Thursday, March 30, 2006

My daughter's speech

Angelica Rossana B. Tolentino
Class 2006, Sta.Catalina College
Graduation Day, March 25, 2006

Our beloved School Head, Sr. Elizabeth O. Castino, O.P.; the Dominican Sisters; dear teachers and non-teaching personnel; our dear parents, guests, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant evening.

It is my singular honor and privilege / to speak in behalf of my fellow graduates / as we, the members of Class 2006, / take our last bow / as students of this great learning institution, / our dear Sta. Catalina College. As graduates,/ we are undoubtedly experiencing mixed emotions today / as we begin to think of parting ways / and of bidding goodbye to each other. Allow me to recite a short stanza / that I wrote for this moment…
"Goodbye is hard to say
But we know we can't stay,
Memories shared together
We will cherish... forever..."

What I just recited to you / mirrors the truth that we should all accept, / though painful it may seem. Fellow graduates, / goodbye may signify now an end / to the four years we shared together in high school, / and for some of us, ten or so years since kinder, / but, / the good news is, / it likewise means that we will soon see each other again.../ hopefully, after we have sailed through our respective personal voyages / and come back together again sometime in the future.../ by which time, / we would already be more learned, / mature / and a lot wiser.

When our parents first brought us to this great learning institution for our education, / we were like seeds / that have just been planted. Year after year,/ through proper nurturing and guidance from our mentors, / we slowly evolved into young trees / until we've grown roots strong enough to sustain ourselves. We began to grow branches / and started to bloom. We were molded to understand the truth / and to discover the unknown. As our second home for several years,/ our school acted as our protective shield from negative elements, / very much like that of a bigger and older tree / giving shade to little trees like us.

Also, / here, / we developed friendships and camaraderie / that will surely last for long, / and imbibed in us / a sense of unity even in the midst of strong competition, / both in academics and co-and extra-curricular activities. And being a Catholic school, / our Alma Mater never failed / to instill in us moral values and virtues / that enriched us spiritually / and molded our good character.

Fellow graduates, / the long time we shared together / has allowed each one of us to do a task or two, / play this role or that, / work on certain projects, / join contests, / and many other activities and endeavors / that bonded us together and tested our character. Who can ever forget the unity of our batch when it comes to activities and competitions / like Speech Choir, / Dance Interpretation, / and Cheering? Remember the exhausting practices that lasted until late in the evening? ... the joys and the cries whenever we win or lose? ... the all-out support we gave to our competing classmates? ... and the tough examinations we all had to hurdle? Yes, / these are all wonderful moments / that will soon become part of our good memories after this day.

High school, they say, / is the happiest part of one's school life. It may be saddening that this happiest part of our school life / is now coming to an end. But,/ at the same time, / we are excited because / we know that our high school graduation / will open for us new doors and windows of enormous and numerous opportunities / as we go on through our own respective journeys in life / and claim our own personal victories. Our Graduation Day, therefore, / marks not the end / but the start of a more challenging experience.

As we graduate today, / it is but proper and fitting to extend our deepest gratitude / to those behind our great success.

To our dear Alma Mater, for sheltering us not only with good school facilities that are conducive for learning / but more so / for imbuing with us a great pride of being a Catherinean.

To the School Administration, for steering the course for us towards achieving our purpose in this institution, / and for all its support in every activity and endeavor.

To our dear teachers, for selflessly sharing with us your invaluable time, / precious knowledge / and priceless efforts / if only to nurture our minds / and prepare us for greater heights / at the same time ensuring our development as children of God.

To my classmates and fellow graduates, for the time and moments we all shared together, / for our treasured friendship, / and for our collective efforts in making our batch / one of the best that Sta. Catalina College has ever produced. Fellow graduates, you are the best / and I'm very proud / and feel honored to be part of this batch!

Of course, to our ever-supportive parents and guardians, who incessantly gave us love, support and guidance every step of the way. A million thanks also for your sacrifices and hardships / if only to provide us quality education.

On a personal level, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my Papa,/ who never stopped believing in what I can do / especially at times when / even I doubted myself. To my Mama, / who, / even if she is miles away, / never failed to look after my welfare / as if she is just here beside me. Papa and Mama, whatever happened to the both of you,/ I am still thankful because / in your individual ways,/ you have strengthened me with your unconditional love,/ support / and guidance. To my only brother,/ thank you for being my pillar and my friend. To my Lolo and Lola,/ I know that thank you is not enough / to express my heartfelt gratitude for all your unparalleled sacrifices, love, patience, understanding and mentoring. To Papang and Mamang, / for taking care of me everytime I spend my memorable summer vacations in Ilocos. To my stepmom, for being kind and a true friend. And to my special inspiration, for your unending support, thank you.

At this juncture, / my fellow graduates and friends,/ with your kind indulgence,/ please allow me to share / an important piece of my life. My life is not a typical one. I am a product of a broken family. My brother and I live with my maternal grandparents,/ per arrangement between my parents. In their separate ways,/ my parents did all their best / to make me feel the least impact of their failed marriage,/ as they never ceased to provide love,/ care / and support to me and my brother. Although nothing compares / to having both your parents beside you everyday, I / nevertheless / never dwelled on what is lacking in my life. Instead, / I took it as a challenge / that triggered me to focus on the positive / and to aim higher and strive further in school. I never ceased to make my parents proud of me / by being good in class. Now, I'd like to believe / that I haven't failed them.

My fellow honor graduates,/ my sincerest thanks to you all. It has been a pleasant experience being in your company / as we engaged in fierce yet friendly competitions. These friendly competitions,/ though sometimes test the limit of our friendships,/ made me understood better / the value of achievement. Reaching what I have reached today / is even made more wonderful by the fact that / it was fought out with equally talented fellow students like you. Notwithstanding, / it is my hope / that our friendship that we’ve cultivated over the years / would prevail in our midst.

Lastly but certainly not the least,/ a big THANK YOU to the Omnipotent God,/ who continuously serves as our Light / on our path towards success / and who’ll never forsake us / as we continue in our struggles in life.

My fellow graduates,/ today may be the last day we can be together as "one". But as we part ways / and go on with our lives,/ "Batch Astig",/ as we fondly call ourselves,/ will stay in our hearts / and in this institution / forever.Congratulations and good luck to us all. I will definitely miss you all. May God bless us in all our endeavors. Again, thank you and good evening.