68th Graduation Ceremonies
Sta. Monica Academy
La Consolacion College, Baao,
Two weeks ago, a week before Holy Week, the busiest week of the year for me, my Alma Mater sent me a message via Messenger thru The Principal, Azalia Peyra, and requested that I be the Graduation Guest Speaker and give an inspirational speech during the graduation rites of its Grade School Department.
Last week, I made a self-assessment and determined I do not need more training or experience in public speaking. Hhhmmm! What is the difference between this one speaking engagement than the one I did in Kathmandu, Nepal, when I talked about agriculture to the South Asian women? Or the women entrepreneurs of the APEC nations in Hue, Vietnam? This is easy! Bwahahaha! But as this day neared, I began to have panic attacks. What can I say to you, grade six students? And to you parents of these students? I was thinking, this is different. But, I take comfort in my belief that the universe will conspire to get you what you want, when you want it. I want you to hear my story, as I, some years ago, oh my! I was one just like you. I was Grade 6 Class Valedictorian of 1976, here in this school, the Sta. Monica Academy, now known as La Consolacion College. Ok, do the math! Bwahahaha!
Beloved Head of School, Sr. Angelita Baraero, OSA and members of her administrative staff, Members of the faculty, proud parents, and above all, the graduates. My congratulations!
I imagine that you are excited at graduating, a little scared of going to Highschool, sad about saying goodbye to friends and crushes, teachers and tutors, and excited about the summer. I also felt the same way when I was twelve.
Looking at your faces, at this school, at the teachers, I realize that everything has changed. And nothing has changed.
But let me tell you, tomorrow will be the beginning of one of the most wonderful, memorable, exciting part of your lives.
So let me speak to you now as someone speaking to another who is starting on the most wonderful journey. But you have to listen, and you have to listen hard, bcause I am going to tell you some of the secrets to success.
They are: Growth, Generosity, Gratitude and love of God. You can call them the 4G's. And they are the secrets to success.
The first is Growth.
This is not physical growth. Physical growth comes naturally. But this growth I am talking about, you have to decide to effect it.
Let me tell you about growth by telling you about Mulan. You all know Mulan's story. She wanted to defeat the Huns but she was a girl who did not know how to fight. She could not even carry a weapon! But she did not let that stop her. She practiced until she got so tired she could not practice anymore. The next day, she got up and practiced, she got beat up but she practiced, left hanging on a pole but practiced, got buried in snow but practiced. Before she knew it, she was China's hero.
What am I trying to say? The next years of your life will determine your future. Make the next years one of growth. Embrace growth. Find out what you are good at, find out what you like to do, your passion. And then grow. Practice. Practice some more. because here is another secret, if you practice, you can be anything you want to be. So do not be afraid! While you are at it, do not be afraid to fail.
Let me also tell you more about failure because it is important in growing. You all know about Michael Jordan, right? Or do you? Bwahahaha! He is the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Jordan missed more than 9000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games and missed 26 winning shots. He failed over and over and over again. But that is why he is the greatest basketball player in the world.
The second is Generosity.
You have to be generous, even overly generous, because here is the secret - if you give more, you will have more. We are all familiar with the sayings: it is better to give than to receive, or God loves a cheerful giver. You know they are all clues - clues to great riches, both material and spiritual, and they are all true. Because when you give, you release a powerful blessing and it embraces you.
The third is Gratitude.
We say it every day: "Thank you". But we do not know how much power Thank You has. When you appreciate people and events and the things you have in your life, the whole universe jumps up and down and what it wants to do is to give you more. Try it. Say thank you more often, say it with every step, say it with your every prayer. You will be amazed at the wonderful surprises it will give you.
While we are at it, thank you for having me. It is really my great privilege to be in your presence today.
The last G is for God.
God the power and source of all things. He is the reason why we are all here. He is your stronghold here in the present and in the future. He is great! and He loves you more than you know.
So let me end with my wish for all of you. In your life, may you have people who will listen and spend time with you, encourage you and believe in you. May you embrace growth and excellence, may you be generous, may you say thank you often, may God watch over you. With this blessing, may you go forth and do wonderful things, and I am pretty sure: You are ready to face Life's Challenges. Again, my congratulations!
Life is good!