Isipin ang Kinabukasan

Speech before the Graduating Students of Occidental Mindoro National College (Mamburao Campus), Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro

I want to thank President Sofronio Sanqui for creating this very inspiring opportunity. I am very inspired to see you all today – the parents, the teachers, and the graduating students.

When parents combine with teachers, our children see things happen. When teachers, parents, and students combine, our children can make things happen. Not only for the teachers and the schools, not only for the parents their families, but also – and more importantly for the children themselves and their future.

What lies behind – during those four years of college studies – is very important. There is something more important, though. And that is what lies ahead. 

Isipin ang kinabukasan. The past is gone. The future is now. Isipin ang kinabukasan. For what does it profit you to gain the past only to lose the future?

If we are to liberate ourselves from a possible wretched future, the campaign must begin now. Graduation is always the commencement of better days. Today begins the first day of your future.

Your president’s invitation letter to me contains what every good teacher hopes to achieve. It is to see in their lifetime their students excelling in their respective fields of specialization. I can not agree more.

To all the honor students, today begins your appointment with celebrity. To all the graduates, it is the beginning of your engagement with destiny. As for me, I am very honored to be here with you. I am very happy for all of you.

You are graduating in the roughest of times. Do not be discouraged. Remember what your parents must have told you repeatedly: when times are rough, the tough get going. You are tough. Get going.

You are to get going not because of a poor peace-and-order situation but in spite of it. Look up and get going.

You are to get going not because of a failed governance and government but in spite of it. Look up and get going.

Today’s government has nothing more to offer except more problems it can never solve in the next 14 months. This government has succeeded in failing.

The occupant of Malacanang is biting the dust. She has finally reached what she has feared most – a negative 14% satisfactory rating. The fault is not in her stars. It is in her incapacity to govern and lead.

We need to come to terms with the reality and law of leadership. This says that people want to cooperate more when they see their leaders leading them by example.

Excellent leadership is second to none. This is what you must aspire for. Do not settle for anything less.

There is nothing more inspiring than to see our children graduate to a higher level. I felt this sense for the last two weeks when I addressed your fellow graduates in different state and national colleges throughout the country. The sense has become even stronger today – on this day of our graduation, here in the Mamburao campus of the Occidental Mindoro National College.

Isipin ang kinabukasan! “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”. But when you reach success in the evening of our lives, never forget to re-visit our past here in Mamburao. Share the fulfillment of your dreams with your old folks, with your teachers, with your friends and classmates who were not as lucky.

To the parents of the graduates we must also give our congratulations – not only for their hardships and sacrifices, but also for their unqualified support in pursuit of your education.

Ang pangalawa kong nais batiin ay ang mga guro sa Occidental Mindoro National College.

To all the teachers goes my perpetual admiration. Without teachers, there are no students. Without teachers, there can never be leaders and managers. For what we learn and see in school is what we see in the professions, in business, in religion, and in government.

What makes you different is your culture of excellence. My dear teachers, hold on to the fort. Keep the flames of faith alive, afresh and afire. Let your culture make this country a better place to live in – regardless of our religion, ideology and politics.

My dear graduates, this is the time – as no other time – to show our gratitude to your beloved parents and teachers. Let’s give them a roaring applause.

And now, my message to the graduates.

Commencement exercises like this one signal the beginning of real struggle in life. There is always a higher road to take. You must all take it without fear and with all faith.

Let me now leave you a few points to govern your life…

Now that you will become your own teacher, live a life of principles. Don’t ever commit the mistake of placing privilege above principle. If you do, you are bound to lose both sooner than you think.

Let me suggest to you a very simple principle to go by: What is right must be kept right. What is wrong must be set right.

Become a leader and a manager. You can lead only if you have the moral courage to do what is right. You can manage only if you have the professional courage to do the right things well.

You must decide to have both leadership and management skills. Leadership is the function of conscience that has residence in the heart. Management is a skill that can be learned and improved through experience. You can never be a manager without being a leader. You can never be a good leader if you do not know how to manage.

You must strive to be both, lest you don’t have a future.

If you decide to be a politician, don’t. But, if you want to be statesman or a public servant, by all means, go for it. Between the two is a whale of difference. While a politician places the nation at his own personal service, a statesman and a public servant places himself at the service of his nation.

We are today a nation of the unemployed. Every year unemployment rate increases by the hundreds of thousands.

Competition in the field gets tougher year in and year out, hence your quest for employment will not be an easy walk in the park. In fact, it never was and I never will be.

Do not get discouraged. Always bear in mind the biblical dictum: Ask and it shall be given. Seek and it shall be found. Knock and it shall be opened.

Don’t even dream that you are quitting. Look back at the sacrifices of your parents and be emboldened. Remember the words of your teachers and be enlightened.

Never mind if your first one hundred applications for work end up in the wastebasket. What really matters is the one that gives you employment. When you find one, treasure it. Give it your best. Victory is sweeter when you start low and really work hard for it.

I pray that all of you will find work – in spite of an economy that promotes lay-offs more than jobs. If work comes your way, roll up your sleeves as if everything depends on you.

You must learn to become the best at what you do. Your professional education does not stop with your diploma. It does not stop with your job. Continue being educated, be it formally or through experience.

If you become a teacher, be the best teacher you can be. If you become a police officer, be the best police officer you can be. If you become a self-employed person, be the best self-employed person you can be. The choice is all yours.

Do not be a jack of all trades. Select a trade, a job, and become an expert. People know when you can be relied upon. And knowledgeable people today only rely on – and part with their money for – experts.

Expertise takes time. Do not shortcut the process. Plan your work. And work your plan.

Learn early the absolute necessity of teamwork. Here are some points to guide you.

One, you must know the rules and values of the members and players of your team. Honor those rules, respect those values. Kaya, it is not enough to know only your foe, you must know even more your friend, his rules, his values.

Two, in a team, your question must be: What can I give and not what can I get? Ang sabi ni Kennedy: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. If you want to remain a very good team player, ask what you can do for your team.

Three, be on the lookout for potential team problems such as resistance, resentment, rejection, and repression. When you feel resisting anyone in the team, it is time to pause and pray and then communicate. Otherwise, this will degenerate into resentment, then to rejection, and finally to repression.

Four, never take for granted your relationships or camaraderie in the team. Refrain from low-level familiarity. Go for a high-level professional affinity. You can never be a pain to anybody this way.

Five, focus each day on making your camaraderie better. Look at the bright spots. When clouds gather, wait for them to break up. When they break up – as they always do – hope for the golden shafts of sunlight to burn through. That will always make your day.

Six, see and feel the best in everyone. The old wisdom here is this: In a full heart, there is room for everything. In an empty heart, there is room for nothing.

So you are in a team. So you have camaraderie. What then should inspire you to move together to greater heights? It is Vision.

Vision is very, very important. The Bible says, without vision, the people perish.

But vision without correct action is nothing but a lot of daydreaming. On the other hand, action without vision is only rocking the chair, going to and for, accomplishing nothing.

It is vision with correct action that will bring you together in your work, in your barangay, in your community, and in our nation. It also combines you with the larger team – the community.

I would like to summarize my speech in one sentence – “Isipin ang kinabukasan, subalit huwag kalimutan ang nakaraan.”

I think I have spoken enough. Again, I wish you all the best. God bless all of you – as well as your parents, teachers and friends.

Thank you very much.