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36th Commencement Exercises of Creative Middle School Las Piñas

Del Rosario Pavilion, Earl Carrol Philam Life Village, Las Piñas

A pleasant afternoon to everyone. Foremost, I would like to thank Mrs. Rosario Mangahas for inviting me to be the speaker for this year’s Commencement Exercises of the Creative Middle School, my first Alma Mater.


It is my honor to be with you today, graduates and students who are moving up to the next school level. I am certain that this milestone is something that you have been looking forward to—reaping the hard work that you planted, which was nurtured by your diligence and perseverance, your teachers’ guidance, and your parents and guardians’ love and support. Congratulations to all of you!


Of course, being in a community that allows you to flourish and develop your skills and talents, and brings out the best in you is equally important. Congratulations to the Creative Middle School for being that community to these students.


During my time, it was still called Creative Playskool. It initially catered to pre-schoolers only, then opened its doors to 1st and 2nd grade students. Eventually, it expanded to cater to all levels of grade school. Now, it has grown into an institution that provides quality education up to senior high school students and even has a campus in Southwoods City, Laguna. Truly an inspiring story of growing with the community. Congratulations, Ma’am Rose!


I attended school here from pre-school to Grade 2. According to Ma’am Rose, I was a fast learner, cheerful, active, and with evident leadership skills. I think that is very important for a school to know their students and see their potential so that these can be nourished and serve as guide for students as they journey towards their future careers. 


Also very crucial is the support that students have from their parents or guardians. When my sister and I were much younger, our mom would remind us we could be anything we wanted to be. There was nothing that was beyond our reach.


During our toddler days, we were made to wear a petticoat almost every day, even for Jolly Spaghetti. My mom would also comb our hair 100 strokes a night. But when we were mature enough to decide, she allowed us to choose our own identity and style. It didn’t matter if people perceived it as a bit odd or eccentric or aggressive. Identity was an important aspect of growing up and she respected it.


Parents may differ in their ways of bringing up their children, but they always want the best for their kids. All of you graduating or moving up today is proof of that. So please give your parents and guardians a round of applause to show your appreciation for them.


Now, as you move on to the next level, as you think about the future ahead and ask yourselves what do you really want to pursue, always remember to think of what makes you happy—do you feel accomplished when you finish reading a book or memorizing a poem? Does solving a math problem make you want to solve more? Do you feel happy when you’re able to help a classmate understand a lesson? Are you more inspired when you finish a drawing or write a poem? Are you excited when you have sports activities? Does singing, playing the guitar, or dancing give joy to you heart? We have different intelligences that we have to discover and embrace.


Find your strength, improve on it and use it as an anchor that will help you accomplish other things. And always remember to give it your best.


I always say there is no substitute to hard work. There is no such thing as a small job. Give it your best shot — or don’t do it at all. Ultimately, we are an aggregate of our work, decisions, and values. Pay attention to the minute details— it’s the small pieces that make the big picture.


The Creative Middle School started as a learning ground for preschoolers inside a home—it now has two campuses and caters to students from preschool to high school.


I started as a reporter/multimedia producer who would chase the news, then became a staffer of public officials. Now I have become the source of information as spokesperson for government and I am now a public official myself.


We all start small. In fact, we should start small so that we appreciate all the tiny details, and get to savor our little victories. But always dream big, because that will be your ultimate goal. If you want to change the world, you can if you set that goal for yourself and gradually work your way through it.


Don’t be afraid of challenges. Many times, difficulties bring us to where we are supposed to be. I was with the United Nations when I decided to pursue law. I was enrolled in UP Law School which was in Quezon City, and the UN office was in Makati, plus, we usually had out-of-town missions. I was then struggling to balance a very fulfilling job and studying. I can still remember the times when I had to sleep at airport terminals to catch a flight to Cebu or Tacloban after my 9:00 pm class. Or I would read my cases in moving cars and at airport terminals hoping to finish the coverage for my 6:00 pm class.


Admittedly, there were many days I fell short. Many times, I wanted to quit. But I couldn’t give up my job without putting up a fight. Then a window of opportunity opened—it was a chance to work in Congress, which is just a few minutes away from UP. I seized that opportunity to work for then Las Pinas Representative Mark Villar. I joined his team as well when he was appointed Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways, one of the lead agencies for the Build Build Build. 


What started as a decision primarily based on instinct, turned out to be one of the most fulfilling jobs I ever had. The difficulty that I experienced, paved the way for my journey to public service; it led me to where I am today—a public servant whose mission is to connect peoples, islands, and communities, whether through public infrastructure or digital transformation.

Another important thing I learned through experience is to live everyday as if it were your last. 


In 2012, a few months before my graduation in college, I decided to visit the indigenous people of Tagbanua in Sitio Calauit in Palawan. On our way there, our boat capsized. For almost an hour, we clung to a bamboo pole in the middle of the sea to survive. At first, we tried to save everything we could. We clung to our bags but when we realized we were too heavy for the ‘katig’ to keep afloat, we untied them and let them loose.


What I learned that evening changed me. I was always told that youth was never a guarantee of opportunity or time, that chances were in fact illusory. But it was never real until that moment of danger. In that instant, nothing was ever too fast, too drastic, or too risky. True enough — in those difficult minutes — I only thought of three things: the people I loved, the things I’d always wanted to do, and the words I never said.


So if you want to do something, never wait another second, do it as soon as you can, while you still can. 


Finally, I challenge all of you to always keep your promises. If you promised your parents that you will study hard, do so. If you promised a friend that you will spend time with them, keep your word. But also, and probably the hardest, fulfill your promise to yourself. 


Michael Kibler, CEO of Corporate Balance Concepts, a global executive coaching and development firm, said that “Successful leaders keep their promises.” And he said that delivering our commitment to others is equally important as keeping promises to ourselves.


I have a promise to my late father, that is to finish law school. It was actually one of my last conversations with him before he passed on. In 2020, I was able to partially fulfill that promise by graduating from UP Law School. Now, I am on my way to fully honoring my commitment by taking this year’s Bar exam. Along with that, I have been striving to keep a promise to myself, which is to continuously improve and seize every opportunity that will make me a better leader, a better citizen, a better person. 


To our dear graduates, today, you reap what you have sowed. Savor it, cherish the feeling of success, and use it as your inspiration to go further, dream bigger, become better.


Again, congratulations to all of you! Thank you and good afternoon.



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