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 :)
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.
Student Affairs Coordinator, Mrs. Carmelita R.
Prefect of Discipline, Mr. Jason Madamba
Mrs. Mars Belo of CCF
Mrs. Bernadette Manansala, HR Head
Subject Area Coordinators
Alumni Association President, Mr. Virgilio
Dear teachers, graduates, parents, friends:
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
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
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
Sagot in Alvaro: “Baket ang daming mahahaba
“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.