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Home » Other Talks and Speeches » 2019 Graduation Speech by Guest Speaker John Mayo Enriquez

2019 Graduation Speech by Guest Speaker John Mayo Enriquez

Ateneo Junior High School Completion Address to the 2019


Ateneo de Zamboanga University President Fr.
Karel San Juan, S.J.; Vice President for Basic Education Fr. Stephen Abuan,
S.J.; Junior High School Principal Fr. Arnel T Ong, SJ; Ateneo Alumni President
Engr. Jaime Vicente S. Santos; to our assistant principals, academic management
team, administrators, faculty, parents, and—most of all—the completers, Buenas Dias,
Maayong Buntag, Magandang Umaga, Good Morning, Assalamualaikum and Greetings of
Peace to all.

My name is John Mayo Marcial Enriquez. People
call me Mayo, and I am proud to be a true Blue-Blooded Atenean.

We are all gathered here today to share a significant
moment in your lives . I will speak to you the way I always do with people. I
want to inspire you, motivate you and hopefully, make you laugh. As I speak, I
hope that you see me not so much as the speaker in your completion ceremonies,
but – as a friend who cares for you and a brother who loves you. So, please
bear with me; be patient and pay attention to your
Kuya Mayo.

I will share stories with you, my stories. They
are simple. They are straightforward, although may not be entirely new to you.
Some are challenging, but I assure you – they will be worth your while.

After completing your junior high school, you
will enter a brand new chapter of your life. First, you will be moving to a new
campus. Hopefully, most of you will still choose to continue your Senior High
School with the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. So, you will be moving to the
Salvador campus in La Purisima. Surely, you will miss the Kreutz Campus, the
four walls of your classrooms; your classmates, schoolmates, teachers with whom
you shared fun, adventure and excitement during your junior high school.
Looking back, you may have cried, laughed and even cringed at those moments.

You still have two more years in high school, and
then, before you know it, you will be in college. Things will once again change
right before your eyes – the environment, your teachers, your friends. People
who once meant something to you may become a stranger. You will have a clearer
understanding of the roller coaster ride called life. Remember, during the last
stretch of your high school, cherish it, seize the movements.

Take the two more years of your Senior High
School as an opportunity to grow as a student, to develop as a leader, and most
of all, to experience love and joy.

Sa totoo lang, sa high school ako unang nagmahal, nasaktan at nag move on!

Remember: Strive to be a better version of who
you are now. Don’t make senior high school a burden. Remember that your
greatest treasure lies not in what you possess – the money, your gadgets, but
in your capacity to make a difference in this world — as a FILIPINO, as a
 MINDANAOAN, as an ATENEAN who will work for social transformation and
dedicate himself or herself in the service of God and country,
pro Deo et patria.

What does it mean to be an Atenean? What does it mean to be a Mindanaoan who
graduated with a Jesuit Education? I will attempt to answer this and hopefully,
inspire and motivate you to be one. Let me share with you two significant
points from my own years of Jesuit education. First, Jesuit Education as my
inspiration; and second, what
Education means to me.

1.     Jesuit Education as My Inspiration

How did Jesuit Education mold my mind? How did
Jesuit Education form my heart?

My experience as a student of a Jesuit
institution was as a roller coaster ride
(next slide 1), with
its ups and downs. Let me tell you the meaning and relevance of Jesuit
Education for me; how it influenced me to serve Mindanao, to serve Zamboanga

My first experience of Jesuit education was back
in 2007 when I entered high school
slide 2)
. The impact of this
experience was so great that my classmates and I made a promise to give back
and serve AdZU after graduating from college. We were inspired by a Jesuit
novitiate whom we really admired. He was intelligent, simple; and the love and
care he showed us was his way of showing us the meaning of an Ateneo Education.
His most significant teaching for me was the importance of prayer.

This is where I experienced my LOVE AT FIRST
SIGHT… Believe it or not, I had a calling to the religious life.
“kaso may naging ka textmate and chatmate ako”. During those years, we are using Yahoo messenger
and Friendster.
Hindi pa uso ang
unli text and call.

In the last year of my high school, I felt the
pressure and hardship of waking up early morning to write my research paper,
study for math class, and memorize a two-page oratorical piece. And because of
these experiences, I was able to develop discipline and hardwork.  
takot tayo sa mga guro natin diba? kayo na bahala
mag-identify kung sino sila, kasi baka sa panahon niyo ngayon, mabait na sila.

I remember my fourth year high school or the
equivalent of grade 10 today. After class, I will wait for my crush at the ramp
and will hand her out love quotes everyday. –
ta acorda io ta suda and nerbya pa io si atraka kunele and ta rimpuha
pa kumigo mio mga classmates kay mahuyain and torpe iyo.

I love playing basketball. One of the reasons why
I wanted to study in Ateneo was because I wanted to be part of the varsity
team. However, I was not able to make the line-up. But you wouldn’t believe
this – I was a member of
Punlaan and was part of the Sotero Samuang play. I wrote scripts, was the lights director, and even cried
during an audition.
Di ba? Acting
na acting! gusto maging basketball player pero naging artista.

What am I trying to point out here? I may not be
the best in class, neither was I in the first section, but these experiences
inspired me to go to school and study hard. This is Jesuit education for me,
the art of balancing
learning and inspiring

Second point, what Jesuit Education means for me. It means
Transforming One’s self and Society.

A few days after my high school graduation, my
father had a stroke in Manila. He was filled with grief because at that time,
my brother was trying to recover from substance abuse. I stayed with my father
during those months in the hospital. With good doctors and quality medical
service in Manila, he was able to recover. We stayed for three (3) months in
Manila before going back to Zamboanga.  
(next slide 3)

Months after my father’s stroke, my brother
committed suicide. It was really traumatic for me and my family. I saw how it
was really painful for my parents and my family. This painful past of our life
haunted my family for years.

I just graduated from high school. I was only 17
years old. I was a first-year college student when these unfortunate events

I was lost! I did not know where to go, nor how
to begin my college life.  All my dreams and ambitions disappeared. I
reached a point when I thought of quitting school and getting a job to help my

When I was in first year college, I asked myself,
“cosa man te ta pasa kumigo pati
na di amon pamilya?”
But you know
what? Although I was disturbed with all these questions in my mind, it was
clear to me, very, very clear – in my heart and in my mind, that my Jesuit
Education formed me and prepared me to face such circumstances in my life.
Because of my Jesuit education, I was able to journey this difficult episode in
my life.

And so my dear completers, what you have right
now is a Jesuit Education that has prepared you for life, forever –
maniwala kayo, may forever. It is an education that will make you resilient
to an ever-changing and complex society. It is an education that will help you
through the difficult times in your life.

My questions back then were – where will I go,
what path will I take? Honestly, it was a difficult time for me and I did not
know where to find the answers. I was only 17. But I always trusted the
process, so there I was a freshman in the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, and
with the help of my mentors, the campus ministers and formators who guided my
recollections, retreats and my education, I was able to survive what seemed
then an insurmountable challenge. A word of advice. It is important for you to
have mentors, good mentors, who will guide you through the tough times of your
life – be it in your academics or your personal life.

Now, I know you did not forget about what I
shared earlier about my first love. I know that you are wondering,
sino kaya yung crush ni Kuya Mayo na binibigyan
niya ng love quotes sa ramp araw-araw? Sa totoo lang, at sorry to disappoint
you, pero, hindi naging kame. Ako’y umasa at nabigo, umiyak, ngunit na-in love
ulit. I am now happily married to my college sweetheart. Her name is Clauie.
slide 4)

I was able to finish college and was fortunate to
have been given the opportunity to work in the Ateneo. Here at the Ateneo, I am
able to experience and share in the mission of helping the poor and marginalized,
of going to the peripheries. For a month, I did volunteer work in Katipunan,
Zamboanga Del Norte; helping the displaced people during the Zamboanga Siege
(next slide 5)

Katipunan, Zamboanga Del Norte is a small
municipality near Dipolog and Dapitan. In my one month stay in the area, I met
a boy named Genesis. He was a graduating high school student. Despite the
financial challenges, Genesis persevered to finish his studies to help his
family. But more than that, I was inspired by his energy and passion in helping
a local organization in educating children in far-flung areas. He did not allow
poverty and difficulties to be a hindrance for him to realize his dreams.
Sana maging inspirasyon din sa inyo si Genesis,
Siya ay may pangarap para sa kanyang pamilya at komunidad.

The 2013 Zamboanga Siege Experience brought upon
our community, fear, sadness and despair. Ten (10) days after the siege,
hundreds of thousands were left homeless. Today, evacuees continue to live
under poor conditions.

In Ateneo’s mission to help the internally
displaced families, I saw a mother who lost her infant son. She was pregnant
when she lived in the evacuation center. Her baby was born there. After some
months, her baby died of pneumonia. I felt the pain of this mother. I saw how
she lived in  a makeshift shelter made of carton and wood scrap. She had
other malnourished children. I saw them half-naked and had what looked like
skin infections, on their faces and chests.

Many of us felt traumatised by the siege and all
the fighting and exchange of gunfire. During that time, we felt like the
horrors of the siege was never going to end. It was worse for the people at the
evacuation centers. They shared stories about their situation in the camps.
They say that they feel that they had been stripped of their dignity.

Ang mga kwento nila. Ito po ang nagtutulak sa
akin upang magpatuloy sa pagtataguyod ng karapatang pangtao.

Difisil este, pero sabe ustedes it is all worth
it. Imagine yourselves helping your fellow Zamboangeuños. You make them feel
important as you contribute for the betterment of their lives. This is inherent
in us, Ateneans. It is the most natural thing for us to do, to help others.

These experiences strengthened my desire to be a
man for others; to care for others –
, be socially involved
and practice a faith that does justice.

The opportunity to work here in the Ateneo; the
opportunity to work for the mission is a blessing.
Nakakataba ng puso pag tayo ay nakakatulong sa

To the teachers present – your teachers, my
teachers, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all – please
continue to form the young and future leaders for our society. To the Jesuits,
thank you for the Jesuit Education that  shows us the path toward the
right direction and understanding in life. To my fellow Ateneans, let us give
the Jesuits, our teachers, our formators, a round of a applause!


Before I end, allow me to go back to this image  (next slide 6), where I made a promise to give back and serve the Ateneo after
graduating from college; my first LOVE and HUGOT. To be part of the mission of
Jesuit Education; to be part of this great opportunity, to fulfil the promise I
made to serve the Ateneo. But MORE than that, I believe in the Ateneo’s mission
of helping the poor and marginalized, of contributing to the City’s development
and in building the nation.

This is what it means to be a MINDANAOAN ATENEAN.
We serve and find meaning in Mindanao – our place and our home.
Pro Deo et patria. In the service of God and country.

To sum up my stories, I say, “My personal experience in life fuels my mission
to love and serve.
” May my life
story inspire you in your life as you prepare for Senior High and College. If
along the way you experience difficulties, look to your faith, look to your
Ateneo education for strength and inspiration and I assure you, you will not be
lost. You will find your way. I was lost. But I found my way. The Ateneo way!

Congratulations, Class of 2019!

Gracias a todos!