In line with the 48th Founding Anniversary of my Alma Mater, St. Francis School-La Libertad, I was invited as "sharer" for the first day Novena Mass. Being a sharer means retelling what you have learned when you were still studying at that school and how St. Francis’ teachings influenced you as a person. So here’s the speech I made…
Good morning to one and all, especially to the School Principal and Director, Fr. Ferdinand Mercado, OFM., Faculty Members who from day one until today, at this very hour, stay—Ma’am Cecilia Domen, Ma’am Gem Timtim, Ma’am Thelma Lim, Ma’am Marivic Celestial, my very good friend and classmate, Sir Michael James Bontigao, Ma’am Jelyn Ego-ogan, Ma’am Mayflor Bacod, Ma’am Charlisle Calundre, Ma’am Jenelyn Bitongga, Ma’am Jerdaniza Bejaza; the School Staff Ma’am Nora Dupal-ag, Ma’am Evangeline Sapotalo, Ma’am Nympha Berongan, Ma’am Celestina Gepulan, Sir Peter Tejedor (Manong Buboy), Mr. Rafael Ipogon, Mr. Toni Mapait; and to you my fellow Franciscans, a good day!
It’s been a while, quite a while since I spoke on this stage. Let’s say more than six years ago, but the memories are kept and sealed tightly. My task here is to share with you how this institution molded and brought me to who and where I am now… and to share with you how life went on when I was still studying here.
2013, June of that year when I first entered the walls of St. Francis School. Being new to the Franciscan community of course, there was this feeling of fear, shyness, innocence, and curiosity of what life would be once you’re in high school, particularly in this school. I was filled with questions that time, but despite that, what I did was, I instilled in this mind that whatever comes my way and whatever may happen, I’ll continue believing in myself. So that was the start of my Franciscan journey, fully embracing the fact that starting that day, I became part, officially part of this group.
First year as I described it, was filled with interest and excitement… of course, seeing new faces, meeting more friends and inspirations, learning new ideas, experiencing more joys, helping and sharing with others, and most importantly, discovering more of your potentials, more of what you think you can never do. The succeeding years, 2nd year, 3rd year, and 4th year, we were already acquainted with a lot of things about St. Francis, the school rituals and practices, events, the attitudes of our classmates, our teachers’ personalities, some secrets and techniques behind. Also, we became more active and participative in activities, and we became wiser and smarter.
But let me share with you that what I really gained from this school is self-confidence, the trust to one’s own abilities. I came here, feeling like nothing to prove, because just like some of you, I was very shy and silent. But as days progress, and as we stay longer in this place, I have proven that we are molded, our every potential is slowly revealed. And I bet you’re smiling because you’re experiencing it now. And also I realized that there’s no room in this world for shy people. So I let go of all my fears and apprehensions, and jived with the flow.
I am emphasizing on this certain thing because to tell you, St. Francis School has been the best ground for me to discover more of what I think I have. Leadership, character formation, talents such as singing, dancing, acting and hosting, these are just some of the best things that this great institution can influence you if you let it happen in your life. And just imagine how your life would become, and how this will change you for the better especially if shared unselfishly with others.
And to tell you most honestly, I have brought with me these abilities when I entered college and until now.
When I was in high school, even if you ask your computer teacher, Sir Michael (because he’s been my partner in both crimes and good deeds), I must say that I have no regrets at all, because I’ve tried almost everything—leadership being part of the SG. In fact, there was even one summer when we were sent as delegates to the First Franciscan Leadership Summer Camp at Christ the King College in Calbayog City, Samar. There were five of us then and that opportunity was truly one of a kind. Another was public speaking as we were exposed to affairs inside and outside the school, and going to places inviting pupils to enroll at St. Francis. Joining contests inside and outside the campus, performing and entertaining people, reaching out to people especially during Christmas seasons as we serenade the prisoners with Christmas songs, and give them gifts, and to some of our less-fortunate brothers in the hinterlands, and I think that is still practiced until now. Getting along with the society, and many other things that were first experienced when I studied here.
Also, here in St. Francis, character is molded. You’ll get to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You’ll get to know where you’re best at. And here, solid friendship is built.
High school is the perfect transition, and the peak of learning and enjoyment. Enjoy and savor every single moment that you’re with your classmates, teachers, schoolmates and special people, ‘cause the things that are happening today will hardly happen tomorrow, especially when each of you already has his/her own priority. It happened to the previous batches, it happens to us, and it will happen to you.
To the graduating students, follow what your heart is telling you. Pursue the course that you really wanted to take, but also, always listen to your elders and be open for other possibilities, ‘cause once you do, will and determination to succeed follows. And if ever you’ll become successful, never turn your back to where you come from. Always look back to your alma mater, to the school ground where you learn to stand up after falling down.
To all of us, the obstacles that we are facing right now are just challenges to test how tough we are. That’s normal because everyone of us is tested, especially when one is maturing. Let us never surrender ‘til we see the glory in the end. And as inculcated in the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, let us stay humble and always be ready to lend a hand to those who need our help.
Thank you very much for inviting me here, Fr. Ferd and the committee. God bless us all and long live Franciscans! Thank you…