2011 Graduates

March 31st, 2011

Every year, the month of March (aside from being women’s month) is also graduation month. It is celebrated by grade school, high school, college and post-graduate students.

Two of my daughters, both from Assumption, are graduating –Monica from grade school and Catherine from high school. They have been above-average students. We are proud parents. They seem to be doing better compared to my student days in La Salle.

While there are lucky ones who are able to study, there are many who just make it to high school and not able to go to college. Reports show that out of 83% who get to enrol at primary level, only 60% can get through high school and only 40% will be able to continue to college levels. This is one of the biggest challenges of our country –the problem on education. We need to invest in the development of minds and ability of our children. We need to ensure that they have quality education, which will eventually bring about a stronger Philippines in the future. What will make our country great is the improvement in the literacy and knowledge of our citizens.

Many of the underprivileged kids are not able to go to the best schools. What makes it even more distressful is the lack of active mentorship from parents, since most work overseas or until late hours or are simply absentee-parents. It is not only the school that builds values and proper attitude. Parents play a very important role. There needs to be active guidance from them on a daily basis. However, our OFWs have no choice but to sacrifice being away from their children so they can send them to better schools.

To the students who are blessed to be in good schools with parents who are around to mentor them, take life seriously. While you may enjoy grade school and high school years as I did mine, keep a balance and prepare for your future. Going to a university is a serious thing. Studying hard is key to your future success.

There are also those who study hard and still barely pass an exam or not able to graduate. I fall in that category. However, it does not mean that one cannot succeed in life because he did not get good grades in school despite trying hard enough. In the end, what can make up for that handicap is how you look at life. How driven are you in pursuing your dreams or goals? How much passion do you have in being the best you can be, with the skills that you have?

For example, you may have gotten a poor grade in math, science or history, but you love to cook and you are good at it. Then, learn more and be the best cook or chef out there. Who knows? You might just be the next Gaita Fores of Cibo, Chef Bruce Lim of Chef’s Table, Florabel Ko of Florabel’s, Mary Grace Dimacali of Mary Grace Foods, among other famous chefs and cooks who made a brand. Each person has a strength or skill, where they are good at. Find it and harness it. Say you had a hell of a time in Quatech or Accounting, but you are so creative in designing clothes or marketing ideas. Then go towards the latter direction. Take a look at Ronald Pineda. He finished Dentistry, but with his passion for fashion, he now owns several branches of Folded & Hung, which also diversified to other new fashion brands for different market segments, like Jellybean and Wade. We also have the young Mitch Dulce and Veejay Floresca. Of course, who would not know Monique Lhuiller and Rajo Laurel. Many of our Taipans are not even Cum Laudes. See where they are today.

Having the right attitude in life cannot be taught in school alone. Parents and guardians have a big role to influence values and attitude of the kids. It is also learned through proper mentorship from being in the right environment at home and school that harp on love of country and encourage optimism. This also helps in developing a strong spirituality, which is needed to draw strength when faced with a big problem and you lose hope.

For those who studied in the province, it does not mean that you are less qualified compared to those who studied in Metro Manila schools. Mang Inasal Founder Injap Sia would not be where he is today if he did not study in Iloilo, because he would not have known about chicken inasal. He has a great attitude in life and was born street-smart, with proper mentorship by his parents and school. Injap was also not a spoiled kid. He had the drive to want to succeed in life.

To those who are lucky to study abroad or even enter the top universities, consider it as a privilege that God has given you. Think about the hard work your parents have done to place you in the best schools. However, being in the best schools does not guarantee success in life. It does give you a competitive edge, but within the six years I have been involved with Go Negosyo, I saw successful entrepreneurs who started with nothing. I met entrepreneurs who were written off by parents or who came from a life that was so handicapped. They possessed the fire in their hearts of wanting a better life for their family.

When we fail, we have the tendency to blame everyone first before we blame ourselves. We need to see what went wrong and realize our mistakes, so that we will be able to move forward. Life will not be fair to all of us. Some will be blessed with more. God has given us an opportunity to experience life. We should make full use of what he has blessed us with and always giving more than 100 percent. With all the challenges in life, we should continue to give our best. As they say, “what we are born with is God’s gift to us, and what we become is our gift to God”.

Congratulations to the parents out there who had to sacrifice to be able to send their kids to school; and to those who allotted their lifetime savings to make sure their children have a better education. To our graduating youth, thank your parents for being there for you, especially if they are abroad. They sacrificed precious time of seeing you grow up in order to invest in your future with better education. God has great plans for all of us. Let us realize our purpose in life and lend a hand to those in need.