Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

Delivered on March 27, 2012 at the St. Mary’s College–Quezon City Auditorium

I’m delighted and extremely honored to speak before the graduating class of 2012. Twenty years ago, I was also seated there, proud and happy that I’m about to get my elementary diploma. But I remember that I also felt sad because I will be leaving the campus which had been my second home for six years. (Hindi pa coed ang high school noon).

So what’s the difference between our graduation in 1992 and this year’s event? Well, for one thing we didn’t have an LCD projector, wala pang digital camera noon, at electric fan lang ang gamit sa auditorium. I’m certain that your grad photos will be instantly uploaded this evening in various social networks samantalang kami, iisa o dalawang kuha na lang ata ang natitira sa aming mga photo album.

But there are things which never change. Lahat naligo sa araw na ito (hopefully), bagong linis ang sapatos, bagong tahi ang mga gala uniform at barong, abot hanggang dito ang amoy ng inyong pabango, lahat excited umakyat ng entablado, lahat kakain ng masarap mamayang gabi. Mahaba ang programa pero mas mahaba ang picture taking mamaya. Why do we hold these rituals every year?

Because this a special day for everybody. But graduation isn’t just about the graduates. We organize this event every year so that we can dedicate it to the special persons in our life who sacrificed so much so that we can get a good education. Graduation should be renamed Thanksgiving Day; it’s the time to express our gratitude to our parents and teachers.

You must be very happy now since you will be high school students soon but your teachers and parents are happier. Today, your teachers will once again affirm the dignity of the teaching profession. Masaya sila hindi dahil aalis na ang mga pasaway at makukulit kundi dahil ang mga batang tinuruan nila nang buong pasensiya at tiyaga ay handa ng sumabak sa mas malalaking hamon ng pag-aaral. So graduates, clap your hands and honor your teachers.

Pero ang pinakamasaya sa araw na ito ay ang inyong mga magulang. Pag nagkaroon na kayo ng anak na nag-aaral, lubusan ninyo ng mauunawaan ang kanilang sakripisyo. Paano nila pinagsabay ang trabaho habang nag-aalaga ng bata, paano araw-araw ay may baon o pagkain kayong kinakain, paano araw-araw ay nakaplanstsa na ang inyong mga uniform sa umaga. In 1992, only my father attended my graduation because my mother was already working in another country. Your parents too sacrificed a lot so that you can have a good education. For their selfless love, and for choosing St Marys for your basic education, graduates clap your hands and honor your parents.

Graduates, be proud of your Marian education. There are two reasons why I will be eternally grateful to St Mary’s. First, I met my wife in St. Mary’s. No, she wasn’t my classmate, she’s a year younger than me. Ka-school bus ko siya. We met again in college. And second, I developed the passion for learning, the hunger to read, the curiosity about life in this campus.

The buzzword today is Information technology. Sabi nila we are living daw in the Information Age. I agree. But don’t equate IT with laptops, computers, and smartphones. What’s more important and necessary for you to survive, compete and excel is that you develop the basic and critical learning skills. Yang computer at cellphone bagay lang yan. After a few years pwede ninyo na bilhin yan ng mas mura.

Since technology is improving rapidly, we must be ready too in applying the new technology in our lives. How? Back to the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic. In today’s Information Age, it’s easy to learn how to open a laptop and surf the internet. But you must have the skills to filter relevant information from the trash. We should only consume information that matters. We should delete the spam and the unproductive software applications that waste our time and energy.

Don’t equate research with search. Don’t equate reading with the posting of status updates. Don’t equate writing with texting. So future high school students, go to the library not google and wikipedia. Read a novel or a short story, read the classics of literature – they broaden our horizon and imagination; and sabi nga ng DOT, reading is more fun than stalking your friends on Facebook. Write letters in the traditional way and don’t use texting or even jejemon language in your emails. Why? Because letter writing is a basic skill that you can use when you apply a job, when you request something from the government, and even when you compose a love letter.

Turn off the computer, TV, PSP, and cellphone from time to time. Play outside your home (with permission from your parents) with your offline friends. You can only acquire social skills if you’re interacting in the real world and not in the virtual world.

There is another aspect of Marian education which is not known by many people. I’m referring to the school’s commitment to train young individuals who understand the concept of service to man and service to community. Many people assume that I became active in public affairs because of my UP education. It’s correct. But I also credit the formative years I spent here in St. Mary’s which allowed me to easily recognize the value of public service and citizenship in my high school and college years. How can I ignore the influence of St. Mary’s when our founder, Mother Ignacia, is recognized by many historians, including our national artist Nick Joaquin, as one of the pioneers of the women’s movement in the country? The Beaterio, to quote Joaquin, “is the most enduring creation of native enterprise.”

Graduates, you will pursue different careers in the future. I wish you all the success in whatever vocation you will choose. But since I’m your speaker today, I will encourage you to be active in public affairs. Join politics, advocate good governance and be changemakers in our society. Marians, I want you to be like the plants fighting the zombies. Marians, I want you to be like the angry birds.

My dear graduates, the world will end in 2012 according to the Mayans but in your case, you will be facing a bigger new world in the next few months. I’m confident that St. Mary’s has trained you well. Treasure this gift of education. Be wise, be bold.

Again, thank you St. Mary’s for this opportunity to speak before the graduating class of 2012. Congratulations Bath 2012!

2 Responses to “My Marian Education”

  1. I’ve probably read/heard your pop culture references many many times, but they still sell. Nice grad speech


  2. Very inspiring message! You are indeed a true Marian. God bless you and may the spirit of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo’s commitment to humble service will always be your inspiration to do more… to give more…


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