In 2004 when I was a public servant in the Philippines, I got invited to be a commencement speaker in a Moving-On Ceremony of a Kindergarten class. This means that my audience would be some five and six-year old kids, who are definitely less excited to hear what a young lad has to say than the parents who might have thought that another traditional politician is blowing smoke up their behind for a possible re-election.
It has been 18 years since; and as of this writing, I am assuming that the same kids who could never remember a thing about what I have spoken of that day are now young adults – maybe, finishing another milestone in their young lives, university degree, community college or vocational school.
Today, I want to talk to them again in a more grown tone of reality with the hope that this time, they will listen eagerly.
Dear graduates, it is 2022. Eighteen years from the first time I have spoken to you as jolly kindergarten kids.
Back then, life is unfair and still is today. Nothing has changed other than the fact that you have grown old and people expect you to fulfill certain roles.
Do whatever you can. People say, “push your limits!”, but I’d dare say not. The cruel reality is that you are only as good as your boundaries. Most of those who attempted to bite more than they could chew ended up choking, and losing sight on their way down the drain. The rocks at the bottom are sharp and could tear you into pieces.
Daydreams are ambiguous and deceiving.
People say, “formal education is the key!”, which I strongly disagree. Skill is as important as a theoretical degree.
Times have changed where the used-to-be-white collar job depicts the victory of the “apparent” survivors among the fittest, while all other jobs are second-rate and could never get you anywhere. Skill is a must. Trade is a needed.
The world today needs more skilled workers, trades people, workforce who would not hesitate to get their hands dirty for clean money. Support the blue collar revolution. If you choose to stay in school and advance your education, I hope that it is not at the expense of your folks but from your hard-earned compensation in doing what you have gone to school for. It is time to put your basic survival skills to the test.
Give back to your folks – embrace them tight, and tell them how grateful you are. Show them they are loved. Do not drain their resources just so you could go on and finish your advanced degrees. If you do this, you are crucifying them. Torment is the last thing they deserve. The hard and painful reality is that, no matter how long you would stay within the confines of the academe mastering your craft; at the end of the day, it is not what you know but whom you know. That’s the pill that's hard to swallow.
None of you is special, and nobody would ever be. Life is an unending tunnel of both mystical and disastrous journey to the end. Dani Devito once said, "The choices you make dictate the life you live".
You were born naked like everybody else and you will end up as dusts hovering in the wind to nowhere. This is humanity's great equalizer.
Parents, stop feeding your children fallacies of the past. Your failure to provide for further education is not a defeat if you are honest.
Honest, that you could no longer afford to send your kids to school. That you have exhausted all your energy and resources, and that it is time for them to be on their own.
Honest, that you could no longer work more jobs to augment your financial needs and make the ends meet.
Honest, that as a parent, you have given your all and that you are confronted by the dead end of the road.
Do not push yourselves into the brink of oblivion trying to provide for your young adults.
They have grown fair amounts of feathers and have glided a good distance from your nest.
Be pleased. Whatever path they choose to take, be proud as the power to decide for themselves is the best gift you have given them. You can only do so much at this point, and that’s the verisimilitude.
Your nest is slowly becoming empty and frail and so they, themselves will build their own cradle – stronger and firmer.
Enjoy the life that is left of you. You have drudged your age to still worry about the hard reality that we are all nomads, and our tendencies are very evident.
We move from one place to another regardless of the distance, notwithstanding the journey. Expect your younglings to do so.
Emotional investment does not give you good dividends, but the values that you have taught your children will be accorded with unconditional returns.
Again; to you graduates, you are free! The chains that kept both your feet stuck together have been cut and broken loose. The sky is the limit, regardless of however you want to achieve it. Your days as young guns is rapidly coming to pass.
Enjoy every minute of the present. Do whatever makes you alive. Your future is not in your hands as most people would think. You can not take everything in control.
and at times, dodge!
How people would remember you when you have met your kingdom come is how you have made them feel while you walk the Earth.
So today; as I speak the second time, let me dare you not to make a difference but challenge you to prove me wrong. And in doing so, examine your fundamental values by going back to basics.