(This is an excerpt from the speech I delivered on behalf of the undergraduates during my Graduation Ceremony at the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Education at the UP Film Center. As I re-type this speech from our Yearbook, the memories of yesteryears and of my own aspirations and dreams are very easy to rekindle. Those of you who were present during my undergraduate ceremony, may still have recollections of the authenticity of the words I wrote in this speech – I hope those of you who weren’t there, will share the same feelings as well.)
“In Reaching for our Dreams”
Standing here I am humbled by the crowd in front of me. I feel even tinier than usual, yet with the honor bestowed upon me, I feel like I am the tallest girl in this room. Once I’ve thought there could be a better person than what I was. Twice, I’ve thought there is a greater chance I can do my best. Thrice, I was inspired to be closer to my dreams. For the fourth time, I realized I am my dreams, that there is nothing which can stand between me and the person I want to be and that’s when I thought dreams could be real.
Like what everyone seems to be contemplating at this moment, I had in my mind this dream of graduating with flying colors – but sometimes when you work harder than you’ve realized you did, you come to a point where a big lo and behold banner embraces you in a thread-line boundary.
When I entered the university four years ago, I knew I could only be an ordinary crap who hailed from one of the never-heard places somewhere in the North; who didn’t have a name; didn’t have any material things to show off; didn’t have anything at all. I was just a provincial girl with a provincial culture, with nothing in my hands and nothing to look up to – except my will and my dream to have a better life for me and my family. Geez, I was so envious of the students who have gotten themselves with a seat of confidence and a shield of almost knowing the know-hows and the how-tos of the university life – just because they had the conveniences of life – which I mostly desired but couldn’t possibly own because my family was simply not capable of. I then realized my differences among the not-so-ordinary lifestyles of my classmates and me. That me think otherwise, that maybe, I could also be like them – just one of those persons who belong, who seem to be enjoying life with their simple luxuries, if only I try to. In short, I tried to be like a real UP-ian, smart-ass and quick-witted – so they say, for me to garner something, to boost my pitiful self in trying to compete in a world where materials things are valued. The challenges that come along with wanting to get there were not always part of my dreams though, in this case I chose what will bring me closer to my dreams.
One of my friends once said, “If you don’t get closer to your dreams, it may be because you keep on changing dreams, it happens.”
In my case I have to admit I changed my dreams a lot of times but my inspirations remained still. Whenever I think of them, I switch from my almost losing self to another renewed one with high hopes and promises to fulfill. And that’s where I got myself into at this very moment.
There is more to achieving our dreams than the feeling of being honored, and that is the joy of sharing with the people who are more important than the achievement itself. Looking back, there are no greater persons to pay homage for other than my parents. True enough, many people have helped me get through the university but none of them can surpass the contributions my parents had to offer me, all along – all throughout not only during my university life, but my whole life itself.
As a daughter of both public school teachers I was taught the lesson of the three D’s – Discipline, Devotion and Dream.
At an early age my father instilled in me the virtue of discipline. I can still remember one day, of how he grabbed my body all together and put me under the table to let me understand what the word “under” means and put my five-year old fragile body “on” the table for me to know the concept of the word “on”.
I learned virtue of devotion from my parents’ passion to live. I was a witness to the hardships of the meager financial returns my parents get from the laborious work they do in school that we sometimes suffer from it. Their monthly salary couldn’t just stay for a week on their hands and was already exhausted even before the next payday. My parents had to work double time in growing vegetables to earn extra income for the family. Seeing them work under the heat and allowing their bones to crack one after the other broke my heart not once, but a hundred million times. It always hurts me to see them physically tortured for our benefit and even sometimes neglecting themselves all with their dreams of giving us the best education. There were even times when my younger siblings had to be patient and wait for more months to buy something for themselves just because I needed the money for my studies. And even at most times when the rest of the family had to sacrifice eating good meals only for the sake of their older sister’s education. My parents, together with my siblings were my constant motivating factors in school.
Nonetheless, it was a pressure for me not to do my best and just be contented with mediocrity. Moreover, they taught me that we have in our hearts full of cosmic laws that whatever we hold in thought with total devotion comes true in experience. Being devoted to whatever we do changes our thoughts and therefore changes our lives.
In the university, life is not as easy an attached arrow to a bow. One needs to have a heart, faith and skill in order to shoot for the bull’s eye and before we’ve known it, life has wrapped itself in victory. Now that we’re passed through that stage, we just have to play safe and be extra cautious to where our arrows might bring us to. Patience, prayers, and hard-work will payoff the investment that we have exerted to reach our dreams. If there were nothing for us to learn here at the university, we wouldn’t have bothered to pay the fare and we wouldn’t have dared to look straight ahead. The dreamers that we were might have become hopeless not until we had known that there’s still room for us to grow, and dream even bigger than our minds can imagine. And in reaching our dreams we should always look back to where we’ve come from because whoever we will be, whoever we are now, ie because of who we were before.
Indeed, let us be in control of the destinations of our bows and tell each of its arrows to go as far as we can, for long as we can, and as soon as we can…for our dreams are waiting for us to be fulfilled, long before we’ve known it – all for our parents and family.
God bless us all!
(***….drumroll please…***Then, all I heard after that was great applause and sniffles!)
- A. M. S.