‘Review and uphold standards’: Hugo calls amid controversial plagiarism issue

FEU Advocate
July 15, 2022 04:41

By: Maxine Alessandra B. Turiano

Far Eastern University (FEU) Batch 2019 valedictorian Mariyela Mari Hugo expressed that the public has a role to play in maintaining academic integrity as ‘borrowed ideas, even inspirations, should be cited or at the very least, acknowledged.’ 

“Lang. The short term for the Filipino word ‘lamang’, which means just or only. ‘Yan lang, ito lang,” the FEU alumna stated in her 2019 viral valedictory address during the University’s 91st Commencement Exercises. 

Last July 8, the Top 1 and magna cum laude of Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges (CSPC) Jayvee Ayen delivered a similar line from Hugo’s valedictory address titled, “Lang?”, during the CSPC’s 37th Commencement Exercises.

After copies of Ayen’s speech circulated on July 10, social media users identified similarities between the two speeches and claimed that Ayen had plagiarized Hugo’s speech, which was delivered three years earlier.

The SPARK, the official CSPC student publication, previously reported that Ayen had in fact watched Hugo’s address prior to the delivery of his speech.

In the said article, Ayen apologized and explained that it is not his intention to plagiarize Hugo's speech.

"Nagkataon lang talaga na same topic yung gusto ko i-address (and) at the same time nagkataon rin na napanood ko 'yung video niya, (It just so happened that it was the same topic I wanted to address, (and) at the same time, I had watched the video of her [speech],)” he explained. 

On July 13, CSPC then issued a public apology on Facebook for “the carefree attitude of Mr. Ayen in unintentionally copying the idea and style of her speech without proper attribution”.

“We knock on the generosity of hearts of everyone to allow this to pass without hatred towards the person as he moves on to start a career in his life as an entrepreneur or whatever path he would wish to take,” the statement read. 

The said official statement was released hours after FEU Advocate conducted an online interview with Hugo. 

In an online interview with FEU Advocate, Hugo mentioned that she was disheartened as she learned of the plagiarism on July 11 when a fellow Tamaraw tagged her in a Facebook post featuring Ayen’s speech.

"One does not simply unintentionally create a similar copy of one’s speech, especially if the resulting structure (and words) used are the same as the original. One’s mind cannot carelessly wander while their hands inadvertently transcribe what is heard," she said. 

On the other hand, Hugo urged fellow Tamaraws to maximize resources available within the University and understand that errors are meant to be improved upon and corrected.

“At a young age, I was already taught that numerical grades are not the be-all and end-all of one's academic life. FEU solidified that belief by teaching me that it is okay not always to have the perfect piece to submit and that it is better than copying and pasting another person's work,” she said.

In light of the issue, CSPC will reportedly be taking corrective and formative measures towards Ayen and the College in general.