Thursday, July 12, 2007



*Delivered by Marlon B. Raquel during the annual graduation exercises of Jabong Elementary School, Tabontabon, Leyte on the 28th day of March 2007.

*The guest speaker is a Fellow of the University of the Philippines Population Institute in UP Diliman, Quezon City taking up Master of Arts in Demography with the funding support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. He graduated valedictorian in Jabong Elementary School in the year 1998.

Thank you, Jonas for your kind introduction. Our honorable mayor, Priscilla R. Justimbaste, our energetic supervisor, Bienvenido P. Canete, our barangay captain, Hon. Alfredo Garcela, Sr., principal of Jabong Elementary School, Mr. Santiago Remandaban, principal of Guingauan Elementary School and Sphere, Mr. Lucas Bibar, head teacher of San Pablo Elementray School and Sphere, Mrs. Myrna Canete, teacher-in-charge of Aslum Elementray School, Mrs. Eleonor Balasanos, teacher-in-charge of Mercaduhay Elementray School, Mrs. Gloria Diaz, parents, visitors, and most importantly, graduates of Class 2007, warm greetings to each and everyone of you.


It is my honor to speak before you today with a message of hope and encouragement for every one of us here. When I was informed that I will be the one to share the graduation message this year, I did not hesitate to accept the invitation for two reasons: First, as a graduate of this school, it is both my desire and honor to impart what I have learned in this life. I am so proud of this institution. My acceptance is one way of showing my gratitude. Secondly, I want to encourage our young graduate today to pursue their dreams and ambitions in life.


The theme for this year’s graduation exercises “Student Empowerment towards Greater Productivity” (Lakas ng Kabataan Tungo sa Maunlad na Kinabukasan) is very timely because there is an increasing number of students enrolling today in schools yet most of them were not productive as we should expect. Why? It is because our knowledge about student empowerment is limited and is not effectively applied. Student empowerment means enabling the students to pursue social and achievement goals.


Poverty has been the major reason why many students today could not finish their schooling. You have always heard the saying “Poverty is not a hindrance to success” from different people. However, it is my opinion that the opposite is what the reality is: poverty is indeed a hindrance to success. In my 21 years of existence in this world, I have realized that poverty will cripple you until you have nothing to left in yourself. This is not discourage you, our dear graduates and parents, but I just want to emphasize here the reality of life. When we truly begin to understand that poverty, like other things and circumstances, such as physical disabilities, hinder our progress, we will overcome these obstacles. Remember that an empty stomach will not empower students. I can tell you this because I have experienced it. Let me give you a personal experience so that you will see a clearer of what I’m trying to say. When I was in college, there were several times that I missed my classes simply because of these two reasons: I didn’t have money for tricycle fare from my boarding house to UP and I was too hungry to bother attending my classes. Where is empowerment in this setting? None! I’ve gone through a lot of difficulties in college, but I never give up. I borrowed money from my friends and classmates. So parents, wag niyong gugutumin ang mga anak niyo if you want them to graduate. To our graduates of Class 2007, do not loose hope. Never give up! Do not be intimidated by the poverty of life. Develop positive characteristics within yourself for these will be your swords to combat any obstacles that will come on your way. Be empowered.


With regard to the future, this is what I say to you: dream big. Dreams help you to do great things in life. Dreams will help you make the impossible things possible, to set direction in your lives, and to make changes for the better; even better, change the world and make it better. To dream big allows great inventions and discoveries to be made. To dream big puts energy and spark into each day. To dream big makes you continue to seek for excellence in everything you do. You have seen and experienced excellence time and time again these past six years so I hope that the desire be embedded deeply within your hearts.

Continue to learn. A school is not the only place where learning occurs nor is academic learning the only kind. Always be curious, be open to the ideas of others whose interests differ from what you believe. Learn something new each day. By doing so, you will develop new passions and you will be an interesting person. I don’t want you to be dull.

Take responsibility for your successes and your failures. Enjoy the former, and learn more from the latter. If other people helped you to be successful, acknowledge and thank them; if others were involved in disappointment, encourage them to work with you to be successful next time.


Foster good relationships. They will help you with those big dreams. They will help you to keep real. They will help you to maintain perspective in good and difficult times. Stay connected with people as you go through to high school, college, work, and beyond. Your lives will be richer and more enjoyable as a result. Test me in this. Be involved in your community in some way.


To the parents and teachers, help your children and students develop their potentials. They need you. They are in the stage of growing up. Help them realize their goals just as you helped me when I was still your student. I am indebted to all of you for inculcating in my mind the importance of education.


And lastly, don’t forget to pray and seek God. Make Him the center of your life.

Thank you so much!


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