To speak of new beginnings, is to speak of the promise of better days; of something to look forward to. Commencement exercises are opportunities for new beginnings. As your new and 9th President, I feel privileged and honored to share with you my thoughts on your momentous event.
Before we can move towards new beginnings, it is best to look back with gratitude to the journeys we’ve had as one Bicol University family. After all, we cannot move forward without looking back with gratitude to the past leaders and administrators of Bicol University who made this institution into a force to reckon with in terms of quality education. Thank you to all the past presidents and administrators who made us into a strong Bicol University community!
Dear 2023 graduates, you have been placed in the most trying circumstances the past three years under the strain of the greatest global crisis we have ever encountered. You are a product of the pandemic times. You have been through the worst of times.
Yet, you are here. Finishing your degree. Finally graduating in the normal, face-to-face set-up, from a resilient Bicol University with the legacy of a quality education. In spite of the difficulties, we – at Bicol University – have persevered. You have persevered. That led you to this moment as graduates.
A Bicol University education is a great blessing. It opens a lot of opportunities.
These are good reasons to start your new beginning as you carve out your future.
Dear 2023 graduates, if there ever is a value worth practicing, it is the value of gratefulness. The ability to be thankful in all circumstances and to see the blessings in every situation is something that can also be integrated in one’s life, when faith is abundant and ever-present.
The three years that we were under the gloom of the pandemic have seemingly blotted out anything positive. Seriously, those were the times when we thought heaven was deaf to the cumulative prayers of the world. Those were the times when it was so difficult finding anything positive. Yet, because we have always been given the indomitable, unbending, and undefeated spirit – which can only come not from ourselves, but from Divine intervention – we were able to persevere. A light slowly began to shine on what we can consider as the “worst of times.”
When the traditional means of livelihood were cut-off, we found ways to cope. Our way of coping with the crisis eventually led to mobile delivery services and online sellers. We were kept inside our homes but we rediscovered family and the joy of taking a long but much-needed break.
But this I tell you: dear graduates, resiliency is not something you develop in just one incident. It is a product of many persevering nights and days and months, and years of telling yourself again and again that you just need to move ever forward – to get back on your feet. It is made up of a series of little sacrifices that brings out bits and pieces of perseverance. Your presence today and those of your loved ones speak of an enduring commitment to persevere despite all the odds.
Sabi nga, ang pinakamahalaga sa pamilyang Pilipino ay edukasyon.
So here we are now – celebrating our perseverance towards getting into the new normal and embracing the post-COVID recovery in every aspect – from education to livelihood; even evolving new and better ways to deliver teaching and learning. This is a value we must integrate if we are to push for our dreams.
At present, with the transition to the post-COVID recovery scenario, we are faced with various opportunities. These opportunities call for both acceptance and enhancement; if we are to seamlessly embrace as well as consider opportunities that abound. But we cannot do this, when we are set in our ways. We need to shift perspectives and look at other possibilities from various angles.
It is only now that I fully understand why obedience is a virtue. Most often than not, we find ourselves thinking highly of our ideas – we insist on what we want without really considering that there could be better ideas and concepts around.
This attitude kills innovation. It destroys faith. It is intended for each of us that we may learn to accept our differences, celebrate our diversity, and embrace our humanity even as we develop critical thinking and the ability to think for ourselves.
The ability to shift, adapt, and change perspectives is intended for each of us that we may learn to accept our differences, celebrate our diversity, and embrace our humanity even as we develop critical thinking and the ability to think for ourselves.
Today is your day of celebrating new beginnings. Your graduation gives you the chance to renew your commitment to continuing to become productive scholars with a heart for transformative leadership and collaborative service and the continuous nurturing of your character as you evolve and contribute to building better and sustainable societies.
However, we can only celebrate new beginnings fully and wholeheartedly, when we learn to change our old mindset – when we let go of our fears and limitations and start changing perspectives; so that we can continuously evolve with the changing times.
Flexibility. Adaptability. Resiliency. These are the necessary attitudes that each of us must continue to develop by learning to shift and change our perspective when necessary and should the situation call for it.
But this I tell you: dear graduates, resiliency is not something you develop in just one incident. It is a product of many persevering nights and days and months, and years of telling yourself again and again that you just need to move ever forward – to get back on your feet. It is made up of a series of little sacrifices that brings out bits and pieces of perseverance. It is composed of a series of breaking points where the human resolve to continue becomes the saving grace.
Finally, to succeed in any aspect of life, we must be keen on identifying and finding opportunities for growth and development not only of ourselves but most importantly of others and our communities. Each time we find opportunities and develop ourselves, we must always be aware of our higher purpose for developing ourselves. That is, we find opportunities for ourselves because we want to extend these to others and beyond. We develop ourselves to develop others. We cannot give what we do not have.
I challenge each of you to equip yourselves to the point that you can create opportunities and provide these to others. Creating opportunities mean nurturing your innovative spirit and creative mind.
Dear graduates, activate the goodness in you. Seek to become blessings. Walk your talk. Be a person of dignity. Let your scholastic excellence extend to leadership, service, and character as you continue to celebrate life, creating opportunities, and changing perspectives, one meaningful day at a time.
In conclusion, I invite each of you to be still. Be silent. And let these prayerful thoughts guide you as you leave the portals of Bicol University.
God, we entrust these graduates into your care. Help them to look at their lives through Your lens, without outside influence, in true appreciation for what You are doing in their lives. Let the gifts and talents that You have given them be their guide to become good stewards of their time, treasures and talents. Guide them and help them find their places to serve and reach out to others in their prospective careers, families, and volunteer work. Open their eyes that they may see success in the light of Your love. Most of all, amidst all the distractions and voices, allow them to hear Your voice above all others. Amen.
Congratulations, dear graduates!