Valedictory Speech of Alyanna Ong (High School Class 2011)

 

Good afternoon.

I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad today, knowing that this is the last time we will all be together  as Southville students. Who could ever forget the failures and disappointments we encountered along the way, the loves lost and found, the classes and teachers worth remembering, the ridiculous adventures that brought wrinkles to our teachers, principal and discipline officers, the pranks we played on each other, the battles that seemed so important to win. It has been a terrific twelve years for me here and parting is such sweet sorrow.  But the world is  beckoning us, and as much as we would like to stay in the safety and comfort of our alma mater, we must now begin another journey in our life.  As we bid farewell, allow me to share some of my thoughts.

 

It is truly a great honor for me to stand here today to speak in behalf of my fellow graduates.  But it is a greater privilege representing the class of 2011 because unlike most of you, I was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth.  Many of you may not know it but my education in an international school is partly through the kindness and generosity of the Angelo King Foundation. Unlike most of you, I do not enjoy the amenities many would take for granted. Sometimes, I would ask myself, “Why am I here in the first place?”  And I would get a simple answer from my parents, EDUCATION.  That was enough to give me inspiration, hope, and the power of positive thinking.  It didn’t matter that I was not chauffered driven to school, it didn’t matter that I didn’t have the top of the line fancy gadgets my classmates would toy with,  it didn’t matter that I needed to secure  a temporary exam permit to take my exams, and most important of all, it didn’t matter to my friends.  Nothing is more fullfilling than the fact that I have defied all odds to become what I am today despite the situation. I may have intelligence, but I am driven more by my passion and this means so much more to me than all the awards I received today.  I am aware that these awards are momentary in significance, and what you are as a person is a better mark in life. My achievements represent all the hard work, sacrifices, perseverance, and determination that I have mustered in my young life  and they paid off handsomely for me.

 

Let me share a story with you to illustrate.  Sometime last year,  I was chosen to   represent the Philippines as a member of the RP Youth Basketball Team. It was not as easy as it sounded.  For most part of the summer, we were training everyday, even on weekends.  When school opened in June, we were at the peak of our training with FIBA and ASEAN YOUTH GAMES coming up.  We would train after class.  After school, I would rush off still in my school uniform to practice.  Practice means going to the Ultra, Xavier, or as far as Ateneo. I would come home before midnight, just like Cinderella, take a quick bath and do my homeworks before I go to bed.  On several occasions, I had to commute to and from the venues, eating my dinner along the way.  On one such occassion, it rained so hard I came home drenched.  That was when my mom (I didn’t have a wicked stepmother)  asked me to quit the team.  And that was the only time I stood up to my mom and said “Too bad you didn’t teach me how to quit.” I went on with the training and made history for myself when I knocked in a key triple against Singapore in overtime to give the Philippines a silver medal in the ASEAN Youth Games.  More than the 15 minutes of fame, it was the thought that I made a difference that I am truly proud of.  I want to be remembered someday as  someone who did not bow down to adversities, who did not conform to mediocrity.  This positive outlook in me  opened doors far more than I could ever imagine. I was offered scholarships by top universities and I am proud to announce  that I will be signing my first contract as I don the jersey of one of the top UAAP schools. Truly, all the hardships have paid off. All these wouldn’t have been possible if I quit that fateful rainy night.  I therefore urge my fellow graduates, don’t be afraid to take risks, don’t choose the easy route, rather, live life on the edge.  Larry Winget, wrote in one  his books, “Only the people who are on the edge are the ones who made history.” So true. The center is already too crowded with people who chose to live in mediocrity, who never take up the challenge to stretch their potentials to the max . You will never know your limits unless you push yourself. The essential thing in life is finding true satisfaction and satisfaction comes when you have explored the adventure called LIFE.  Do not worry about being number one, but worry about not giving your best.  Everyday is an opportunity to improve yourself. If you live by this virtue, the top ranking will take care of itself.

 

Allow me to thank a few people who have, in one way or another, inspired and helped me become an inspiration to others.

 

To my long suffering, income sacrificing parents, whose only luxury is sending me and my siblings to Southville,  thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I doubt if I would have been able to face the challenges if it were not for you. If the road to success is filled with parents pushing their children along, my parents would be at the finish line encouraging and waiting for me to cross it.  Today, I pay tribute to them for being my pillars of strength, for always believing in me when others did not, for indoctrinating me with the virtue that excellence is a habit and not a goal. All I can tell them today is, Dad, Mom, I need a raise in my allowance.  To all the dads and moms who have given me a ride, who have welcomed me into their homes, by choice or by force, who have allowed their children to be in my company,  and who have given me words of advice and encouragement, thank you.  You have enriched my life in more ways than one. To all the parents  present today, if you see more sense of self worth in your children today, you know it was worth every sacrifice to send your children to Southville.  Congratulations to you all.

 

To my mentors, my sincerest gratitude for helping me become the person I never thought I could be. We just don’t become competent individuals without a lot of different investments from a lot of people in the school community. The great teachers of this school have taught us how to be self-motivated active learners and  productive analytical thinkers. I would like to mention all my past teachers but I know everyone wants me to finish my speech as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, indulge me as I mention a few: Ms. Rea, Coach Jeff, Coach Dino, Coach Jenkins, and Coach Jerome, thank you for believing in my skills and talent and for giving me that little push everytime I seemed to give up; Sir AC, for those times he went with us on our out of town tournaments  and for  washing our jerseys at the end of the day  so  we could wear it the next day; Ms. Avic and Ms. Palo, thank you for the encouragement and the support (seeing Ms. Avic cheering for us wildly during one of our games was simply surreal);  Sir Mar, Sir Humps, Sir Tapuro, Sir Mel, Ms. Aumentado, Ms. Alducente, thank you for all those training sessions for our Math and Science competitions; Ms. Ababa, thank you for your patience in helping me finish my PASS (it was a challenge for both of us to finish my paper on time as I would always be away from school); Ms. Dawn and Sir Jeje, for making me realize that I am one special person.   Forgive me if I fail to mention some of you, but rest assured that each and everyone of you occupy a special place in my heart.

 

To my tormentors, thank you for inspiring me to work harder.  Let me share a secret with you… competition is such a great motivator.  Kidding aside, I salute you all for your achievements. It was a pleasure to be in the company of the creme de la creme.  If I could only call up onstage Claire, Scarlett, Abbey, Red, Armina  to share this moment with me, I would gladly do so.  I feel that I have no greater knowledge than what you have, but what I may have over you today perhaps is bragging rights which may last one or two hours, a little longer for my Tita, Grandparents and other relatives, and a  lifetime for my dad and mom.  All awardees deserved to be here with me, and yes, like me, you deserve an increase in your allowance, too. To my closest friends who have regarded me as a mild case of autism and a serious case of ADHD, Danica, Denise, Jia, Coleen, Leane, Claire, Scarlett,  thank you for the memories.  You made high school life a lot more bearable. For those who will graduate without the benefit of one of the many awards given out today, be assured that the absence of these graduation ornaments will not disqualify you from the real race of life. Success is not measured in awards… it is in knowing that you have gone out of your comfort zone, took the risks, and conquered and opened new paths.  Everytime you know you have defied the odds, you know you have been immensely rewarded.  And for this, you all deserve an increase in allowance, too. I hope our parents have not fallen asleep and heard me. To my varsity teammates, thank you for the times you endured my bossiness and my futile attempts at leadership. I hope you enjoyed our trainings and games as much as I did.

Lastly, I would like to give glory to my Almighty Creator for without His blessings and guidance, everything would not be possible. I will not miss the opportunities He has presented me. I pray that He would allow me to continue my journey and let me see the purpose of all these accolades and be able to magnify Him.

May  I leave you all with a quote:

 

Carry yourself in such a way that when people are sitting, you would be standing.
And when they are standing, you will stand out.
And when they stand out, you will be outstanding,
And when they dare to be outstanding, you will be their standard.

Fellow graduates, my congratulations to you all.