Carry On: Endeavor to Accomplish What is Approved by Man and by God
By Prof. Jane Annette L. Belarmino, Vice President for Development
(Commencement speech delivered at Cristal e-College in Panglao, Bohol on March 27, 2015.)
Graduation ceremonies are times of thankfulness, appreciation and love for all those who supported and helped you to succeed. Today is a time of fulfillment as you see all your work and sacrifice come to fruition, and of looking ahead with hope and confidence.
My speech today has three main points: the North Star and your destiny in the light of the ASEAN Integration, learning from the life of Joseph the Dreamer, and the Parable of the Ten Minas.
Do you still remember that as a child, you were often asked, “Paglaki mo, ano ang gusto mong maging?” “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Do you still remember your answer? Some of you said, “I want to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a captain, or the President of the Philippines.”
Perhaps the more appropriate questions to ask are: “What do you want to do with your life?” “How will you make your life count in the light of eternity?” “Why were you born for such a time as this?”
These questions are very important, because you have a destiny. As early as now, before you enter the workplace and start your journey, you have to define for yourselves what your measure of success is, what matters most to you in the light of eternity.
ASEAN Integration, Philippines by 2050
Have you ever wondered why you were born for such a time as this when the country and the world is facing unprecedented challenges? These really are exciting times for you. Uncertain, yes, but still full of promise and opportunity.
The Philippines is preparing for the impact of the ASEAN Integration. Your generation is expected to usher in unrivaled economic prosperity for our country.
The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint is expected to unite all nations in ASEAN into a single market and production base. The goal is to make the region fully integrated into the global economy. Imagine this, a world without borders, without the need for visas or custom duties. Travelling around the world and transporting goods would be as easy as using a plane from Bohol to Manila, or a fast craft to Dumaguete. The country is putting in place the needed infrastructure and connectivity to allow the free flow of goods, services, investments, competent professionals and skilled labor. Free flow means no barriers to entry. Ideally, no taxes on imports and exports, and the same qualification standards needed for the practice of professions. Firms that provide the best quality goods at the lowest cost win. Professionals, Filipino, Thai or Indonesian with the best credentials compete for the same jobs.
It is a challenging goal for all countries involved. ASEAN is a very big region in terms of size and population. The region consists of about 32,000 islands, a combined size of about 4 million square kilometers, and is home to about 600 million people.
Obviously, the maritime transport sector is expected to play a major role in economic integration. This results from the growing interdependence of the region with the global markets and in line with the accelerated implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. The basic function of trade is inseparable from the movement of people and goods. Therefore, all member countries are working to have a well-developed transport infrastructure, including the development of much needed competent human resources.
Today, in 2015, most of you are 20 years old. You are about to start your journey to fulfill your destiny.
In the next 35 years in 2050, when you will be 55 years old, the Philippines is expected to become one of the 32 largest economies in the world.
Only last month, an update from the global consulting firm of PwC was released. The report entitled: “The World in 2050: Will the Shift in Global Economic Power Continue?”said, “the top ten fastest growing economies are all in developing countries, seven from the south and southeast Asia, and three are from Africa.” These countries include the Philippines.
The global economic power shift away from the established advanced economies in North America andWestern Europe will continue over the next 35 years, despite a projected slowdown in Chinese growth.
When you are 35 years old, China will clearly become the largest economy by 2030 dislodging the United States, while India could challenge the US for second place. Indonesia, Mexico, and Nigeria could push the United Kingdom and France out of the top 10. The Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia are also set to be notable risers in the period under review.
In the gross domestic product ranking in purchasing power parity, the paper said that China has already overtaken the US in 2014. The old analogy of saying that when the United States sneezes, the whole world gets sick, is no longer appropriate.
In this same ranking, the Philippines is currently in the 28thplace out of 32 but predicted to move up to 26th in 2030 and 20th in 2050 passing Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia.
According to another study by HSBC, the Philippines will become the 16th largest economy in the world, the 5th largest economy in Asia, and the largest economy in theSoutheast Asian region by 2050. Can we fully comprehend what all these mean to our lives, our loved ones and our country?
There are so many opportunities open to you. You may ask yourself, where will you be when all these things come to pass? How can you compete and thrive in the light of all these?As you begin your journey and seek your destiny, there will be so many options to consider. You may lose your way.
How can you lead your lives seeking to fulfill your destiny? How do you stay on the right course and not be distracted with what is convenient, fast and easy over what is honorable and enduring? When you get lost, how will you find your way back?
Perhaps, your Maritime Department can give us some clues.
For many thousand years, the North Star has been used as a guiding star andreference point for navigators and astronomers.
You see, the most modern ships with the latest high technology navigational equipment can still get lost in a violent storm. Compasses point to the magnetic north which is not the same at all times, nor the same in different parts of the world. Magnetic declination causes inaccuracies.The beauty of using the North Star for navigation is that unlike a magnetic compass, the North Star always points to true north. There is no magnetic declination to deal with.
The position of all the other stars changes as the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, except for the North Star. The North Star keeps its position.
Therefore, the wisest ship captains learn to navigate using the North Star as a reference point.
In your journey through life, you will face many challenges, temptations, opposition and adversity. There are times when you become lost and confused. With so many options, how do you know you are going in the right direction? Before you take that first step, you need to know your North Star.
How do you carry on and endeavor to accomplish what is approved by God and by men? Look to your North Star, Our Lord Jesus Christ, our “Via, Veritas, Vita, the Way the Truth and the Life.” He points the Way to live, stands on the Truth of His Word, and leads the Life by His example. He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. People change, circumstances change, your health changes, the economy changes. But He never changes.
The Story of Joseph
The story of Joseph tells of a man who remained faithful to his North Star, as he experienced rejection by his ownbrothers and faced adversity, discrimination and uncertainty amongst people in a foreign land. From a very rural, agricultural Canaan tending sheep, he found himself in Egypt, one of the most advanced and sophisticated civilizations at that time.
Joseph was the 11th son and the obvious favorite among the 12 sons of Jacob. As the story goes, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.
In the household of Potiphar, the Lord made everything Joseph was doing successful. Potiphar trusted Joseph to be a steward over all that he owned, except of course, his wife.
Being well-built and good-looking, Potiphar’s wife was attracted to him. He said no to the temptations of Potiphar’s wife and suffered the negative consequences of choosing character over convenience, position, material wealth, and the temporary pleasures offered by Potiphar’s wife.
While in prison, the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the eyes of the jail warden.
Acknowledging that his gift of interpreting dreams as coming from God, he remained faithful as he interpreted Pharaoh’sdream and was not intimidated by the highly educated officials in Pharaoh’s court.
Joseph, a Hebrew slave, at the age of 30 became prime minister of Egypt, a world economic power at that time. He was second only to Pharaoh. With God as his North Star, Joseph succeeded in circumstances that would have overwhelmed any man. Not influenced by the wealth and power around him, he kept his eyes on God. God rewarded him for his faithfulness and integrity, giving him all the power in Egypt. Through him, God saved millions from starvation, and saved the nation of Israel.
You can learn from the example of Joseph’s integrity and faithfulness to God, as you seek your place amidst the ASEAN Integration.
The Parable of the Ten Minas
Earlier, I asked that you define for yourselves your measure of success, what matters most to you in the light of eternity.
I want to share with you the Parable of the Ten Minas, found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 19.
The story begins with a rich man, about to set out on a long journey to be crowned king. Before he left, he gave ten of hisservantsten minas, one mina for each servant, for them to do business with. In ancient Greece, the value of a mina was about one fourth of the annual income of an agricultural worker.
A year later, the man, now crowned king, came back and called his servants to account for their minas. He wanted to know how much they have earned.
The first servant said, “Sir, I give back to you the one mina with ten more that your mina has earned.”
And the king said to him, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities.”
Then the second one came and said, “Sir, here is your one mina. It has made five minas more.” So the king said to him, “You are to be over five cities.”
Then a third servant came and said, “Sir, here is your mina that I put away for safekeeping in a piece of cloth. For I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You withdraw what you do not deposit and reap what you did not sow.”
The king said to him, “I will judge you by your ownwords, you wicked servant. So you knew did you, that I was a hard man, withdrawing what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, so that when I returned I could have collected it with interest?”
And he said to his attendants, “Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has earned ten.” But they said to him, “Sir, he has ten minas already!” The king answered “I tell you that everyone who has will be given more, but from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”
What is very interesting to me is that in the parable, it was only to the first man and not the second, that the king said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” The ten minas he earned were not for him. He gave all back to the king.
In my heart, I have this desire, and it is also my prayer for my own children, my loved ones and now, for all of you today.
When all is said and done, and we finally meet our Lord in heaven, He would call each of us by name and say,“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”