Speech (ABM & ICT, Ateneo de Zamboanga University)
Atty. Jason Teng
Theme: “Unity in Diversity: Quality Education for All”
AdZU President – Fr. Karel S. San Juan, SJ,
Vice President for Basic Education – Fr. Stephen T. Abuan, SJ,
SHS Principal – Rey S. Reyes, SHS
Assistant Principal for Formation – Fr. Francisco S. Parilla, SJ,
Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction – Ms. Lucia Loreli Macrohon,
Assistant Principal for Supervision – Ms. Giselle M. Villanueva,
AdZUAA Member of the Board of Trustees– Atty. Gian Paolo U. Enriquez,
graduating students of the Senior High School Academic Tracks for Accountancy, Business and Management and Humanities and Social Sciences, proud parents and family, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
Unity in Diversity: Quality Education for All. What a fitting theme for today! Looking at all of you, I see different facial features, different skin tones, different sizes and different ethnicities, but
at the same time, all of you together form a sea of the same restless energy, the same optimism, the same joy, the same excitement, the same nervousness, the same pride. It is astonishing to think that just 2 years ago, many of you were not even Ateneo students. And what a difference 2 years make…
Today, you are all here graduating from Senior High School with what I am sure is 2 years of quality Ateneo senior high school education. All these time you’ve had the opportunity to imbibe that atmosphere of Ignatian Spirituality such that each one of you is now as blue-blooded as the person seated beside you.
When your principal, Professor Rey Reyes asked me to speak before you, I had a hard time deciding what I should talk about. For those of you from the Accountancy, Business and Management Strand who plan to become future Certified Public Accountants, I’m sure I can relate
to that. For the Humanities and Social Sciences graduates who plan to become future lawyers, I can also relate to that. But more than just sticking to future career options, I wondered what I could share to you that will be useful for the long journey ahead of you. So I finally decided on a list of things that I wish I had known when I graduated high school. Not every one of us will be
CPAs, lawyers or members of other noble professions, but all of us will be future adults navigating through the challenges of everyday life. I hope that you will find a use for what I am going to be sharing with you today. I’ll call them lessons.
Lesson No. 1 – Have A Big World View
Do not limit yourselves to what you think you know. Do not confine yourselves to the walls surrounding the little corner of the world that you are familiar with. What you think you know is actually just a small detail in the whole gamut or spectrum of what is out there. When I started working with the Government Service Insurance System, I was very happy as a rank and file processor in our Accounting Division. As I had a picture of the kind of life my Division Chief had at that time, my life’s dream then was to one day be promoted up to the level of Division Chief, stay in Zamboanga City my whole life and retire when I turn 60. That was my whole world as far as I could envision it. It took the whole of seven years and a 6-month management development
program to show me how small my world view was.
At that time, I didn’t realize that I could be Senior Vice President in the GSIS. I didn’t realize how many more people I could help, how much more impact I could have in the organization. If I had known it earlier, there would have been many things that I would have done differently. Do you want to know a secret? I truly believe today, that my somewhat bigger world view is still very small. I am continuously open to the possibility that I will have future opportunities to see even bigger parts of the world.
That leads me to Lesson No. 2 – Never Stop Learning
In order to never stop learning, there is one thing you should realize first. You do not have a monopoly of knowledge. You do not know everything. The biggest stumbling block to learning is
actually pride. When you are proud and you think very highly of yourself, you will be inclined to think that you already know things and that you are always right. In my almost twenty years of experience working in government, I can honestly tell you that I would rather work with people of average level knowledge who are open to new ideas than with highly intellectual people who think they know it all. During my 41st birthday, I decided that I should learn something new for each of my coming birthdays. So on that year, I learned how to solve a 3×3 Rubik’s Cube. I can now complete a solve in around 40 seconds. For my 42nd birthday, I learned how to solve a 4×4 Rubik’s Cube. This coming April, I will be celebrating my 43rd birthday, can you guess what I will be learning? I want to learn how to play a recorder.
On to Lesson No. 3. Of all the trainings that I have undergone, this Lesson No. 3 is ranked as the all-time greatest lesson I have learned in my life. It has shaped the way I think and deal with other people. I believe this lesson should be learned by everybody early in life. Paradigm Shift.
Paradigm refers to a “point of view”. Stephen Covey in his book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, discusses about paradigm shift. I’m not an expert on this topic so I will speak simply and say that when 2 people have opposing views, none of them needs to be wrong. There are times when two or more people hold opposing views, yet none of them is wrong. Or more positively, all
of them are right. If we put ourselves in the shoes of another person and see it from their point of view, then we will begin to understand why he says what he says, why he believes what he believes, why he acts how he acts, and why, BASED ON WHERE HE IS COMING FROM AND HIS BODY OF EXPERIENCE, he is not wrong. When you start understanding the other person, then you can begin to respect his point of view and find a way to a win-win solution. I truly wish I had known this while I was still a student. During my teen years, all I knew was that if two people had opposing views, one would be right, and the other would be wrong. That kind of categorical thinking has caused me to lose so many opportunities along the way. In my whole life up to this point, the awareness of multiple paradigms (or other people’s paradigms or where they come from) has been the biggest catalyst in making me a more mature individual. With this knowledge, you can all have an early head start. As teenagers, I’m sure you can start by trying to understand your parents whenever you have that all-too-common clash between parent and teen-age son or daughter. In school, you can apply it with your friends and classmates. Later on at work or business, it will be useful with colleagues, business partners or employees. If there is just one lesson that you can remember from today, let it be this concept of paradigms. I assure you, it can be life changing.
Now I will share with you Lesson No. 4 – Do not forget the Prayer for Serenity. Life is hard. Many things will not go your way. When things are beyond your control, your greatest friend is acceptance. Once you accept, the bitter pill, so to speak, is easier to swallow. But when things are within your control, be brave and strong. Take control of your own destiny.
Because life has an unli-supply of bitter and frustrating experiences, my Lesson No. 5 is called “The 5 Year Rule”. There is no need to google this. You will not find this is any book since I invented this Rule. How does this work? Well, if something or someone is angering you or causing you frustration or causing you to hate or be bitter, take time to ask yourself this question: 5 years from today, will I still remember why I was angry/frustrated/bitter today? I’ll give you the answer key to this question. The answer is NO. Then when you start reminding yourself that the matter you are anguishing over is actually something that you won’t even remember in 5 years’ time, the reasoning part of your brain can finally take control over the emotional part of your brain.
Lesson No. 6 – You Only Live Once!
Make something of yourself. Life is
fleeting. Believe in something, stand
for something and make your mark in this world.
That is the Ateneo way!
I end, I would like to recognize the parents, guardians and family members of
our graduates. Graduates, this is an
opportunity for you to thank your family for all the support they have given
you through the years. Can we give our
parents, guardians and family a big round of applause?
years ago, I delivered a valedictory speech during our college graduation in
the old gymnasium. I tried to be cute
about it and said something like, “all speeches here in Ateneo almost always
end with the words Pro Deo et Patria, so maybe this motto is already deeply
ingrained in our hearts that I do not need to end my speech with Pro Deo et
Patria”. After my valedictory speech,
when the then Ateneo de Zamboanga president Fr. William “Bill” Kreutz, SJ took
to the stage, he immediately reminded us, that it would still be better to conclude
with our school motto. Fr. Bill wanted
us to take it seriously. And he was
right, of course!
today, I will not make the same mistake.
Congratulations, Graduates for making it through senior high school with
flying colors. Today is just the
beginning of your long and exciting journey through college and life after
college. As graduating Ateneans, always
keep our motto in your hearts. Pro Deo et Patria. In the Service of God and Country!