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Friday, December 20, 2013

TOYM Acceptance Speech 2013

The Outstanding Young Men Awarding Ceremonies
Malacanang Palace
December 19, 2013

Response from the TOYM 2013 Awardees
by Chris Tiu

His Excellency, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III; Bienvenido Tantoco III, President of the TOYM Foundation; Mrs. Judy Roxas, Chairperson of the Gerry Roxas Foundation; Jose T. Pardo, Chairman of the TOYM 2013 Board of Judges; Ryan Ravanzo, National President of JCI Philippines; Congresswoman Leni Robredo, Member of the Board of Judges; Dicky Puyod, Chairman of the TOYM 2013 Search, to my fellow TOYM 2013 honorees, to our families and special guests, good afternoon to you all!
In behalf of this year’s awardees, I want to express our utmost appreciation for citing us among the great individuals in the 54-year history of the TOYM foundation. We feel unworthy to be standing amidst such distinguished and admirable individuals when there are many other young Filipinos out there who have so selflessly dedicated their lives for the betterment of our dear country. For this, we feel truly humbled and blessed!

Our world is changing. Because of global warming, we are experiencing typhoons on an unprecedented scale. We can now do virtually anything on the go, from reading the paper, to watching movies, to booking an airline ticket.
We often hear the phrase, “Iba na ang kabataan ngayon”.  If you’re guilty of saying these words before, malamang hindi ka na nabibilang sa kabataan. The youth have information and resources at their fingertips and are a creative, capable, and intelligent generation. On the other hand, this may mean na iba na rin ang value system nila. We accept as reality many things which would have been considered scandalous to older generations. Because of modern day technology, we hardly have to wait for anything anymore and therefore, there is less need to be patient and persevering.

Consumer behavior is changing. The youth have become more fashion forward, and embarrassed to repeat an outfit because your entire social network can see what you are wearing with the advent of smart phones.
Measuring of ones self worth has evolved to the number of friends, followers or LIKES that one has on ones social media sites. Thus, encouraging the user to ‘keep up’ by posting more photos of himself, who he associates with, what he buys or where he eats.
In fact, ‘selfie’ has been named the word of the year by Oxford Dictionary. Don’t worry, if you lost me or don’t have any idea as to what I am talking about, that just means you don’t belong to this generation. “Selfie”, as defined by Wikipedia, is a self-portrait photography usually taken by a camera or a camera phone.
In an article earlier this year, Time Magazine has noted some negative traits of today’s youth, such as, lazy, narcissistic, materialistic, feeling of entitlement, less concerned with community. This is a cause for concern because these so called “Millenials” will be our future leaders!
This is why, in its 54-year history, the TOYM foundation, with its theme of “Inspiring a Nation of Heroes”, plays an even more important role today. By using modern day tools, it can reach out to our youth and propagate its core values of excellence, integrity and most importantly, a deep sense of service to community

Despite the many changes we have witnessed throughout the decades, from climate change, technology, buying habits, to our attitudes and behavior, there are some things that remain and SHOULD remain constant. And these are the timeless values that the TOYM Foundation espouses – excellence, honesty, humility, simplicity, sacrifice, and charity just to name a few. Regardless of age, gender, social class, race or religion, these principles serve as guiding pillars for human conduct that are proven to have enduring and permanent value.
In order for our country to progress, we cannot accept the “pwede na” attitude. Pursuing excellence cannot be learned overnight. It involves a process and tremendous commitment. Once it develops into a habit, it becomes a lifestyle. This is what we call virtue! The foundation of heroism in the Ignatian Spirituality is Magis, which means “more”, - being more, doing more! However, this simple motto requires a higher spirit for it to attain its fullness, which means that our motivation must transcend our own causes for a greater, higher being.
One of the world’s greatest leaders, the late Nelson Mandela constantly reminded his people that: “We should always be patient even if things are going bad, because great things will happen”. He also said, “what truly matters is the small acts of kindness towards others”. These words are very appropriate for our modern world where “selfies” are the in thing and everything has become so convenient that we need not bother to go out of our way for the good of others.

We, too, have Mandelas in our midst.
             Emerson Atanacio, in Social Entrepreneurship
             Dr. Nicole Curato, for Sociology
             Dr. Custer Deocaris, for Science Communication
             Former Gov. Miguel Dominguez, in Government and Public Service
             Dr. Alonzo Gabriel, in Food Science and Technology
             June Cabal-Revilla, for Community Development
             Dr. Karl Reyes and Dr. Paolo Silva, in Medicine.
There is no question that the youth are constantly looking for role models, people they can emulate. Mainstream media and Hollywood do not often provide us with the best models, we know that. On the other hand, the most powerful influencers are those who are ‘real’, those we can interact with in our everyday lives, those who are one of us. Whenever we meet people who inspire us, we feel a sense of relief, that there is hope for the future! And even more, a force of motivation giving us that second, third, and fourth wind, to do more ourselves. Most of the time, our heroes don’t even know the magnitude of the impact they have on others. They just do what they do best, in their respective fields, with utmost excellence, integrity and service to the community.
Hence, I would like to thank our dearest family and friends who have served as our personal heroes. Your example and your faith in us inspire us to serve!
I would also like to thank our Lord for this blessing. To God be all the glory! We are merely His instruments.
Last Sunday, the priest gave a beautiful homily about real joy. He said “joy is not in receiving. But rather, it is when we give, that we receive.” We are immensely honored to be given the TOYM distinction and we are even more inspired to continue giving by living a life of virtue, discipline and other-centeredness. It will take some courage to relay this message in today’s world, but like Mandela and St. Ignatius, we need to go against the wind!
This year’s theme is “Inspiring a Nation of Heroes”. But heroes need heroes too. And heroism starts within each one of us.
Thank you!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Zamboanga - A Day Full of Hope!

Last June 14, I visited Zamboanga for the first time.  The one-day visit was arranged primarily by the National Youth Commission, who I’ve partnered with a couple of times, to do community work for the people of Layag Layag in connection with the 25th anniversary of the NYC. In order to maximize my trip, I figured it would be best to do campus visits to the schools in Zamboanga to propagate our anti-bullying campaign, which has been given much attention lately. During that same trip, We were also able to have a productive meeting with the regional youth board of Zamboanga as well as a live guesting with Sir Ron on TV5 Mindanao to talk about bullying and other relevant issues of the youth.

My friend Oliver and I took the early Cebu Pacific flight that departed Manila at 545am. Upon touchdown, we were met by Commissioner Early of the NYC and immediately had breakfast at the Garden Orchid hotel and met with the rest of the group, composed of NYC Chairman Flores, DepEd representatives and volunteers of the Yellow Boat project headed by Dr. Anton Lim, who became known internationally for his contribution in saving the life of hero dog Kabang.

 NYC Chairman Flores speaking to the very well-behaved kids of Ateneo de Zamboanga during our Anti-Bullying & Anti-Drug abuse symposium
 Students signing the pledge that they will not be bullies, they will report bullies & they will help the bullied
This time, here I am addressing the less-behaved Western Mindanao State University students and faculty, hehe!

Charis Foundation Exec. Director, Oliver Tuason, giving a short seminar on virtues to local administrators


We drove about 15 minutes to get to the eastern tip of the mainland where we had to walk and maneuver our way through the muddy ponds, which used to be salt ponds. It was a wrong move to wear flip flops because they ended up sinking in the mud so I just walked barefoot and watched out for the sharp rocks. We then boarded two yellow boats, which were made possible by the Yellow Boat group of Dr. Anton, and sailed towards the Layag Layag community which was located around 2.5 kilometers away. It was a very scenic and serene ride through the mangroves. This boat ride was only possible as it was still high tide. The bigger boats cannot sail during the low tide.  At one point we could actually see the silhouette of Basilan already. The water was surprisingly clean and clear, allowing you to see the floor bed.

 Executive Director of Charis Foundation, Oliver, and a cute local friend
Beautiful mangroves leading to Layag-Layag

Finally we arrived at the community. I was amused! They literally lived on stilts. And the boats were their primarily mode of transportation. Potable drinking water was delivered twice a day. Electrical wires were tapped from the mainland. I felt like we were already at the end of the country already where all you could see was water surrounding us. Apparently, when I checked my location using google maps on my mobile, we were literally on the southwestern most tip of the country.

Some houses even had TVs and it was flattering to find out that they enjoy watching iBilib on GMA7! Some of them also patronize the PBA and my team Rain or Shine. I was amazed to see they had a basketball rim hung on one of the houses BUT it could only be played when it was low tide.  I initially thought they could play ball on boats when high tide, but no! That would have been interesting to see! Since they were predominantly Muslims, there was a floating Mosque nearby where they would pray several times daily. 

It wasn’t very easy loading and unloading the boat because it would sway once someone stands or unloads. We did our gift giving at the day care center, which was donated by the Tzu Chi foundation and this was physically connected to the sari-sari store only by three bamboo sticks which we had to use to cross.  Incidentally, our goodie bags contained Master facial wash among other Unilever products.

Check out these eco-friendly makeshift light bulbs. Recycle your plastic 1.5L or 2L bottles, fill it with water and add some zonrox or bleach, then you have a natural source of light that’s essentially free and eco-friendly.


The one thing that alarmed me and caught my attention was how the kids travelled to school and back.  The nearest public school was Talon-Talon public school, which is located in the mainland. If it was low tide, these poor little kids have to place their school uniforms in sealed plastic bags and wade or for the smaller ones, swim to the mainland which was around 2-3 kilometers away, so that their uniforms will not get soaked. Remember, these are kids as young as 6 or 7 years old. If the tide would permit, they would take their own boats and paddle their way to the mainland. Some are lucky enough to be ‘paddled’ by their fathers before they head to work.

Upon getting to the mainland, they dock their boats on tree stems and bring their paddle to school. After class, they walk back to their boats, untie them, and paddle back home. I’ve never seen kids so independent and fearless!


The reason why this community chooses to live on water is because of their livelihood. The main produce in Layag Layag is seaweed. They plant and harvest these seaweeds just outside of their houses. Sadly, many of the young boys have to stop schooling as early as high school in order to help their families make a living.

Here’s a photo of myself with the ‘seaweed’ boys! Always cheerful and positive.

Another thing that got my attention was the average number of people per household. Moms had anywhere between 4 to 8 kids despite having such low-income levels. Some of them were fathers even before 20 years old. For the women, because of the lack of opportunities, education and absence of aspirations, they decide to marry early and have kids.


After a few hours, we headed back to the city, I hope we were able to bring smiles to this uniquely persevering community! Paradoxically, I was the one really moved after witnessing their persistent and such simple lifestyles. Yet, they remain so detached and so happy with whatever it is that they have – mostly I would say is the company of their families and loved ones!

This experience made me reflect. Many times, we fail to realize how blessed we are because we are pre-occupied with our fast paced lives. And with this consumeristic environment we live in, we tend to want more, more and more, never content with what the Lord has already given us. I think one way to escape this viscous trap is to practice self-giving and detachment before it’s too late. It won’t happen overnight, we will need to do it one small step at a time. With God's grace, it can be done!

The Yellow Boat project is a huge blessing for the people of Layag Layag! Through the generosity of various individuals and institutions, these boats allow the kids, at the very least, to go to school. More so, they are used by the locals to make a living by planting, harvesting then selling the seaweeds in the markets. But more than its pragmatic function, for me, when I see these yellow boats in the community, I see HOPE! I see persevering individuals trying to survive in life! I see selfless Filipinos who care for their fellow people. This is one type of fever we won’t mind spreading – the Yellow Boat fever!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Angel in Disguise

Here's a tribute to my mother Lianne who is celebrating her birthday today. This was written by a young college student who requested to remain anonymous. Very true description of my mom. Simple, humble, sincere. Thank you Lord for giving us the best mother in the world! Happy birthday, mom - from all your kids!

All God's angels come to us disguised.~James Russell Lowell

When I was little, I remember my grandmother telling me about guardian angels. She told me that each one of us had a guardian angel of our own. A few years back, I learned that mine was named Angel Rafael. That piece of information, while seemingly interesting to learn about, didnt matter as much because I grew up already firmly believing that I always had an invisible angel guarding and guiding me every step of the way regardless if he/she had a name or not. However, little did I know that I would come across another angel the visible, tangible kind during my third year in college, and in the most unexpected way.

One of our past projects in the Student Council was an Auction for a Cause in which willing celebrities/icons donated some of their personal things for people to bid on. One of our donors was a young professional basketball player who also happened to be a TV host, commercial model, politician, and part- owner of a milk tea business. Since he had a very busy schedule, it was agreed that we coordinated with his mother to arrange pickup of his donations. Everything went smoothly as planned. We got the stuff, and politely thanked him and his mom who were both very kind in responding to our messages. From then on, we would coordinate with her whenever we intended to invite her son to our events. And it was through those multiple attempts and invites that I slowly started realizing how extraordinarily kind the person I was dealing with was. She was warm, humble, and most of all, sincere and genuine in her words and actions.

In the showbiz world today, whether a close friend, a family member, or the artist himself, it is very rare to find someone who would not make an ordinary person like me feel intimidated. But this particular woman proved me otherwise. She never missed to send her appreciation, apologies and acknowledgment to any of the messages I sent her. Her kindness to me reached its epitome when one day, after respectfully declining one of our event invites in behalf of her son, she decided to send me a text asking what my plan was for college. My heart literally skipped a beat because never did I see that coming. Why would someone like her even bother to spend a few minutes to ask about my future? But before I got completely caught up in the moment, I replied with polite humor that I was actually already in college...and graduating in a few months, too, at that time. She responded apologetically and found it so silly of her to forget the tiny detail that we have been inviting her son to guest in our COLLEGE activities. That moment, more than anything, left a mark in me because she made being ordinary true for both of us (even if her social status and lifestyle, among others, said otherwise).

Time passed by yet our communication remained. The kind of topics we talked about quietly shifted its course from being business-related to more personal ones. Before I knew it, I was seeking pieces of advice in life from her, and she was always so generous, kind and motherly in sharing her time, comfort and wisdom. It takes a genuinely pure and humble heart one like hers to do such an act to someone who you have never even personally met yet. Without her knowing, she inspires me every day in ways beyond words can ever tell. And every day I pray that God continues to use her as an instrument of His grace.

If we think about it, it was a leap of faith for both us to connect with each other despite being strangers. Although I guess what made the entire process lighter and easier was that we shared something crucial and undeniably special in our lives as mere humans... [our] strong FAITH in God.

Truly, God is the Master in knitting His children together to make His love felt. And indeed, all His angels come to us disguised I know mine did. And I will forever be grateful to the Lord for it for my guardian angel, in her.

June 25, 2013.
Dedicated to Tita Lianne. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SMART All Text 30 w/ UAAP stars

When I arrived at Endurun college, the location of the shoot, I was surprised to find out that I will be shooting with the various UAAP Champions for 2012-2013, the Ateneo Mens Basketball team, the De La Salle Womens Volleyball team and the UP Pep Squad, together with Council President Alex Castro. It was a great honor to be working with the most influential college athletes & students in the country! Honestly, I felt a little bit overage but I could still relate to them somewhat :)

Had a good time chatting with the Ateneo players in between takes. It was here where I first watched the video of the most shocking and disturbing injury of Kevin Ware of Lousville. I also had a nice chat with Michele Gumabao of DLSU and I learned a little bit about her story. She was not recruited by La Salle, tried out and made it to the team because she was tall. As a rookie, she would be called in by the coach to play a few possessions or make the last spike. But with hard work and perseverance, she became a regular in the rotation & eventually won MVP & numerous titles for her alma matter. Inspiring story!

Going back to my experience with Smart, I've been a Smart user and ambassador for almost 5 years now and I've no regrets at all. This is the first TVC I did for Smart though. I once did a series of viral videos for Sandbox with the hilarious Ramon Bautista. I think you can look it up on youtube if you wanna see them.

Anyway, don't forget, text AT30 to 2827 for the All Text 30 promo! Free text to all networks and 30 minutes of calls to Smart & TNT for 2 days!! GO!!


P.S. Thanks to Kat Cruz for styling me and to Direk Paul Soriano for making the shoot fun & quick! Always a pleasure working with the best in the industry!

Mom and I for Poten-Cee Forte

After doing the Milo TVC with mom earlier this year, another campaign for mom and I. This time it's for Poten-Cee Forte, a Vitamin C brand that we use at home. Again, we had to persuade her to agree to do it. Lots of speaking lines for her, but no problem for her! This was shot in San Guan gym, reminiscent of my very very first TVC w/ Master Eskinol in 2004.

What I like about this product is that it contains 1000 mg of ascorbic acid or Vitamin C that can last be an entire day. With my hectic schedule, I usually start getting sniffles and colds whenever I forget to take my daily dose of vitamin C. Another feature is that it has an 8-hour time release formula that releases the vitamins in spurts within 8 hours so that our body doesn't just flush away the excess.

Hope you guys like the TVC! Hoping for more TVCs with mom or perhaps other family members? Many people find it hard to believe that my mom can look so young and often mistake her for my sister. I think she looks younger here than in the Milo TVC. Her secret? A nice and obedient son!! Haha kidding! It must be the Milo and the Poten-Cee :)


Monday, April 8, 2013

Project: "MILO BEST Grads"

Here's a copy of the TV Commercial for those who haven't seen it yet. This is the 15-seconder. I can't seem to upload the original 45-seconder. So let me just post the link MILO BEST GRADS TVC 45sec

This was shot some time early January 2013, in between games 3 and 4 of the PBA Finals series between us (Rain or Shine) and Talk n Text. My scenes were done in one day, for around 13 or 14 hours. My part had to be cut short because it was already 2am and I had training early the following morning. (I usually get 7-8 hours of sleep a day because my body needs to be fresh for training, but this is an exemption)

It was my first time to do a TVC shoot with my mom. She was very hesitant at first in accepting to do the campaign, but eventually after seeing the storyboard, she agreed. She's very camera shy and prefers to stay behind the scenes. I don't think she has any regrets after seeing the final edit and the idea of being able to inspire other mothers to raise kids well & encourage their kids to get into sports. I think she did great in the shoot and believe it or not, many people mistake her as my sister. Don't you think?

It was also fun working with Kiefer, Tita Mozzy, Prince Carlos (who studies in La Salle and is already MVP of the Milo tournaments), Tita Olive and of course, the entire production team! Watch out for more of us :) Hope you liked the TVC! #MiloEveryday


Here's the advertorial

Behind the scenes photos c/o Paolo Cabanero of Publicis Manila

Saturday, March 30, 2013

OraCare Ang Galing Challenge

Here's the video that we shot last Feb 28 at the Serendipity Lounge (22nd floor) of Discovery Suites for OraCare's Ang Galing challenge. The first song is Pachelbel's Canon in D. I got the idea to use an apple after watching Jay Chou use it in one of his concerts in Taiwan. The last song is Turkish March by Mozart. Hope you guys enjoy the short video and join the challenge as well :)


By the way, please like OraCare's FB page for updates

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Graduation Speech at St. Anthony School, Singalong Manila, March 22, 2013

Here's a copy of my speech which I delivered today (March 22, 2013) in the graduation ceremony of St. Anthony School in Singalong Manila. There were 153 high school graduates. Due to the afternoon downpour, the ceremony was consequently moved inside the church just beside the open air quadrangle, where it is traditionally held. I thought I'd post the transcript here so that I can share it with all of you as well! 

St. Anthony School Director, Rev. Fr Benito B. Tuazon,
School Principal, Mrs. Susan S. Canlas
Academic Affairs Coordinator, Mrs. Azucena Inalisan
Student Affairs Coordinator, Mrs. Carmelita R. Mamorno
Prefect of Discipline, Mr. Jason Madamba
Mrs. Mars Belo of CCF
Mrs. Bernadette Manansala, HR Head
Subject Area Coordinators
Alumni Association President, Mr. Virgilio Centeno
Dear teachers, graduates, parents, friends: good afternoon!

First of all, I would like to congratulate all of you, graduates of St. Anthony School for having accomplished this milestone in your lives! Congratulations as well to your parents, who worked extremely hard to make this day possible, and to the school’s administration, faculty, and staff for their dedication in imparting their knowledge and wisdom to you.

Believe it or not, this is the very first time I am giving a graduation address. I’ve had many requests which I’ve had to turn down due to my chaotic schedule, all except this one that Fr. Benny sent. Why? I was truly amazed with the persistence and resourcefulness of Father. He took the extra mile to get in touch with me. For the record, he contacted a friend of his, who contacted another friend, who happened to be the head of the Ateneo Alumni Association, who sent me an email, which I happened to receive despite my flooded inbox. And viola! Here I am standing in front of you today. Sometimes my dear graduates, it helps to be persistent! And I believe this is meant to be; there are no accidents in God’s plan or in other words, in God's providence, nothing happens by chance. So thank you again Fr. Benny! It is an honor to be your guest speaker today. And it is my pleasure as well, because this brings back fond memories from 10 years ago, when I was sitting in your place, listening to our graduation speaker.

[Freedom in University Life]

Now, let’s talk about university life, which you all are excited and worried about at the same time! And I can’t blame you. Surely you have heard people say that college life may bring about unpleasant moments to which you will have to adapt. But also, you will be on your own, with nobody to babysit you or tell you what to do or who to hang out with. You will be “free.” I had the best time of my life in college. I did an exchange program in France. I started my first ever food stall business in campus. I joined the basketball team. I met lots of interesting people and beautiful women as well.

Freedom in university life is like setting out on an adventure. Think of Columbus or Magellan. And the most important thing to know about this adventure is that whether you do it in Ateneo, UP, La Salle, UST, UA&P (or even Harvard or Stanford for that matter), the name of your school will not guarantee the discovery of new lands, or the achievement of success or happiness.  You may wonder, so what will help you achieve true success and real happiness? The answer is: a life of virtue.  More than titles, achievements or financial wealth, it is only when you use your freedom correctly, in committing yourself to do the good and pursue the truth, and thereby living a life of virtue, will you really be happy!

That may have sounded a little complicated but it’s really not that difficult to understand. In simple words, the only way to use the freedom which university life can give you is to choose to live a virtuous life, virtues such as hard work, modesty, honesty, perseverance, and sacrifice. Let me add here the core values of the St. Anthony award such as charity, humility, simplicity and love for creation. Regardless of the school you will find yourselves in, the important thing is to develop these age-old and timeless virtues, which you have already begun to know here at St. Anthony. Thus the last thing you want when you are in college is to be complacent, and to think that you have “made it” just by making it into college. If this is how you think, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

Tulad ninyo, nung nag-aaral pa ako, marami din akong mga tanong. “Why do we have to solve such frustrating and difficult math and science problems? ‘Di naman natin gagamiting ito sa labas ng paaralan! (I’m not going to use these after college anyway!)” Tama ba? But then later on, I understood that they were actually training me to think logically, critically, and with clarity. I was being trained to be disciplined, to persevere under stress and time pressure! And whether you believe it or not, I have learned to apply those things on the basketball court and when I go out battling in the real world called life!

[Going Against the Wind]

Now some of you might ask: “Why is it not okay to cheat? I’m just ‘double checking’ my work anyway! Besides, everybody is doing it!”

I’d like to share with you a simple advise constantly repeated by my mom. It goes like this: “Just because everybody is doing it, it doesn’t mean it is right”.  

Francis Kong, one of my favorite columnists and speakers, wrote about how truth is absolute. Here’s a simple analogy he gave: “If you are at a streetlight and it turns red, what do you do? You stop because it’s red and you’re supposed to stop. But, when the light turns red, and you look at the car next to you and it’s moving, you become unsure whether to stop or to keep moving as well. So what do you do? You become unsure. This is what we call - relativism.” This is when truth is twisted -- and even destroyed -- to suit one’s preferences.

Unfortunately, this relativism is now evident wherever we look. Many times, photos, videos or conversations that portray violence, sex, adultery are now portrayed so casually. We see them when we are on the road everyday on billboards, when we flip through magazines, turn on our TVs, computers, or mobile phones. They are everywhere! Thus, we fall into the danger of becoming desensitized. Now, what does that mean? To be desensitized is to become numb. What really is wrong becomes acceptable because we see it all the time.

A few weeks ago, I attended the blessing and inauguration of Xavier School Nuvali in Laguna. Father Johnny Go gave a beautiful homily which struck me! He talked about the Latin phrase Contra ventum tibi ambulandum est, which was printed on one of the stained glass windows in the chapel. It translates to “You need to walk against the wind.”

There is a need to go against the culture of relativism and mediocrity! We have to rebel against them, like St. Francis Xavier who went against every advice and sailed towards Asia to introduce Jesus Christ and the Gospel to India, Japan, and the Moluccas. And like Blessed John Paul II who also went against popular culture of the modern world and condemned abortion, contraception and the ordination of women, among others.

When I was still a student in Ateneo, I received a lucrative offer to do a TV commercial for a consumer brand. But the problem was that I had to go topless. The problem was not that I didn’t have six-pack abs, because I really don’t… just four (hehe!), unlike Derek Ramsey (who I think has 8 or more?). But it was against my principle to go topless on national television. So I declined the offer, but in the end, they allowed me to wear a body suit. The campaign was done tastefully. I mean, it was a beach setting to begin with. But with the prevalence of so many half-naked billboards and ads all around us, we cannot even determine which are immodest and which aren’t. And because we see them all the time, we tend to imitate them without realizing that we are dressing immodestly. This is because we have become desensitized. And we cannot and should not tolerate that.

[Freedom to Love]

Now, let’s talk a little bit about a topic that you all love, and that is, LOVE! Maniwala kayo sa hindi, I had my first and only girlfriend when I was in high school. How many of you have boyfriends or girlfriends? (No one raises their hands! Ya right!) There’s nothing wrong with being in a relationship. Love is wonderful! It gives us joy. But it is difficult and has consequences. One thing that bothers me when I watch Western movies or TV shows is how casually they portray sex among non-married couples, one night stands, and worse, teenagers and same-sex couples! I hope you guys don’t believe that giving your bodies to your partners at this age is manifestation of true love! Because it isn’t!

When I was playing in the UAAP for the Ateneo Blue Eagles, (you guys were probably still watching cartoons then), I had four years of disappointment and pain because we missed the championship every year. Year in and year out, I would put in so much time and effort working on my game to become a better player and a better leader. I made lots of sacrifices and preserved through the stressful life of a student athlete. And in my 5th and last year when I was team captain as well, we finally won the much-coveted championship to the joy of the entire Ateneo community. What made it so sweet was the fact that we endured so many years of adversity and made so many sacrifices until our dream became a reality! Not to mention that we also defeated our archrivals in the finals (whose name I will not mention J )

Why did I mention that? Because, true love is about the freedom to make sacrifices for one another: in the case of romantic relationships, waiting for love to be blessed in marriage. Besides, by sacrificing, we also develop fortitude of spirit that will allow us to face challenges head on. Sacrifice, as I have learned in my years with the Blue Eagles, also makes the end-goal (which is success) more satisfying.


I know I’ve been speaking too long already. But I just had to add this a few hours ago just after reading in the newspaper about a 2nd year high school student in Batangas who committed suicide because of bullying and more so, cyber-bullying. He took his own life using a gun. This is truly devastating!! Reminder: to those bullied, taking your life is never the solution. To the witnesses and bystanders, please report it right away. Who knows, you might save a life! To the teachers and administrators, don’t take bullying lightly. To the parents, write to the school if your son is being bullied AND make sure to set good examples to your kids because you are their role models.

So guys, make sure to use your social media accounts responsibly!!

[Freedom to Love God]

Let me end this by giving you a story about a boy and a barber having a conversation. I got this from a graduating high school student like you. The boy is named Alvaro and the barber is named Mang Boyet.

Sinabe ni Mang Boyet kay Alvaro, “Alvaro, alam mo ba, hindi ako naniniwala sa Diyos”

“Baket naman po?” sagot ni Alvaro

“Tumingin ka sa labas. Eh kung totoong may Diyos, baket ang daming naghihirap? Baket ang daming nagkakasakit? Bakit ang daming namamatay ng walang kasalanan? Hindi ba kung totoo ang Diyos niyong yan eh isang tawag lang naten at matutulungan niya na tayo”

Sabi ni Alvaro: “Ahh ganun po ba Mang Boyet…….Mang Boyet, tumingin ka sa labas.”

Sumagot si Mang Boyet: “Oh baket, anong meron?”

Sagot in Alvaro: “Baket ang daming mahahaba ang buhok?”

“Kase di sila pumupunta saken para magpagupit.”, sabi ni Mang Boyet

Tanong ni Alvaro: “Hindi po ba pwedeng gupitan mo na lang sila kahet ayaw nila?”

“Syempre hindi.” sagot ni Mang Boyet

At humirit si Alvaro, sabi niya kay Mang Boyet: “Ganun lang din po yun Mang Boyet. Hindi naman tayo pwede pakelaman ng Diyos kung hindi naten siya hahayaan makapasok sa mga sarili natin. Kailangan din naten lumapit at mag bukas loob para mapalapit tayo sa kanya”

If God did not have the chance to enter your lives, my dear graduating students, then you should now think twice. Are you giving him a chance to enter your life in the first place? As you begin your university life, remember to choose HIM first and as you strive to live the virtues, use your freedom well! Study well, get into sports, live healthy, make friends, and enjoy the ride! Remember that He is your real Goal.  With that, God will bless you with a happiness that the world cannot give.

Congratulations once again! God bless you all!