By Danilo V. Rogayan Jr.
Delivered during the 12th Commencement Exercises of Castillejos Resettlement High School, Purok 1, Balaybay Resettlement, Castillejos, Zambales on March 22, 2013, 4:30 pm.
Theme: Building the Nation’s Future Leaders Through the K to 12 Basic Education Program
(K to 12 Basic Education Program Tungo sa
Paghuhubog ng mga Makabagong Lider ng Bansa)
Ms. Rumley A. Yap, the school principal, the highly-competent members of the faculty, most of them are my former mentors, the graduates of Batch 2013, parents, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen… good evening!
I am indeed very grateful and glad as I step to this podium, seeing each one of you especially the graduates wearing not only their best attire but also their bright smiles. I am also very delighted to see the parents, relatives and the teachers who are here today to witness the graduates reaping the fruits of their four-year struggles, toil and hard work. Ladies and gentlemen, it was never easy for these students to reach their goal in surpassing the secondary course. And for this, let us give the Graduating Batch of 2013 a round of applause. Thanks to all.
January 16 of this year when I received a text message from a former teacher inviting me to be the guest speaker of their graduation rites. At first, I was really laughing at myself and I responded, “Ako po talaga Ma’am?” And she replied back, “Oo kuya, hindi ako nagbibiro.” And without much thinking, I accepted the invite. How could I refuse Ma’am Marilou dela Cruz, a great mentor during my high school years and who has inspired me to follow my dreams. And so ladies and gentlemen, I am here today on this occasion of your 12th Commencement Exercises as your guest speaker. I hope I’ll be able to leave you something inspiring and worthy to remember.
Exactly five years today when I graduated from this school, my dear alma mater. It was still named Jesus F. Magsaysay High School Annex – I. Until now, I never figured out why there is “I” in the name of the school before. And I never dared to ask about it from anybody even from my teachers. I know they have answers to this nonsense curiosity of mine. But anyhow, that’s just one of my anecdotes about our alma mater which is now known as Castillejos Resettlement High School.
It’s really nice to be back. I accepted the invitation to be the commencement speaker of this year’s graduation rites not only because I need to but more than that, I accepted this remarkable opportunity to express my profound gratitude to my alma mater which molded me into who I am today. This is also my simple way of expressing my appreciation to all my former high school teachers who contributed a lot to my success and my way of giving back all the blessings I received for the past years of my prolific life.
My dear graduates, I am so proud of all of you for you have made it. Your graduation signifies that you are more than ready to face the challenges that await you in your journey ahead. I know that this day is very special for you because this moment will never ever happen again. That’s why I encourage you my dear graduates to try your best to capture everything that will happen tonight. You have to witness carefully all that will transpire and listen attentively to every sound that you will hear tonight.
I’d like to start my sharing with a short story.
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do not you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”
My dear graduates, the story tells us about the power within each one of us to make a difference, to make a change, in the lives of others and in making significant changes in the community where we belong. We are being reminded by the story that we are not alone; there are so many people that would help and guide us as we make our dreams and fulfill our visions.
Today, we are faced with a lot of struggles, societal upheavals are everywhere. In the words of Thomas Paine, these are the times that try men’s souls. Sometimes we feel very alone, we feel small and unable to make lasting changes just like in the situation we are in today. And we ended up by saying, “What can I do that will make a difference?” or “What can one small person like me can do?”
In reality, my dear graduates, we don’t have to be rich, talented or even particularly intelligent to make a difference in the life of others and in our community. We just need to be reminded that we are all here for a purpose. God has created each one of us to make something beneficial to this world. And making small changes in the world will eventually add up to something bigger in the life of another. When we become throwers of a starfish, we too, have the power to change our spheres of influence, to change our community, our country, our world and build this nation as future leaders.
The story also bespeaks our commencement theme, “Building the Nation’s Future Leaders through the K to 12 Basic Education Program.”
Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III said, “Naninindigan pa rin po tayo sa ipinangako nating pagbabago sa edukasyon: ang gawin itong sentral na estratehiya sa pamumuhunan sa pinakamahalaga nating yaman: ang mamamayang Pilipino. Sa K to 12, tiwala tayong mabibigyang-lakas si Juan dela Cruz upang mapaunlad—hindi lamang ang kanyang sarili at pamilya—kundi maging ang buong bansa.”
The president really exerts much effort in responding to the perceived needs of the education sector as his administration through the Department of Education has started implementing the K to 12 Basic Education reform. He believes that this program will make a substantial difference in the lives of every Filipino and eventually transform our nation into a progressive one. I hope that we share the same point of view to that of the president. We have to support this program which is believed to be the tool in building the nation’s future leaders.
Building the nation’s future leaders is like lifting a thousand elephants. It is very difficult, very complicated and needs a very long process. There are many reasons specifically the numerous changes that are happening now in our society. Changes not only in our climactic condition but also in the technology, human lifestyle and changes in the different sectors of the society like the industry, economy, politics and even in our education.
One of these innovations in the field of education is the standardization of the number of years in our basic education. From 10 years, it is now increased into 12 years through this K to 12 program. The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School). This program provides sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare the graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship. This also aims to make Filipino graduates holistically developed, globally-competitive and locally-grounded.
My dear graduates, even if you are not covered by the K to 12 program, you will also be affected of this in the very near future. The fruits of this investment will soon be felt by everyone as we aim for an accessible, universal and high quality education for all.
In a personal note, my four-year stay here in my alma mater was very rewarding. I and my classmates really enjoyed our dwelling in this institution.
I remembered walking every morning just to attend my classes. I was strolling with my bare feet from our house to the old site of the school near the elementary school at Purok 9. My morning walk every day inspired me more to do my best in my everyday classes. I remembered telling myself one day, “Dan, kung magloloko ka lang sa pag-aaral mo, huwag ka nang magpakapagod pa na maglakad ng napakalayo para makarating sa eskwelahan.” And that’s true, walking every day, going to school very far from your house, was never easy. Kaya sabi ko sa sarili ko, hinding-hindi ko sasayangin ang pagkakataong ito. I never squandered my time with nonsense stuffs but focused myself in my studies. If you really want something to achieve, you have to be sincere and determined in reaching that goal.
My life as a freshman was very exciting. In this time of my life, I was able to be a part of the The Viewpoint, the school’s student publication, as a news contributor. I would never forget that day when the school sent me for division training in campus journalism. I was the only delegate of this school with Ma’am Winnie Benavidez as my school paper adviser. Imagine, I was still first year then. That only proves that everything is possible if you just learn how to believe in yourself because fulfillment of one’s dream always starts from believing.
My classmates and I would always give our best in everything we do for we believe in the power of excellence. We were sophomores then when we received the award for the Best Cultural Exhibit during the Buwan ng Wika celebration wherein we transformed our classroom into a mini museum. Our entry in II-Sapphire class was likewise recognized as the Best Portfolio of Heroes beating the entries of other classes. Through these activities, I learned to love culture, history and arts which I believe are very significant elements that we have to nurture within ourselves. Because the only way for us to be successful is to know where we really came from. We should also never forget the innate values and virtues that define our identities. Kahit magbago man ang ating panahon, huwag nating kaliligtaan kung ano ang mga ugali at asal na meron tayong mga Filipino. And we have to imbibe these good values of our race.
Our junior year was likewise enjoyable. And I believe that this was the most prolific and colorful year for us. During this time, our class, the III – Ruby, was declared overall champion during the Education Week. We gave our best to clinch the championship titles in almost all competitions including the Speech Choir with our piece, “I am a Filipino” by Carlos P. Romulo. I won’t ever forget that event because this made our bonds stronger as a class. We learned to work as a team, to value one’s contributions and to take risks. This also challenged my leadership skills as I lead as the class president. And we were very grateful for the good outcome. If there is unity and harmony in a group, triumph and victory will never be impossible.
It was also during our junior year when we ourselves made a very big decision. To the information of everyone, ang batch po namin ang dahilan kung bakit nailipat ang site ng school from the old one to that site. Kami ang nanguna sa petisyon na ilipat ang site ng school dito sa old hospital building. Kasi kami talaga yung nakakaramdaman ng mga pagyanig ng lupa that time. Hindi namin alam kung kami nga lang o hindi lang talaga nagkukusa yung ibang year to report the case. And we won the petition, with the help of course of our teachers and the PTCA, the school was relocated here at Purok 1. That incident taught me to initiate worthwhile things for the common good. Kinakailangan na meron tayong pagkukusa. Sabi nga, kung hindi ngayon, kailan? Kung hindi rito, saan? Kung hindi tayo, sino? We are the nation’s future leaders and we have to develop in ourselves the virtue of initiative and the value of compassion to others.
I also remembered representing the school in the Regional Schools Press Conference during my third year. I placed third in the news writing category with Ma’am Eleanor Feliminiano as my teacher coach. What was unusual about it was I attended the RSPC alone in Nueva Ecija. I think we don’t have much budget before to accommodate my adviser. You know I was really afraid that time but it also challenged me to learn how to stand on my own. There were times that you feel alone but always remember that God is up there, He will never abandon you. You just have to talk to Him and everything will be fine.
Then came our senior year in high school. We were so occupied in accomplishing many tasks – academic reports, quizzes, exams, requirements and organizational responsibilities. We hurdled these together as we continue to vie for excellence. Our classroom, the IV-Amethyst room, was awarded the Best Classroom in three consecutive months. We also reaped major accolades in almost all the events throughout the year. You see, we were so highly motivated to give our best in all our endeavors. We dared to be different and we did it triumphantly! We hold on to our vision to be the best class ever in this school’s history. I do not know if we still hold the record as the best batch.
Always remember my dear graduates, perseverance and diligence are indispensable ingredients to be successful in life. You just have to know your motivations and ignite your burning desires. In this way, it is always possible that you can achieve your dreams and aspirations in life. And please take note, a successful man is not measured based on his intellectual capacity or achievements in life but by the greatness of his character. You have to always stay humble despite of the achievements you have attained in life. And that is my secret as an individual. That’s why I was named DANILO. You know what does my name mean? DANILO stands for Develop Attitude Not Intelligence Level Only. I always look at the attitude and the character, because that’s very essential. Good character will always define us as a person.
The leadership and management skills I have learned from this school helped me so much when I was elected as Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman of our barangay on October 2007. The staunch support of my fellow youth was really overwhelming that I really did my best together with my colleagues to serve our constituents to the best we can. We have spearheaded various projects and programs relevant to the needs of the youth. And we were thankful that we finished our term making a difference to the lives of our kapwa kabataan. You too, my dear graduates, can do the same. You just have to know yourselves well and discover what you can do for your fellows. Nabubuhay tayo hindi lamang para sa ating sarili kundi upang tumugon sa pananagutan natin sa ating kapwa.
I graduated with the highest honors in elementary and high school. I really did my best to finish my studies with flying colors. I did that because I have so much inspirations and motivations. And I’m very certain that good education is my passport to better life. Hindi ganoon kariwasa ang buhay ng aming pamilya. Many would always think that I came from a rich family. Kasi raw magaling akong mag-English. Sana nga ganoon ano? Pero hindi eh. Magsasaka at tricycle driver ang tatay ko. Halos dalawang taong gulang pa lamang ako nang mamatay ang aking ina dahil sa breast cancer. Napakabata ko pa noon. Pangalawa ako mula sa bunso sa limang magkakapatid. Life was never easy for us but I always thank God for His guidance and graces. That chapter in my life strengthened me so much that I was able to surmount all the obstacles of life. Pinatatag ako ng mga ganoong pagsubok. Trials are always there, learn how do deal with them positively.
My dad re-married and I got a step-mom who replaced my mom in taking care of me and my other siblings. Indeed, God would always make a way if you just keep your strong faith. Hindi ako bumitaw kay God sa kabila ng lahat ng mga nangyari sa akin. Because I believe that everything happens for a purpose. You just have to open your mind and understand every situation. Kayo, mahalin ninyo ang inyong mga magulang. Swerte kayo kasi nandyan sila palagi para gabayan at mahalin kayo. Learn how to love them back for we never know how long will they stay besides us. Alam ko na minsan nagpapasaway tayo sa kanila pero huwag nating kalilimutan ang lahat ng kanilang mga sinasabi at ipinapayo sa atin. Yes, minsan nakakarindi na ano? Pero yan ang role ng ating mga parents. They are just performing their role because they love and care for us. Let’s be thankful about it.
Recognizing the value of education, I pursued my tertiary education and took up Bachelor of Secondary Education – Major in Biological Sciences at RMTU San Marcelino. I finished my degree with the help of several scholarship grants and I graduated with an Academic Excellence award. I thank God, my parents, my relatives, my mentors and friends who inspired me to finish my higher education.
In my four-year academic journey in the university, I have experienced things that taught me great lessons.
I continued my passion in campus journalism where I’ve been part of the most controversial college student publication in Zambales, the Technoscribe. Because of this, I was given the chance to be invited as resource speaker and lecturer in basic campus journalism in some schools here in our province even if I’m still finishing my college degree. Campus journalism is my life. I was supposed to enroll myself in a journalism course but for some reasons, it did not materialize. But still, am thankful because until now I am able to practice my passion as a school paper adviser and as a Journalism teacher. Though I traveled a different road, I know I am able to achieve my goal.
My life as a leader also did not stop from being an SK Chairman. This school taught me to always be brave in accepting challenges. This maybe the greatest lesson I gained from joining the Supreme Student Government for four years here. I joined and pioneered several organizations in both the academe and in the community. My leadership journey was full of roadblocks but it didn’t hinder me from serving my fellows and my community. My life as a young leader was both painful and rewarding. But if you are happy and sincere with what you are doing, your sacrifices and efforts will be paid off in the right time.
And I am right in saying that, all my struggles as a young leader were paid off when I was recognized and awarded by several organizations in our country just recently. I was named as one of the Outstanding Ayala Young Leaders of the Philippines in February 2011, one of the Outstanding Youth Leader Awardee for Environment of the Philippines on August 2011, one of the Ten Outstanding Students of Central Luzon on April 2012 and one of the National Finalists of the Search for the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines at the Malacanang Palace last August 2012.
I owe all of these achievements of course to God, to my family, to my alma mater and to my mentors. I hope in the near future, my dear graduates, you would also find your trail and be successful in your chosen career path. You are the nation’s future leaders. It is in your generation that the succeeding leaders of the different sectors of our society will come from. Who never knows one of you here will be the next president of our country or next chief justice of the Supreme Court? No one can tell but yours. Continue to value your education and always keep your good values. That will be your ticket in the fulfillment of your dreams!
I am now enjoying my niche as a teacher. And I know, even if I am still young in this profession, I could say that I am already successful because I am able to touch my students’ lives and inspire them to love their passion, to do things in excellence and to be the best they can be. I always tell my first advisory class, the III – St. Placid, that they always have to aim higher for excellence and that they should never settle for mediocrity. Hindi pwede and pwede na. Hindi ayos ang basta-basta lang. And I’m very proud of them because I see in them that they are applying all what I’m telling them. I hope you would do the same. It’s not enough that you hear it; the more important thing is that you know how to apply and integrate it to your lives.
My dear graduates, I believe that you are well-equipped now of the necessary competencies and skills that you most need in battling the challenges entailed in your quest for higher education.
You have to be thankful to this school which prepared you well enough in your future undertakings. Castillejos Resettlement High School will always be proud of you and will wait for your comeback as successful men and women of our society.
Thank your parents and relatives for without their love, support and assistance, you will not be able to finish your schooling. Listen to them, avoid unnecessary things that might distract you in achieving your life goals. I hope you would resist all these temptations that we have now in our society. Illegal drugs, smoking, alcoholic drinking, premarital sex and early pregnancy. You are still very young to engage in such things. Be responsible and be mature enough! Your parents count on you!
Express also your gratitude to your intellectual and dedicated mentors for without their patience, hard work and encouragement, you will not be prepared to cope up with life’s challenges and will not be inspired to strive for the best in everything you do. Ang hirap kayang magturo, I know the hardship. Maswerte kayo for you have these selfless and great mentors. Be grateful to them.
Thank also your school principal for without her support and concern, you will not reach this event as graduates of today.
Above all, thank the Almighty God, for all His endless blessings for you. May you keep your strong connection to Him for He will always be on-line for you.
To end, I thank the administration, the faculty and staff of this educational institution, my dear alma mater, for inviting me on this very significant occasion. I would always remember this day! Thank you so much!
To the graduating batch of 2013, am so proud of you! Keep reaching your dreams and keep your feet on the ground! Congratulations and Godspeed!