“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As kids, I’m sure all of us encountered this question countless times. Little dreamers as we were back then, we answered in the most confident yet innocent ways we knew how.
Some of us dreamed of becoming doctors, pilots, or engineers; others wanted something out of this world, like becoming superheroes with the power to fight crime and protect the innocent. Regardless, we, as children, once dared to dream.
Allow me to begin by sharing a story from 17 years ago. On the 25th of March, 2006, I stood in front of a crowd to give my first graduation speech. At the time, I was a pre-schooler. There were no teleprompters, so I just memorized the speech written by my mom and rehearsed the delivery for weeks with my dad.
However, at the time, I must admit that I didn’t understand what I was saying at all. Looking back, maybe the message was just a little too deep for a 6-year-old to understand. But just recently, I found a copy of my speech from way back when. As I read it 17 years later, now a bit older and a bit wiser, I think I finally understand the message now, and I would like to read a passage from that same speech:
Since the beginning of the school year, I have been counting the days until graduation. As the countdown went on, the excitement grew. I began to ask, “Why am I so excited to graduate, am I [finished] with my ABCs and 123s, the vowels and consonants, addition and subtraction? Whatever the reason, I believe great challenges are ahead and we are now ready to hurdle the [next] level.
We have been working toward this moment since that first-ever day of school; some of us cried as we [left] our parents, while others eagerly rushed to our pastel-painted classrooms. Today, our parents will truly say, “How time flies.” Their “little babies” are now growing up, and I know they are proud of what we have accomplished today.
Indeed, time has passed. The little babies and the little dreamers have now grown up, and all roads have led to where we are today—De La Salle University. Each of us has a story to tell, and every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Mayroong simula, mayroong gitna, at mayroong dulo. Today, I would like to share my message beginning at the end.
Magsisimula tayo sa dulo. Many of us thought that this day would never come. At some point, in the middle of the pandemic, I’m sure that many of us accepted the fact that we might not be able to graduate in person or experience the so-called “road to PICC.”
But today, with a simple twist of fate, we have finally reached the end of the road in a new normal. We entered the Philippine International Convention Center as DLSU students one last time. Later, we will leave this place as Lasallian graduates, ready to face the world with passion and purpose. At the end of it all, we are here, sharing this very moment with our friends, educators, and loved ones, as one Lasallian community.
Pumunta naman tayo sa gitna. Every good story has its plot twists, and all of us here know that our batch experienced some of the most challenging ones in the middle of our student life.
For many of us here, we were the pioneering batch of the K-12 curriculum. Now, for my fellow students: Try to recall your first year in Senior High School. How did it go? How did you feel?
I began my Lasallian journey in 2016, as a student in the first batch of Senior High School students at the Manila campus. I vividly remember many firsts at DLSU; commuting to Manila, tapping my ID at the old South Gate, and, my personal favorite, studying at the library to watch the sunset by the Manila Bay. Of course, the learnings inside the classrooms were high-level, as expected of DLSU’s quality of education; expectations were high, projects were challenging, and subjects were aligned with my chosen strand.
MySenior High days gave me some semblance of clarity for my career path; however, I still couldn’t help but feel a lingering uncertainty.
They say that uncertainty is always associated with change; the educational system was facing a difficult yet necessary shift, armed with new subjects and standards to improve the quality of our education. However, people often call our batch the “guinea pigs”—test subjects of an experimental curriculum. Even worse, other people would say something along the lines of “Minalas ‘yung batch mo; sayang, graduate ka na sana ngayon.”
Despite all of this, we did not let misfortune define us—we studied, persevered, and upheld the responsibility of becoming standard-bearers for younger generations of Filipino students—an honor that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
To be continued.
James Marius N. Bolinao is an Applied Corporate Management graduate of the Department of Management and Organization, Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University – Manila. Chosen to speak on behalf of the graduating class, he delivered this speech during the 194th Commencement Exercises of De La Salle University on February 18, 2023. He can be reached at [email protected].
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.