Former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada was the keynote speaker during the 20th Commencement Exercises of Universidad de Manila, where he imparted to the graduates several life lessons he realized after spending three years in detention.
The occasion at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City was marked by the theme “UDM @ 22: Patuloy na Naninindigan sa Katotohanan [Still Standing for the Truth].”
In his speech, Estrada recalled the hardships he and his family endured during the height of the pork barrel controversy and shared what kept him going during those difficult times.
“Until now, we still have our share of detractors and attacks thrown at me and my family,” the former lawmaker told the graduates.
“I admit, at first I found it so difficult, and lost faith [in being released] especially when I was detained at Camp Crame. But eventually we endured because we are on the side of the truth,” he added.
Estrada, son of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, was joined on stage by UDM president Atty. Ernesto Maceda Jr., vice president for Academic Affairs Dr. Ronald Herrera, and other university officials.
UDM, formerly the City College of Manila, is one of two city-run universities, the other being the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila or PLM.
The former senator, who was granted bail by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division last September, turned introspective as he enumerated realizations about the importance of family, forgiveness and courage.
“One, we should value and love our family. When problems and trials come, our family is our refuge, they are the people who truly love and care for us,” Estrada said.
He then encouraged the graduates to wake up each day thankful for the blessing of life.
“Always be thankful. In spite of your problems or poverty, be thankful that you are alive. When we wake up in the morning and face a new day, it means we are given another chance to improve our lives.”
Thirdly, Estrada told the graduates to fear God. “He is the strong one I held on to, so I could say I did nothing wrong, nothing against the law.”
The younger Estrada also shared a valuable lesson he learned from his father, the former President: “Do not bear grudges. It’s hard to do, but it makes your life easier to live without anger and hatred in our hearts. Forgiveness is not defeat. It only means that we choose to be happy and have peace in our minds and hearts.”
Lastly, Jinggoy motivated the newly graduates to face the realities and challenges ahead with a courageous spirit and a hopeful heart.