MANILA - A proud Maranao, University of the Philippines Diliman summa cum laude Arman Ali Ghodsinia stood in front of his fellow "iskolar ng bayan" hoping to inspire them as they embark on their separate journeys outside the academe.
Ghodsinia, who has roots in Marawi City, lamented that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remains mired in poverty despite the region's rich natural resources.
In his valedictory speech, he said that he also grew up to stories of poverty in his homeland. He shared that his mother lost a brother to sickness because they had no money for treatment.
"How painful it is to live in a society where people are left behind and forgotten simply because they do not have enough money," he said.
But Ghodsinia said he is a living proof that even a minority like him, a Maranao from Mindanao, can achieve much when granted the same opportunities that other more privileged Filipinos enjoy.
"We members of the Filipino minority, or your brothers and sisters, too, on an equal platform based on mutual respect, we can all work together towards a stronger and more united Philippines," he said.
The BS Molecular Biology and Biotechnology graduate stressed to his fellow graduates that everybody needs to see beyond their differences because deep down inside, we are all the same.
"As a student of molecular biology, I know that each and everyone of us is made up of the same building blocks of life. Underneath all of our differences, we are just all made up of the same molecules that, aggregated, form the human body," he said.
Amid the ongoing war in his hometown Marawi, Ghodsinia also called for peace and unity.
"Sa Filipino, ito po 'yung tinatawag natin na pagmamalasakit. Isa sa mga pinakamagagandang salita, hindi ba? Pagmamalasakit," he told the thousands of his "sablay"-wearing fellow graduates on Sunday.
Ghodsinia reminded his fellow graduates of their responsibility to give back to the Filipino people as "iskolar ng bayan" who deeply care about the fate of the nation and their fellow people.
In the end, he thanked his family, friends, professors, batchmates and ultimately dedicated his achievements as a UP summa cum laude to his fellow Maranaos.
Ghodsinia graduated from the College of Science with a general weighted average of 1.176.
He is one of the 36 summa cum laude graduates from UP Diliman.