News and Events

Sec. Ramon Jimenez, Jr.’s Speech During the Conferment of Honorary Doctorate in Hospitality Management at Holy Angel University on March 8, 2018:

Sometime ago, during a particularly indulgent late dinner with President PNoy, he asked if the group wanted to order another round of chicharon bulaklak. I asked to pass saying that my wife Abby would disapprove of it. To which the boss said, “She won’t know, Mon.”

I looked at him and said in earnest, “Sir, you don’t understand. I married a lie detector.”

If Abby so much as asked me what we had for dinner, even before I could answer she would conclude that we had chicharon and then would explain that it was the shiny trace of grease around my mouth that gave me away. The truth was, she could always tell when I was hiding something.

Recently, after Abby had passed away, I was again at a dinner with other cabinet secretaries and the President when a plate of chicharon was set down in front of us. Before the Chief could say anything, I declared that I would pass on the chicharon. They all looked at me as I explained, “My lie detector is now a CCTV camera.”

I tell you this story not just because I want to point out that whatever I have done and not done in my life has been under close supervision by Abby, but also to point out that who we are, who we become, is largely due to the quality of the people whose opinions and respect we care about most.

When we devote ourselves to good people, our life partners, our families, our friends, our constituents, we become good people too. We report to a collective consciousness that is a big part of what we can call OUR CONSCIENCE. The “little voice inside our head” is actually a chorus. A chorus composed of the good people in our lives as they say, “Be good. We can see you.”

The good people in our lives are the same people we report to in our hearts and minds. We anticipate their approval and their blessing even when they are not around, because we worry, almost automatically, that whenever we do wrong, we are less deserving of their love and respect. The saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I shall tell you who you are” is precisely about like-minded people reinforcing each other’s beliefs. They are each other’s lie detector and, yes, each other’s CCTV— establishing in each one’s mind an all-seeing presence.

Today, in our country, there exists a tremendous temptation to trade what is good in our democracy for immediate relief from the suffering of poverty and disorder. From both sides of this coin, we will hear valid arguments for, surely, to want relief from suffering not just for ourselves, but for those less fortunate than we, cannot be wrong.

But there are those who would try to get us to lose our patience with the ways of reasonable human beings – pointing out the horrors of crime and depravity that continue to plague our communities and using these horrors to cajole us into rash and angry prejudgment. That this approach will not work is only half as fearsome as the prospect that it might work and that we might fall in love with the whole notion of summary justice. The danger is that we might forget the age-old truth that “you cannot drive away the darkness with more darkness, and that only light drives darkness away.”

It is precisely at this time that we need to come together as friends. To set aside our differences and reassemble as the collective hearts and minds of all good people who want good things for our country. Only conscience will guide us so that we do not turn into the same unfeeling, uncompassionate demons we seek to rid society of. We must ask the questions:

What did our lie detector hear?
What did our CCTV camera see?
What did our conscience say?

That is why today’s commemoration of Holy Angel University’s founding is absolutely relevant for today, we gather to affirm what our collective conscience recognizes as SHARED VALUES. To celebrate what is truly important to us as a people and to applaud our efforts to propagate those values – especially when we need to make life decisions more challenging than whether to attack a plate of chicharon or not.

Whether to affirm a just society or not.
Whether to support family values or not.
Whether to reject violence or not.
Whether to promote mutual respect or not.
Whether to embrace Peace or not.
Whether to respect equality or not.
Whether to embrace authoritarianism or not.
Whether to follow our Lord or not.

In the end, we shall realize that the voice in our head that is the chorus of our conscience carries the same message, in substance, that Christ himself left us with:

“Be good.” He said,

“I can see you.”

Maraming salamat po sa parangal na iginawad ninyo sa akin.

Date Posted: 03-12-2018