Friday, April 27, 2007


Life of Science - Speech at MaSci 40th Graduation Rites

Posted By: Efren ES Ricalde @ 6:01 PM
Comments: 0


Kabataang Manileno, Kaisa
40th Commencement Exercises
Manila Science High School
April 8, 2003


Efren E.S. Ricalde, Batch '71
GeoSpatial Solutions Inc.

So much water has passed under the bridge since the day I was privileged to wear the MaSci graduation cap. But time has not dulled my memory of that special day. And that is how it should be.

Listening to another graduation speaker many years ago, I felt privileged and proud. Privileged because I was educated in a special school and proud because such an education was made possible despite my humble background, intellect and hard work. Since that special day, I have been back to MaSci many times and have reminisced with my classmates about our happy days here.

I hope that you too will have fond memories of your days here in our Alma Mater. I was therefore touched when I was invited to deliver the commencement speech with the theme “Sa Matatag sa Republika, Kabataang Manileño, Kaisa.” I want to connect this theme to “The Life of Science” and I hope that the Matatag na Republika will be based, not on the Filipino culture, but on the culture of science.

What is the life of science? The physicist Lise Meitner wrote in old age, looking back: “I believe all young people think about how they would like their lives to develop; when I did so I always arrived at the conclusion that life need not be easy, provided only that it was not empty. And this wish I have been granted.”

I wholeheartedly embrace this view. The life of science is not easy but it is also not empty. Meitner had to flee from her native Austria and from the Nazis so as to remain free as a human and as a physicist. But as always, freedom has a price; for Meitner, the price was probably the Nobel Prize. In the Philippines and other Third World nations, students of science scientists also have to flee -- not from a totalitarian regime but from a culture that is indifferent to science.

Filipino culture and the culture of science are incompatible. Filipino cultural values - puwede na, bahala na, ningas-­kugon, palakasan, palusot, “who you know and not what you know,” transparency and corruption are the antithesis of the cultural values of science-accuracy and precision, patience, persistence, fairness, transparency and integrity. Sadly, Filipino culture is a culture of mediocrity and science is a culture of excellence. In the Filipinos’ hierarchy of values, trapo and trapos which embody the Filipino culture of mediocrity is at the top while science and scientists which embody the scientific culture of excellence is near the bottom.

Notwithstanding this bleak reality, I remain optimistic. I have faith in the positive resilience of the Filipino youth. By resilience, I do not mean the negative kind - that of the pliant bamboo permanently and forever bowing before the wind. Conventional Filipino thinking interprets the resilience of the bamboo as a positive and commendable Filipino trait but in fact such negative resilience is defeatist and fatalistic and is part of the Filipino culture of mediocrity. By resilience, I learn the positive kind -- the resilience to stand tall and steadfast and to transcend the limitations of Filipino culture. It is the resilience necessary to endure and then to overcome the Filipino cultural obstacles of puwede na, bahala na, ningas-kugon, manana habit, palusot and other negative traits.

This then is my question and challenge to you as you look forward to your career and to the future: Do you have what it takes to live a full life and to transcend the limitations of Filipino culture?

This question and challenge is of fundamental and profound importance to me. I am convinced that Filipinos exist in a cultural prison. All the fundamental and destabilizing problems that the Philippines face today can be traced to an intrinsically wrong set of cultural values. As one prominent writer said: “Filipino culture is a damaged culture.”

In contrast to my bleak cultural assessment, I am utterly convinced that if the basis is only intellect, then the Philippines’ future is bright and promising. I believe that the Filipino youth is intellectual, able and talented and you the graduating class is a tangible proof of this.

Having looked and examined the intertwined issues of science, culture and intellect - what can we conclude that is meaningful and relevant to you, the graduating class and to our nation?

It is this: we Filipinos have allowed our dysfunctional culture to dominate our innate intellectual talents. This has resulted in severe fundamental problems for the Philippines and in a climate and environment that is indifferent and not conducive to science and intellectual pursuits. Filipinos are forced to leave the country in order to exercise their intellectual talents in more conducive and hospitable environments. Trapos, probably is the group that find the current situation in the Philippines most attractive.

So what is it that we must do to make a difference to our country and to our individual selves? We must individually and collectively end the domination by culture of the intellect and science and then reverse the process. Intellect and science must dominate Filipino culture. Trapo is an easy and empty life. Science is a hard and full life. And as Einstein said: Politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.

Class of 2003 of the Manila Science High School, I wish you full lives.
Congratulations and Thank you.

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The MaSci Students : Agents of Change

Posted By: Efren ES Ricalde @ 3:29 PM
Comments: 0


MSHS 38th Recognition Day Speech
22 March 2001
Theme : “ Manileño : Onward to a Meaningful Transformation”

Manila Science High School
Padre Faura Corner Taft Avenue

The MaSci Students : Agents of Change

Efren E.S Ricalde, '71
GeoSpatial Solutions


Thirty years ago, when I was a graduating senior student, we were fans of the Beatles. We danced to the rock and roll music of the fabled ‘70s. Taft Avenue was dotted with trees; we played softball, volleyball and the banduria. Coke was 15 centavos and Sarsi, 10 centavos. Needing a new attire for the graduation, I sold my book “College Physics” by Weber, Maning and White at Recto to buy a Hickok belt. Being one of the poor students, my parents can not afford to buy a new one.

Since freshman, I was Einstein’s avid follower. What coincidence that at my senior year, I belonged to IV-Einstein, the honor section. I bought books on relativity and attended Professor Joe Valenzuela’s lectures at UP Diliman. One limerick I recalled was about time dilation in a relativistic travel :

“There was a lady named Bright who traveled much faster that light. One day she left out of sight and came back the previous night”.

Reading mostly Einstein’s contribution to science, I didn’t realize Einstein’s profound influence not only to theoretical physics but more important to our day-to-day experience as science students and alumni when I read the following quotations:

“Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love”:
“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”

And there is humor in his definition of relativity:

“A man sits with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems shorter than a minute. But tell that same man to sit on a hot stove for a minute, it is longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”

Finally, Einstein couched us :

“Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and the profit of the community to which you later work belongs.”

Enough with Einstein, allow we then to share with you my experience in relation to our theme tonight “Manileño: Onward to a Meaningful Transformation”. On which I would like to suggest a sub-theme “MaSci Students – Agents of Change”.

Transformation to the New Economy

The wind of change is howling vigorously. The ubiquitous Web and Internet technologies tremendously transformed the way we do our daily activities, school works and businesses too. Indeed, this change created a paradigm shift – the transformation from the Old Economy characterized by industrialization to the New Economy of knowledge based industries.

Those who resisted by ignoring the pervasiveness of the Web and customer empowered Internet systems were “amazooned” and doomed to fail. In this paradigm shift, the science and technology entrepreneurs played a major role in the creation of an enterprise, and emerged winners.

Who are the winners? “The battle for supremacy in personal computers is over, and few will survive,” published in BusinessWeek in 1983. “The winner is IBM”. Computer guru Esther Dyson advised entrepreneurs of small computer companies to go instead to the restaurant business. However, a young Texan, named Michael Dell, a college student at the University of Texas in Austin, didn’t know enough to be frightened off. With his $1000 savings, he started selling computers out of his college dorm at the age of 18.

Ten years later, in 1993, IBM lost $4.97 billion, the biggest loss in American corporate history. Job eliminations rose to 100,000 in December 1993.

Who were the wild dogs that brought down the poor, old, arthritic, and misshapen IBM? Dell Computer for one. Dell has learned how to talk to its customers, while IBM talked to itself. With July 2000 revenue of $15B, Dell is still leading the pack.

What did we learn as a MaSci student?

Albert Einstein, Time Magazine Man of the Century said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.

As MaSci students, that is exactly what we learned – being keen in identifying opportunities in our classrooms, homes and communities. Without us knowing it, we all developed the sense of science and technology entrepreneurship. We have sharpened our saws to have competitive advantage from among the high school students being recognized in the Philippines for the year 2001.

So, you are the science and technology entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is best described by Kent, Sexton and Vesper in the Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship:

They said that “Humanity’s progress from caves to campuses has been explained in numerous ways. But central to virtually to all of these theories has been the role of the ‘agent of change’ the force that initiates and implements material progress. Today, we recognize that the agent of change in human history has been and most likely will continue to be entrepreneur.”

What is our success cookbook?

As science and technology entrepreneurs and agents of change, what is our success cookbook? Oliver Clayton, in his book “Planning a Career as a Business Owner”, wrote that an entrepreneur should be aggressive, competitive, goal-oriented, confident, decisive, an achiever very early in life, a loner in your final decision, persistent, an optimist (to an extreme), hyperactive mentally, a dreamer, a calculated risk-taker, a perfectionist and intuitive.

And where do we go from here?

We have the best domain knowledge derived at MaSci. So are our academic values and competitive culture. We are ready to go.

But how we do sustain the goals, dreams and aspirations in a transformed environment? What barriers shall we construct to arrest the marauding forces of fierce competition and globalization? What walls do we build to protect us from exploitation, environmental degradation, commercialization and social decadence?

There is no better effort than reinventing our mind set :

Being a leader is one. “Leadership is the ability to get other people to do what they want to do, and like it.” said Harry Truman. In the New Economy the first comer succeeds. They eventually became leaders. These leaders are trustworthy, honest and competent.

Being a creative student is another. Julia Cameron said “Leap and the net will appear”. As students and science and technology entrepreneurs, we must now see beyond the walls of our building. I challenge all you to make a big stride and leap to your dreams. That’s creativity.

Being a believer of the Divine Creator is paramount. With God, everything is possible.

Finally, we will always win

And that is because of the MaSci students’ passion to create and innovate. Beyond our academic undertakings and successes are us – The Science and Technology Entrepreneurs. We may start small but dream big. According to Demosthenes, “we see small opportunities that are often the beginning of great enterprise.”

To our beloved teachers, school administrators and staff who crafted this sea of brilliant MaSci graduates, we thank you all for giving me the opportunity to share with that wonderful experience of being a proud MaSci alumni.

With all due respect, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my teacher Mrs. Concepcion for believing in my dreams.

Mabuhay Kayong Lahat!

Thank you.

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  • "MaSci to GSI" is a compendium of experiences from childhood to present. M2G shares my insights and knowledge on education, hard work, integrity, honesty, creativity, transparency, and aspiration of a Filipino. M2G maps my journeys and adventures as a boy, student, dreamer and entrepreneur.
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Location: Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines

Efren, President/CEO of GSI, is an experienced public speaker and an avid tennis player, photographer, a beginner classical guitarist. He was the former Chairman of Philippine Geomatics Association (PhilGeo) and is an active member of other IT associations. He has a diploma in Strategic Business Economics from the University of Asia and the Pacific, units in MS Remote Sensing in UP Diliman, BS Geodetic Engineering at UP Diliman and an alumni of Manila Science High School.







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