After all those days of wondering, wondering if we would make it to the end, FINALLY, HERE WE ARE AT THIS VERY MOMENT THAT marks the summit of our journey. Graduating class of 2014-2015, PLEASE join me in welcoming our guests. To our guest of honor, Ms. Melizza Soriano, to our Chief Executive Mentor, Dr. Genevieve Ledesma-Tan, to our school President, Dr. Marl V. Ferenal, to our Principal for Basic Education, Ms. Marie-Vic Suarez, the management team, school officials, honored guests, dedicated teachers, beloved parents and fellow graduates, a pleasant morning to all OF YOU!
On behalf of every student here, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to all the teachers and mentors we’ve had in life. You are the candles that light the way. Thank you for using your precious time and wisdom for us. You HAVE taught us and still are teaching us to achieve excellence. You help us on our way to success. I believe that we’re a much better person NOW than we would have been had we not met all of you. I would also like to thank all the parents for your endless support and patience for all of us. You have lovingly cared for us all these years and set the foundation for our future. There are not enough words to express how thankful all of us are.
March 27, 2015. A MARK IN OUR HISTORIES THAT COMMEMORATES the hard work… of not just the graduates, but also the teachers and parents. It is a very special day that won’t be forgotten even if we leave Southville. Today, we acknowledge and give recognition to the people we’ve met, the lessons we’ve learned, the tears, the laughter, and the memories we’ve shared in our years as grade school students. For everything we take with us, there is something that we leave behind. This school year was filled with fond memories. It gave us good and also bad experiences. It taught us many things. Most of us, if not all, are brimming with joy that we’re finally done with it, that it’s all over now. But it isn’t. With every door shut, opens another. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Today, we show our teachers, our parents, and ourselves that we’re evolving out of our baby stage. Today, we show the world that we are ready to take on the next stage of our academic life: High School. All this is possible because of everyone here and all who are lovingly taking care of all of us. So, thank you.
I AM ALSO TAKING THIS OPPORTUNITY TO THANK THE SPECIAL PEOPLE… who have made my achievements possible. I might not be able to mention all of you by name, but know that I am a million fold times grateful to everyone who has put me on this stage today.
To my adviser Ms. Juvy, I am so grateful of your honesty, sincerity, and giving your best to us. Thank you to my SLGE teacher, Sir Raphael (Bruce) Fernando for sharing stories and memories with me, and guiding me, aside from being a great teacher. Thank you too, to my English teacher, Ms. Rhea Abat. No matter how rowdy the class was, you still kept your stand. Thank you for being so understanding to all your students. It’s like we’re your children. To Ms. Botalon, my Science teacher, thank you for making this year great, and managing the whole Grade 6, while still being a teacher.
Not just all these names mentioned, I would like to thank every single teacher for changing lives, and helping me learn more. Whether in Southville, or not, a certified educator, or just a simple person I receive guidance from, thank you. You HAVE instilled a love of learning in me. You HAVE helped me grow and guided me. And I’m sure, many other people too.
To all my friends, classmates or not, thank you very much. Arizah, Kyela, Yannikka, AV, Stefano, Andy, and Inigo thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for having my back all the time. You guys made me feel that I have a big wonderful family.
A great thank you from my heart to my parents. To my wonderful, beautiful mother, Cynthia Cerbito for all the immeasurable love, care and time, effort and discipline you are providing and building for me. Without you, mom, I could not make Valedictorian possible. I hope I made you happy today. Thank you so much FOR putting up with my antics, FOR your patience, and for waking me up each morning and preparing all the things I need.
To my biological dad, Louis Goh Co, thank you so much, I mean it. I hope and pray that we will see you soon.
I’m also forever grateful to my stepfather Terrence Lee Gildred for all the love, care and support. You dreamed to have a more beautiful life with us, planned and brought us here in Southville in preparing us to go outside the country, to have the finest education, and be a happy family. And hey dad, we made it, I got valedictorian!
I am greatly honored to stand before all of you today as the Valedictorian of Class 2015, not only because of the awards that I have received but because I’m also part of an amazing batch – a batch that has achieved so much, a batch with so many different personalities and talented people, maybe in big ways, and maybe in little. Some people think that getting the highest award is so far beyond their dreams. Some people think that it’s an easy feat, if you were born with the ability to skillfully memorize the whole periodic table, and read the whole series of encyclopedic books. I may not be the right person to give advice right now, maybe when I’m 70, I can give you better. But I will share my experience, and what I have learned from it. First off, it isn’t an easy feat in reality. There’s competition everywhere, there’s that pressure, and there’s just so many things going on. Sometimes in the middle of trying to achieve goals, not just on getting valedictorian, but goals in general, you will want to give up. Your body is saying, “I’m so tired already…”, your mind will say, “You won’t get it anyway. Just give up.” This mindset of quitting just adds to the obstacles on achieving goals. There’s one thing that I learned in life: In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. I’ve noticed that, when I’m in a tight situation, I almost never notice, that there’s that open door, just there in the corner. I don’t really realize that I can do something. That I can still achieve. The only time that I have ever realized this is when I WANT to reach my goal. A friend once told me, “You never know how far you’ve gotten when you give up.” Second off, it isn’t just achieved with talent. It is in the mind, heart, and soul. Talent is useless without a strong mind and the passion to achieve. Your goals might be far when you look at it now, but the first step of trying is one step closer to your goal. There is no such thing as a small act, every act creates a ripple with no end.
Fear, it can be wisdom, or it can be an obstacle. I say, march through the years with courage driven by your passions. Each one of us here is born with the potential, the spark waiting to be ignited, to achieve. It will be a confusing and bumpy road, but trudge on, warrior. Every great hero starts with a small spark. Achievements do not have to be grandeur, but what matters, is that you’re fighting for something worth fighting for. No matter how small the difference, you are making way one step closer to success. Be queer, be quirky, be odd, don’t let anyone ruin your dreams. Remember that, even if it is hard to see in the midst of the chaos and confusion, the only thing stopping you is yourself. MY FELLOW GRADUATES, Go for it.
Still don’t feel like it?
Well let me tell you something.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to remain with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.’
Thank you, and have a wonderful morning!