Posted by: Jimely Flores | March 18, 2013

A commencement exercise speech

Due to conflict of schedule, speaking in the commencement exercise of a High School in La Union did not come true. However, being a good soldier, I still crunched a speech up and ready just in case I need to do it on a crammed schedule.

Below is my supposedly speech.

To our dear teachers, parents, graduates, students, ladies and gentlemen, Good Day!

I first learned that I am being considered to speak in this event through a Facebook message of Ma’am Delilah Ngayaan. It reminded of Ma’am Elva Fe Bang-as’s first request. That was I think year 1999. Then, I respectfully decline the invitation of Ma’am Elva. My reasons were: I really think (being a principled person) I don’t have much of value to share to the graduating class having had not much experience yet; plus the fact that I have no ‘working leave’ privilege (as a contractual researcher of the University of the Philippines), cramming on my Thesis draft in Graduate School and just recovering from a two-weeks severe flu. I guess I disappointed Ma’am Elva so much. So I would like to say Sorry to her in public through this occasion also but if I have to do it again, I could say my answer would have been the same.

I am not going to prolong your agony of waiting; I am sure you are looking forward for the prepared celebrations in your individual homes and community, so let me start my ending with the one powerful quotation from Colin Powell (form US Secretary of State) – It’s what you do with life that determines what you end up in life.

How’s that?

I am going to explain by relating to you a classic story about a farmer and a preacher.

A preacher is doing his daily chores of visiting his members when he passed by a beautiful farm. The house is simple but elegant in its structure. It is surrounded by different kind of fruit trees, rows of healthy and diverse kinds of vegetables, herbs and even ornamental plants. It was so perfectly idyllic like what you see in paintings; that the preacher stops to meditate on the richness and beauty of the place. The preacher’s rumination was cut-off by a friendly but respectful hello from the farmer owner. The farmer said, is there something I could do for you Sir? The preacher smiled and extended his hand while sincerely praising the farmer’s property and good works. Proudly, the farmer smiled and humbly accepted the lavish praises of the preacher. It wasn’t like this when we first bought the property, but with work and faith we were able to turn this barren space into the golden land it is now, the farmer answered.

Each one of us are farmers, our lives are our plot of lands. We were born with nothing but opportunities. What we do with it, is what we reap.

 At this age, you kids have been given a great opportunity that we did not enjoy when we were your age – the opportunity of a flat world. What do I mean with a flat world? I do not mean the earth’s configuration has changed from the geographically accepted fact that it is an oblate spheroid. I mean that great changes have happened which changed a lot of rules we once thought was impossible. Among the 10 world flatteners identified by Thomas Friedman, the relatively cheap cost of internet use is the most relevant for you and this occasion. In my time, lack of financial resources was a significant limiting factor into getting a degree or specialization. This is not true anymore. With only 20pesos, you could go to the internet café and learn a lot of things, for an hour.  Is this realistic? Yes, in fact I am now taking two courses in Philosophy and Business Strategy in the University of Virginia and attending classes through the internet. It also has changed working opportunities. This is mostly exemplified by out-sourcing jobs like call centers, medical transcriptions, etc. And even how professionals like me operate. I am employed by an organization that has its employee worldwide while maintaining our office in Hawaii and Jakarta, Indonesia. How do we operate and meet? – through the internet.

So what does this mean to you, dear graduates?  Your life chances and opportunities are overflowing; the challenge is for you to take full advantage of it. The successful people in the ‘flat world’ are those who can adapt and learn quickly. Otherwise, it also has great drawbacks – you could end up becoming the laborer of the universe, which is unfortunately the Philippines is going into.

This era also poses a great challenge to our teacher here and the parents. The supposedly knowledge advantage you have over these kids is already incorrect, a shift in paradigm is really necessary for you to do your roles as educators and parents, effectively.  Your roles have shifted from imparting knowledge to imparting wisdom and honest care to the wellbeing of the students and children. The challenge is how to be open to these new realities.

We are now living in an extremely competitive era that the greater our curiosity and passion for learning, the greater are the achievements we would attain.

To continue what Colin Powell said: No matter where you start (in life), you have the opportunities (to succeed) so long as you believe in yourself, in your society and country; and that you believe that you can self-improve as you go along.

Thank you.


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