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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Who is John Tiu Ka Cho?

Below are some excerpts of my keynote address for the first Grade 6 graduation ceremonies of Xavier School Nuvali held at the John Tiu Ka Cho Multi-purpose Center.

Keynote Speech
1st Grade 6 Graduation Ceremonies
John Tiu Ka Cho Multi-purpose Center
Xavier School Nuvali
March 19, 2016

By Chris Tiu (XS ’03)

Fr. Ari Dy, Mrs. Arlene Choo, dearest Xavier administrators, faculty, staff, families & graduates, good morning to you all!

It is my greatest honor to be invited as the Keynote Speaker for the first ever Grade 6 Closing Ceremonies of Xavier School Nuvali.  

To be honest, it has been a while since I was in your place, seated as a grade school graduate and looking forward to a new adventure in high school and beyond.  So seeing as I have just a few years of experience ahead of you all, let me tell you a few things that I wish I had known back when I was your age.

Live out the spirit of MAGIS. What is magis?

Let me share with you the story of an individual who has served as an inspiration to me and many others who knew him. He is not a celebrity but he has certainly let his light shine through his ordinary life. So although I’m sure most of you have heard of his name, you probably do not know his story.

He was born in the Philippines and lived a very difficult childhood. When World War 2 broke out, life became even harsher for this poor teenager and his family. They barely had anything to eat and he was forced to stop his schooling. But instead of letting fate dictate his future, he started selling cigarettes, newspapers and anything that he could get hold of at the ground floor of their tiny house in Alonso St. in Binondo, Manila. He eventually managed to finish high school through his own hard-earned money from his simple business, then later finished college as well by working during the day and going to school at night.

He got married, had six lovely children then, nightmare happened. His wife passed away at the age of 32. Their eldest child was 11 years old while their youngest was only 2 years old.

By this time, he had opened a successful hardare store in Binondo. He was working at least 6 days a week, sometimes even 7. His kids feared him but had the greatest respect for him.

This man’s business sense was impeccable. He was a stern disciplinarian. His kids didn’t get to experience the typical summer break because he required them to work in the store. Being late for appointments was a big ‘no no’. If someone gave his phone number, you’d have to memorize it without repetition. He was sharp and unstoppable.

With the success of his first hardware store, he had built several buildings and factories all over the city. He became known as the self-made Taipan from Alonso. Then just when he was growing his mini-empire, another tragedy struck.  He was suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer and in a short time, in less than a year, at the young age of 62, he passed away, leaving behind a wife, 9 kids and his legacy.

This man’s name is John Tiu Ka Cho and he is my grandfather.

Sadly, I do not have any vivid memories of my ‘kong-kong’ or my lolo because he passed away when I was barely 3 years old. He was a very simple man, he wore no branded clothes and always traveled in economy class, only until he had to undergo medical treatment in the U.S. for his cancer did he ever travel on business class. As told from his story, he greatly valued education and he always said that, ‘knowledge is power’. In fact, all his sons and most of his grandsons had studied and graduated from Xavier School. He was a very compassionate and generous man. If he were still around today, I’m sure he would not have wanted his name to be displayed on the wall of this very hall.

JTKC was a true man for others. Not only did he provide livelihood to thousands of people, but he quietly donated to many causes and people in need! I can say that he is truly rich, not rich with money, but rich in graces from God, which is what ultimately matters anyway– because it is in giving that we truly receive. He always strove for excellence in whatever he did, whether as a businessman or a family man, never settling for mediocrity. In other words, bawal ang ‘pwede na’ attitude. This is what we call, Magis.

Instead of making excuses, he worked hard to turn his life around and get back on his feet – a major challenge for us in today’s world of convenience.

… In today’s modern world, I know that we sometimes feel pressured to do as others do, have as others have, dress, act, and be as others are. Social media also has a way making other people’s lives appear glamorous and fun! It has a way of making us feel entitled, that “I deserve this… I deserve that….”, a better pair of shoes, a better vacation, a better cellphone, in short, a better life.

But let me fill you in on a secret that you will learn as you grow up. Those things are only for show and will not lead us to a fulfilling and happy life. At the end of the day, our goal is to be happy, the long and lasting type of happiness. Just remember the things we learned today: Live out the spirit of Magis, keep learning, live simply, be honest to yourself and to God, be a man and woman for others.

Today we celebrate a milestone for all of you. Let’s never take for granted how blessed and lucky we are. And the best way we can thank God and our parents is by always doing our best and always doing what is right. Congratulations once again! Let your light shine. Luceat Lux.

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