coerced invited to speak at the commencement exercise of the school where I graduated high school from fifteen years ago. There is no video evidence of this crime (thank the heavens above!), but I’m sharing this because despite my highly monotonous delivery, I was pretty pleased with how the speech came together. I think this only serves to prove that I write so much better than I speak.
Despite my personal disappointment at how my speech sounded to my ears, I am truly grateful to my school for giving me this death-defying opportunity, and for appreciating my effort. I surprised myself (and a lot of people who know me) because I was able to speak in front of a crowd and finish my speech without dying of embarrassment. It wasn’t a huge crowd by any means, but it’s a crowd, just the same. And to a shy introvert like me, that in itself is a huge (like really really HUGE) achievement.
Here’s the graduation speech that would’ve been a lot more interesting if delivered by a better speaker:
Maraming salamat sa makabagbag damdaming introduction, Ms. Padilla. Kung ano man po yung narinig nyo tungkol sa akin kanina, wag nyo po iyong masyadong dibdibin kasi hindi po lahat yon totoo.
To Dr. at Dra. Tordesillas, to our distinguished members of the board of trustees, school administrators, members of the faculty, school staff, parents, and most importantly, the members of the graduating class. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be speaking to all of you today. It’s been fifteen years simula nung gumraduate ako ng high school. I’m very proud to say na kami yung unang batch ng high school students na gumraduate dito sa Nazarenus College Foundation, under the excellent care of Mam Mariz de Guzman. Kaya bago pa kayo, kami muna ang nagpasakit ng ulo ng ilan sa mga teachers na nandito ngayon. Marami akong napansin na pagbabago nung bumisita ako dito nung isang linggo, maliban lang kay Madam Principal. Sa maniwala kayo o sa hindi, teacher ko na si Bb. Vergara nung elementary pa lang ako. Trust me, hindi pa rin nagbabago ang itsura nya mula noon hanggang ngayon. So unfair.
Hindi po ako magaling na public speaker, kaya instead of an impromptu speech, I chose to write down my thoughts and read it to you. Sa totoo nga lang, nung una akong sabihan ni Bb. Vergara tungkol dito, nag-panic attack talaga ko. If you know me personally, you’ll know na isa ako lagi sa mga pinakamahiyain sa buong klase nung nag-aaral pa ako. Mana ako kay Mam Thea, sobrang ngarag sa public speaking. Hindi ako halos nagsasalita nun. Nagulat nga ako nung marunong pa pala kong magsalita nung gumraduate ako.
Pero kidding aside, I want to congratulate everyone present on this special day. Unang una, sa mga parents at guardians na gumigising ng maaga araw araw, hindi lang para magtrabaho para may pambayad ng tuition, kundi para na rin mag-asikaso sa pagpasok ng mga anak sa school. Maghanda ng agahan, magplantsa ng uniform, maghanap ng belt o kapares ng socks, mag-abot ng pambaon/pangload at mag-paalala araw araw na “Anak, mag-ingat ka pagpasok”. Sa lahat po ng pagmamahal, pag-aalaga at pag-aalala. For all the daily efforts and sacrifices you make, no matter how big or small, we thank you parents and guardians, without whom these bright graduates would not be here at all. Palakpakan po nating lahat ang mga magulang na kasama natin ngayon. Sa inyo po ang araw na ito.
Secondly sa school administrators, staff at teachers, na walang sawang gumagabay, sumusuporta, tumutulong, at tumatayong pangalawang magulang sa mga batang ito na balita ko ay sobrang babait. For all the lessons and advice inside and outside the classroom, for all the extra care you give that is beyond the scope of your responsibilities, for all the love we sometimes do not deserve. For all the patience and selflessness, for giving everything you have and more to this academic profession. Palakpakan din po nating silang lahat. Sa inyo rin po ang araw na ito.
Lastly, I want to congratulate you, my dear graduates, whose achievements we celebrate today. Hindi lang yung mga may honors, kundi kayong lahat na nagpursige na makatapos, na pumasok kahit walang baon, na inaabot ng hatinggabi kakareview para sa exams, na magaganda ang grades kahit walang pambili ng libro, na hindi umabsent kahit heartbroken o nafriendzone, na nakapagpasa ng project kahit may hangover. Palakpakan din po natin sila, ang rason kung bakit nandito tayong lahat ngayon. You have come this far, and you did very good. Saludo kaming lahat sa inyo. We’re very, very proud because today you take the stage to receive your diplomas. These diplomas symbolize all the heart that you put into studying. It’s a simple piece of paper, but it holds everything you have worked so hard for in the past four years of your life. Ipaframe nyo yan, mahal yang diploma na yan.
Excited na ba kayo for college? I don’t have words of wisdom to share, I mean I hardly think I’m wise, but if there’s one thing I learned after high school, it’s this: don’t take a course just because it’s convenient, or dahil lang yun din ang kukunin na course ng mga friends nyo. Don’t let anyone make that decision for you. After all, it’s you who will have to sit on all those classes, so at least go by a decision that feels right to you and you will be happy with – for the next two to four years, at least. Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts, or take risks, or even make mistakes. Mistakes are part of growing up and teach us a lot more than success. This not only apply to choosing your course for college, but for everything else you do in life.
Back then, hindi ko alam kung anong course ang kukunin ko after my high school graduation. I was afraid I’d make a mistake in choosing a course, so I went with what I thought was a “safe” option. I don’t regret making that decision, because if I’d taken a different fork in the road, maybe I wouldn’t be who and where I am today.
Several years later I took a leap of faith and quit working full time in order to work from home. I had zero idea where that road will take me, and looking back, it could’ve been the most foolish mistake I’ve made. But it turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in a long time, and I am very thankful for that. My point is, and I do have a point, life doesn’t always happen the way you planned, and it’s okay. You might make mistakes along the way and your instincts may not always be right, but it’s fine. If life was perfect and everything worked exactly as planned, it wouldn’t be worth living. The imperfections and misfortunes in our lives? They are what shape us. They are what make us strong.
In closing, I only have two hopes for you. One, I hope you always continue to look forward, but don’t ever forget to look back. Nandyan na yung Facebook, email, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites that make reaching out easier, so there’s no excuse not to say hi to and meet up with your old high school friends and teachers once in a while. Cherish all the memories you have, but continue creating more with them as much as you can. Sa mga kaibigan na laging nandyan para sa inyo, kailangan nyo man sila o hindi, na kilalang kilala na kayo, at alam kung nagugutom lang ba kayo o may pinagdadaanan sa buhay. Sa mga adviser nyo na handa kayong ipagtanggol at protektahan like their own family, sa mga subject teachers, favorite nyo man sila o hindi, strikto man sila o sobrang bait, na binibigay ang puso nila sa trabaho nila, para matuto kayo at ihanda kayo sa mga darating na panahon. Be forever thankful and show your gratitude to the people who have helped you along the way.
And two, I hope you never stop learning. The world is full of amazing things just waiting to be discovered, so don’t lose your thirst for knowledge. Wag kayong makuntento sa kung ano lang ang itinuturo sa loob ng school. Always be curious, and never be afraid to ask questions. It is only when you continue learning new things, that you open yourself up to wonderful and endless possibilities. Learn from your friends, from books, from the Internet, from life experience, it doesn’t matter. Just never. Stop. Learning.
Thank you, and congratulations again to everyone, especially to our graduates.