‘Aim for Meaning in Life,’ Outgoing Silliman President Dr. Malayang Urges Graduates

‘Aim for Meaning in Life,’ Outgoing Silliman President Dr. Malayang Urges Graduates

Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, President, Silliman University 

(Commencement Address, Silliman University, 25 March 2018)

Now is a moment of your success. It is also a moment of success for your families and friends.

But success is fleeting, just as failure is not permanent. Success is never forever. It comes then it goes.

So is failure. It is never forever either. And you don’t always get what you want.

Winston Churchill said it best: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal.” And, he adds, “It is the courage to continue that counts.” In fact, says Churchill, “success consists on going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

You need courage to persist to live life from one success to another, and to go on despite failures. You all would be achieving successes, but also as surely, meeting failures. It would be courage that would make a difference. It would be courage that would allow you to breach failures and to step into new successes.

Courage is born of integrity. Integrity is strength of character and of faith that gives power to move on despite failures, and to keep moving from one success to another. Without integrity and faith, one cannot muster real courage. Integrity and faith are two necessary ingredients of unwavering courage. It is real courage that will not allow you to forever wallow in failures, nor forever rest on a success. Courage founded on integrity and faith will urge you to keep moving on in face of successes and despite failures.

Integrity, faith, and courage are best measured by how much you have them, even if no one else is looking. Even if no one else is watching. You cannot pretend courage nor display faith and integrity for only public consumption. It is in you, or you don’t have them.

But courage is not enough. There is one other thing I would urge you to do. Because you could never achieve success without others helping you achieve success, and without God giving you strength to succeed, be humble always, and be always grateful, not so much for your success, but for the many people and for God who allowed you to succeed. And because you could never remain a failure without others and God being there for your to lift you up and make you rise again after a failure, be grateful as well, not for the failure, but for how a failure allows you to know who really cares for you, and for how, in failures, you could actually discover what strengths you have to rise up and move on.

Courage stems from integrity and faith. Gratitude sprouts from humility.

Integrity, faith, courage, and humility – these are those that give meaning to life.

This, I believe: One finds value in life not so much for one’s successes or ability to overcome failure. Value comes from finding meaning in one’s existence. It is integrity, faith, courage, humility, and gratitude that nurture meaning in our life.

One other thing that gives meaning to life: your having served others, more than being served.

A life of courage securely founded on integrity and faith, and lived in constant gratitude and true humility, and a life dedicated to serving others – is a meaningful life. Not successes or failures. In life and in death, you all, and each of us, would be eventually valued by others and by God, and measured by our integrity, faith, courage, gratitude, humility, and commitment to serve others. It would not by our successes or failures, however outstanding or tragic.

This is what Sillimanians aim for. Not successes, nor overcoming failures, but meaning. To live a life that has meaning, a meaningful life of value to many and to God.

Have integrity. Be faithful. Be courageous. Be grateful. Be humble. And, like Christ, go out into the world not to be served but to serve.

Pursue a life of meaning, not a life of success or minimum failures. Pursue a life that means a lot to you, to others, and to God.

At this time, I join you in expressing gratitude to Silliman. You could be grateful for the education Silliman has given you. For my part, I am grateful for the opportunity given me to serve it. And I am grateful that we have a new president, Dr. Betty McCann, who will serve our alma mater beginning June 1.

Courage anchored on integrity and faith, and gratitude nurtured by humility, and a life of service: these are the hallmarks of what it means to be a Sillimanian. Be so, be Sillimanians all your life.

Take courage rooted on integrity and faith. Have a humble heart of constant gratitude. Serve, and keep serving others.

Ms. Rowena Torrevillas, a Sillimanian poet, once shared: “You were made on purpose, for a purpose.” And so I urge you, face your future not in fear, but always in faith. Keep moving from one success to another. Rise up from any failure and move on. Don’t let today’s successes and failures mold your tomorrows. Each day, break the mold and keep going! Have faith. Have no fear. Seek meaning and a meaningful life. God is with you!

Godspeed. Goodbye.

Read related article: Outgoing President Addresses Graduating Class