Friday, March 30, 2012

Valedictory Speech of Samuel Ong, 2012

Mrs. Pineda, Ms. Jao, Mr. Yu, Mrs. Alberto, members of the faculty, parents and guests, graduates, and fellow Uneans, a pleasant morning to all of you.

Before I start, I would like to give all the glory to God. I’ve been indescribably blessed with His grace, and I cannot but thank Him.

I stand before you today not because I am the best in this batch, but because this batch has brought out the best in me. I truly am very honored to have been chosen to deliver this speech, but I owe much to my batchmates. They certainly deserve a lot of credit.

On this momentous day, we, the graduates of Batch 2012, are about to write the last sentence of an unforgettable chapter in our lives. We put to a fitting end all these years of success and failure, of tears and joy, of laughter and heartbreak. We celebrate the glory of our victories after all our hard work, dedication, and perseverance. We reminisce both the wonderful memories that brought us happiness and the trying moments that taught us valuable lessons.

Indeed, we had a lot of fun. From field trips to cake fights, from crazy science experiments to comedic plays, from wildly energetic performances to frequent hang-outs, everything was simply amazing. Unfortunately, it all seemed to pass by like a blur.

Despite the good times, we also had our fair share of frustration and disappointment. We gave scintillating performances, but we also had cancelled ones. We delivered great plays, but we also bungled on other attempts. We tasted success, but we also tasted defeat.

Nevertheless, all these moments that we went through brought us even closer to one another. The excitement, the pain, the effervescence, and the perseverance all yielded the same result – our irreplaceable unity. All those triumphs and travails somehow knitted our hearts together with an unbreakable bond.

As we reflect upon everything that has transpired over our stay in Uno, we certainly have a lot to be grateful for. First and foremost, we should thank God, the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God. He is the divine Architect who destined us to come together. He has ceaselessly showered us with undeserved blessings through His unfailing love.

Let us thank our dear parents for their unconditional love, support, and endless encouragement. They have been the immovable pillars of strength in our lives. Without them, we would not be who we are today.

Let us thank our teachers for being our “second parents.” Instead of giving us fish, they have taught us how to fish. They have cultivated the seeds that were planted by our parents. As such, we are now reaping the benefits of their labor.

To express our gratitude to God, to our parents, and to our teachers, let us give them a big round of applause.

For us, Uno has been both a second home and a miniature model of the real world. It has armed us with the essential weapons in order to attain excellence. It has been an arena for us to hone our God-given talents, to develop our natural abilities, and to enhance our newfound skills. For this, let us thank the entire Unean family. And to not let the countless efforts of many nameless heroes go down the drain, we should not just remember the lessons we have learned. We have to put these to good use, as the application of knowledge translates to success.

We started with little steps toward achieving our dream, and here we are staring at its fulfillment. Nonetheless, as we end our journey in Uno, we commence on yet another one, one that leads farther down the road in life. We dared to dream big; now, I challenge each and every one of you, including myself, to dream even bigger. I earnestly hope that as we look back and savor our past successes, these become fuel for the fire, stoking that burning desire within us that never dies out, the desire to succeed and to excel. We shouldn’t just rest on our laurels; instead, we should always aim to raise the bar.

The diplomas we are about to receive today aren’t just passports that will formalize our long-awaited entry into college. They should, instead, serve as constant reminders of what lies within us, of what we have achieved and what we are capable of achieving.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” In accordance with this, let us keep in mind that we should never be afraid to commit mistakes because it is only when we stumble and lose our footing that we learn to make better choices. Making the wrong decision is infinitely better than not making any decision at all. Errant decisions aren’t roadblocks that hinder us from moving forward. Instead, they are the road signs that remind us of our mortality, that our life is not in our hands, and that we should make the best out of it. Moments of regret may come, but these should only spur us on to make better decisions. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Moreover, as we go on our individual roads to success, we should not only seek our own benefit, but also that of others. We should be the selfless individuals our school has trained us to be. In traversing the paths we have chosen for ourselves, we should become catalysts for change, making a difference in the lives of others and contributing to the betterment of society and humanity as a whole. By becoming men and women for others, we not only help the people around us, but also ourselves, because giving is its own reward. The giving of ourselves for others is how life is lived to the fullest.

To close my speech, allow me to say that Uno High School has done its part in positioning each and every one of us on the launching pad. All we have to do is take off and propel ourselves to success, becoming not only the hope of the world, but also the very fulfillment of this hope.

Thank you very much and may God bless us all!

Monday, March 26, 2012

School Director's Speech for the 52nd Commencement Exercises

March 24, 2012

Honored Guests, Teachers, Parents, Students, Friends, and Graduates:

Good morning to all of you! Welcome to our fifty-second commencement exercises. Today we pay tribute to our seniors by acknowledging all the hard work that they have done for the school. Because they do everything with heart, these seniors are natural standouts. They have brought us much honor by winning various academic competitions, particularly in math and economics. They have displayed confident and effective leadership by assuming key roles in the student council, the newsletter, all our sports teams, and our new PULSE program. They were instrumental to the success of all the special events held in school. But perhaps even more impressive than the brilliance they have displayed during these special occasions is the inspiration they elicit every day from the way they have shown love, respect, and care for their teachers, the school staff, and fellow Uneans. Thank you, Batch 2012, for living up to the idea of what seniors should be, for showing to everyone that Uneans value not only accomplishments but also relationships.

For all that you are, seniors, we will try to give you the best sendoff that we can. But before you go, let me leave you with a few words of counsel. Adlai Stevenson, a great American orator and statesman, once told college graduates the same thing I want to tell you now, and that is “When you leave here, don’t forget why you came.” To simply think of today as the day you leave Uno defeats the very idea of graduation. You must rather think of today as the culmination of the Unean education you have worked so hard to attain. You are obligated not only to remember the essence of this education but more importantly to live it out every day. On your shoulders lies the fulfillment of the Unean ideals. Therefore, you must at all cost continue to pursue excellence in every aspect of your life, in your studies, in your future careers, and most importantly, in the development of your character.

Much has been said about excellence, that it is an attitude and a habit. More than these, excellence is going the extra mile and striving for what is noble. A runner sometimes wins a race by a fraction of a second. The person who goes beyond what is merely asked of him will always do better that one who simply fulfills his responsibility. Be proactive planners and visionaries who dream big and work to benefit the community instead of reactive followers and crammers who churn in mediocre work simply to meet deadlines. The notion that Uneans are crammers who do well is a myth that should be dispelled. A passing mark received on account of a fluke or the teacher’s mercy is nothing much to be proud of. Take pride instead of accomplishments that are the results of hard work and are true reflections of excellence. Lastly, do not measure success just by the high grades or titles you achieve or by the amount of money that you make. Measure success instead by the number of lives that you affect positively. Let the Unean values of love and charity be your constant guide in whatever road you choose to take.

Now go in the direction of your dreams and be the great men and women you are meant to be!