My Speech for the CEAS Dedication Ceremony

So I was invited by former teachers from the College of Education, Arts, and Sciences (CEAS) to deliver a speech as guest speaker for the dedication ceremony on April 14th. I guess I’m going to Batangas sooner than expected.

I haven’t written my speech yet but am reserving this space for it.

Update: Here it is!

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Good afternoon!

It is an honor to stand before you today and be part of a significant milestone in your adult life.

I am still uncertain why I was invited to speak before you today since I am neither a big-shot politician nor a famous celebrity as I have noticed the latest trend of guest speakers to be. Nonetheless, as I have made it a point in everything I do, I would make the best out of the situation by sharing the things I learned since I earned my degree five years ago.

The first question that comes to the mind to a fresh graduate is this: “What now?”. When you’ve spent your entire life knowing that you’ll be going to enroll for the next year school, life becomes automatic and predictable. The school year ends and you know you’re always going back. But what happens when formal education ends and real-life begins?

My “What now” was answered by a series of misfortunate events after college that helped me define who I am as a person.

Wide-eyed and optimistic about the world, I told myself that I just needed to get my first job and that would be the start of my success. I landed a job in Makati a mere few days after graduation and in excitement, went up to our place in Baguio to continue the post-graduation celebration. “This was it. This was the start of my career”, I told myself. I was wrong.

A little over two months after joining the company, I found myself being bullied because of office politics. Apparently, when you’re good at what you do, people get scared for their own promotions, especially when you’re being considered for the position they’ve wanted for so long.

People were literally making my life hard but I continued on. Come third month, I found myself locked in a cubicle late at night, sitting on one of the toilet bowls in the men’s comfort room, talking to a friend over the phone about how everything in Manila sucked badly.

All of a sudden, I hated everything about Manila – it was noisy, polluted, and criminal activity was high – far from the peace and quiet I know in Batangas. I just wanted to get out. I resigned just a few days after, packed my bags and came home.

I was unemployed for weeks when I decided to start the online consulting business for companies in the United States and all-over Europe. It was profitable and I thought I found myself a goldmine. I thought, this was “it”. This was my newfound career and I was starting to make long-term plans based on it.

But alas, it was only good for three years or so. The business climate in the US changed – the recession happened and people had to cut costs. Sadly, we were part of those business costs and there I was, again, with nothing but bills to pay.

Thankfully, I was doing my master’s degree at the time and opportunities opened up for me as soon as I finished it, especially De La Salle University and my current career.

– – –
The fastest way between two points is a straight line, they say. But success isn’t a straight line – it’s a neverending mix of twists and turns and ups and downs and that’s okay. Because it is the twists and turns lead us to places we could never have imagined being in in the first place.

Looking back, I learned seven important things that I would like you all to hear:

FIRST: Know what you want and go for it. Unless you know what you want and where you want to be, you will never get there. While I encourage you to spend the first two to three years after graduation to experiment, it would be most helpful to know what you really want to be early-on. Look for a career and NOT a job. Find you can imagine yourself doing for the rest of your life and I tell you, you will be happy.

SECOND: Know the value of Hardwork. Life does not owe you anything. If you want to achieve something, you have to work your way to get it. Think life’s unfair? It is. Deal with it. The faster you accept that truth, the faster you can get back on your feet.

THIRD: Advice is invaluable if it comes from the right people. Human behavior is complex and when people tell me that “It cannot be done”, I often wonder if that is a reflection of themselves. Take advice from no less than the people who have been there – the people at the top.

FOURTH: Enjoy the moment but never be complacent. The fruits you are reaping today are the same seeds you have planted yesterday. While I encourage you to go out and celebrate each success, never let it go to your head. Rather, create more avenues for success such that your future self will be proud.

FIFTH: Success is a matter of behavior. I think I have authority to speak on this matter as in the same way that I was awarded “cumlaude” (airquotes) for my MBA, I also got a 3.0 in my economics undergraduate class. Long story, don’t ask. My takeaway from that experience is that life and society are forgiving – if you don’t like who you are right now, you can always CHOOSE to become a better version of yourself.

SIXTH: Network but do not forget to make lifetime friends. Never miss an opportunity to go out into the world and network but always remember to make lifetime friends. Looking back, I would never have gotten anything I have right now without a friend or two patiently sitting next to me, at the Ayala Triangle, just being there while everything fell apart. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE SUPPORT FRIENDS CAN GIVE YOU.

And lastly, NEVER GIVE UP. I know how cliché this is but in the words of my professor, President Cory Aquino’s former Cabinet Secretary of Agrarian Reform to, Dr. Philip Juico, “If you want it so bad, you will find away to make it happen”. Find a way and make it happen or live your life constantly wondering, “What If”.

You will fail as I have. Failure is inevitable to every single person who has ever tried to do something new in his life. But failure is an event and not a person – it is that short period between trying and success. Failures mean more than successes because it failures force us to act and decide – and ultimately, force us to define who we are.

I would like to part with the immortal words of Eric Roth, “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

See you at the peak of the mountain of success. Congratulations batch 2015 and best of luck.

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