Last Tuesday, it was the graduation day of my youngest sister as an elementary student. All of us (three siblings) went to the same school in our elementary days. Let’s turn back time when I accompanied my mom to my former school to visit my sister. At that time, I recently passed the boards so mom was telling to some people she knew that I passed it and visiting my former school was not an exception. So Mom told the principal (who is the same principal when I graduated there) that I passed the boards and I graduated with flying colors and then, at the end of the day, she told me, “You will be our guest speaker in our graduation program this March.” Deep inside I said, “HUH?!? BAKIT AKO?!? ANO DAW?!?” but I did say to them, “Okay po. Nakakahiya naman.” So here I was last Tuesday, attending the graduation not just a simple family guest but the honorable guest speaker of the day. I was nervous as always (since I am not incline in public speaking but working on it) but it was really a great experience to share something and gave back to my former alma mater. I am sharing to you the text of my speech:
Atty. Filemon U. Fernandez Jr., President of CVA Board of Trustees, Mr. Oscar M. Gomez, Vice-President of CVA Board of Trustees, Ms. Rowena Umpar, members of the board of trustees, administrative staff, faculty, guests, our dearest proud parents and above all, our graduating students from Grade 6 and our students moving up to senior high school, a pleasant and wonderful morning to all of you.
First of all, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to our graduating grade 6 students, to our junior high school students who are moving up to senior high school and also to your proud parents who I believe are the happiest persons in the world today. Please excuse me for a second but I just want to be a proud kuya here. Congratulations to my youngest sister, Princess, who is graduating today and becoming First Honorable Mention for the elementary class. Mom, Dad, Kuya, Kuya Ivan and our dogs are very proud of you! I believe that everyone here is looking forward to the clap their hands at the end of my speech because it is getting hot and also to celebrate with your families. Am I right? That is also what I was feeling 10 years ago when I was also sitting there during my elementary graduation.
Yes, it’s been a decade since I stepped on this very stage getting my diploma and also headed the pledge of loyalty for our batch because I was the elementary class valedictorian. It’s been 10 years and a lot of things changed not just here in Celestial Village Academy but also to the Lemuel who left the gates of this school and to the Lemuel who is here standing in front of you. I imagine that you are very excited today, a little scared of going to junior or senior high school, sad about saying goodbye to friends and teachers, and looking forward for your summer vacation. I also felt the same way ten years ago while I was crying there in front of the classroom to my class adviser, my parents and my friends after the program. I guess I was feeling happy that I was able to graduate plus as a class valedictorian but I am also scared of leaving the comforts of my alma mater and went to a new school.
I was crying and felt scared every graduation even when I was graduating in college. I am afraid for what lies ahead in the coming days where I can no longer see my friends, my colleagues, my teachers and professors every day. But let me tell you what I realized the day after graduation, tomorrow will be the beginning of one of the most wonderful, memorable, exciting part of your lives. So let me speak to you now as someone speaking to another who is starting on the most wonderful journey. But you have to listen, and you have to listen hard, because I am going to tell you some of the things I learn along the way that will help you in achieving your maximum potential as a person. I am sharing to you the 4G’s in life that serves as the secrets of success in my life.
The first G is GROWTH. I want to tell you about the growth about the story of Bethany Hamilton. Who knows the movie Soul Surfer? It is a movie inspired by the story of Bethany Hamilton who become an inspiration to many people. She was a rising surfer in America at a very young age but when she was 13 years old, an unfortunate accident happened when she lost her left arm when a shark attack her. It was seen by many as the end of her career as a professional surfer but she was determined to return to surfing despite the trauma and the disability she had. Three weeks after recovery from the accident, she went back to the board and the ocean. She discovered ways how can she make up for the loss of an arm. She taught herself how to surf with one hand only and practice everyday until she got back to her surfing skills before she lost her arm. After a year, she got back to her game, won first place in the very first competition she had without her arm and the rest was history.
What I am trying to say? The next steps you take in your life will determine your future. Make the coming days, weeks and years as a time for growth. Embrace any changes as an opportunity to grow as a person. Find out what are you good at, find out what you like to do. And then grow. Practice. Practice some more. Because here is another secret – if you practice – You can be anything you want to be. So do not be afraid. I believe that every one of you is meant for great things if you just let yourself grow out of your shells. While you are at it, do not be afraid to fail.
Let me also tell you more about failure because it is important in growing. You all know Michael Jordan, right? He is the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games, and missed 26 winning shots. He failed over and over and over again. But that is why he is the greatest basketball player in the world. Remember guys that nobody is perfect in this world and that failure does not equal to end of success. For me, failure is one of the greatest source of learning you can have in your life and keeps you grounded as a person.
The second G is Generosity. You have to be generous, even overly generous, because here is the secret – if you give more, you will have more. We are all familiar with the sayings – it is better to give than to receive, or God loves a cheerful giver. You know they are all clues – clues to great success in life (not just materially but spiritually) – and they are all true. Because when you give, you release a powerful blessing and it embraces you.
The third G is GRATITUDE. We say it every day – “Thank you”. But we do not know how much power THANK YOU has. When you appreciate people and events and the things you have in your life, the whole universe jumps up and down and what it wants to do is to give you more. Try to say thank you more often. Say it with your every step, say it with your every prayer. You will be amazed at the wonderful surprises it will give you.
While we are at it, I would like to say thank you to you guys and the people here at the front of you for giving me this opportunity today. It is really my great privilege to be in your presence. During my graduation, the guest speaker was from UP who is the head of scholarships and student services while I am just a newly licensed chemical engineer who is looking for his first job. I am still questioning myself as of this moment, “ano na ba ng nagawa ko para magsalita sa inyo ngayong araw na ito?” I guess this is the universe thanking me for being thankful for giving me this new day in my life inspiring others.
Anyways, before I tell you how scared I am delivering this speech a few weeks back, the last G would be GOD. I will tell you this is the most important of the four G’s. God is the center of my life ever since. I was not able to finish my college degree with flying colors and as a scholar without the works of God. I was not able to pass the dreadful board exams without God by my side from Day 1 to Day 3. I am not here with you today if God is not here by my side all the time. He is the power and source of all the things in this world. He is the reason why we are all here. He is your stronghold here in the present and in the future. He is great and God loves you more than you know. Just ask and surrender everything to the Lord and He will do great things in your life that you cannot imagine.
So let me end this with my last words for all of you. As you leave today, I wish that you look forward on what lies ahead on your life in the coming days. Today is a bittersweet ending of a new chapter in your life. Keep your fun and memorable moments and lessons here as you embark on your new journey. Enjoy life and have fun with every step of your way. Happiness is your own decision, you should not look for it. I hope you remember the 4 G’s of life. May you embrace growth and excellence, may you be generous, may you say “thank you” often, and may God always be the center of your life. With this, may you go forth and do wonderful things. Again, congratulations to everyone and good morning.
That is the end of it! HAVE A GREAT AND AWESOME DAY AHEAD!