Press Release
March 22, 2014

(Commencement speaker of Rogationist College, high school department
in Silang, Cavite, on 22 March 2014)

Silang, Cavite is very far from my house in Quezon City. And I am sick with chronic fatigue syndrome, which is the reason why I have not yet reported for duty as judge of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands.But although I have medical issues, I have decided to come and join you in one of the most important days of your life - the day when you graduate from high school.

I have come, because I know that here in Rogationist College, I will see God's light shining down on the poor. From an orphanage previously known as St. Anthony's Boys Village, Rogationist College is now 25 years old, and successfully introducing students to the concept of the will of God.

And by your hard work, you have followed God's will. When I asked my staff why I should come here, so far away for a high school graduation, my staff were very noisy. They pointed out that Rogationist students have become champions in such sports as swimming, taekwondo, lawn tennis, chess, basketball, and volleyball. And moreover, you the students whom I am addressing now, have excelled in such academic contests as quiz bee, essay writing, extemporaneous speaking, mathematics, the Bible, speech choir, and science.

Hence, I am not only proud to be with you, I am feeling almost embarrassed and intimidated. You are an inspiration for hard work, the will to win, and the love of God.

Five Traits of Successful Young People

The graduating class of 2014 that you represent constitute a promise of the future of our country. One day you will be the next doctors, lawyers, engineers, and politicians, who will redeem our country from the disappointments of history. Learn from my generation, and do not repeat our mistakes. Be the best leaders our country deserves. But first, you should give yourselves a pat on the back. Hurdling four years of high school is certainly a big accomplishment.

Today is your last day as high school students. After this summer, you will take on the world as college freshmen. There is more freedom when you enter college, but with this independence comes less supervision and more responsibilities. You will be expected to act as adults. Some of you will become working students and will, early on, experience the hardships that come with supporting yourself. Do not be dismayed. Success eventually comes to those who are determined and hardworking. However, aside from determination and hard work, there are other traits you must have in order to become successful in life.

According to a book by Paul Tough, there are seven traits a child should possess in order to succeed in life. In my opinion, there should only be five. Thus, aside from determination and hard work, you should also develop curiosity, optimism, and gratitude.[1] Sipag at tiyaga, or hardwork and determination, is a common phrase we associate with successful people. With these two traits, students become honor awardees; and employees become successful managers or presidents of the company. Not everything can be accomplished by intelligence alone. You need perseverance, motivation, and discipline to reach your full potential.

A study by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay,[2]found that successful students are those who have almost perfect attendance; who come to class prepared; who show interest in their classes; who are able to connect past learning experiences to understand new materials; and who have a positive attitude towards learning. Successful students are also those with aligned ambitions. This means that they know what they want to become when they grow up, and know how to get there. They also maximize the resources they have. For example, they join organizations in schools, run for student council, engage in sports, or apply for scholarships. Libre lang ang mangarap, but dreaming will get you nowhere if you do not work for it.

Another trait a successful teen should have is curiosity. Curiosity is having a zest for life and learning. It means questioning your surroundings in order to learn more from it. To be curious also means to learn beyond the assignments that are given to you and to learn beyond the four walls of the classroom. Be the wide-eyed explorer who continues to thirst for knowledge and experience. Curious people are truth-seekers, innovators, and inventors. We owe our advancements in medicine and technology to the curiosity of people who wanted to make life better.

Curiosity also helps you decide on what you want to become in the future. What subjects are you interested in? What lessons are you passionate about? Study something that tickles your curiosity.

Aside from being curious, you should also be optimistic. This is usually not a problem with the Filipino youth, because Filipinos are always hopeful. But being optimistic does not only mean being hopeful, it also means being open to the opportunities given to you. It means saying yes to life and its challenges, and showing courage in the face of adversity. Optimism also means being confident in yourself. Magtiwala ka sa sarili mong kakayahan. Huwag pangunahan ang sariling takot.

Lastly, you should always acknowledge others in your successes. Be grateful to the people who are there with you always: your family, your friends, your teachers, and your mentors. These people help you stay rooted on the ground, but help you grow by nurturing your self-esteem. Without them, you would not be who you are now.

To summarize, in order to be successful, you should be a hard worker, motivated, and willing to seize opportunities. You should also ask questions, be involved in activities, and have a strong support system.[3]

Hindi Natitinag ang Pusong Pilipino (DepEd mandated theme)

I am certain that despite all the hardships and sacrifices you have gone through and will go through in life, you will survive. After all, we Filipinos are known for a unique trait that has earned us the admiration of other nations. That trait is resiliency or katatagang loob.

Ang resiliency o katatagang loob ay ang abilidad nating magpatuloy sa buhay pagkatapos ng bawat kasawian o kalungkutan.[4] Halimbawa, sa bawat sakuna o kalamidad, tayo ay bumabangon muli at nagtutulungan upang makaraos sa mga pangyayari.

We, Filipinos, after all, are a nation of strong people. We are known as "the great survivors" and have been compared to the bamboo tree, which stands strong and proud but bows when the wind blows hard. A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found that 86 percent of Filipinos were happy with life in general, and 83 percent of them were satisfied with their lives. The recent super typhoon Yolanda, also did nothing to dampen the Filipino spirit. The SWS interviewed Yolanda survivors in the Visayas and found that out of the 650 families interviewed, 82 percent still considered themselves happy, while 72 percent claim that they were satisfied with their lives.[5] These numbers show that despite hardships, the Filipino people are resilient and can easily bounce back from a bad situation.

We are resilient because we are a hopeful race. We believe that there is a silver lining in every storm and that for every bad day there are more good days ahead. We are resilient, because we have accepted the fact that problems in life are naturally occurring and inevitable. Thus, we believe that we can weather any storm and face adversity head-on as long as we are still alive. We follow the saying, "That which does not kill me, makes me stronger."

However, I caution you students not to confuse resilience with tolerance. Huwag tayong maging kampante at isabahala na lamang sa Diyos o sa gobyerno ang mga problema natin. Tandaan, mainam na bumangon tayo sa bawat pagkadapa, pero dapat matuto tayong huwag madapa muli.

The Importance of Participating in National Issues

You are never too young to make a difference, and to participate in the political affairs of your country. To borrow a quotation from Mahatma Ghandi, be the change you want to see in the world. You will be inheriting this country along with its problems. Before these problems can get any worse, be concerned, do something about them.

The pork barrel scam, for example, concerns you. When you buy something, eat at a restaurant, or use public transportation, you pay taxes. These taxes should have been used to fund fast trains coming here to Cavite, to lessen travel time and expense. By now, we should also have had better hospital facilities in all cities and provinces. If you get sick, these taxes should be used to fund your hospital care.

Be angry at these politicians who stole the taxes you and your parents pay. When you reach the voting age, which is 18, do not vote for them. Instead, shame them now. Take your campaign to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Post your grievances on these politicians' walls. Tweet them your disappointments. Eventually, these politicians will shed their thick hides because of the shame, and reveal themselves to be spineless pathetic creatures.

Be leaders in your community. Organize other young people, and create policies or plans that you want to see in your barangay or city. You can also call radio stations or the local tv channel to air your grievances. You can also start letter writing campaigns and distributing information packages to officials and the media.[6]

To the parents and teachers here today, encourage the youth to participate in the political process. It is by questioning, expressing their views, and having their opinions taken seriously that they are able to develop analytical skills, acquire confidence, and form aspirations. It is a virtuous circle. The more opportunities a young person has for meaningful participation, the more experienced and competent he or she becomes.[7]

A nation is only as strong as its people. Do not subscribe to the bahala na attitude and allow things to go with the flow. For evil to triumph, it is enough for good men to do nothing.



[1] Thomson, Janet, "7 traits kids need to succeed." . Last accessed on 14 March 2014.

[2]"Characteristics of successful and unsuccessful students.". Last accessed on 14 March 2014.

[3]Meadon, Derrick. "What are some characteristics that make the perfect student." . Last accessed on 14 March 2014.

[4]"Angkatatagangloobsapilosopiyang Pilipino.". Last accessed on 14 March 2014.

[5]Mangahas, Mahar. "New numbers on happiness."The Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8 March 2014.

[6]International Labor Organization."How to engage youth in policy making." <>. Last accessed on 14 March 2014.

[7]"Youth participation in decision making.". Last accessed 14 March 2014.

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