UNBEKNOWNST to many, the country’s top police official was once a student at Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City, spending three years at the campus overlooking Lake Lanao before transferring to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and hence, to the ranks of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa came back to the MSU main campus Wednesday, January 25, to speak before some 1,028 graduates and, aside from wishing the new graduates luck, told them his often repeated message to the youth -- to stay away from drugs.

Dela Rosa was the guest speaker during the university’s 52nd Commencement Exercises for the first semester with the theme "MSU System: Global Competitiveness and Academic Excellence."

"Walang magandang maidulot and droga sa inyo at huwag n’yong sirain ang inyong sarili at ang MSU (Drugs won't do you anything good and do not destroy yourself and MSU),” Dela Rosa said while clad in the school’s maroon and gold toga.

Dela Rosa also recounted the statistics in the government’s war on drugs, pointing out that "surrenderees" or drug suspects have now reached more than one million Filipinos while 6.5 million homes have already been visited by policemen in the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang (Toktok-Hangyo or knock and plead) from July 1, 2016 to January 20 this year.

Dela Rosa spent three formative years in MSU until 1982 and passed the PMA qualifying examinations where he completed his studies in 1986.

The man everybody knows now as "Bato" was known to friends in MSU as "Borloloy."

He said he left university to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a soldier.

“I graduated a 2nd lieutenant and was proud in uniform, ready to serve my people. It was the beginning of the rest of my life,” Dela Rosa said.

"More than 30 years later, I have come back to this grounds where I started building my dreams and future. Still, holding in my heart the values that this university instilled in me and the colorful memories of life in this institution," Dela Rosa told the audience.

"These are among the visions that had kept me going through the years. I now sit at the helm of the Philippine National Police organization that I have served for the past three decades but I must tell you that this did not came easy for me. I may not have dreamed to reach this far but I worked hard to build a career that my family and I will be proud of," Dela Rosa said.

"You don't have to be the brightest or to be a good looking in the class. Be deeply committed to your vision and work hard and overcome obstacles to achieve towards that dream. Make a plan and make a commitment to it. Huwag pa bago-bago ang isip baka pa bago-bago ang landas (Don't change minds or else it'll change your path)," he advised the new graduates.

Dela Rosa hails from the village of Bato, Santa Rosa, Davao del Sur.