MVP Takes Full Responsibility for Plagiarized Speech, Finds Support and Admiration from Some Ateneans on Facebook

If his success were any indication of the number of times he has committed mistakes, then I bet Manny V. Pangilinan -- just like all of us, Atenean or not -- is absolutely no stranger to being at fault. After all, quoting the great American hotelier, Conrad Hilton,

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit."

But it's one thing to commit a mistake and move forward -- another to commit a mistake, take full responsibility for it and be prepared for whatever judgement may be passed upon you***. For me (as for some other Ateneans on Facebook, apparently), doing the latter is simply more laudable.

***Quoting MVP's letter to Fr. Ben Nebres

Letter of Pangilinan to Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, president of AdMU

Dear Father Ben

Easter greetings!

I have been told last night that portions of my graduation remarks – in particular my address to the Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences – had been borrowed from certain other graduation speeches.

I had taken a look at the side-by-side comparison @ Facebook, and must admit to this mistake.

For this, I wish to express my sincerest apology to you, the University and to the 2010 graduating class.

I have had some help in the drafting of my remarks, but I take full and sole responsibility for them.

In mitigation perhaps, the body and substance of my speech represented my own story and my thoughts. And I have labored long hours to get those speeches done. It is my hope that their impact has not been lost on the graduates. That said, this post fact event I am certain has devalued the words I have uttered at graduation – whether original or copied.

I am told further that comments posted on Facebook have started to spill beyond graduation, and are now alluding to my misconduct with respect to Meralco, with former President Erap, and so forth. Under the circumstances, it is best for the Ateneo and myself to shorten the life of this controversy and prevent it from spinning out of control.

Fr Ben, this has been a source of deep personal embarrassment for me.

I am truly regretful for it. I already have too many battles to fight, and some of them I wish not to have to fight. In this instance, I do not want to, and would seek only the honorable and principled way out. The matter at hand may rest after this public apology, but it gives me a lot of personal discomfort to continue to be closely involved with Ateneo affairs after this incident. I am afraid the damage has been done – wala talaga akong mukhang ihaharap pagkatapos.

With much regret, Fr Ben, I would wish to retire from my official duties at the Ateneo.

With all good wishes to you and to our graduates.

M. V. P.

Really, how can you slam, shoot down and condemn a man who is owning up to his mistake?

My take on this is that, while plagiarism (: expressing another's ideas as your own -- without quoting reference) should never be taken lightly, being gracious and merciful in the face of someone lowering down his pride to accept his fault is not such a bad idea.

Other Pinoys on Facebook seem to also feel the same way about the issue (source 1, source 2):

"[I] just read about Manny Pangilinan's decision to quit as Chairman of Ateneo de Manila due to the allegedly "plagiarized" speech he delivered in the loyola schools graduation. My take on it is he has already made a public apology thus, we should accept it and hope that all of us learn a lesson or two from it. One blunder doesn't erase the fact that he has done so so so much for Ateneo. I believe it was an honest mistake."
- Harvey Keh (Ateneo Alumnus)

"I believe it's such an honorable thing for MVP to take full responsibility and issue a public apology. Others of a lesser stuff would have easily pointed to and condemned in public whoever drafted that speech!"
- Connie Lopez- Madarang

"It's quite plain to see that someone as busy as MVP has speechwriters for such occasions. For people to condemn him as if he did that on purpose is quite unfair, in my humble opinion."
- Julz Esquivias

"Hopefully other people who LIE in public follow his lead. He committed and honest mistake that's clear. But others who lie intentionally should develop a brain with a conscience."
- Jennifer Aquino

"Fr. Nebres accepted apology, not resignation. I think he should stay. Everyone makes a mistake. Let's learn from it."
- Florangel Braid

"Manny V Pangilinan made a forgiveable mistake. I admire his courage in admitting his error, and I laud him for that. The public should be kind in their judgment. He remains to be an inspiration for many aspiring young Filipinos and students of business to succeed. May everyone, especially politicians in their speeches to our people, be more careful next time."
– Col Ariel Querubin

"Ateneo should treat MVP with the same impartiality as it does to its students. That being said, when a student plagiarizes, the disciplinary committee looks at the object, intent and circumstance of the act, which is why plagiarism does not necessarily condemn the student. Instead, the committee seeks the sanction that would benefit the student most, and it is only right to do the same for MVP."
- Ralph Aguinaldo (Ateneo Alumnus)

"If you think this particular mistake should not diminish his achievements, or that he deserves a "second chance" from us, or that his remarkable generosity to the university and to nation-building is something that we must all emulate... without condoning his lack of judgment in this particular instance, he is still a person I greatly respect. He is not a saint and as he himself admits, he has done things in life that he is not particularly proud of. But he is a good man. He has a good heart and a good mind. He has rallied behind Ateneo and our country time and time again. Can't we do the same for him? Can't we stand by him in his moment of great personal humiiliation?"
- Frances Vega (Ateneo Alumnus)

"Let us not get carried away by the sentiments of some. MVP has done a lot of good for the Ateneo, and has exemplified MAGIS not only in his work, but also as a student of San Beda, of Wharton and of course, of the Ateneo.

One must not so easily condemn a man because of one simple, unintended mistake. Let's cut MVP some slack. He deserves it.

I Support MVP."
- Robert Beltejar (Ateneo Alumnus)

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