Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Asi identity in the age of globalization (1)

(Address to the graduating class, Class of 2012, Sibale Academy, 23 March 2012, Concepcion Parish Church, Concepcion, Romblon)

The Reverend German Mehler, SVD; Principal Cristina Fadera-Ferrolino; Members of the Faculty; Parents; Graduates:

It is a great honor and a privilege to join you as your commencement speaker today. The Sibale Academy, as many of you very well knew, is my Alma Mater, and I consider this opportunity an important milestone, even as it is a welcome detour from my very busy professional life.

The feeling of déjà vu is overwhelming. At about the same month thirty-two years ago, I stood before the graduates of my class, the Sibale Academy Class of 1980, to deliver my salutatory address. Much of what I said have already receded from memory, forgotten, perhaps because no one really listens much to or care about valedictory or salutatory or commencement speeches. The silent agreement, I could feel then, was to go through the exercise and go home. To what, no one can tell. Perhaps, to plan life after graduation? I didn’t know.

Today, you must be feeling the same. I can sense it. I was once young like you and I could, through the filter of memory, feel how you feel now: you are high in a mixture of emotions.

First, you feel sad about the imminent parting—with friends and classmates, with your teachers, and with a part of your adolescence which is gone tomorrow: your high school life.

Second, you must be excited, even nervous about the future, which is yet to come, hence, unknown. At this stage, a lot of questions must be whirling inside your head: Will I go through college? Will I get married soon? What will happen to my high school sweetheart? Will he or she follow me or should I follow him or her? What does the world out there—outside the Sibale Academy, outside the island—look like? Will I find a good job? Here in the country? Or abroad? These are some of questions that you must be entertaining now as I speak.

Now, listen. Please don’t answer those questions now. There will be enough time to think and search for answers later. My advice to you is to savor this moment, this very day of your graduation, because this happens only once in a lifetime. Enjoy your day. Celebrate the occasion. Be happy, thankful, and grateful. Be very proud.

The Lord God, our Heavenly Creator, willed it that you arrive to this day and finish this race to high school. This is an important accomplishment which you must share with your family and loved ones, with your teachers, with your principal, and with your benefactor, Fr. Mehler. Therefore, before I go on, may I request that you stand up and say, “Thank you” to those people I have mentioned. Please give them a warm round of applause.

Now, for the more serious part.

Today, I’d like to bring you to a guided tour of the world as I see and experience it. This world which you are about to face shortly is vastly different from the world you saw inside the walls and halls of the Sibale Academy.

This world has changed. It continues to change, and very rapidly, every single day. Therefore, my first advice to you is to accept this fact: be brutally honest with yourself that you will, after graduation, face a changed and changing landscape, a world with many rosy promises, but also with many pitfalls, trials, and challenges, even temptations.

There is one apt description of this world you will face, and I will quote Thomas L. Friedman, who wrote a seminal book, called “The World Is Flat”.

We all know from our history that the world is round so, perhaps, you will ask: “Why is the world flat?” I’ll tell you why.

(First of four parts. To be continued.)


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