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Ergo, MVP’s A Plagiarist

April 4, 2010

In any esteemed university, under-graduate or post-graduate students could face the sanction of dismissal or any disciplinary action for a mere act of plagiarism. Top universities abroad now use technology in order to detect plagiarism. There are now various kinds of software that can be used to check whether a college term paper, post-grad thesis or any important school work is free from ‘borrowed’ entries or plagiarized quotations or lines.

However, in the case of a high-ranking school official, the penalty could be more painful or harder to take, because what is at stake is the person’s reputation not only in the academic community, but also in the intellectual or business circle. This is exactly the case of well-known businessman Manuel “Manny” V. Pangilinan who offered to quit his post as chairman of the board of the Ateneo De Manila University after an online revelation that portions of the speech he delivered during the school’s graduation rites last week were borrowed, taken, plagiarized (or call it what you will) from speeches made by popular media personalities like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and America’s most popular talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

Pangilinan’s plagiarism has become one of the hottest issues in the blogosphere. As a matter of fact, it topped the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s most read section today. The news has also become the hottest link on Facebook. Try to type in the words “Manny V. Pangilinan” on the Facebook search engine and you’d see lots of search results about his un-academic, unprofessional conduct.

Pangilinan, who’s also known as MVP, is now the center of media and bloggers’ attention because of his reputation in the country’s business community. Currently he is the chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, the Philippines’s largest telecommunications company. Not so long time ago he was involved in the expose of a business tycoon, Alfonso Yuchengco, who claimed he was forced by ousted President Joseph Estrada to sell his stake in a company that has shares in the PLDT chaired by Pangilinan. The businessman allegedly received “money”, “reward or call it what you will from the convicted plunderer.

But it’s the act of plagiarism that made MVP quit his post at the Ateneo.

“With much regret, Fr. Ben (Bienvenido Nebres), I would wish to retire from my official duties at the Ateneo,'” he told the press after being informed that his graduation remarks delivered last March 26 and 27 had been lifted from certain other graduation speeches.

“I had taken a look at the side-by-side comparison on 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,” he said. “I have had some help in the drafting of my remarks, but I take full and sole responsibility for them.”

But the damage has been done. A plagiarized speech remains a plagiarized speech. Now here are portions of Mr. Pangilinan’s “borrowed” speech:

Portions of Pangilinan’s reported plagiarized commencement remarks were taken from Rowling’s speech, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.” Rowling delivered the speech at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in 2008.

Rowling: I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

MVP: I had no idea how far the tunnel of failure extended. And any light at the end of it seemed more hope than reality.


Rowling: The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive

MVP: The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you can be secure in your ability to survive.


Rowling: So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

MVP: So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you will recall those of Seneca, one of the old Romans I met in search of ancient wisdom: ―as is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

Pangilinan also borrowed some words of wisdom from talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey delivered her speech during the Stanford University commencement in 2008.

Winfrey: Let me tell you, money’s pretty nice. I’m not going to stand up here and tell you that it’s not about money, ‘cause money is very nice. I like money. It’s good for buying things. But having a lot of money does not automatically make you a successful person. What you want is money and meaning. You want your work to be meaningful. Because meaning is what brings the real richness to your life. What you really want is to be surrounded by people you trust and treasure and by people who cherish you. That’s when you’re really rich.

MVP: Let me tell you, money‘s pretty cool. I‘m not going to stand here and tell you that‘s it‘s not about money, because money is sweet. I like money. It‘s good for buying companies and things – and for putting up a few buildings here and there for Ateneo. But having a lot of money does not totally make you a successful person. What you want is both money and meaning. You want your life and your career to be meaningful. Because meaning is what brings real richness to your life, to be surrounded by people you can truly work with – because you trust and treasure them, and they cherish you in return. That‘s when you‘re really rich, that‘s when you really succeed.

He also drew some inspiration from Conan O’Brien who delivered his speech at Class Day in Harvard University in 2000.

O’Brien: 15 years ago I sat where you sit now. And I thought exactly what you are now thinking. What’s going to happen to me? Will I find my place in the world? Am I really graduating a virgin?

MVP: 44 years ago I sat where you now sit, I also thought what you now think – what is going to happen to me? Where can I find a job? Am I really graduating a virgin?


O’Brien: I’ve had a lot of success and I’ve had a lot of failure. I’ve looked good and I’ve looked bad. I’ve been praised and I’ve been criticized. But my mistakes have been necessary.

MVP: I‘ve had a lot of success. But I‘ve had a lot of failures. I‘ve looked good. I‘ve looked bad. I‘ve been praised and criticized. And it hurt like hell. But my mistakes have been necessary.

But in fairness to Mr. Pangilinan he admitted in his speech that he cheated during his 4th year high school in San Beda College.

He said:

“I will now let you in on a well-kept secret. I was in 4th year high school in San Beda College, and was in contention to be valedictorian that year. It was an open secret that majority of my classmates were cheating – changing answers from true to false, ironically, in our religion exams. I felt I had to do the same to protect my grades. Several of us were caught – pero ako ang pinag-initan. I knew I was wrong, and deserved to be punished. Indeed, San Beda stripped me of all my honors. Finally, with the suspicion about rampant cheating, I was asked by the principal to name names. I refused. I disappointed my parents deeply. It took many years for the pain and bitterness to heal. Several years ago, I thought it was time to free myself from the rancor and memory of that experience. What better proof of reconciliation with San Beda than the 3 NCAA championships for the Red Lions?”

11 Comments leave one →
  1. blip permalink
    April 5, 2010 3:38

    How bankrupt can this country be: a successful businessman going this low and a President of a university which take pride constantly as being better than UP praising the act!

    Father Nebres is not praising MVP’s courage; he is enuring that MVP’s donations continues. Now who’s the whore! Would Father Nebres praise MVP if he is a mere senior graduating this summer?

  2. Angel Locsin permalink
    April 5, 2010 3:38

    Common, how many professors, presidents of international organizations, even petty common mortals in a position to get away with crime , constantly steal from their subordinate: ask for drafts, remove names of their assitants and put their names over it. Then go home have dinner with their children and extold the virtues of hard work.

    This plagiarism case would only boil over into an international sensation if at least either JK Rowling, Obama or Ophrah file a case against MVP. I’m waiting…. If at this point Father Nebres continues to priase MVP’s courageous act, I will salute him for his own bravery.

  3. Lucky Manzano permalink
    April 9, 2010 3:38

    Resigning from Ateneo is not enough. The most honorable thing for MVP to do is to return the honorary degree(s) accorded to him by Ateneo. I’ve read somewhere he has a doctorate (honoris causa) from Ateneo.

    And he should also divulge the identities of his speech writers, especially when Ateneo officials have denied reports that those speech writers were from Ateneo, at least to remove the cloud of doub and shame from the university.

  4. Miguel Garcia permalink
    April 12, 2010 3:38


    11 April 2010

    The Board of Trustees met on April 11, 2010 to deliberate on the issues arising from the commencement addresses of its Chairman, Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, on March 26 & 27, 2010. The Board reviewed the history of the case, from the writing of the speeches to the posting of the blogs, from the response of Mr. Pangilinan to the reply of Fr. Nebres issued on April 3, 2010. It kept in mind as well the concerned statements from faculty, students, staff, administrators and the public at large.

    The Board came to the following conclusions:

    1. The Board considers the matter of plagiarism very serious, particularly for an academic institution. It recognizes that Mr. Pangilinan considered this a very serious matter that has caused him deep embarrassment and pain. With him, the Ateneo community has struggled with the issue and engaged in a deep reflection on its own values of honesty and integrity.

    2. In its discussion, the Board kept in mind the Catholic moral tradition which for culpability considers not just the seriousness of the matter but also whether there is full awareness and consent. It recognizes that the matter is serious, but that the plagiarism happened without full awareness on the part of Mr. Pangilinan.

    3. At the same time, the Board acknowledges with deep respect Mr. Pangilinan’s immediate and full acceptance of responsibility and apology for this mistake. This is particularly admirable, because in acting in this manner, he spared others from this responsibility. This is a rare example of humility, selflessness, and leadership in our midst.

    4. The Board accepts Mr. Pangilinan’s apology as the appropriate response to this unfortunate incident.

    5. However, the unanimous decision of the Board is not to accept Mr. Pangilinan’s resignation. It expresses full confidence in his leadership as Chairman.

    6. On the matter of the honorary degree conferred on Mr. Pangilinan, the reasons for the conferment are articulated in the citation. These are his visionary leadership, his love of country and service and commitment to our people, his generous self-giving to our country, the Ateneo de Manila and many other institutions. These remain unchanged.

    In conclusion, the Board of Trustees asks Mr. Pangilinan to please reconsider his resignation from the Ateneo Board of Trustees. There is so much to be done, not just for the Ateneo, but for our country and people. His leadership is needed today more than ever.

    • Papa Nebres permalink
      April 12, 2010 3:38

      Bottom line boils down to 4 words: SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

      • Miguel Garcia permalink
        April 13, 2010 3:38

        I think, MVP just loves the institution so much that he did not want his error to reflect what the whole institution is all about. I think even if Ateneo accepted MVP’s resignation, MVP will still continue to help the institution.

      • Papa Nebres permalink
        April 13, 2010 3:38

        Miguel, MVP’s position as Chairman of the Board gives him more weight in funneling resources to Ateneo. MVP may continue helping the institution, but being in such a high office while giving aid gives backbone to whatever means with which he helps the university.

        Once again, SHOW ME THE MONEY!

      • Miguel Garcia permalink
        April 14, 2010 3:38

        hmm are you sure Papa Nebres? you think Fr. Niebres and the whole Ateneo Institution is corrupt and it is just using MVP for his money and resources? and his position as Chairman of the Board will decrease the amount of support or resource he could give the insitution?

  5. April 16, 2010 3:38

    Pangilinan will never quit. He knew they would not accept his “token” resignation. Just take a look at who he really works for. At theheight of the massacre of the East Timorese, he was negotiating the PLDT buy-out on behalf of the Salim Group and some Suharto money as well. What kind of businessman will buy a telephone monopoly without doing due diligence? Pangilinan, that’s who. He bought PLDT for 16Billion USD sans doing due diligence on their worst company, PILTEL. And he is supposed to be a “wizard” of sorts.
    HAHAHA. The only people he fooled here was the Ateneo Board and Nebres. But they need his money so much, they failed to notice what they were really doing. This guys a fraud, and an alternte meaning for PLAGIARISM is nothing else but KIDNAPPING. Look it up. My son was to go to Ateneo upon graduating this year. He isn’t. He is going to La Salle instead. At least they stood up against MA and protected Jun Lozada. What did Ateneo do? Build buildings with MVP dough, that’s all. Nakakahiya!!

    • Miguel Garcia permalink
      April 23, 2010 3:38


      you judge too much, are you God almighty? 🙂 you even drop statments as if these were already the truth. what’s the latest now between MVP and Ateneo? what happened to your statements above? if you have so many allegations, then come out and prove MVP guilty! hindi academics ang binabayaran sa Ateneo, pareparehas lang ang math at english sa lahat ng universities. whatever it is? your son will NEVER EVER find out. goodluck 🙂

      In a letter addressed to Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J., Ateneo de Manila University President, Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, acknowledged Fr. Nebres’ letter of April 11, conveying the Board’s response to Mr. Pangilinan’s wish to retire. In the letter Mr. Pangilinan said, “I am indeed grateful to the Board and to you for the kind words of support.”

      He continues:

      “Circumstances have continued to the point where [this issue] is creating division within the university. I have no desire to see this happen, or be an accessory to it. In that light and all things considered, it is best that I stand firm in my decision to retire, and reiterate this wish in my earlier note to you on 3rd April 2010. Please take this letter as confirmation of my resignation from the Board of Trustees of the Ateneo with immediate effect.”

      “Further, for the sake of completeness and of good order, I am relinquishing the honorary degree which the University has bestowed on me last 26th March.”

      He ends with the hope which we share “that the subject controversy develops closure soon.”

      I received with deepest regret the letter of Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan on Friday, April 16, confirming his “resignation from the Board of Trustees of the Ateneo with immediate effect” and, “for the sake of completeness and of good order, … relinquishing the honorary degree which the university has bestowed on (him) last 26th March.”

      As his letter indicated, he did this because of his concern over the division that this matter was causing in the university, of which he has “no desire to see … happen or be an accessory.” He adds that it is his “sincerest hope that the … controversy develop closure soon.”

      In the Special School Forum of the Loyola Schools on Friday, April 16, I went through a brief history of the events leading up to the Board of Trustees meeting and the framework of our decision not to accept the resignation of Mr. Pangilinan. I apologized that, because of the rush of events, we were not able to fully meet and consult with the faculty. I acknowledged that I and the board failed to appreciate fully a key issue articulated by the office of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, namely that,

      “one aspect that may have needed consideration in the BOT decision is the hurt felt by the Ateneo community as a consequence of the objective act committed. Without judging the actual appreciation of the case by the BOT, it is our view that the statement issued communicating the decision, while expressing clearly and rightfully the humane understanding of the situation of the subject involved, did not sufficiently communicate appreciation of the effect of the act on the Ateneo community. As such, it may not have been sufficient in moving the community towards a satisfactory restoration of balance, fairness and harmony.”

      I also said that we have since recognized this failing and that many of us have been meeting to seek to address this issue. The school forum on Friday was a key step in addressing this and other issues. The deep concern of the faculty was on questions raised by ourselves, by students and others on how this affects our value of academic integrity. The discussion engaged the question as well as the challenge of explaining to ourselves and to students the nuances of understanding this value in different and complex situations. The faculty articulated that their statement was never about Mr. Pangilinan, and in fact reiterated their respect for his honorable act, but was more about the process of how the board arrived at their decision. The forum also expressed its deep appreciation of Mr. Pangilinan for all that he has been and done for the Ateneo and our country and for his humility and magnanimity in this whole matter.

      I would like to thank all who participated in the forum and express my appreciation for the openness and respect for one another. While differences do remain, I believe that we moved forward in reaching out to one another and that we can address our issues as colleagues who care very much about the Ateneo. I also believe that it was the wish of all in the school forum that we, the Board of Trustees included, dialogue and work together in a spirit of openness to bring about closure, healing and greater caring so we can continue to effectively carry on our mission for the Ateneo and for our country. This is also the deepest desire expressed by Mr. Pangilinan in his letter of April 16.

      I ended my brief remarks to the school forum by asking that, as we address our very important concerns for the impact of these events on the Ateneo, we also “keep in mind the impact on a very good and honorable person.” Many commentators speak mainly of Mr. Pangilinan’s generous donations of buildings and endowments for the Ateneo. These are indeed many and very generous. As I expressed in my interview with the press last Monday, April 12, we are deeply grateful for them. They have made a very great contribution to the excellence of our academic and leadership formation. But, as I also said in that interview, what we value most is his leadership, his friendship, and his sincere desire to drive and help us be the best that we can be. He has pushed us to achieve in leadership programs, in the debate society, in the glee club, and in sports, so that, in excelling, we may not only bring pride to the Ateneo, but also help restore confidence and pride to our beloved country.

      When I asked Mr. Pangilinan if he would reconsider his relinquishing of the honorary degree, he replied that he believed this was the best way to help make the healing process of a deep wound quicker and complete. On Saturday, April 17, the symbols of the honorary degree we conferred on him were returned to my office: his toga, diploma and the eagle sculpture of Kylo Chua.

      In his brief interview on “TV Patrol” last Friday night, Mr. Pangilinan said that his resignation was “masakit . . . mahal ko naman ang Ateneo.” I would like to express my profound thanks to him for the manifestation of this love that he has had, and continues to have for the Ateneo, even in the midst of the personal pain of these recent events. For me personally, this has brought feelings both of deep sadness and deep gratitude.

      It is my prayer that this same love we all have for the Ateneo will contribute to closure and to bringing about greater understanding and healing in our whole community.

      I leave for Mexico City tomorrow to attend a meeting of Jesuit universities with our Father General. I ask for your prayers for that meeting. Above all, I ask for your prayers for our beloved community, for Mr. Pangilinan, and for myself.



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