Melzar R. Galicia, Jr., B.S. Business Managment, Magna Cum Laude, graduated valedictorian from Ateneo de Davao University, batch 2017.
No words can express the joy that I feel for the opportunity given to me to deliver this valedictory address. Making this speech had been very challenging as I found myself responsible in capturing all the unique experiences of over 1570 graduates and expectations of even more parents, guardians and significant others. With so much on my shoulders, I have decided to just speak from the heart and hope that my heart touches yours. More than just our diplomas, today marks the end of all those sleepless nights just to be able to beat the project’s deadlines, today marks the end of coffee and Kdrama overloads just to stay awake to study, today marks the end of us receiving “baons” from our parents, and today marks the end of the “me overnyt mi kay naa project pero nag Dota ra diay” or maybe not. Whatever you are determined to end today, we end it today as we leave the past behind, bringing the memory of our college life and the many lessons brought about by the trials and triumphs of our Ateneo education.
When I was very young, the greatest question of life for me was whether I would become an astronaut, a president, or better yet a power ranger. I believe most of us boys share the same dreams back then. Then schooling came, and with a little taste of institutionalized education, my dreams changed. In elementary, my life plan was to be a lawyer, then president of the Republic, then retire and be a tupperware dealer. The tupperware part was inspired by my mother’s work back then of going around subdivisions selling tupperwares. A lot of things changed in highschool and so did my dreams. Well actually the only thing that changed was me deciding to drop my dream of becoming a tupperware dealer. Now that I’m finishing college, my dreams in high school are as closer than ever, and so are yours too. I’m pretty much sure that most of us have experienced changing our dreams although we keep some. Girls may have wanted to become cash register attendants, then it changed to becoming a supermodel, then changed to becoming a nurse or a doctor and now girls just want to be with Joo Hyuk or any one of those singing dancing Korean guys. The same as for boys, boys begin by wanting to be like Johnny Bravo, then Arnold Schwarzenegger, and now Coco Martin or better yet girls and boys have become women and men who want to dream big not just for themselves and their families but for a better Philippines.
Our Dreams Change
Indeed, dreams change, and we all are testaments to that truism. In fact, let us remember a guy named St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius started with the dream of becoming a heralded knight but his dreams changed. He dreamed of serving no longer an earthly king but a heavenly one and he ended up becoming an inspiration to us all for his pedagogical contributions and deep spiritual reflections that can be seen and experienced through the Spiritual Exercises. Dreams change. Dreams change because God wants to use us as his instruments. Dreams change because we understand ourselves much more as we grow. We understand the implications of restrictions and opportunities and we understand that by focusing on the things that we feel passionate about, we get to do more and affect more. We mold our dreams based on the passions we have acquired throughout the course of life. One may find himself passionate about leadership and so he dreams of a society where people embrace responsibilities. Others may find themselves passionate about the environment and so they become active environmentalists. While there are also others who are passionate about social justice for the common good, and we call them men and women for others, for short, an Atenean. Not just proud to be called Ateneans but given the magnitude of the personal and national challenges we all face, we are humbly taking the challenge of being Ateneo de Davao University Sui Generis Leaders for Mindanao and the entire country. There are a lot of things to be passionate about but the true question is, how do we get our passions to turn our dreams into reality.
Advocating for our Passions
The answer is to advocate for our passions. Advocating means that we have to take the responsibility of informing others of what we are passionate about then leading and living a life that is worthy of following. But it is not as easy as it sounds. On passions, most passions are hardly ever rewarding. Being passionate say for example on dancing does not really affect our QPI and so dancers tend to look at what society or what the school dictates as rewarding and they adapt to it, dancers, artists, athletes try to become public speakers because public speaking is a skill highly valued by society. If we pursue on this trend of imposing a definite set of appreciated passions, sooner or later, we’ll be finding ourselves living in a very very unexciting and unprogressive world. We need to stop and be more appreciative and supportive of what others are advocating about, the world needs a variety of passions, a variety of dreams for it to be considered beautiful.
We advocate passions because we do not want our passions to die, we do not want our dreams to die either. When we keep our passions to ourselves without imparting any of it to others, like the parable of the talent, the master will surely take what is not shared. We are usually skillful and educated on the passions that we chose, and we have to share these skills and knowledge to others so that there may be more who share the same and the attainment of our dream would be much easier. We should also remember to always reach for the stars so when we fall, we fall on the clouds.
Dreaming bigger dreams
Now that we know that dreams are guided by passion and achieved by advocating, the next question would be to whom should we be dreaming for? Of course we should be dreaming for ourselves because without it all our actions would be misguided but as graduates of Ateneo de Davao University, we are called by the very principle of MAGIS to do more, to dream more. We are called to dream for others, for our communities and for our nation. Our country is currently experiencing major changes brought about by the present administration. Today we see a lot of problems coming out of their shells such as that of the problems of drugs that are plaguing the different corners of our society, the abuse of environmental resources, corruption, and violations against human rights, etc. Our beloved Mother Land, the Philippines, is not only asking but rather demanding from us to fulfill our duty to include her in our dreams as Ateneo de Davao University Sui Generis Leaders and as men and women for others. Together let us dream and advocate for the government’s dream dubbed as Ambisyon 2040, where we see Filipinos living and enjoying a stable and comfortable life, where contentment is sought over wealth, where people feel the calm assurance that indeed the future for them and their families would be a future where they will be together. Certainly, Ambisyon 2040 is national dream that is not complete in itself but as graduates of Ateneo de Davao University, we ask now ourselves: what do we do now with our academic degrees? Mindful of the importance of discernment in finding the will of God, I hope that through our Ateneo education, we can contribute more to the fulfillment and betterment of Ambisyon 2040.
Greetings and Closing
On behalf of the graduating batch, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our parents who, for most of the time, are patient and kind enough to understand our youthful, rebellious and sometimes ungrateful behaviors. We are very thankful for the unconditional love that you have shown us.
To our friends who have been with us along the way, it’s not yet over bai. We still have a lot to learn, and a lot to dream of and pray for.
To Ateneo de Davao University and to our teachers, forever will we be bringing the values you have taught us! We will continue our journey as Ateneo de Davao University Sui Generis Leaders not only for Mindanao but for the Philippines. We will never forget you.
On a personal note, I would like to thank ARRUPE, PIGLASAPAT, ASMS and Samahan for being avenues where I have developed my passions.
4BM-A, Daddy, Mommy, Mia, Mico and of course my one and only Mally I love you!
Let me end by sharing to you a verse of one of my favorite hymnal songs and it goes: God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind, so when you don’t understand, when you don’t see his plan, when you can’t trace his hand, TRUST HIS HEART.
Thank you and AMDG!