Last Thursday, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for my daughter’s elementary graduation exercises. I know what you’re thinking. Ako?! Baket?!? Yes, me! Kagulat no? Well, you can read my speech below to further share into my own initial surprise at being invited. The experience was amazing yet nerve-wracking. I walked the thin line between making my daughter proud and embarrassing her in front of her entire grade. Awa ng Diyos, it looks like the former because Ging’s still speaking to me haha!
My baby all grown up and lady-like in her glamour grad pic.
My sister recorded my whole speech but stupid me got the camera’s SD card corrupted and therefore it had to be reformatted, so, boom, buh-bye video. Okay na rin, because I’ve never been telegenic/photogenic, plus I’m sure my voice sounded funny because I had severe allergies and my nose was all stuffed up.
Demure effect in a white frock, nude heels, messy up-do and some beautiful orchid corsage.
I got teary-eyed several times while delivering the speech, especially during the parts about how fast the kids are growing up and how afraid we naturally all are as parents. Fortunately, a lot of my audience probably attributed it to my allergies. But it filled my heart with relief and joy to know I connected to my audience (well, some of them anyway, mostly my family). I could see the school principal dabbing her eyes, some of the faculty members nodding at one point or another and finding out my sisters and mom shed a few tears of their own. What made me feel even better was a few parents approached me afterwards, thanking me for my piece and telling me it was beautiful.
Gosh I forgot to blot my face. Hello shiiiine!
Thank you! It was truly an honor that the voice of a young, regular, single mom like me resonated to you, no matter how small an impact it might have been. Thank God I was able to convey my message. It was only by His grace I was able to forge through my entire speech without snot running down my nose or something equally horrifying, especially since earlier during the day, I was sneezing and coughing like crazy that I had difficulty breathing and had to hook myself up to a nebulizer.
Just want to give a shout out as well to my daughter’s alma mater, South Hill School Inc., for taking such good care of my baby for the last five years. You rock! I would like to commend you for a short and simple yet very touching program, which highlighted the children’s journey and achievements, while also casting a spotlight on their amazing parents and families.I loved the thanksgiving video and the rose-giving thingie as well. Kudos!
Me and our youngest sister. Charot! Si Daddy, fumo-photobomb sa likod haha!
With my two lionesses, Leonina and Leonila. Super proud to be up on stage with you, my inspiration and my support.
TEAM GING REPREZENT YA’LL!!! I love you my family and Ging loves you too to bits. Missing Kuya Pao, Tita Babes, Aeden and Gab. Also the Atienzas, our extended family.
Because she’s everybody’s baby.
So for those bored enough to read through my piece, here it is.
To our beloved graduating students; to our esteemed board of trustees; to our dashing president, Mr. Augusto Legaspi; to our beautiful principal Mrs. Carmencita Nolasco; to the dedicated staff and faculty of South Hill School, to my fellow proud parents; to all the loving families and supporting friends gathered here, a great evening to you all.
First of all I would like to congratulate our young graduates. This day marks the achievement of the first step out of many that you will be taking towards your dream. Today, you have every right to be proud of how far you’ve gone – from the little kids afraid to let go of your mommies’ and daddies’ hands during your first day of nursery school, to becoming these fine young ladies and gentlemen about to takea bigger bite out of that pie we call “real life:” high school.
Second I would also like to congratulate – and if only I could, probably give a high five as well – to each and every parent here. I share your pleasures and pains in raising these children, making countless sacrifices along the way to guarantee we provide a better life for them by, among others, ensuring they get quality education. Let’s take a moment to bask in the glory of our children’s successes… and then gear up and get ready for more, because hey, this is only just the beginning yes?
Third, let me also congratulate the teachers. You are our partners in our children’s learning. Your commitment to guide and support our children have helped mold them into the fine young adults they are today. My congratulations as well to all families and friends, who through the years have provided an amazing community of love and support for our children.
Thank you very much for that beautiful introduction. Made me sound more important and established, yes? Maybe a lot of you are wondering what I’m doing up here. Probably you’re thinking, sino ba siya? Sikat ba siya? Honestly speaking, that’s my first though as well when I was invited to speak here. Bakit ako?
I remember joking with Ging that all I’ll ever say is, kids don’t be like me in high school. When you say “guest speaker” our initial thought is wow, big time! We think of presidents of some company, scientists, inventors, celebrities. Unfortunately I am none of the above. I am just your average single mother, going through the usual day to day joys and pains of raising a child, earning a living, riding a bus everyday for four to five hours to the city to work, and living on three cups of coffee every morning.
And then I realized aren’t most of us just like that – “a regular parent?” We may come from different backgrounds. We may have different educational attainment, careers, jobs. But at the heart of it all we’re all just parents, and whatever differences we may all have, I’m sure there are several things we all share at this very moment.
First I know we are all bursting with pride at the fact that our kids are now graduating from elementary. Most of us were probably hit with waves of nostalgia seeing them wearing their graduation caps and togas. Was it just a few short years ago they were wearing diapers instead, not even talking or walking yet? Now they’re in heels in neckties!
Second, I’m sure most of us have… Facebook! Am I right? And I’m sure our kids have told or even begged us to stop posting their baby pictures, those hashtag Throwback Thursdays. My daughter scolded me once when I posted a sleeping photo of her that I found adorable and she found horrifying. Yes, I’m that baduy mom.
Kidding aside, I am deeply honored and humbled to be speaking here in front of you. I like to think whatever life experience or lessons I share today represents you in one way or another. It’s quite comforting to know that I am in the presence of people who are also feeling what I’m feeling now: a mix of happiness, pride, wistfulness, and yes, fear.
Time is flying by so fast and our children are growing faster! I know we also share some kind of fear. Fear of them growing up. Fear of them entering a big, new world where they might not need us so much anymore. Fear of them becoming teenagers, falling in love, getting hurt. Fear that all the things we taught them when they were little would not be enough.
I think a lot of us close our eyes and remember our high school years – whether they involved big shoulder pads or teased hair or boybands and Spice Girls. We picture our little babies going through that whole phase of angst, hormones, bullies and relationships. Yep, scary.
So to help lessen these fears, kids, here are some truths about high school and yes, about life that I learned growing up. Maybe you can pick up a thing or two. Yes, experience is a great teacher, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a little review beforehand, would it?
High school is a popularity contest… which is why you should worry less about being popular and more about being respected.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be popular. I wanted to grow up agad. I wanted to be with the cool kids, be part of the cool barakada. And I was and I did. Maybe I was what you’d call the “queen bee” – cheerleader, student council, school play lead actress.
It was years later I realized I was mostly popular because I tried too hard to be liked by the wrong people and to fit in the wrong crowd. I made fun of other kids because I thought it would make me look better. I slacked at school work and cut classes and stuff because, wala lang, para cool. I thought breaking the rules was cool. Cool equals popular.
Kids, the thing about popularity is it’s easy to get, especially now with social media and all. It’s so easy to be popular for the wrong reasons. But if you get known only for shallow stuff, you can lose something more important: respect. Respect of your peers, respect of your teachers.
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Saying no to vices like smoking and stuff, saying no to peer pressure, it will make you unpopular. Yeah I was popular, but then I would see my name written in the walls of the girls’ CR: maarte si Jasmine, maporma si Jasmine, ganun. Popular, yes. Respected? Nah.
I learned that as a parent, as well as watching my older siblings raise their own kids. I learned that being a team leader handling a team of ten people. I make and will make decisions that will make me unpopular, but I know if it’s based on something right, it will be for their own good.
High school is about making new and more friends and expanding your network… just don’t forget the first people who were part of your life: your family.
I always say I’m a single mom but I was never an alone mom. Pag napupuri ako ng mga tao about what a good job I did raising Ging, I always say, hindi lang po ako yan. I had my daughter when I was 19. It was so hard. So dito na papasok yung tagline kong: kids, don’t be like me! I learned lessons I never thought I would learn that early, and I faced problems no teenager should worry about at that age.
The only upside? Ging may only have one parent present, but she has a houseful of loving family and relatives. My mom, my sisters, their husbands, my brother, cousins, aunts and uncles and friends I consider family, raised Ging too. I did not do this all single-handedly. I may not have the perfect family I dreamed of when I was younger, pero I realized I only have this family. They’re my rock and they keep me going.
I believe that’s one of the main things that keep us Filipinos going, is those strong family ties. At hindi lang kamapamilya, may mga kapuso, kapatid, kabaranggay pa! So kids, cherish and love your families. I know minsan mahirap, especially when you get into fights with your siblings over the TV or the laptop, or you get grounded by your parents or hindi kayo napayagan pumunta sa school party because of some family get-together. Trust me,when I was a kid, I wanted to be an only child; I couldn’t understand why I have to have siblings.
Pero when we got older, my sisters and brother and I missed the fact we only get to see each other sometimes. We realized that even when everybody’s gone, at the end of the day, your family will always be there. Friends are awesome, yes, and a valuable part of our life. Pero sabi nga, blood will always be thicker than water.
High school is about your first step into what real life is all about and everything it has to offer you… just remember to face everything with a positive outlook.
For me, everything starts with an attitude of gratitude. Magpasalamat sa mga bagay na meron ka imbes na iniisip ang mga bagay na nawala or wala ka pa. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more in life or working hard to achieve better things. Just don’t forget to be thankful for very blessing we receive or every trial that made us stronger. I think the moment we stop being grateful is the moment we stop being satisfied.
Children, be thankful to and for your parents. Thank God for even the smallest things – you have food whenever you want or need them, you have a cellphone kahit minsan walang load, you have new clothes kahit minsan baduy kasi si Mommy or Daddy ang pumili.
Be thankful even for those times you got hurt or felt everything was difficult. Trust me, if elementary life has given you heartaches and headaches dahil sa dami ng exams at assignments, wait until high school and college. Believe me, when you’re a teenager, every little problem seems like the end of the world, whether it’s your crush ignoring you, or not getting into varsity or failing a Math quiz. That’s why it’s important to keep a positive attitude so that whatever curve ball life throws at you from this day forward, you can face it. Nakakawala ng confidence at courage ang negativity, kids. So repeat after me: bawal ang nega. Tell your seatmate: bawal ang negastar!
Filipinos are like this right? No matter what problems, scandal or natural disaster we face, positive outlook pa rin. We smile through it, make jokes out of it, we always try to see what good will come out of something bad. Minsan, tayo na nga yung nasasalanta ng bagyo or apektado ng lindol, tayo pa yung unang nage-encourage ng ibang tao. I believe this is also because of our faith. We can be positive because we know there is a mighty God above us who will strengthen our weakened hearts and spirit.
High school is about following your dream… just not by stepping on other people and losing sight of your values.
Don’t let the all the pressure of high school change you or the values your parents taught you. Filipinos are inherently values-driven and God-fearing. Ano ba mga ang character na itinuro ni God satin? It’s to be good like His son Jesus. Whether it’s choosing not to cheat on an exam, doing your own paper instead of copy-pasting from the Internet, telling the truth to your parents whenever you go out or refusing peer pressure to smoke or drink or do drugs. Your surroundings will change. Your friends may change. Your body will definitely change. But don’t let society change who you are inside. Don’t let the world define you and how you should achieve your dream.
I remember one scene in Captain America:The First Avenger. Who here have watched it? Diba before he became Capatin America, Steve Rogers was really skinn and small, sickly and hikain. But he wanted to be a solider because he wanted to help his country, his people. So the night before siya gawing maskulado at malakas na super soldier, his mentor Dr.Erskine told him that the serum thye will inject him with, will not only make him physically better, it amplifies what is inside a person. Good becomes better, bad becomes worse. He told Steve, whatever happens, when the little guy becomes big, he should never forget what he is – and he said this pointing to Steve’s chest: a good man. And he didn’t. Steve Rogers’ dream was to become a soldier and he became such a fine one without ever losing his values.
But that’s basically how you survive high school – and life really. Nope, hindi naman maging superhero! Never lose sight of who you really are. Stick to your values. Stick to your families and loved ones. Have faith in God and His plan for you. Do the right thing. Have a heart that never gives up. Have a strong, resilient heart, one that isn’t afraid to get hurt or fail, but is confident in the knowledge that it can overcome, it can heal, it can fight, care and love again. Says one of my favorite Bible verses, Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Kung ano ang nilalaman ng puso mo, siya ring ipapakita mo sa mga gawa, kaisipan at pananalita mo.
Sabi nga ng theme natin, hindi natitinag ang pusong Pilipino. Let me just add on to that a little. Pag sinabing hindi natitinag, para sa akin, hindi nagagalaw, matatag, hindi sumusuko, hindi natatalo. Invincible, determined. And yes in many ways, the Filipino heart is such. But I also believe that the strength of our heart lies not only in its ability to be unshakeable, but in its ability to heal. I believe the heart is the strongest organ we have. Kasi kahit ilang beses siyang mabasag or masaktan,ang pusong Pilipino ay gagaling at lalaban ulit. And that’s the kind of heart you need to overcome whatever challenges life throws at you.
Again, my warmest congratulations to all the graduates and parents. Have a good night everyone!
Thank you for this South Hill and for entrusting me with such a vital role in your program. Plus I loved the gorgeous shawl you gave me as well!