Amat Victoria Curam

Amat Victoria Curam

Amat Victoria Curam 
 by Atty. Terrence Anton T. Callao
 Keynote Speaker
 59th Annual Honors Day
 February 13, 2017

They say experience is the best teacher. Counting the times that I qualified for an occasion like this, I think I’ve had a good 12 years of experience: 4 years in high school; 4 years in CBA; and 4 years in law school. But those years did not mitigate the nerve wrecking feeling that I have right now. In all those years, not once did I imagine myself to address the future honor students like you.
But I am here. I don’t consider myself to be an expert at public speaking, but let me try anyway.

There is a latin saying which I know all us can relate with. It says:

Amat Victoria Curam.

It means, “victory loves preparation.”

You know what I mean, right? Success entails a lot of preparation and sacrifice.

You are here because you burned your midnight candles; because you turned down an invitation to party just to study; because you closed your Facebook and Instagram accounts to lessen distractions on midterms and finals. Perhaps some of you might even feel like you are just lucky. You could be right, but you should know that even good luck follows the one who is prepared.

I might have been lucky, too, but I’d be comfortable to say that I was lucky, after I sacrificed a lot to get to where I am now. I am now lawyer, because I worked hard and studied hard, just like you.

Success, then, is within our reach. The formula to success is no secret – work hard, preserve, and you will get there. You are a testament to that, which makes all of you young achievers.

The challenge with being young, however, is the lack of experience: it sometimes distorts our notion of reality, and it makes us dread and worry about occasional failure and defeat.

Achievement is commendable, but the young achiever must be ready to win some and lose some; to persevere through obstacles to keep the momentum going.

All of us – no matter how academically gifted – will go through some form of struggle or stumbling block. I say this with conviction because I am surrounded by friends who are proud recipients of university honors – but all of whom were humbled by challenges they encountered in life.

Since some of you will soon be joining the workforce in a few months, and many more in just a couple of years, let me share with you an experience involving one of my friends, a recipient of university honors from 5 or 6 years ago, who is now working abroad. She feels so strongly about coming home despite earning well and being trusted enormously in the institution she is in. Her dilemma is like every young achiever’s dilemma: she fears the impression of failure; she fears the judgment of other people who might think that she had given up on something so good, and therefore, had fallen short of expectation. I comforted her in our brief exchange of messages, as I said:

People who have been true to themselves and have mustered courage to leave, will know that it takes even more courage to come home. Do not fear the naive who will ask, “has she abandoned her dreams?” No. Have faith in those who have experienced life and those who have gone through struggles, because they are the ones who will acknowledge that coming home is not to abandon the dream, but to live the dream that you dreamed of while you were away.

She told me she cried knowing that someone understood her situation. In life, there are just times that the job that tempted us to leave home for all its perks and benefits just doesn’t make us happy. So just in case, be prepared. I know how it feels, because I have had my own set of emotional drawbacks.

As a child, I always wanted to become a lawyer. It was a dream I shared with my late father. And so, the plan was for me to enroll in law school right after I graduated from college. But 5 months before graduation, I had a handsome job offer from one of the largest multinational companies in the Philippines. They flew me to their head office and signed me in. At the start of my employment, they gave me a mobile phone, a laptop, and soon after, a car with unlimited gasoline allowance. They booked me to the best hotels whenever I went out to check our sites. I was assured of fast track movement in the corporate ladder, and everyone who knew where I was, beamed with pride. But I did not stay long. Would you?

It really depends.

In my case, I struggled to understand the business model of my employer without a clear and visible mentor. The absence of a mentor is tormenting enough – and this was mixed with the pressure that I’ve put on myself as a young achiever. And so at 21 years old, I had had to make a decision whether to stay in the corporate jungle where I was not happy, but at least, I lived up to the expectation of others, or let them down and pursue my own happiness. It took me 11 months of reflection to make up my mind to return to Dumaguete, and follow my childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. And it took me years more to realize, that I would have been fooling myself by letting other people’s opinion control the direction of my life. Now I know, the people who matter are always in sync with what my heart tells me to do. The same should be true for you.

Whichever way I look at it now, I thank God for allowing me to stumble and survive to tell my story. I realized through my own struggles on one hand, and through my own little victories on the other, that the path to success is not won by the swift, but by those who go through life winning obstacle by obstacle, challenge by challenge, one day at a time.

I am even thankful that I have a mother who knows me too well to keep on reminding me that, “Rome was not built in a day.” How beautiful it is to hear from someone you love, and who loves you unconditionally in return, to take it slow. Achievers want to get there, now, but the reality is, getting there takes time, a lot of preparation, and a firm resolve to overcome struggles.

I am also lucky that I have sisters who show me the better meaning of success. My sister, Glenna, the Most Outstanding Student of her time, now manages the Credit Management Group of a bank in its head office in Makati. And she would tell me how she would not trade a solid learning experience over a hasty promotion. My sister, Claire, a nurse in Australia and a mother of two, sends us daily pictures of moments she spends with her family. Both my sisters, thankfully, are happy and content. By sharing their experiences and their values with me, they teach me that success is not linked to a position at work, but rather, success is a disposition in life. Indeed, it is true that, “Success is not what makes a man happy. But it is happiness that makes a man successful.”

And so before I leave this podium, I ask our honorees to remember that, even in this time and age where technology makes everything so convenient, there are still no shortcuts to success. Acknowledge that errors and emotional crises may be encountered in the process, and that you are not less valuable by such encounter. In fact, you become an asset in learning how to rise above difficulty. Finally, go and follow your heart. Feel what success is like when you are happy!

And to the parents and relatives here today, we recognize your indispensable role in honing the immeasurable potential of our young achievers. And so I pray that you be ever present: present to remind our young achievers to take it slow, to savor the moment, to go out to the world and try, and to face every endeavor with careful preparation. Because, as we have learned earlier: “Amat Victoria Curam – victory loves preparation.”

Thank you. And may we all make Silliman proud.