Photo Credit: artotm, www.sxc.hu

To our excellent school president, hardworking staff, unselfish teachers, honorable guest and fellow graduates, and their loving families, good afternoon to all of you.

I’m privileged to stand here and deliver a speech which I have prayed, will impart a vision and inspiration in the hearts of all. I stand here not because of what I’ve done, but because of God had done through me. With all the honors I have received, let me gratefully pass it to my Creator. In this picture, I’m just the paintbrush and He is the Painter, I’m the piano and He is the Pianist. I can’t do all of these things without Him and this is true for the other as well, that I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

I entered this school with a simple plan in my mind: study hard, gain all the knowledge I could get from teachers and books, leave this school after graduation, find a good job, earn a lot of money, chase a beautiful wife, build a family, and live for myself; less for them and more for me, more for me and less for them – not too evil and selfish I thought on that time, besides, many also have these in mind.

With all those foolishness running in my veins, I survived in this school for the first few months, met people with different visions and frankly, they were the people I secretly hate - Christians. Back then, I’m already sick of hearing their repeated gospel of salvation a thousand times. I was an atheist and for me, if religion can’t answer everything, then it is just a waste of time for desperate people who are trying to figure out life.

I am a booklover and anyone can attest to that, I’d be in the library on my free time. During the first quarter of my stay here, I also read other kind of books – the ‘life book’ of every Christian here especially of the school staff. And then time passed, a very alarming message begun shouting to my soul. Is this true? That their belief is not just a category of thinking? Every time I look on their eyes, I can see the image of Jesus of Nazareth and it’s like He is living in these people. I’m not prepared for that undeniable encounter. I met grace and I’m fully naked before it, gradually it covered me until I’m drowning on the streams of love and mercy and finally, I cried to the God whom I hated that eventually I had to come to love. Amazing Grace saved a wretch like me.

This is the most important lesson I’ve learned in my life, that I’m a child of God – beloved and cared. And for the first time, I sensed meaning and purpose that I never had before. A heart of gratefulness started to grow in me. So today ladies and gentlemen, let me take this opportunity to express gratitude to all the people who unselfishly shared their life to the man standing in front of all of you. To my father, I will never forget all the exhausting labor you endured, tears and pain in exchange of our good life. And here I am standing, finished my education mainly because of your unselfish giving and sacrifice. Without shame, I can proudly shout that I am your son and that I’m very proud of you my loving father. Even though you were often quiet, I know that you always want to say that you love me, and as I reply, I want to say, I want to shout, I want to proclaim to all the people here that I love you too. To the most beautiful woman in my life who loves her sons more than herself, thank you, my cherished mother. To the one who inspired me to draw and then to read books that became my source of wisdom and inspiration, I am so blessed to have you as my brother. To my friends, Jefferson Ebrada, who in his life echoed that relationship is more important than stuff. To Richmond Lampa, who encouraged me to always be true to myself and not to wear a mask on my face. To my ‘kuya’ here in school, Christian Trajano, who planted the seed of grace in my heart. To my first very first spiritual mentor, Christian Luz, who taught me that life is meaningless without God. And to all of you my fellow graduates, who continually inspired me to become a better person and who sing with me for the glory of the Highest, I want to give my heartfelt gratitude to all of you.

My heart will burst if I would not express my thanks to all the staff of this blessed school. More than the excellence in teaching and discipline, you painted the beautiful message of Jesus for all of us. Thank for all the food, though we often complain. Thank you for all the guidance and direction in our studies and in our lives. Because you showed a selfless love, Christianity became very real and personal to all of us, even to a religion hater like me. You’ll never know how grateful we are for all of you and for the priceless legacy you imparted in the hearts of your students.

This school teaches a mighty principle, that Giving is Living . All the staff work here with low salary in return, but despite that, they are the most contented and gracious people I’ve met. They lived in service for the underprivileged individuals like us, seems that they are just ‘wasting’ and losing their life. But in the process of giving their own, they eventually find a life of peace and joy. The message of Jesus is ringing true, “Try to save your life and you will lose it, but give your life for My sake and you will find it”. So I encourage all of you my fellow graduates, to live life in giving like all the staff of this blessed school do. By giving to us, they are teaching us to give. Don’t fall on the great joke that life is all about you. Eventually, all your achievements and possessions will come to an end on your funeral. What will matter on that time is what you have given and not what you have received. There is no car beside the casket. Don’t imitate Alexander, king of Macedon Greece who almost gained and conquered the whole world but lost it all in death. Imitate Jesus of Nazareth who gave His life for you and me, and brought eternal hope to all humankind. Don’t be like Alexander the Great, no – be like Jesus the Greatest.

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