A test of integrity: Why plagiarism is not ‘lang’
MANILA, Philippines—“Lang” (loose English translation “only”) was the word highlighted on the second day of Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges’ (CSPC) commencement exercises, with one of its students stressing a sad reality.
Jayvee Ayen, an entrepreneurship student who graduated magna cum laude, expressed exasperation over people’s perception of courses in college—those “deemed worthy” and the “lang”.
Ayen, the Batch 2022 Top 1, addressed graduates from the College of Tourism, Hospitality, and Business Management last week (July 8), saying that “dissatisfaction” always came with the word “lang”:
“Ah Entrep[reneurship] ka lang, ‘di ba tinda tinda lang ‘yan? Office Ad[ministration] ka lang? Ah sulat sulat, encode encode lang. Tourism ka lang? Usher, usherette, taga-smile lang. HM ka lang, ‘di ba luto-luto lang ‘yan?”
He said: “Who among you have heard these lines? How many times have you found yourselves being off-guarded by this unmotivating word, ‘lang’. How many of us here have been belittled based on the course that we have chosen?”
Here’s his complete graduation address:
It is truly a warm welcome to everyone. Ours is a batch of many firsts. The first to be affected by the K to 12 program curriculum. The first to be enforced with a new bachelor’s program curriculum, particularly the new GECs, the first to be interrupted by a pandemic in our academic course, and the first to have resumed in a face to face, yet limited graduation ceremonies in this new normal.
Yes, we are the human version, the flash and bones of our graduation theme, “The Resilient Graduates: Striving and Excelling as Shapers of a Post Pandemic Future.” Of course, all those would not be possible without acknowledging a few people in our lives for their help and support. We now express our gratitude to our parents, families, relatives, guardians and benefactors, and friends.
The same gratitude goes to our batchmates, coursemates, teammates, thesis mates, schoolmates, boardmates, or roommates, social media accounts friends and followers, and so to our teachers, advisers, mentors, panelists, coaches, trainors and the non-teaching staff, program directors, and deans and administrators of our beloved CSPC–PSUV, and we all made it this far. Let’s congratulate ourselves. We all deserve our round of applause.
You all made us who we are now. You all brought us where we are now. And as a form of gratitude, we shall be what you want us to be and what you wish us to be, the closest possible we could ever be. To my fellow graduates, sa mga ‘di makapaniwalang gra-graduate, sa mga gra-graduate para may gift, gra-graduate para may money sash or cake, gra-graduate para later maka-swimming.
We have been through a lot, are striving, are surviving, and I am proud to say that this valedictory address reflects at least a few of our experiences and sentiments of our journey. Thanks to Google form for making that possible. It is challenging to address your very own college.
In capturing all the extraordinary experiences of my fellow graduates and in even more anticipating the expectation of our parents, family, friends, and significant others, guardians and benefactors, and the entire CSPC–PSUV community.
Allow me to begin with the experiences.
‘Lang’–a shortened Filipino word for ‘lamang,’ which means mere, just, or only. Same words as ‘Yan lang?’ or ‘Ito lang?’, which are commonly used to express dissatisfaction and limitations. Same words to ‘Ah Entrep[reneurship] ka lang, ‘di ba tinda tinda lang ‘yan? Office Ad[ministration] ka lang? Ah sulat sulat, encode encode lang. Tourism ka lang? Usher, usherette, taga-smile lang. HM ka lang, ‘di ba luto-luto lang ‘yan?’
Who among you have heard these lines? How many times have you found yourselves being off-guarded by this unmotivating word, ‘lang’. How many of us here have been belittled based on the course that we have chosen?
Maybe because they do not require board exams, or maybe because they do not guarantee high pay. The brutal reality in our society. People categorize college courses as the deemed worthy courses and the ‘lang’ courses.
Deemed worthy courses are those promising courses that give the assurance of high paying jobs after graduation and ensures licenses to those fortunate passers.
Students from these courses frequently get the special treatment and even get the recognition [inaudible] in their term of education. On the other hand, the deemed ‘lang’ courses are those in the field considered as unusual, impractical, easy or not high paying professions.
Students from this course, which includes us, are those in the radar, being doubted, invalidated and overlooked, not to mention how many times we have been rejected from the scholarship because our courses were not at the least of their priorities, but isn’t that fair and just for others to get all the privilege while others are being granted as ‘lang’?
When in fact, we all share the same hardships as a student. Matalino ka sana, bakit nag- entrep ka lang? Bakit nag office ad ka lang? Bakit nag tourism ka lang? Bakit nag HM ka lang? Why does this line ‘lang’ always exist? Does this imply that intelligent people should not be in the field of hospitality, tourism and business management? Does this indicate that business management is impractical, basic, and easy? I beg to disagree.
Those in the field of office administration had to choose between food or a steno machine, practicing shorthand over and over again and tons of office procedures they undertake, countless business reports and research papers, and who could ever read a sequence of written lines that others will never understand, yet office administrators could. Their commitment in providing public and private services around the world should never be a ‘lang’.
Those in the field of tourism, a program that has always been misunderstood as just mere cute and pretty. But behind that, who would know that these people are geography geniuses and well-groomed individuals practicing various social etiquettes while projecting and promoting different cultures in terms of food, history, museums, sites and souvenirs.
Their contribution in generating international tourism investment and foreign exchange should never be considered as ‘lang’. Not to mention the intercultural marriages that result in Caucasian looking sons and daughters with Rinconada roots speaking in Magugpo-twang.
Those in the field of hospitality management, another program always mistaken as a branch of health sciences, are gifted with people skills facing jetlag travelers with lost luggage and event destinations, visualizing arrivals, and departures, accommodations and appointments, meetings, conventions, and events with all smiles on their faces.
These people are masters of vexillology and oenology. The unique skills that only HMs have the guts to commit for their roles in the food industry as drivers of today’s fast growing local food economy. There is no room for them to be called ‘lang’.
Those in the field of entrepreneurship, and that includes me, a program always thought as inessential, but is slowly growing to be the backbone of our economy, as proven in this pandemic era.
Entrepreneurs are the people who are twisting their brains to create innovative businesses with social and environmental welfare, while providing countless jobs to the local community. It may be true that anyone can establish a business, but [are] those businesses care in giving back to the community, or even in protecting the environment?
I assure you, they don’t. Because their only goal is for profit while entrepreneurs are balancing the essence of profit and purpose. The commitment of entrepreneurs in uplifting the lives of the less fortunate and giving hopes to the hopeless should never be regarded as ‘lang’.
There are no superior courses and there are no ‘lang’ courses because success couldn’t be measured by how prestigious or privileged your courses are. Success is driven by passion, perseverance, hard work and resilience, ‘di pwedeng ‘lang’ lang ‘yun because we are CSPCians. We are formed by our mission, guided by our vision. We think globally but we act locally. We are local.
For what we have been through. We are no ordinary. We are legends, survivors, [an] army of hopes, a success[ful] product of education system experiment, the game changer,and the future. We are truly awesome. And we are making history and just recently, we showed that.
We showed that for standing firm as one of the 15,035,773 na tumindig para sa pag-ibig, pag-asa, at Pilipinas. So today, I challenge everyone because regardless of what people say about what we pursue, we choose to continue and advocate for the greater good of our chosen profession.
Who knows, maybe years from now, one of us follows the footsteps of those famous individuals in our fields. Imagine if one of my fellow entrepreneurship graduates could be the next Jack Ma of China, or maybe the new Taipans of Rinconada, like that of Gaisano of Cebu, the next game-changer of travel and tourism, of course, from our tourism batchmates, leveling up Gokongwei’s Cebu Pacific, piso fare for airlines, making globe-throbbing affordable.
Or could it be our office administration batchmates redefining frontline and front offices, both here and abroad. Or the socially and environmentally aware hoteliers and restaurateurs, who save water and the planet by using a cistern system […] Or the next international or Michelin certified chefs for bringing Katnga, Uwag and Pansit Bato to the world cuisine, like how the Koreans have popularized their kimchi, samgyupsal and ramen.
Fellow CSPCians, today marks the end of our higher education journey and we finally meet the fulfillment of our dream to get a degree. It is now the time to step up our game and take our responsibility as responsible citizens of our country.
Dream a bigger dream, my monarchs. Be an ally of hope that doesn’t just look at the practicality of life, but rather, is mindful of the importance of discernment in finding ways on how we can influence and contribute more to the betterment of our motherland.
Our institution has fully equipped us for this. With all the knowledge and learning that we acquired, extensive skills training we undertook, and high quality research and technological innovations we pursued.
Let us all be leaders of our respective fields and together, let us dream for a better Philippines. Never be fooled because a P20 price of rice would not end poverty and hunger, and bringing back Nutribun is not an indication of a rich economy.
Furthermore, let us also not forget to dream for the betterment of our dear institution, CSPC, which has become our haven for 4 years, or which could be more for others. Today, we say our goodbyes as a student, and tomorrow, we say hello as alumni with a promise to carry the torch of honor.
We look forward to offering more creative and innovative degree programs in science and technology as it is the yardstick for polytechnic education for the younger generations of Rinconada and beyond.
And who knows, for our children’s children, we envision a CSPC with institutional accreditation with high ISO certification, with higher PQA recognition, a smart campus connectivity and IT infrastructure, with autonomous status from CHED, and finally, a postscript PSUV–be a university, a university with a heart for Bicolnon, the Rinconadanon and beyond.
Once again, thank you, our beloved Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges. Forever, we will be bringing the values you have taught us, we will continue our journey as proud CSPCians. We will never forget you. Congratulations to the Class of 2022. Padayon, as in Mabuhay, CSPCIans.
While Ayen, indeed, left a striking message, saying that “success couldn’t be measured by how prestigious or privileged your courses are,” there’s a problem with his valedictory address.
This, as a video posted on social media showed that Ayen apparently altered some of the lines in the valedictory address of another student made at least three years ago—Mariyela Mari Hugo, a Bachelor in Secondary Education graduate and Batch 2019 Top 1 of the Far Eastern University.
Hugo, who graduated cum laude, stressed that the word “lang,” a word used to express limitations and lack, “is the reality that some of us have to face through college.”
“‘Bakit mag-teteacher ka lang? Sayang ‘yung talino mo, mababa pa yung sweldo.’ […] But what does this imply, knowledgeable people shouldn’t be teachers? I shouldn’t teach because I won’t get rich from it? Who should be teachers then?”
She asked: Why does this “lang” in different programs exist? Is there a set of criteria that measures which programs are deemed worthy and which are not? I believe this “lang” exists because our own choices do not satisfy other people’s expectations.”
Here’s her graduation address:
‘Lang,’ the short term for the Filipino word ‘lamang,’ which means just or only. A word used to express limitations and a lack of something. ‘‘Yun lang? ‘Yan lang? Ito lang?’ Sounds demotivating but this is the reality that some of us had to face through college.
When I was little, I aspired to work in the field of health sciences. I always said to myself: If I will become a doctor or a pharmacist, I will always know what medicine to give when someone gets sick in my family. I will always know what to do.
I always had that dream since I started grade school until I finished high school. However, I got lost, confused, and somehow, unsure on whether I should really take a program in the health sciences.
As time passed by, I weighed my options. Do I see myself in this field? Will I be happy? Will I be interested in this [in] 5, 10, 20 years? And the obvious answer is no.
During that course of contemplation, I took into consideration my likes and dislikes, and my strengths and weaknesses. I know I am talkative, I am fairly proficient in English, like being with people, I am patient with kids, kinda, and I like it when I help people learn. I like it when I learn and I will love it if I will be able to continue learning.
With this, I knew the path I needed to take. When I decided to pursue education, I heard snide remarks from people. ‘Bakit mag-teteacher ka lang? Sayang ‘yung talino mo, mababa pa ‘yung sweldo.’ Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought they were just being concerned. But what does this imply, knowledgeable people shouldn’t be teachers? I shouldn’t teach because I won’t get rich from it? Who should be teachers then?
Now, how many of you have heard these lines from your friends, family, and even mere acquaintances? ‘Ah, masscom lang? Video, video tapos endo after ng project.’ ‘Management lang? Diba puro plan lang ‘yun tapos magsusulat kayo dun ng mga number?’ ‘Ah, alam mo ang hina mo, mag-educ ka na lang kaya?’
Even if those lines were jokingly said, it does not lessen the pain we feel everytime we hear those ‘langs’ from the people who are supposed to rally behind us. To be doubted by our loved ones is even worse. To hear the words that made you question your value and your purpose in life is like a blinding pain you somehow cannot complain about.
Why does this ‘lang’ in different programs exist? Is there a set of criteria that gauges which programs are deemed worthy and which are not? I believe this ‘lang’ exists because our own choices do not satisfy other people’s expectations. If our profession is deemed unusual, impractical, easy, or not high paying, many people consider it a ‘lang’. But are practicality and prestige the only things to consider when choosing a profession? I beg to disagree.
Some of those in the field of arts have to choose between food or art materials and survive on drinking Kopiko 78 on their worst days. Coming up with unique ideas usually exhausts their creative juices, so what they do will never be a ‘lang’. Their commitment to delivering art for art’s sake, or using it as a medium to express sentiments about social issues may be contradictory, but it is anything but ‘lang’.
Communication is probably one of the most misunderstood programs out there. Comm people are keen observers, especially when it comes to tiny details. There is no room for ‘lang’ in what they do. Their role is to keep us updated, informed and vigilant, and help us be more responsible in the actions that we do and the things that we believe in.
Education. I cannot remember how many times I’ve been asked why I chose education. But my question is why not education? True, the paycheck may be unappealing for some, but teaching isn’t called the noblest profession for no reason.
To teach young minds and to see them grow and develop into someone they can be proud of is one of the most fulfilling moments a person can ever experience. To go beyond the line of duty to make sure that students are both academically adept and also equipped with a high sense of morality is both a duty and a reward in itself.
‘Education lang’ will never measure the sacrifices, dedication, compassion and empathy that a teacher has.Regardless of what other people say of what we pursue, we still chose to continue. And so, here we are. The strength and courage we have shown is enough to ignite a fire to do what we love doing.
Doing what we are best at creates a diverse world of talents and skills–talents and skills that will help us pull each other up while we are pulling ourselves up. Talents and skills that will continue to serve this country for its development and the development of its people.
Let us do our part in recognizing the importance of our individual differences and multiple intelligences. Multiple intelligence exists for a reason. This only proves that our passion and aspirations in life are grounded on our dominant intelligence.
It further shows that one program is incomparable to each other. One can excel at something other people may be having trouble with. But that doesn’t mean that those people don’t have an act for something exceptional, too. Our intrinsic motivations drive us to do better in what we do, along with the skills that we can further develop as we go along the way.
There is no superior profession as there is no ‘lang’ profession. We should not settle that the sciences are better than the arts or the speakers are better than the listeners. Our different abilities complement each other in forming a holistic individual to form a holistic society.
Moreover, let us strive not to let this ‘lang’ come from us because the times may be challenging, but we should never be discouraged by the ‘lang’ that we have heard. Not everyone understands why we chose our course. Not anyone knows the reason why you’re standing here. Having gone through rigorous tasks for 4, 5, 6, or maybe 7 years.
Not everyone has seen you exhaust yourself to the point of breaking only to be able to stand where you’re standing right now. Even the passion you once had seemed to flicker at times and they didn’t know about the moments you hit rock-bottom and almost couldn’t go back up. But you did, we did.
Whatever your reasons are, they are important enough to keep you going. Be it because of your parents, your passion, your friends, or yourself. Keep them with you. And if you ever trip, slide, or bleed along the way, cry if you must, but never forget to stand up with your head held high.
Reach out for the hands offered to you, but never be afraid to be your own anchor. All the scars and bruises show how tough you are. You will never be defined by your mistakes because as cliche as this sounds, every successful person out there has his or her fair share of failures.
With this, we must thank our university and the administration for never giving up on us and for being our haven for the past few years.
Thank you to our professors for they have equipped us with knowledge we need for our chosen profession. Thank you, classmates, for the camaraderie and teamwork. Thanks be to the people who came and left, but more to those who believed and stayed. Thanks be to our family for their unending grace and their sacrifice and motivation, but more importantly, we thank God for his unending grace.
So, to the graduates of Batch 2019, let us remember that every profession is valued and needed, and don’t let other people tell you otherwise. You will never be a “lang” and you should never feel like one. As Tamaraws, we should strive to always be brave. Continue believing in yourself and aim for greater heights.
As the issue blew up, Ayen said it was never his intention to “plagiarize or copy” Hugo’s “Lang” message in 2019, stressing that “I hope people appreciate the message of my speech because we also experienced it.”
“I mean not to plagiarize. I was able to relate so much when I saw the video, that’s why there are lines or thoughts [in my address] that were similar with the ‘Lang’ video,” he said in a statement to The Spark, CSPC’s official student publication.
Ayen then said sorry to Hugo, stressing that it was not his intention to copy Hugo’s address: “At the same time, it happened that I saw her video, too. It’s like, driven by her impactful speech, I was able to insert some thoughts in my speech.”
The Spark said before Ayen saw Hugo’s video, he had already drafted three speeches, however, “he turned down his first speech as it was too personal to disclose” while he was “not fulfilled with the drift of ideas he had written” in the second one.
It stressed that in writing the third one, Ayen linked his address on the survey he conducted and that “the detailed response led him to conceptualize his idea for his speech, and that response was about program discrimination.”
“From that point, he was motivated to make it his speech topic as he faced the same refinement and bias distinction between courses […] The said clip also became his basis to strengthen the topic he had already written.”
However, Hugo posted this on Facebook last Monday (July 11): “Unintentional or accidental plagiarism is still plagiarism (Bowdoin, 2022; Das, 2018; Duke University, n.d.).”
Stealing one’s work
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in 2012 that plagiarism, as pointed out by the Supreme Court (SC), is the “deliberate and knowing presentation of another person’s original ideas or creative expressions as one’s own.”
The Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices (NDV law) explained that copying original and intellectual creations is considered as copyright infringement and is punishable under Republic Act No. 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code (IPC).
Section 198 of the law provides that “the rights of an author under this chapter shall last during the lifetime of the author and for 50 years after his death and shall not be assignable or subject to license.”
The NDV law said copyright infringement takes on three forms: administrative, civil or criminal. As an administrative complaint, it can be brought before the Intellectual Property Office while it may be filed in regular courts as a criminal or civil case.
It explained that as a criminal offense, copyright infringement is penalized by imprisonment ranging from one year to nine years and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P1,500,000, depending on the value of the infringed materials, damage to the copyright owner and the number of offenses committed.
As the Cybercrime Prevention Act was enacted into law in 2012, the DOJ said plagiarism, only if it corresponds to a copyright infringement under the IPC, could be considered as a cybercrime.
“In sum, plagiarism does not in itself result in a criminal violation unless it also constitutes copyright infringement under the IPC. There is infringement when any of the copyright or economic rights under Sec. 177 of the IPC is violated by any other person, or when any of the acts in Sec 217.3 are committed,” the DOJ said.
The NDV law said, “in order to prove copyright infringement, one must show that he has a valid copyright in the work allegedly infringed and that the perpetrator infringed the victim’s copyright by copying protected elements of the latter’s work.”
Plagiarism is not new in the Philippines and elsewhere because even well-known personalities already faced controversies—some of them were responsible enough to say sorry while some stood firm that they did not intentionally copy another’s work.
- Martin Luther King
It has been said that in 1950, King plagiarized some of his thesis at Boston University, as well as some of his speeches, the website Your Dictionary said.
“Portions of his thesis were proven to be taken from a previous student’s dissertation and the works of Paul Tillich, the subject of his thesis. Whether or not his speeches were plagiarized is less clear cut, as it has been argued that using the words of scripture and other preachers is a tradition in preaching,” the website said.
- Larry Henares
The Los Angeles Times (LA Times) said Henares “copied almost line for line” from a LA Times–Washington Post News Service feature published in the International Herald Tribune one of his “Make My Day!” columns in 1990.
According to the LA Times, the INQUIRER apologized for the incident and suspended the column.
“Henares was quickly rehired by the Manila Standard but not before defiantly responding that Washington Post writer Glenn Frankel’s story was not ‘of literary value’ and that he ‘had to rearrange and improve his convoluted prose’,” it said.
- Joseph Biden
The New York Times (NY Times), in 1997, said Biden who is now the US president, “admitted” a mistake when he was still a student, saying that he plagiarized a law review article for school.
However, Biden insisted to the NY Times that what he did was not “malevolent” and that “he had simply misunderstood the need to cite sources carefully.”
- Mariano del Castillo
A Supreme Court decision on World War II “comfort women,” written by Del Castillo, an associate justice, showed that several parts were taken from materials written by legal experts overseas without proper attribution, as revealed by the Newsbreak magazine in 2010.
Lawyer Louie Oximer, Del Castillo’s legal counsel, said that his client’s alleged act is not a high crime, meaning it cannot be considered an impeachable offense. This, as an impeachment complaint was filed against him on the basis of the allegation.
The SC, in the same year, dismissed a complaint against Del Castillo, with 10 justices voting in favor of the dismissal due to lack of merit. Only two justices had dissented.
- Manuel Pangilinan
It was found that parts of Pangilinan’s message in the commencement exercises of Ateneo de Manila University in 2010 were lifted from several graduation remarks by other well-known personalities.
As a result, Pangilinan, who decided to take responsibility, said sorry for the scandal. He likewise offered to retire from the university, but it was rejected. He eventually filed his “irrevocable resignation”.
- Vicente Sotto III
Back in 2012, Sotto had allegedly used parts of US-based writer Sara Pope’s blog without proper attribution in his speech against the Reproductive Health Bill which was being debated then in the Senate.
In one instance, Sotto said his chief-of-staff apologized to Pope in a bid to settle the issue. “My understanding of the apology was for her to shut up,” said Sotto, who earlier stressed that “I did not pass off anything as my own.”
- Melania Trump
The former US first lady’s message at the Republican National Convention in 2016 became infamous for “borrowing heavily” from the message delivered by another former US first lady, Michelle Obama, at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
RELATED STORY: Stealing, plagiarism, lying: What’s the difference?
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