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In 'last lecture,' Winnie Monsod tells students to stay in RP

October 8, 2010 8:21pm
She delivers her rousing “last lecture" nearly every year, but the echo rarely reached beyond the hallways of the University of the Philippines.

This year, cyberspace became the classroom for UP economics professor Solita “Winnie" Monsod after her annual patriotic pep talk to her students was uploaded on YouTube three days ago and has gone viral with over 25,000 views.

So now even her former students who live and work overseas can hear her say that they made the wrong decision.

"You're going to be as good and as honorable as you should be. You are going to stay in the Philippines. And if you leave the Philippines, you are at least going to try to pay back. And if you don't do any of the above, this is my last threat to you. Mrs. Monsod is going to haunt you! From the grave! I intend to go up there and from up there I'm going to look down on you and I am going to confront you at the worst possible moments in your life," the 70-year-old economist recently told 350 students on the last day of their Economics 100.1 class at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Monsod delivered the ten-minute lecture sitting down, but she did it with such gravitas and bravura, just as her former student Alwynn Javier remembers from his class in 1994.

“Finally on youtube, the lecture that defined my life," Javier writes on his Facebook wall above the posted video of Monsod.

Javier saw the video after UP economics student Jedo Enriquez posted it on YouTube.

Enriquez would often record Professor Monsod's lectures on video, because he realized it was hard to take notes.

"It never really occurred to me to upload any of her lectures for the public. It was only after hearing her last one that I decided that the lecture should be heard by many," Enriquez told GMANews.TV in an interview.

It's not the first time that YouTube has become a virtual classroom for a so-called “last lecture." In 2007, a video of the late Professor Randy Pausch's upbeat lecture entitled "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University drew 12,226,154 views.

Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, and had been told a month before the speech that he had three to six months to live. He died in July 2008, and was later included in TIME Magazine's 2008 list of the world's 100 most influential people.

Despite being a smoker, Monsod is in good health, but referred several times in her lecture to her mortality.

"So now we have established that you are leaders," Professor Monsod told her class. “We have established that you have excellence, and that you are by God going to help the people, you are going to have honor. So what is the next step? The next step is, of course, seeing to it that what you can do, you are going to do."

Her student Enriquez, who is an Oblation Scholarship awardee (given to the top 50 UPCAT passers), wasted no time in doing something he could do, and posted the video on the same day the lecture was delivered.

Enriquez told GMANews.TV that he knew people would watch it, but he didn't expect that many hits.

YouTube user edgarpugal wrote that this last lecture at Econ 100.1 changed him for good. "Lots of realizations came to me, a thousandfold eurekas strewn into one. What a privilege to be taught by one of the country's best!" he wrote.

The hundreds of comments were not all positive, with some saying it is not the kind of lecture that would really inspire them to help the country. YouTube user redporquia for one pointed out that it’s not only UP that can solve the country's problems.

In her lecture, Professor Monsod urged her students to place honor before excellence. "Do you know what the University motto is? Honor and excellence. Honor first before excellence. It's not excellence and honor, it's honor and excellence. And what is the fruit of honor and excellence? Is it not competence and integrity? In other words, if you have lived up to your promise and your potential as a university student, you are in a position to be part of the solution to this country's problems, not part of the problem," she said.

Saying that the majority of the country's top officials came from UP, she asked her students to assure her that they would act with honor and integrity.

"You do not have to cheat. And cheating in the small things is going to lead to cheating in the large things... Eh saan tayo ngayon? If they were so good, why are we where we are now? And so you have to ask yourselves that. And part of the reason is because we have always looked at excellence, and not looked at honor and integrity."

She also advised her students to disabuse themselves of notions of going abroad.

"If you are going to help this country, you've got to be in the country. If any of you have little ambitions of going abroad so that you can earn more, please disabuse yourself, because by doing that you are essentially betraying the people in the Philippines who trusted you and who invested their money in you," she said.

YouTube user 13upscale disagrees, saying the judgment is unfair. "Overseas Filipinos are just as well as the professionals working here in contributing to the economic development of the country. They spend their money here, invest here, and give cash donations," read the comment.

Some said they felt like they were in the UP classroom. "Ms. Monsod, though I never had the privilege of actually having you as a teacher in UP, on this day I just became your student," YouTube user riodejanero2007. “With deepest respects and Godspeed!" – HS, GMANews.TV
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