It is with much pride and honor that I share with you my speech that I uttered with the graduates and hoping it would inspire young minds as well.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, sirs and ma'ams, and to the graduating students of Lorma Colleges Special Science High School. It is with much honor that I am here infront of you now. It is also with much pride that I'll be imbibing thoughts and inspiration to my fellow Lormanians. To the Korean students, 'Annyong Haseyo'!
First of all, I will not be asking you dance Harlem Shake nor Gangnam Style. Though I would love to see you do that, not to make fun of ourselves, but to celebrate and commemorate this milestone in your lives. But if you want to that after the ceremony, please feel free. ;)
What I will be asking you is a bit of your time and attention, and for you to bare with me as I share some of my experiences and I'm hoping to inspire you and bring out the best that you can be.
10 years ago, I was in the same spot as you are in now, in the same grand event that I so look forward to ever since I stepped into high school life – the graduation day. However, young as I was before, I did not realize what came after it or what trials and struggles I was about to face thereon. What I did know was that I will be missing my friends, my teachers, and most especially the school where I spent a couple of years of my life with. It is this time of our lives that we have been able to nurture our social curiosities, emotional dilemmas, and the sense of responsibility that has been instilled with us by our parents and our teachers.
From time to time, I still wish I could bring back the old memories that I've left behind during my yesteryears. Though the probability of that coming true is very slim, almost impossible, I have to move on and realize that these memories and experiences have made me who I am now and who I will be. Despite the years that went by, there was no moment in my life that I regretted every decision I made, be it a wrong one. Because then, I knew in my heart that these decisions have been one of the many ingredients that influenced me and the people around me. It is inevitable that there will come a point in your life that you'd be facing the same struggles that I've experienced, or even worse. The key, however, to succeeding, is in not giving up. The trials that you have faced and will be facing are nothing but trials that are meant for you to overcome.
Now, if you would allow me, I have a short story to share with you.
Most of you must've heard the saying: 'keep riding the wheel of life'. It might sound cliché, but I'm telling you now, I'm a living existence of that.
I will share with you now my wheel of life.
18 years ago, my family and I had one of the grandest and most extravagant life experiences anybody could ever wish for. My father was then appointed as the provincial administrator of the province of Ilocos Sur, and with it came the perks; having bodyguards surrounding you wherever you go, you get to choose which among the selections of cars you will ride, you have the influence, and lastly, the power. I even remember having our living room populated with our 'bodyguards' together with their 'tools', for a person without the experience, that would come as a surprise, but me and my older brother was already used to that like it was just rice on a Filipino dining table. We went to school having excessive money allowance, more than we can ever spend. It felt like a complete and happy life, but it wasn't. We might have the power and the money, but there's something we didn't quite have: true happiness and freedom. Both of my parents were so busy with their careers that me and my older brother were left to settle on our own, practically. We were also not able to go to town and play with other kids our age without armed bodyguards around. Security was also a big issue back then, having been ambushed a few times. Soon thereafter, my parents realized and decided that it is not the life they wanted us to grow up to and get accustomed with. After all, not everything that glitters is gold.
One of the most difficult struggles of my life, including my family, happened during my high school period. It was this time that we rarely had a centavo to spend and a healthy food to eat. For almost three years of my studying time, I had to endure my very tight leather shoes, which had the color of ash – mostly gray, but blackened with the use of the available Kiwi shoe shiner. It had the texture that of a dry soil. And believe me, it was an everyday painful experience on my foot, until there came a time that I already got used to the sensation.
There were occasional times that I would request for a brand new pair of leather shoes from my parents but would get a reply that we just couldn't afford to have one. I fully understand them for that. How can we even afford to buy a new pair of shoes when we can't even afford to buy a decent meal for the family? My white polo school uniform back then was also technically not white, but yellowish and creamy in shade, because it is the same polo that I've been using since the past few years of study. Or probably, if we had used the latest Tide or Surf, it'd still be white. But it didn't stop there. There were also frequent times that I was absent at school, though I really am very eager to attend my classes, not because I'm sick, but because I didn't have the money to pay for my transportation fare, let alone to buy my snacks at school. This lead to a series of emotional breakdowns, lost of self-confidence, and difficulty in coping up with the lessons that I have missed, but I did not let this hinder me, instead I converted this experience into a fruitful inspiration.
Eventually and indirectly, this has lead me to rebel against my social life, become an introvert, and easily getting irritated, often getting into fights. There even came a point that I became too exuberant and unruly, which definitely affected my performance in class and the guidance office has been a regular room that I'd usually visit.
One day, after our Math class (if I remember it right), our teacher, miss Alona Altarez, approached me and spoke to me regarding my behavior and performance. There were only a few words that came out of her mouth, and I still remember the life-changing phrase that she said: 'Reynante, kung lagi kang ganyan, walang mangyayari sa buhay mo.' That moment, I felt like an ice cold water has just been poured over my whole body. Since then, I changed my ways and had to endure whatever comes my way, whatever it may be. And the rest was history.
The wheel of life must go on, at times you are on the top, often on the bottom. It doesn't really matter when, what matters is you hold on to it no matter what.
We all have our superpowers, and if you're wondering what's mine, my superpower is gathering inspiration from everything and from everyone. I believe this superpower beats Naruto's Rasengan, Son Goku's Kame-hame Wave, or even those of the DotA characters you play. You may be wondering why? The sole reason for this is that it enables me to be who I want to be, physically and mentally, and even surpass what other people might expect me to become. Now, I want each of you to think what superpowers you have, and I want you to keep them, make them stronger, and share them with others, beyond anything else.
In addition to these, here's an inspiring message by Michael Josephson:
'What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you know,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories in those who love you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice.'
Before I formally end my arduous speech, I have two favors to ask you, graduating students; first, I'd like you to give yourselves the loudest applause that you so deserve.
And my second and last favor; when I count to three, I want you all to shout 'Thank You' – this goes to your school, your teachers, your friends, your crushes, and most especially to your family and parents, for without them, you wouldn't be here now.
One, two, three!
Thank you so much for your time, gamsahamnida, and congratulations!