Speaking at Phela Grande Hotel here to Moro college and university graduates this year, Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez and Rep. Darlene Antonino Custodio of the first district of South Cotabato, both told the graduates “to succeed not in spite of what you are, but because of what you are.”
“Never allow discrimination against you to succeed,” said Dominguez. “Work hard to achieve your dreams and aspirations.”
The 30-year-old governor told the graduates to “never allow being a part of the cultural minorities to hinder your endeavors.”
Custodio, 33, urged the graduates to “be confident and believe in yourself.”
“Look at me,” she said, “I’m a woman, which makes be a part of the minority in Congress. I’m young, which makes be a part of the minority in Congress. And I’m in the Opposition, which makes be a part of the minority in Congress.”
“Unless you are confident and you believe in yourself, that’s the time when people will believe in you,” the lawmaker said.
Dominguez recalled, “There were times when Muslims would come to me, asking for help, asking for a job, because they were discriminated against by other people.”
With this, he told the graduates to “work hard and brave discrimination and all forms of challenges that may come your way, so you’ll land in a god job.”
Engineer Abdul Gafur Kudarat, 27, president of Young Moro Professionals Council who organized the occasion as tribute to Moro graduates, disclosed that discrimination is rampant in General Santos City, especially in employment.
“There had been instances when Moro women were denied of jobs not because they were unqualified but either because they wore a headscarf or it’s written in their resumes that their religion is Islam,” he said
“But when these women came back to the same establishments with their headscarf taken off or their religion changed to Seventh-day Adventist, they were accepted,” he revealed.
But Custodio said that “the city of General Santos prospers not in spite of multiculturalism but because of multiculturalism.”
“In the same way,” she said, “I encourage you to strive and work hard to be successful not despite who you are, but because of who you are.”
Recent reports had it that Sarangani Vice Governor Bridget Chiongbian-Huang planned to challenge Dominguez for the gubernatorial post.
Like Dominguez, Huang, daughter of Sarangani Rep. Erwin Chiongbian, also belongs to the Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization (SARRO) which is allied with the administration.
Huang is yet to comment on the allegation of Malapatan Municipality Vice Mayor Norberto Butiong, who reportedly knew about her supposed plan to run for governor.
Custodio, meanwhile, is being challenged by boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who is running the President’s party Kampi.