FIRST PERSON: Discover, a whole world of knowledge awaits you



Discover, a whole world of knowledge awaits you

By Maria Claudette A. Dela Cerna

 (Bukidnon News obtained permission to publish this piece, which is the author’s speech at a graduation rites in Bukidnon State University. We supplied the title used in this piece. – The Editor).

 My dear graduates, honored parents, and family;

The sixth-grade advisers, Ma’am Delight Elloren (my teacher also before), and Sir Ronald Francisco (who I went to school with);
Dr. Victor Barroso, the President; Dr. Beverly Bicar, the Dean of the College of Teacher Education; Dr. Arlene Pagaura, the Principal; Guests.

Good afternoon. Thank you very much for inviting me to join your celebration. I am very honored to be here.

As I look at your fresh, happy faces, I remember my own grade school graduation in 1986. Twenty-six years ago. Way, way, before you were born. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember what our speaker said, so you will probably forget me soon too. I do remember that it was Mr. Romeo Hernandez, the father of my classmate then Cindy Hernandez, now Astillo, and the grandfather of one of the graduates here, Sean Michael Astillo. But I hope that I can share a little bit of my thoughts with you and you can think about it during the summer, at least.

Very soon, you will be in high school. You will experience many changes. Your bodies will change, your thoughts will change. You will make mistakes. You will meet new people. You will learn and experience many new things. All these will help you chart your course through life and find your place in the world.

High school will introduce you to the wonderful world of biology, statistics, chemistry, physics, English literature, algebra. You will meet Maria Clara, not Mara Clara, but Maria Clara and Padre Damaso, Florante, Laura, and all the wonderful Filipino literary characters.  You will have great teachers, just like your wonderful teachers here at the BSU Elementary School Laboratory. Teachers you will always remember, just like I remember my teachers here.

But know that quality education is never confined to the four corners of the classroom. Your high school years will only be as happy and as memorable as you can make it. You have to take what it offers and run with it!

A whole world of knowledge awaits you! Books will help you discover your interests and talents. Books will show you the world. And when times get rough, books will give you a safe haven to recharge your batteries.

And so, I urge you to read. Different genres. There is more to life than the Twilight series, more to life than Team Edward and Team Jacob. There is classic literature, there is science fiction, there are biographies. Ladies, you would love Emma by Jane Austen or Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Gentlemen, I’m sure you would love the Count of Monte Cristo or the Three Musketeers by Dumas. Yes, you have Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson, the Hunger Games, Series of Unfortunate Events; and I hope you read these books and not only watched it in the movies; but, in my opinion, it can’t compare to the beauty and prose of the classics.

Books have saved me countless of times. It armed me against homesickness, against peer pressure, against boredom. And I know it will also give you what it gave me.

I urge you to join extra-curricular activities. By trying anything that interests you, you may find your hobby, be it the math club, the drama club, dance, or the homemakers club. Organizations give you the important experience of interacting with a diverse group of people, some of whom you probably won’t like; and prepare you for the future when you go to college or go to work.

But tell your parents what you are doing in school, ok? You need their support and their money! I’m just kidding. But you do need your parents’ help for these activities.

I urge you to leave your computers once in a while and go out and explore your environment. Like you, I am privileged to have grown up in beautiful Malaybalay. Our provincial song is perfectly correct: wherever I may have roamed, I always long to come back home. To love our home is to know our home; to explore it and protect it. We have the Forestry, Capitol, Kaamulan, Gantungan Falls. Explore and enjoy these places we are blessed to have. My friends who grew up in the cities envy this experience. Go hiking, swimming, and camping. Love our home and learn to protect our environment for future grade-schoolers like you.

Again, let me remind you to tell your parents where you are going. I know you think sneaking out is cool! But it’s really not. It’s even cooler to be safe. There are a lot of dangerous people out there!

You may say that my generation enjoyed the outdoors because we didn’t have a choice. That may be true. We didn’t have regular TV channels then. We didn’t have computers, internet, texting, cellphones. We didn’t have Facebook! Can you imagine life without computers and Facebook? Life without Hannah Montana or Justin Beiber?

Well, we didn’t have those things. We had betamax, I’m sure you don’t know what that is, ask your parents! We had BMX bikes to ride around Capitol, Kaamulan, or the Valley. We had camping.  On rainy summer days, we stayed home and read. Then watched our crushes play basketball in the summer basketball league. Does that sound alien and weird to you? Yes, indeed that was a different life. Your lives are so different now with all the gadgets and entertainment available to you.

But is it really that different? Has time really changed that much in things that mattered? I don’t think so.  You and me are 26 years apart. But what I needed 26 years ago to become what I am today are precisely what you need right now.

You need a chance to discover your interests and talents; an opportunity to experience and confirm your interests; a physical connection with our wonderful environment to give you healthy bodies, healthy minds, and the confidence to experience circumstances different from the comforts of our Malaybalay.

It’s not so different really. Your group chat and group gossip on Facebook, sharing files and pictures. You play online games with each other. W didn’t have that. We used the landline telephone, which had party lines, so we could group chat. (Ask your parents what “party lines” mean!) We had autograph slumbooks which had our “profile”. Not entered like in Facebook but written down with an actual pen on actual colorful paper. We cut photos and we pasted it with glue.

We didn’t have Counterstrike, Mortal Combat, or Plants v. Zombies, or Angry Birds. We only had patintero, tago-tago, chinese garter, tumba lata.

But all in all, I guess the expectations are the same. That we learn new things, that we learn to co-exist with our peers; that we learn to respect the rules of games, respect the opinions of others even if we don’t agree; that we learn to get along.

These are the secrets to succeeding in life. The most important ones are learned in our childhood. There’s a book by Robert Fulghum entitled “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. It’s amazing how true it is.

He wrote:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

And believe me, the rules in childhood are just as applicable when you go through life at any age.

These are the values we develop by being students here in our beloved alma mater. These are the values we develop from having a well-rounded quality education. These are the values we develop by having supportive family and friends around us.  And these are our secret weapons when we go out into the world.

Teachers, parents, family and friends of our graduates, congratulations on this important milestone in these kids’ lives. They couldn’t have done it without you.

And my dear graduates, congratulations and enjoy the rest of your celebration.

Always remember, your potential is limitless, your possibilities are endless.

Thank you and good afternoon.

(FIRST PERSON is a section Bukidnon News reserved for select pieces from speakers in and on Bukidnon. Maria Claudette A. Dela Cerna, a member of the Bukidnon State College Elementary Laboratory School Batch 1986, is now a senior associate at the Estelito Mendoza Law Office in Manila. She was the guest speaker of the BSU-ELS’ 78th Commencement Exercises on March 20, 2012 in Malaybalay City.)

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