come from and to dream big enough to bring your own family up and out of where they once were.
2. Poverty of knowledge
He then speaks about the poverty of knowledge: “True knowledge of our history and our stories can unite a nation. The poverty of it can divide and destroy a nation. We all agree to this. We know what history tells us,” he adds.
Here, Helbert shares about the power of curiosity and becoming an independent thinker. There is power when an individual learns how to think critically and think for themselves versus simply following along with the crowd.
“People succumb to false teachings without studying them… The poverty of knowledge makes a nation a slave to the lessons it realized but never learned.”
Helbert urges us here to begin to think for ourselves and engage with the world in a much more meaningful way.
3. Poverty of the soul
Lastly, he talks about the poverty of our soul. “The poverty of our souls is also evident personally. Many people long for purpose and significance. But they do not find it in this world…
Our security and confidence are based on the wrong things. We find our essence in our relationships, fame, recognition, intelligence, or wealth. These are latched on to our virtual selves as curated by and through our social media accounts,” Helbert says.
From here, he moves on to tell the crowd about the true source and the solution to all poverty – the Good News of Jesus Christ!
“But the truth be said: our worth is not found in this world. It can only be found in God. Along the way, we have lost the values of integrity, honesty, honor, and excellence. We have perverted the definition of love. But let me tell you what love is. Love is Jesus Christ dying for us despite the poverty of our souls, love is the salvation He gave us for free by His grace.”
He continues, “Love is selflessness and humility in service, love is denying ourselves for the service of others and of God. And love is laying down one’s life for others. The love of Jesus Christ is the solution to the poverty of our souls. In order to save the nation, we must save its people. And Christ can do that if we allow Him to enter our hearts,” he added.
Helbert’s graduation speech is the talk of the nation!
Helbert wasn’t even the first UP valedictorian who has mentioned Jesus in their speech. Nicole Estudillo. who graduated from the University of the Philippines, Mindanao, did the same! Mindanao Island was known as the island of the Philippines where most of the Filipino Muslims reside. But despite Nicole’s audience, she still boldly glorified Jesus in her speech!
This article was written by Rhoda Gayle
Reference: University of the Philippines Los Banos