I am honored to be invited by my high school alma mater to give a speech during the recognition day. This speech may give inspiration to students, nostalgia to alumni & teachers, and a glimpse at our not-so-ordinary high school life for others.
To our beloved director Elsie Ferrer, members of the faculty & staff, to the parents and guests, to Pisay scholars most especially, to the graduates and honorees, good morning.
On this special day, we are gathered to celebrate your academic success and to recognize your efforts and excellence. This day is a culmination of the sleepless nights, the nerve-wracking exams, papers, research, papers, the projects and presentations, the activities, the contests and competitions. Today is essentially a day of acknowledging and savoring the fruits of your labor. Today, you are being recognized for being epitomes of true Pisay scholars.
With the theme “Pisay Scholars: Crossing the Thresholds, Towards Academic Excellence”, allow me first to share our endeavors as pioneers of the school – challenges we faced that you may or may not been able to experience.
10 years ago, with my parents’ conviction that this is a specialized school giving quality education for gifted young Filipinos, plus the stipend attraction, I unwillingly enrolled in this school.
With the first looks of it – a school without its own campus, a building with rooms masquerading as makeshift dormitories upstairs, with the classrooms directly downstairs, plus lots of unfamiliar faces – I did not like it. I knew it’s going to be tough.
At the early age of 13, we were not anymore living with our families. We had to be independent. We had to withstand homesickness and even physical sickness to survive. We had to adapt. I knew it was going to be a whole new world.
And so it was. In my first 2 years, Pisay was just a “school starting out”. At that time, it was just renting inside PSU but in my 3rd year, Pisay moved here to its own campus. It opened new opportunities but at the same time, new challenges.
Let me name few. Sometimes, during our CAT period, we had to do the weeding out and gardening. There were also lots of improvisations in the facilities, for example, the laboratory. But at least, we had live specimen around. It was no problem to find and bring fresh frogs to Bioclass. We had classrooms too, but not one with four walls. We had bamboos as frame walls instead, and tarpaulins as our roof. You can just imagine the scenario during storms: the roof was being blown away, yet we continued our lectures for as long as we could. We also had classes under the trees, with the occasional chameleon, iguana or fruits falling from them; we learned to enjoy the situation, except in the season of ‘higad’. During the latter part of my schooling, we had better classrooms – not yet the four-walled ones, but at least these were already made of concrete and wood. Another challenge was the inadequate water supply. We experienced taking a bath with just a half-filled pail of water; some even experienced taking a bath in the nearby stream. We also had experienced falling in line to a fire truck. We were even lucky if the water from the fire truck happens to be clean and not murky.
These were just some of the daily struggles we had to face aside from the pressures of performing well in every activity and doing well in academics. Add to this the normal teenage experiences of headaches and heartaches or heartbreaks, and of growing up.
But the barriers didn’t hinder us from performing well. We were able to maximize our potentials with what resources we had. It even helped us to be stronger, more versatile, more responsible and more mature. It helped, that along the way, we found friends who lifted us and helped us carry on, teachers who guided us and families who supported us. All these struggles and hardships, I can say paid off well. Through it, we found true bonds.
Looking back at all the challenges and experiences here in Pisay makes me smile. The regrets have all faded away. I am sure yours will do too someday. The struggles we’ve had here are incomparable. Bear in mind, however, that these experiences are extraordinary; the memories are worth remembering and the people are worth treasuring for life.
After all, Pisay is one the greatest blessings I thank God for. We belong in this institution where we do not only learn advance lectures but most specially values, and survival.
In case I am accused of glossing over them, let me now tell you of the pressure for good – that is most especially, academic excellence. As a batch, I remember, even if we were stressed with the endless activities and examinations, we have always strived for the best. We did not settle for anything less than we knew we could do. As an individual, I remember I was known for sleeping so early in the evening, but few people knew that I would wake up in the middle of the night so I could do my assignments and study for the exams. While everyone else was already sleeping, I found serenity and my concentration. I strived hard not because I was grade conscious but because I had a desire to learn and to do my responsibility as a scholar. In high school, I did not exert that much effort, that is, not until my parents gave me a deal if I got in the director’s list. When I entered 4th yr, I was 13th in the over-all ranking, if I remember it right. Then I surprised everyone, even myself, when I topped the batch in my senior year. I then leaped to rank 8 at the end of my high school years. It might have been late for high school but I set it in my mind that I will do better the next time. I promised myself I would graduate in college on time and with flying colors. And so I did. And luckily, the day before graduation, I had a job offer I’ve been wanting. My parents, however, were not convinced that I should accept it since I will still be taking the board exam. But I knew what I was going into and what I wanted. So I accepted the work, and then reviewed at the same time. Fortunately, I passed the exam Chemical Engineering Board exam with 1.4% difference from the top 10.
What I’m saying here is that it’s never too late and never a waste to exert effort. You should just have determination and never lose hope. When you know what to do, what you like, what you want to be – you won’t lose track.
In college, it’s sort of a big deal when you come from Pisay. In your first year, you will be able to take it easy since freshmen lectures are mostly reviews for us. Needless to say, Pisay Bicol had given us quality education. It’s such a pride to be a Pisay graduate. In return, Pisay should be proud of us too.
In getting a career, it is a fact that you have an advantage if you come from the top schools and if you have good grades, but aside from these, most companies look for well-rounded individuals. You should balance your grades with extracurricular activities, where you exemplify leadership skills or even just hobbies like dancing, sports, singing. You should do what you need to do without compromising the things you want to do.
The academic excellence and holistic development Pisay has instilled in us is a good foundation. We are the businessmen, the teachers, the doctors, the scientists, the engineers – the professionals of tomorrow. As a quote say “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan”, – yes we are qualified for this label, and so we should stand for it. Whatever you do will affect not only your future but also our future. You want success, then go for it, work hard for it and above all, put God first in everything you do and He will direct you to success.
Today is the culmination of your success, of your hard work and dedication in high school. I know there were times when all you could focus on were the negative aspects of school. But today ends it all. In spite of everything, you have still chosen to pursue and accomplish what had to be done. And so I congratulate you, especially to those who were exceptional. Finishing school is a fulfillment but finishing it well is an exemplary achievement.
With the help of your beloved parents, teachers and friends, you’ve made it to this day. For the graduates, this wonderful journey is coming to an end, as you will be leaving the portals of Pisay-Bicol. But the legacy shall continue and be passed. “Philippine Science High fit all thy sons with wings to lend us flight in the sowing of our gifts.” Where you go from here may be unseen but Pisay equipped you to be ready. You cannot direct the wind but you can adjust the sails. Never forget to look back in your past that mold who you are today and who you will be in the future. Look back and see that you have been built to fly, so go and soar high.
Class of 2010, congratulations. Always take with you the memories, the learning, the knowledge and the values, and the self-satisfaction of a job well done. To all the honorees, congratulations, as well. May you all continue to have the passion to excel, and always make use and be generous of the blessings God has poured upon you.
Before I end my talking, I want to see you, give your colleagues a pat and say, “job well done”, look at your teachers and say “thank you mam, sir”. And last but not the least, give your proud parents a kiss or a hug.
To God, to our parents, to our teachers and to ourselves, let’s give a round of applause.