Confucius said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
We find ourselves here tonight, about to finally end this chapter of our lives, a living proof that we overcame all hindrances in our way. It’s not the diploma that matters, but what it symbolizes – that we completed a seemingly unreachable climb. And we did it with all our hearts.
I remember the saying, “We cannot direct the winds, but we can adjust the sails.” In one of our days here in SEED Academy, we experienced preparing “parol” for the Lantern Making Contest held by SISC. We had a load of work in school and the office. We had the option to give up or prepare something easier to make and present. But instead of being easy-go-lucky, we tried hard to put the best ideas and great effort into it. We were able to create a beautiful “parol” that was chosen as the best among them all. My fellow graduates, this proves that what we can, and what we will be in the future depends on what we do today. We may depend on many other people like our immediate heads, our teachers, our parents and our friends. But at the end of the day, the one who will “adjust the sails” is us.
As we look back on our journey, I know that we’ll always be grateful for everything—for the experience to work, for the valuable lessons we learned, and for the relationships we formed because gratitude is the memory of the heart. How can any of us forget the tremors we got from our teachers for our research, defense, website, business plan, long-term exams and video presentations, the most entertaining performance of “Lugaw Boys”, the remarkable activities during our CGS, the loudest cheers for our volleyball and basketball players and the dawns we stayed in the offices to assist and help in preparation for PACUCOA? These memories are what define us as a batch, and I know that once we go our separate ways, we’ll always have these memories to hold on to.
As we go on, we should remember what Teddy Roosevelt once said: “Do what you can, with what you have and where you are.” It’s possible to get started today. We can’t start where we are not; we have to start where we are. Don’t wait for opportunity to present itself; live an on-purpose life. Too many people sleepwalk through life without purpose. Your circumstances must not define you. We are over the point of blaming others for our transgressions. Being here tonight proves that we do not have to be the product of circumstances in our lives. Rather, we can be the product of our aspirations. We do not look like what we’ve been through rather we look like what we want to be.
I’ve been on the same road as yours, maybe a little rougher, but we all travel on the road of financial constraints. Back in second grade, I never was an intelligent student. I could hardly speak English and worse, I can’t spell them out. I remember getting one (1) as my highest score in my spelling quizzes. My mother was out of town in those moments, working hard here in Manila and trying to find something best for her family. My father grew tired of sending me to school. I remember him saying “If it’s hard for you to send your child to school, it’s even harder when she’s not truly yours” to one of his colleagues. Yes, I was their adopted daughter. They are not rich. They, too, struggle with their life. But it’s breaking my heart hearing those words from a hardworking man. I couldn’t even bring him to stage to put a medal around my neck. I can’t make him proud. I can’t repay his hard work even with just a simple smile. My insecurities doomed me. Why can’t I be like them? No matter how hard I try, I can’t understand! I told myself it never was the end. Soon, I will be my father’s joy, and someday I would feel his acceptance. I should see him smile because of what I can do and what I am now. He may not be here; we still struggle in our daily living. But things are different now. I can see peace and joy in him. He even thanks me for being the first fruit of his pain. Finally, he can see me shine on my own. He wants me to move forward and do more not because he wanted to be happy and be repaid but because he wanted the best for me and did not want me to experience the way they have been. See, we are not what we’ve been through. We truly are what we wanted to be.
There’s an insight from an elementary class saying, “I’m not sure how clouds get formed, but the clouds know how to do it, and that’s the most important thing.” I, too, do not know how I will be what I am now but during those times I know what to do, and I know how to do it.
This gift, this ability to grow and go from strength to strength was patiently fostered and consciously inculcated by a significant number of people – people that we need to pay tribute to and thank.
My dedicated love to my family, my foster parents (Mama and Papa), and my siblings who gave me infinite love, support and care. Thank you for being consistent and patient in taking care of me. I love you all and wish that God bless you more than I.
To my fellow GLT scholars, especially my batchmates, who accompanied me in knowing where I am and what I can be. The friendship we formed will remain in me wherever our fate would take us to.
To my classmates, Android and IOs, for giving me the opportunity to be with you, to laugh and worry on things that we do. I admire your individual capabilities in making who we are tonight.
Our deepest appreciation to our teachers who always guide us and give us treasured life lessons that I know we will never forget.
Our precious recognition to our beloved president, Mr. Robert Norberte, who shows his unending support and love for SEED students. His help enlightened us and brought us a lot more opportunities to cherish together.
Our thanks to the SISC management who initiated SEED Academy, and gave us all this opportunity.
Finally, I think the ones I’d like to thank the most are my fellow graduates. It’s been an absolute honor and privilege to go on this journey with you. And when it comes to friends, you guys are truly the best I’ve ever had. I know that wherever our lives may lead us, we’ll never forget what it actually means to be a SEED student.
If one day we meet again, I hope and pray that we’ll flash each other a knowing smile—a smile of appreciation for everything that we’ve been through. I hope the memories will come flooding back, and I hope that we’ll think back to the two wonderful years we have spent together. But until that day comes, I can’t help but remember a prayer I learned from my mother, a prayer inspired by a particular passage from the Bible, and a prayer I’d like to share with all of you today. Until we meet again, I pray most of all that the Lord may keep us together, even when we are apart.