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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.

[Bullying]

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!

37 comments:

  1. Yes. The very purpose of our existence in this world is to live for God and no matter what career paths we choose, we have to promise ourselves, that in every thing we do,we will share and make others see God. College life unlike secondary school is far different because it is bound with choices that would determine what we will become who we are in the future. It is matter of choosing God for a purpose driven life. ---Floree

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  2. Very well said.

    "Just because everybody is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right”.

    Thumbs up Chris!

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  3. Another inspiring entry of yours! Makes me feel like I'm also a newly grad. These are lessons I will carry in my heart. Thanks for sharing and God bless!

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  4. College life is very stressful, but fun at the same time. you meet new people, and encounter new environment.You will be able to do what you think you cannot do. You can discover new things which might surprise you. Be ready always. Strive harder. Be determined to reach what you dream. Remember to always thank Him of the many blessings that you received and will be receiving. Whatever it is, He sure knows that you deserve it. Congratulations to all Graduates! Goodluck and God bless you always. :)

    P.S. kuya Chris, you really are a good example to the youth. A lot of people are inspired by you, and i know that you know that. THANK YOU. Looking forward for your next blog. :) God bless!



    Axxxx :)

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  5. Indeed! God should always be the first in our hearts. At the end of the day, we cannot do anything apart from Him. ^_^

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  6. : Such a very inspiring and motivating speech. Even I was moved by the realities you have said...what marked me with ur is the influence the media has now in our society.

    : Truly you are a role model to everyone not just to the young people.Keep on inspiring each one of us sir! :-) God Bless You More.

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  7. Simple yet inspiring message...continue to be an inspiration!:)

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  8. "I know I've been speaking too long already." --> it's never too long Chris! I could sit and listen to you speak all day.

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  9. Your mom and I had exactly the same words: “Just because everybody is doing it, it doesn’t mean it is right”. I said this to my ex-boyfriend who wanted me to get intimate with him. Weeks after he broke up with me. Chastity can never be exchanged with any temporary pleasure. Let's allow God to enter our lives and indeed, our life will be directed to the right path always.

    God bless, everyone. God bless you more, Chris. :)

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  10. nakaka-inspire and ginawa mong speech kuya Chris, hindi lang yung graduates, pati yung mga bumabasa.


    P.S. Ms. Clarisse is very lucky to have you as his one and only girlfriend! ;)

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  11. I like the story of Alvaro and Mang Boyet a lot.

    Thanks, Chris! I'm inspired! :)

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  12. Very inspiring indeed! Thanks for sharing Kuya Chris. :)

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  13. Yes !! Lets claim and receive one of God's promises to us.

    Jeremiah 29:11 - 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'

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  14. thank you for sharing your speech with us, Chris. i hoped those graduates listened to your speech well. they were lucky to have a speaker like you.

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  15. very meaningful and insightful speech!

    continue being an inspiration to all especially to the youth..

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  16. You really inspire a lot of people Chris, people of all ages. And I am one of them. Thank you for that. Keep inspiring us! Never stop. :)

    Sincerely,
    A (striving) college student who is determined to graduate with flying colors and is about to take her last year (hopefully) this June. :)

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  17. One thing that I learned from Theology class in Ateneo is that God also loves same sex couples. I guess you missed out on that one, Chris.

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    1. I don't recall saying that God does not love same sex couples because He loves each and everyone of us equally, indeed, regardless of our gender and even if we all our sinners. What's important is that there's a desire and struggle to convert.

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    2. I agree, Chris. God loves us infinitely. It's pride that makes it difficult for us to receive His grace and correspond to His love. And as our new Pope said, he does not tire to forgive us. We are the ones who tire asking for forgiveness. We refuse to change our sinful ways.
      My Ateneo Theology classes on Marriage taught me that marriage is a sacrament and a union between a man and a woman, to put it simply. And same-sex relationships are just as sinful as heterosexual adulterous relationships. 
      It's a tough job speaking the truth, Chris. But again, our new Jesuit Pope reiterated the danger of relativism and we need young people of your generation to stand up for the truth. God bless you and may the Holy Spirit guide you always. 

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    3. Yes, we are all sinners and God loves us all equally.

      But I do have to point out that we are not comparing apples with apples here. On on hand, heterosexual adulterous relationships are committed voluntarily and by choice. Being a homosexual, on the other, is not. That is the truth.

      Yes, both may be considered as sins. But I do think it is error to equate heterosexual adulterous relationships with same-sex relationships which as many have proven, can be an honest and faithful relationship too.

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    4. I'm sorry but I must disagree with you on this. We are comparing apples and apples as far as the Commandments of the Lord on purity and adultery and the sin of fornication is concerned as they apply to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. While I don't fully understand what you mean by, "heterosexual adulterous relationships are committed voluntarily and by choice. Being a homosexual, on the other, is not..." I think it would be an injustice to say homosexuals are incapable of voluntarily fighting temptation or controlling their passions and incapable of living a virtuous, celibate life. We all are created in the image and likeness of God and are called to live a life of holiness, whether we want to or not. "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Yes, you are right, there are honest and faithful relationships among homosexuals, but they require the same demands of celibacy as a heterosexual relationship between singles. In other words, sex should only be engaged by a man and a woman in the context of marriage.

      Please consider visiting the website: http://couragerc.net/.

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  18. wish all people have your mind, heart and spirit!!! Go on , continue to make a special difference in this world we all live in.

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  19. wow! inspiring po talaga ung speech niyo :D pakiramdam ko tuloy bagong graduate ako na sobrang naenlighten sa speech niyo. sana mas madami pa kayong school na mapuntahan for grad. speech. God bless!

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  20. You never fail to amaze us chris! Continue to ba an inspiration to others most especially to the youth Everybody is becoming optimistic when you talk....sharing your ideas and life experiences. Looking forward to more blogs of yours.

    and finally i made it here chris!haha My first comment ever on a blog!:)

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  21. Inspiring speech. Very well said. You really are a role model for the youth. God bless! :)

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  22. Your speech is relatively short but straightforward and significantly full of truth. You are a courageous person, guided by the holy spirit, that stands out for the things he believe in - against the 'wind' of modern times and forces of evil which are so evident, prevalent and consistent. For as long as we live to glorify God, we will continue to have a self that manifests the 'good', a force coming from God. I pray that people, like you, will not become corrupted by the materialism of this world, brought about by Lucifer. We need to work double time. You and me, together with all the faithful coming from all walks of life, from different corners of this planet, must continue to battle the things that keep us away from salvation. May your current status allow you to amplify more about the virtues and values that those who know and idolize you needs to know. Godbless you, Christopher.

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  23. You're a beautiful person kuya Chris, inside and out. I'm a big fan. clap clap! :)

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  24. hello Chris might consider Bo sanchez. You two have a lot in common :)

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  25. may you create more blogs for others to realize their own worth as well. it's a gem to find it in your heart to share God's wisdom, perhaps this is your mission. May you do it generously.

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  26. Thanks for this, Chris! Very inspiring. :)

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  27. Hi Chris, i thank God for your heart that is so after God's own heart. Count me in to pray alongside you and your endeavors.

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  28. Naiyak ako sa dulo grabe. Thank you so much Chris Tiu for sharing this with us. Love lots.

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  29. I'll love chris tiu forever. Very inspiring. :)

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  30. Ang galing! Chris, you are a gift to the young minds.

    May there be more celebrities who share your ideals so that life of virtues will be more spread out in this society that is infected badly. Good thing - there is still God and He continues to work in people like you.

    Being a blogger too on personal development, personal finance, and living life in general, I'd love to read more blogs such as this from you.

    Keep writing and keep inspiring young people with your life lived with virtues.

    God bless you more!

    Chris D, theYoungMind

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  31. A pleasant day, Chris! c:

    Your speech is rooted in God's word. Awesome!

    You are indeed an inspiration to the young people. :)
    Your beauty is beyond your good-looking face.
    May God continually bless you with perseverance as you fight the good fight of faith.

    Know that I am praying with you in your journey called life. :)

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  32. Nini Angelica SiringanSeptember 29, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    Hi! I'm a student from the University of the Philippines Manila and I and my group mates would like to have an interview with you for our requirement in Speech Communication. We find that you are the most appropriate person to interview because of your budding business and other aspects of your career. By the way, we already send you a letter regarding this. We hope for your favorable response upon our request. You may contact me at ninieangelica@yahoo.com Godbless!

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