By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: The Spark/FEU Student Council (Facebook)

A magna cum laude and Batch 2022 Top 1 of Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges (CSPC) is in hot water after supposedly plagiarizing an excerpt of the speech he delivered during the university’s 37th Commencement Exercises. 

Netizens have meticulously noticed that Jayvee Ayen, a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship graduate, has apparently altered some of the lines in the "Lang?" speech of Mariyela Mari Hugo, an English major graduate and Batch Valedictorian of Class 2019 of Far Eastern University (FEU). 

Some of the contentious lines of the speech are:

Mariyela Mari Hugo:
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 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? 

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.’

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 our practicality, the prestige, the only things to consider when choosing a profession? I beg to disagree. 

Jayvee Ayen:
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 ka lang. Diba tinda tinda lang ‘yan?’, ‘Office ad ka lang? Ah, sulat sulat, encode encode lang’, ‘Tourism ka lang. Usher, usherette, taga-smile lang. HM ka lang, diba luto-luto ka lang?

Who among you have heard these lines? How many times have you found yourselves being off-guarded by these unmotivating words, “Lang”. How many of us here have been belittled based on the course that we have chosen? 

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. 

‘Not my intention to plagiarize’

While Ayen admitted that he had indeed watched Hugo’s “Lang?” speech in Youtube, he however clarified that it was never his intention to plagiarize the latter’s valedictory speech. 

"Kay Ma’am Mariyela, I am really sorry. Hindi ko po intensyon na i-plagiarize yung speech niya. Nagkataon lang talaga na same topic yung gusto ko i-address (and) at the same time nagkataon rin na napanood ko 'yung video nya,” said Ayen in an interview with The SPARK, CSPC's official student-community publication.

“Kung baga driven by her impactful speech kaya nagawa kong ma ipasok yung ibang thought sa speech ko without thinking na napa-plagiarize ko na pala yung speech nya”, he added. 

Ayen disclosed that he had already drafted three manuscripts for his speech before he watched Hugo’s speech. 

The first speech was too personal to disclose, which he then decided to turn down. His second speech was also rejected since the ideas he had written were incoherent. 

In accomplishing his third speech, Ayen decided to conduct a survey among the graduating class of CSPC. According to him, the common response on program discrimination has led him to conceptualize his speech in such, reiterating that he also had a fair share of prejudices among degree programs. 

Ayen also revealed that while he had already finished his speech, a friend had shared Hugo's “Lang?” valedictory address to him. While there are obvious similarities, Ayen took inspiration from Hugo’s speech to fine-tune the one he wrote. 

In response to Ayen’s unintentional claim of plagiarizing her speech, Hugo in a Facebook post said: “Unintentional or accidental plagiarism is still plagiarism (Bowdoin, 2022; Das, 2018; Duke University, n.d.).”