By: Ricardo A. Balbido, Jr.
Chair, Board of Trustees
104th Commencement Speaker || March 19, 2017
Allow me to deviate from the usual greetings protocol. Let me greet first the most important people today, the PARENTS. Thank you Dad, Mom, Papa, Mama, Tatay, Nanay for all your sacrifices to see us through and brave the risks of travel to be with us in today’s meaningful and joyous occasion; to the members of the Board of Trustees, who are responsible in setting the strategic direction of this University steadfastly making sure that the very core of its existence is being lived; to our University Administration headed by our President Ben Malayang, who together with his esteemed faculty and efficient Officers & Staff, steer that direction to make sure that we mold on you that high level of competence and strong character anchored on unwavering faith in GOD; warm greetings too to all our Alumni who through thick and thin are there for our Alma Mater; to our Pastors who extend their hands in enriching our spirituality; and to all our visitors, GOOD AFTERNOON.
I had a difficult time looking for something to say to you on this graduation day. But after realizing that you belong to the Millennial generation — the generation of information, the generation where information is figuratively at your fingertips — suddenly I felt so lucky because it means I don’t have to do a long talk for you today. You may ask why not? Because everything I say here, you would be able to access even probably better & superior speeches when you do a search in Google about graduation speeches done at Harvard University, Yale University, Stamford University, University of the Philippines, and even previous speeches done right here at Silliman University – speeches from very known & eloquent speakers. So why should I bother boring you listening to statements like – graduation is a day to reckon with in the life of a student – that after long arduous years studded with late nights of seemingly unending struggle, a successful crack of the college diploma gives you that indescribable feeling of joy & triumph – Or, nothing beats the gush of emotions that rules over your being when you accomplish your biggest goal in life, to graduate from college, which hopefully thereafter, opens the door to the challenging vista of the professional world —the world of better opportunities & possibilities, and all of life realities.
OR words like there is no shortcut to success and that you have to put forth your best effort, try hard, set your goals and focus on their eventual realization. Aren’t those words nice to hear? Try this, do not be taken aback by failures, instead, allow each failure that comes your way to pose as challenge for you to strive even harder until success comes. Wow, isn’t that beautiful!! Another one for the book, It does not really matter how many times you fall down but what counts most is the number of times you get up after each debacle, pick up the pieces and remain unshaken until you smell the sweet scent of success. Who can debate with that? And for the final touchdown, you just have to think of those times as humbling experiences that will motivate you all the more to prove your real mettle and come out unfazed, stronger and better. One of the best quotes for me relative to what I have earlier narrated is the one of Mr. Jim Carrey where he said and I quote; ” I believe we’re shaped by our failures, by our weaknesses & setbacks, at least as much as we are by our successes.”
You know I can go on and on telling you about these words of wisdom, words of encouragement, motivation, empowerment, the need for passion, which admittedly are strong armors that can shield us from temporary setbacks, deepen our experiences finally leading us to success. Please don’t get me wrong, this is not to belittle those words. But I realized those words may just be taken as mere generalities, motherhood statements, which are all nice to hear but remain inconclusive whether indeed these words are something easy to come by or remember by and worst, may just get drowned when you are in real life battle. This is the reason why I have decided to just concentrate on something which is very familiar to you, which you have been doing and will continue to do and which if you are not conscious of the consequences for that action, you will be surprised to feel the cause and effect of such action as you trail your journey to success. That same action actually defines you, if it has not defined you yet, and will vividly and strongly define you in terms of your competence, your character, and your faith-based principles and convictions. And what is this that you have been doing and will continue to do, which defined and will define you as a person, as a whole person as what Silliman is expecting of you based on its mission? Your SIGNATURE.
But before expounding on that, let me first tell you how Silliman fits into all these. During my student time, I particularly took cognizant (and still do) of the words of God under John 14:16, which the University strongly espouses: “I am the way, the truth and the life” / VIA VERITAS VITA. The University’s education & life-molding, in fact, is anchored on those words leading to these missions: (1) “Infuse into the academic learning the Christian faith anchored on the gospel of Jesus Christ; (2) provide an environment where Christian fellowship and relationship can be nurtured and promoted; (3) provide opportunities for growth & excellence in every dimension of the University life in order to strengthen competence, character & faith; (4) instill in all members of the University community an enlightened social consciousness and a deep sense of justice and compassion; (5) promote unity among peoples and contribute to national development.”
From those missions, we should be grateful to our Alma Mater. It prepares students like you, including us, for mastery of value formation, skills & competencies that you will need out there in the real world which will provide buffer to both the psychological and the nuts & bolts of life as young professionals. It also reinforces / strengthens one’s faith so you may be able to withstand the acid tests of life. It is the desire of the University to develop the entire being of a person in its teachings and non- teaching programs and services, to see a whole person in you. Develop in you responsive sensitivities to the needs of the society and environment. The Silliman educational system provides inclusiveness, meaning regardless of creed, personal and political orientations, work background and socio- economic stature, any one can become part and parcel of community learning. The multiple sources of learning at Silliman (in the classroom, athletic grounds, church activities, cultural center, community & extension services) allow for various perspectives and learning applications that help build your character.
So, with Silliman as your armor, allow me to throw this question to all of you —-“How does a SIGNATURE, which you have been doing and will continue to do define you? Would consciousness on the implications of your signature reasonably assure you success? I still vividly recall during my earlier employee days when one of my training mentors confronted the trainees with this question — “What does your signature stand for? Your signature is YOU, YOU, & YOU. When you pin down your signature, it reflects the whole you – your competence, your character and your faith in God, of knowing and living what is right. Your signature is your stamp of approval, taking and absorbing all the responsibilities that go into that signature. Signature speaks of your skills and competence to stand for your work in terms of accuracy, timeliness, comprehensiveness, relevance, objectivity and factuality. Signature stands for your passion, integrity, principles and conviction; in your stand on issues involving environment, graft & corruption, drugs, morality, your advocacies and any other issues which you put forward the depth and strength of your Faith. In every signature that you affix in your professional or business works, always think of its impact on you and how it transcends/ cascades to the company you work for; to the recipient of your works whose future and fate may depend on your signature; your signature in any contractual document whether the terms are fair and just; and to the individuals, group organization or association you represent riding in confidence on your signature their lofty ideals, their visions, aspirations; and how well your signature mirrors not only your own self but the institution that puts premium on your perceived sterling qualities, competencies and uncompromising values. Remember since your signature is you, any falter can lead to losing one’s trust & confidence. When trust is lost, you can hardly get it back.
Additionally, let me also share with you this quote on the basic virtue of work. “You can have all the knowledge and skills, which incidentally, your peers and competitors also have, but if you are failing on the virtue of work —that virtue of giving your very best in whatever you do–you will end up as an ordinary person, worst – a failure!!!” The one that spells the difference between success and failure is that virtue of exerting your utmost best in whatever you do and put your signature on it with pride and dignity that you have done one fulfilling and satisfying job for the day and be able to sleep soundly at night. That truly captures your hallmark of integrity, professionalism, dynamism, excellent values, unparalleled service and unwavering faith in God. Confidently armed with these qualities, success becomes second nature to you.
On the occasion of this milestone in your lives, may i congratulate each one of you and wish you well as you start your journey into new lives outside Silliman walls. As our Silliman song says, “when you leave the halls of Silliman, roam the world o”er near and far, and still the faith and truth she gave us will remain our guiding star”. Today, Silliman gave you a familiar guiding star, your SIGNATURE. Take care of it and nurture it like how you care your own self. For at the end of the day, that signature speaks a lot about you and you as a Sillimanian.
With these, let me end by wishing you “May the spirit of Silliman anchored on the motto “VIA, VERITAS, VITA“ be with you as you face your future with readiness and confidence. Have a pleasant day and may God continue to fill your lives richly with His gifts of grace.