Pres. Ma. Oliva Z. Domingo, (Dr. Jose V. Abueva), VP Virginia Carino, Faculty, Parents, and Kalay Students, Good morning.
Before I start, can I just ask everyone to please give our awardees another round of applause. They deserve it.
Afraid, Overwhelmed, and Very Hungry. These words describe how I feel right now, standing in front of you guys. When Ma’am Cindy told me that I was given the privilege of talking today, I was terrified. At first I thought she was joking. I told her, “Ma’am, huwag, baka bumagyo.” Never in my life was I given the opportunity to talk in front of a large crowd, especially at an occasion like this – before lunchtime.
I actually considered giving up on this speech. But the thought of Ma’am Cindy being disappointed in me was more terrifying than talking to the crowd. I took it as a challenge, and here I am. But we’ve all experienced this, right – the feeling of wanting to give up? Like when you forgot to bring your English 2 book to Ma’am de Guzman’s class and you think to yourself “Ayoko na pumasok, cut nalang ako. Mag-sosorry nalang ako next meeting.” Or when you catch yourself bingewatching a TV series late at night and your classmate suddenly messages you on Facebook “Uy musta na paper mo? Haha” and you answer with “Paper? Huh? WTFFFFF. Ayoko na. Haha” Or when you promised yourself you will never eat fastfood again but then Jollibee suddenly comes up with a cheaper combination of a Burger Steak rice meal and spaghetti, only for 99 pesos? I’m pretty sure everyone here has experienced this. I know I have, especially the Jolibee part.
And this is what I want to talk about today. No, not Jolibee. I want to talk to you guys about wanting to give up. But first let me clarify: I am in front of you guys right now not as someone who is wiser, and definitely not as a role model. Rather, I am starting this dialogue with everyone here as a friend, a classmate, a fellow Kalayaan student.
And, as a fellow Kalayaan student, the feeling of wanting to give is something most of us have experienced in school, and in life. I personally went through a lot of this. And in truth it got so bad that at one point I actually gave up on myself and thought that I did not have any chance in life.
To better explain this, let me share a little bit of my past. Back when I was still studying in my previous school, I would cut classes, and then lie to my teachers, just so they would not drop me out of the class. I am far from a model student.
My “honourable” dismissal was inevitable, and I was expecting it. I allowed it to happen. And as it happened, I never even thought about going to school again. Unsurprisingly, If it wasn’t for my mother I would not even try to find a new school.
In August 11, 2015, I went to this school at 9am to enrol, but I was informed that I was past the enrolment period. I had to choose: do I go home and face my mother’s wrath, or do I look for another school? I did the only sensible thing a composed, mature or perhaps, desperate person would do. I held both of my hands together, slightly slouched, and begged the Registrar to accept me. “Please”. To my surprise, they chuckled. They asked me “Ba’t kasi ngayon mo lang naisip mag-enrol?” My response was “Kasi ngayon lang po ako nahimasmasan na kailangan ko palang mag-aral.” My response seemed to be magical. Before I knew it I was attending classes on that same day. Ironically, the school I entered when I had given up on myself was the one that accepted me with open arms – problems and all.
To me, like a lot of people, Kalayaan was a chance to redeem myself. It was supposed to be my safe landing spot. I was supposed to go back to my old school, or any school that had “the brand”.
I thought that I would never have to study for a day in my life while I was in this school. But boy was I wrong. There were times when I was thinking “Mas madali pa yung dati kong course kaysa dito”. My friends and I would spend sleepless nights trying to finish papers, pushing each other while throwing in jokes like “Sana walang class para mamove yung deadline HAHA”. This was about the time I realized that something in me changed. I was actually trying – not only trying, but I was doing my best.
I was actually striving, and I was making the effort to push myself. It was something new to me, and at the same time something fascinating. I was starting to be motivated, challenging myself every chance I get.
The more I challenged myself, the more I became prone to failures. I still am afraid of failing. But what is important now is that I never thought about giving up on myself ever again. I will make mistakes but that does not mean I failed. I committed mistakes but now I have learned to conquer them by learning from them. The thought of self-pity disgusted me. Why should I put myself down after feeling such joy and accomplishment?
This is where I realized that Kalayaan was not my second chance. There was no second chance; there were no repeats for me. I could not rewrite my wrongdoings. There was only the chance to become better. This is not to say that I am a good student. I still cut classes sometimes, I still don’t pass papers on time sometimes, and I still fall asleep in class, occasionally. But change is a process, and it never ends. It only ends when we decide to give up on ourselves.
I want each and every single one of you here to know that everyone has the capability to become better. Some of us just choose not to. Even worse, some of us choose to leave it to fate instead acting on it ourselves. I know I did. Please, challenge yourselves; recognize the feeling of wanting to give up. If anything, acknowledge it, but never give in to it. Learn from it. My greatest takeaway from my experiences is that it does not matter how you fall down. What matters is how you pick yourself up. How, not If. Trying is just the beginning. Actually giving your best effort is where the real journey starts.
So, my fellow problem students, before I finish I will not be leaving you with a question, nor will I give you a challenge. Instead, I offer you this idea: the next time you feel like garbage, or when you feel like you are not good enough, just remember that someone begged to be in this school. That someone failed in life simply because they gave up on themselves. That that person created lies just to cover up their laziness. He disappointed everyone he loved. If he could pick himself back up and become better, so can you. You, who are more talented, more intelligent, more of a person that he will ever be, and possibly even more qualified to be giving this speech. So don’t just believe in yourself. Believe in what you can do, and learn from what you fail to do.