Today is one of those great occasions when we get to celebrate our young people – their achievements, their perseverance and their successes as they grow up.

It’s a season, for the months of March and April, to take a break and reflect, feeling good and cool as a parent or a teacher, knowing that the children you care about are doing just fine and they’re on the right path- that they are moving towards independence.

Graduates, have their share in listening and knowing that their parents or guardians are very proud of them today. They have to bear in mind that they have high hopes for them, and they believe in them, and they are making them proud by showing what they can do.

Today is an important day for you and for them.

Today they are very, very proud of you.

All the social media at this moment are filled with figures smiling and capturing photos so there the records forever.

Today would be a good day to ask for money- for that favourite food or gadget! But this sounds for the middle and upper classes!

But for the young people, at the lower rung, today is a good day to hug their parents and or guardians and thank them for supporting you graduates, because as much as this is your achievement, this is also the achievement of the people who care about you. They want you to be your best and to live up to your potential. For the only gift they could extend is your education, no matter what and how much!

Graduations can be seen as a coming of age, a sort of official way to recognize when a person steps into the next stage of life, and graduates, you are stepping into a new stage- a developmental stage!

But when you see younger students, you can tell how much you’ve grown up, how much you’ve learned and how much you’ve matured. Think back on some of the exciting things that happened this year, all the things you learned.

This year, you have heard over radio or seen on TV about the lumads children evacuating from their upland communities to seek for refuge in the City of Davao due to military encampment in their schools. You may have been touched also about the situation of children of Mamasapano who, at this point in time, could not enjoy graduation ceremony because of the ongoing war.

I should say, indeed, the young people of the middle and upper classes in lowland Christian setter communities are lucky and privileged than those children of lumads and Moro in grassroots communities confronted with the all-out war.

May I ask young people to take this chance to dedicate your selves to making the next year even better. Remember that you don’t have to follow the crowd. Do the right thing, even if no one is looking. Study hard and well and remember that you’re investing in yourself with every test you take and every book you read.

Don’t ever rush. But you have to be concern of others who are victims of human rights violations and of poverty cycle. Be active part of the larger community- the Philippine society.

There are great things coming, and just as your parents are proud, each one of you should feel proud of yourself especially when you begin to look beyond the campuses.

So congratulations to all of the graduates, congratulations to the parents, and finally, congrats to the mentors and everyone else who helped the graduates reach here today.

May I quote a great author, Dr. Seuss.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Yes, take the long journey, with the people to change the world, towards a better world where everyone’s potentials are enhanced, earth’s resources explored wisely and shared equitably and all are working to reach an improved living condition for the next generation to fully enjoy.

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