To our commencement speaker, distinguished guests of honor, school administrators and program heads, our beloved principal and assistant principal, brilliant teachers, delighted parents, friends, and my fellow graduates, good afternoon!
A few days ago, I was informed that I would be the one to deliver a speech to represent hundreds of graduates in our cluster. Surprised and overwhelmed, I began to draft a manuscript soon after, but it was just last night when I gained confidence with what to say before these brave young souls who have just reached a milestone in their academic endeavors. Yes, it was just last night when I completely conquered my cluelessness and doubts.
Clueless and doubtful – that is exactly what many of us felt two years ago with the introduction of senior high program that drew mostly negative feedback from the public. As pioneering batch of senior high students, we were clueless about what strands to take, what schools to enroll at, what novel skills and experiences to gain, and many other what’s. At the same time, we were, together with our sponsoring parents, a little doubtful about the investment to make, for another two years would mean additional financial capital and profits seemed beyond assurance.
As I was polishing my manuscript however, I came to realize that life never ends with one challenge succeeded; rather, life offers all possible challenges that may test our strength, perseverance, and optimism. While most of you, my fellow graduates, are taking a little pause from your challenges right now, I stand here working on with my extra one.
Our greatest strength lies not on our fists, but in our hearts. We couldn’t be here if we have never been strong from the inside. Inner strength comes with our brave admissions of our weaknesses and imperfections. Soon we admit with honesty and humility, we become one with ourselves, in thoughts, in actions, and in words. Many fail to welcome opportunities or learn new things because they have been coward admitting and expressing their desires and needs.
Strength, however, is not enough for us to face all life’s challenges. We need also perseverance. We need to be steadfast. In our two years of accomplishing all academic workloads, we have demonstrated more than strength, because after every stumble and fall, we were able to rise again and continue with renewed determination. That is what we call perseverance. Amidst the nearly unrealistic deadlines for all projects, eLMS activities, and others, we could still comply with them to the best that we could. That is also perseverance.
True enough, our senior high school life has totally redefined ourselves. We have brought out the best in us, the best versions of ourselves, that we could only imagine in our dreams. Others have discovered their leadership potentials. Others have finally embraced their passion in writing, while others have started refining their public speaking skills. An important factor might be the fact that we have been given no restriction by our dear teachers to explore our innate abilities and potentials, while they stood behind us tapping our shoulders and whispering, Anak, kaya mo ‘yan. Soon they gained so much belief in our training and capacity and as the lyric of the song goes Hayaan mo sila, they would keep themselves a little far behind while giving us, the ‘okay’ and ‘good luck’ hand gestures.
In a world of skeptics and cynics, we need to develop a strong sense of optimism. Claiming our diploma has already given us a gate pass to a more promising future. We still have a long journey ahead, but with this piece of paper symbolizing our achievement, we are already offered several opportunities – college education, employment, and a startup of a business.
As we part ways, pursue our own dreams, and brave out all the challenges in life, may we all have the strength, perseverance, and optimism. As we take another step forward, may we not forget to express our sincerest gratitude to the people who have accompanied us throughout this journey.
To our beloved parents, thank you for your support, love, and guidance. We promise to give you back for all the sacrifices you have made upon raising us and ensuring that we are always good. Hang on, for our dreams are yours as well.
Sa aking mga magulang, sina Manuel at Susan Neri, maraming salamat sa lahat-lahat –sa mga ginawa at binigay n’yu po, sa suporta, at pang-unawa. Salamat po sa walang sawang pagsasabi ng ‘Nak, kaya mo ‘yan.’ Nakatayo po ako sa inyong pagod, puyat, at may sakit ng katawan, at oras na po para anihin ang inyo pong pinagpaguran. Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!
To our teachers, our principal, our assistant principal, and all the school staff, our heartfelt gratitude for all your efforts. We know that the transition in our educational system since the past two years has given you so much stress and difficulties. We congratulate you as well for the job just perfectly done. Especially to Ms. Sweet, Ms. Joan, Ms. Shangrila, Sir Franz, Sir Fabs, thank you for being our second parents and for all those pieces of advice.
To our section HOPS401, congratulations to all of us! Thank you for the memories and experiences that we have shared together for the last two years. Good luck on our challenging journeys ahead. To our beloved adviser, Mr. Denver F. Parel, thank you for all your patience and understanding upon guiding and bringing us through the right path and see our future. We will not be here without your lessons, pieces of advice, passion, and motivation, all that we keep in our minds and hearts.
To all other important people in my life – my friends, Sam, Chua, Abi, Ana, Leah, hart, Anthonette, Gian, Nea, Tadle and Kiel Novy, thank you for all your love, support, and being always there to cheer me up whenever I feel down. Wow! We’ve just accomplished all the requirements, and now, we are all here. Sabi nga nila friendship goals. Thank you for being part of my SHS life. At STI, I have found another family with you guys.
To our dear Alma Mater, STI, thank you for welcoming us all as your sons and daughters. We have experienced all the comfort and security of a second home. May the school continuously grow and harbor the next generation’s most successful professionals.
As a parting gift to all our graduates, let me read to you the words of Jim Carrey, “Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head and when the doors open in real life, just walk through it. Don’t worry if you miss your cue. There will always be another door opening. They keep opening.”
Keep strong, persevering, and optimistic. Congratulations!
This is the manuscript of the short valedictory address delivered by Cherry Mae B. Neri during her senior high school graduation in April 2018.