Press Release
April 7, 2013

Senator TG Guingona Commencement Address
Mindanao State University
April 6,2013

Allow me to start by thanking you for inviting me here today. It was very easy for me to accept your school's invitation to deliver the commencement address. Standing here and actually delivering it, well, that's quite a different story.

Being tasked to deliver a commencement speech to college graduates is daunting. How do you inspire a thousand students who are just itching for you to say thank you, congratulations, and get off the stage so they can receive their diplomas and upload their "hashtag" graduation pictures on Facebook and Instagram already?

Yes, being the commencement speaker puts a lot on pressure on me to give you as solid a message in as few words as possible.

Firstly, l want to congratulate every single graduate here today. The Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography has produced yet another batch of promising young Filipinos in the field of fisheries and oceanography.

The story of your school is much like the stories of millions of Filipino students like you around the country. It was through sheer determination that secondary schools were established in Bongao and neighboring municipalities, and, even with a lack of funds, the Tawi-Tawi campus of MSU was formally established in 1969.

And today, you are all graduating from this esteemed university. I must say, I am quite pleased of these future oceanographers and marine workers because I like seafood. But more importantly, I am pleased because we live in a country with 7,107 islands all surrounded by water, and the seas are a vital part of our culture and community. Because of this, I say to you my dear graduates: we need you.

First, we need you to be good daughters and sons to your parents. By this I mean gratitude and love. Your parents have worked hard to put you through at least fourteen years of school. The diplomas you will receive today are not your rewards for finishing college--they are honors that you present to your parents in gratitude of their hard work and sacrifices.

Be good sons and daughters. In this world where individualism is slowly being regarded as a prized quality, and self-made millionaires are idolized, we sometimes forget the people who have nurtured us and supported us before we could even stand on our own two feet. Thank not only your parents, but the rest of your family, your teachers, friends, mentors who have guided you in your moments of confusion. The people who bore the brunt of your "init ng ulo" when you were cramming for that paper. The people who told you that your answer in number 146 was wrong and here's why. The people who assured you that what is important is that you learn from your mistakes, and not that you should have answered C. in number 146 instead of B.

Be good sons and daughters. Take your education and use it to change a negative situation into a positive one. There is a reason that a graduation is called a commencement--a "a start, a beginning." You are not at the end, you are starting your new life as an educated person. Your education was never the end, it is the means for you to fulfill your purpose in life. Be good children to your parents and use what you've learned so you can become the great people that they have always dreamed you could be.

Second, we need you to be good workers in whatever field or company you work for. Work as if you're gunning for "Employee of the Month" every day. Work as if your job is an online game and you are just about to reach the next level.

You've all probably heard of the advice: Follow your passion and do what you love. Well, I will share with you a little secret. That's not always the formula for success. Instead, let me to reverse the phrase: Love what you do, and passion will follow.

As new graduates, you will not immediately be given the golden opportunity to do what you love. You're probably raring to go out into the world and start earning money by doing what you love, but the truth is, we live in an unfair world. Most of you will either make money doing something that you don't necessarily like, or not make money doing something you love. Only a handful get thrust into a career that they are passionate about and actually get paid for it.

What most people don't realize is that passion and success come with skills and knowledge, and these come in learning to love what you do. Whatever work you are doing, do it with all your heart. Be good at it. Be good at it over and over again. And then be excellent at it. Once you achieve excellence, you'll find that you love what you are doing, and you have mastered a relevant skill. After all, relevance is the quality that makes passion, skill, and knowledge worthwhile in this world.

We need you to be good workers who love what they do. Just imagine if everyone in this country loves what they are doing. We get government and public officials who don't need to be bribed to do their job; we get teachers who teach with passion; we get law enforcers whose love for the law spurs them to act according to it; we get entrepreneurs who provide quality service; and we get ordinary workers to produce extraordinary work. Love what you do, and passion will follow.

Third, we need you to be good Filipinos wherever you go. Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao--we are all under one flag, one nation. A good Filipino is aingenious Filipino. Give him a kariton, and he will educate street children with it. Give her a microphone, and she will sing for the whole world. Give him a pen, and he will write words that can move a nation.

A good Filipino is a good leader. You young Tawi-Tawians are not future leaders. You are leaders now. You are Tawi-Tawi's pride, the cream of the crop. Remember from where you came, and it will be easy to go where you need.

A good Filipino is a world-class Filipino. I look around your beautiful province and I see that TawiTawi is a place of hope---with its beautiful beaches, rich culture, and harmonious living amongst people of different creeds and beliefs. And it is up to you, my dear graduates, to bring Tawi-Tawi to the world. It is up to you to help realize your school's vision to be a world-class university.

We need you to be ambassadors for your university, for your province, for your country. Let the world see how young Filipinos from Tawi-Tawi are. Make them believe in you. Above all, always be proud of where you came from.

Lastly, we need you to be good persons. In a world where brains are rewarded and sought after, character is overlooked. That's a shame, really, because as a famous quote points out, character determines your destiny.

Just as it is important to build your resume, so you should build your character as well. In building your character, faith and integrity play key roles. Faith will empower you to do what is right despite opposition and obstacles. Integrity will enable you to choose what is right even when no one is looking. People with faith and integrity are not that way because they are good; they are good precisely because of their faith and integrity.

We need you to be good persons, because it is the good people who earn the respect and admiration of others. Brilliant people get recognition, but the truly good people are honored.

And so, graduates, I implore you to aim for both excellence and character, recognition and honor. No matter what your situation in life may be now, continuously strive to be better today than you were yesterday. Keep in mind that perfection is not the goal; rather it is learning through our mistakes. When we recognize these things, we learn that being world-class does not mean having the perfect university or the perfect life. It is being excellent at what you do, and being honorable.

Strive to be good. Strive to be great. Strive to be honorable. Strive to be world-class.

I wish you all a good afternoon.

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