Inspirational Commencement Speech by a Filipino Asian Speaker and Author

Design your own generation

An inspirational commencement address delivered by motivational speaker and author Lloyd Luna on the occasion 2017 Commencement Exercises of STI College — Munoz held at Crossroads 77, Quezon City on May 25, 2017

Hello everyone. Thank you. Maraming salamat sa lahat ng pumalakpak. Palakpak na may kasamang sigaw na para bang tuwang-tuwa kayo dahil finally, finally, tapos na ang lahat ng paghihirap ninyo.

Salamat po sa napakagandang introduction sa akin na ako po ang nagsulat. Binasa lang niya.

Sobrang saya ko po na ako po ang naging commencement speaker ninyo ngayon. Kung hindi po kayo masaya, e problema nyo na. Dahil masaya kayo or malungkot kayo, bayad po ako.

Sa hindi pa po nakakaalam, komedyante rin po ako. Kaya magiging kakaiba ang graduation speech na ito. At bilang kayo po ay STI — Sexy Thoughtful Intelligent — nabalitaan ko na matatalino kayo. (Pause) Hindi naman lahat ng balita tama.

At bilang ang assumption ko e matatalino kayo, ang mga jokes na inihanda ko para sa inyo ay jokes na pang-matatalinong tao lang. Kapag hindi kayo natawa, alam n’yo na. Kaya kapag ang katabi mo tumawa, ang suggestion ko, sundan mo na.

To the members of the board, able administration, to all the teaching faculty, the “teaching” faculty, non-teaching staff, parents, single parents, grandparents, great grandparents, soon-to-be parents.

To all senior citizens, netizens, kids, children, soon-to-have children. To all students, nagpanggap na estudyante, nakalimutang sila ay estudyante, feeling estudyante, at sa lahat po ng hindi naman inimbita pero nakapasok pa rin dito at nage-expect na may libreng pagkain, magandang hapon po.

And of course, what a day of celebration to the graduating class of 2017! A very warm round of applause everybody! Well-deserved. Well-deserved. Sino’ng mag-aakala na matatapos n’yo ‘to?

As introduced, my name is Lloyd Luna. Isa po akong sikat na sikat na motivational speaker (opinyon ko po yun, wala kayong pakialam), best-selling author, television host, newspaper columnist, songwriter, at entrepreneur.

Madalas po akong naiimbita na mag-guest sa TV, radyo, at ma-feature sa mga pahayagan. Last year po, lumabas po ako sa programa ni Boy Abunda, The Bottomline sa ABS-CBN at ANC. Ang unang tanong po sa akin ni Tito Boy, “Lloyd, kumusta?” Sumagot po ako, “Tito Boy, okey naman. Ahihihihi.” (Mimicking Boy Abunda)

Ngayon pong taong ito, lumabas naman ako sa CNN Philippines at dalawang beses naimbita sa DZMM Radyo at Teleradyo. Sinasabi ko po ito para ipaalam sa inyo na wala lang sa hitsura pero sikat po ako. (Sarcastic)

But today is your day. Today is not about me. It is about you. So this speech is for you about me.

Saglit lang po ang speech ko. In fact, kung iaabot na sa akin yung bayad sa akin, tapos na ako. Ready na?

Hindi ako nakapaghanda para sa speech na ito. Kaya hindi ko maipapangako na may matututunan kayo. Kung hindi kayo matuto, wag ako ang sisihin ninyo. Dahil tulad ninyo, biktima rin ako kaya ako nandito.

Kung wala kayong matutunan, okey lang sa akin. Kase nung graduation ng batch namin, wala rin akong natutunan. Ah, mayroon pala. Mayroon naman akong natandaan sa speech ng speaker namin na nagagamit ko sa buhay: Sabi niya, “Congratulations and thank you.”

So, ang message ko po sa inyong lahat: “Congratulations and thank you.”

We now proceed with the distribution of certificates. May I call on stage…

Ah, hindi pa ba? Sa lahat ng may gustong ituloy ang speech na ito, isang malakas na palakpak.

Usually, ang trabaho ng commencement speaker ay magbigay ng wisdom at magbigay ng mga kwentong maaring maging gabay ng mga graduates. Many times, speakers would be asked to share about the advice they would like to give to their younger self.

Well, I don’t think it would be a great idea to give an advice to my younger self. Because if I were to give an advice to my younger self, I’m sure my younger self will not listen to me. I know that because that was me. And I know me. I don’t listen much.

The younger me was an engineering major. The older me is a speaker who makes a living by simply speaking although his younger self spent five years solving or “solving” Math problems.

Hopefully today, you can pretend to be my younger self. You don’t have to listen to me. But you don’t have any choice so listen to me even if you don’t want to listen me. Are you ready to listen, yo, bro?

Sa mga ganitong okasyon, halos lahat ng speaker sasabihin sa inyo, “Mangarap kayo. Dream. Dream big. Dream bigger dreams. Libre lang ang mangarap kaya mangarap ka.”

Oo, libre ang mangarap. Pero hindi libre ang pag-abot sa pangarap. Kung libre ang pangarap, dapat lahat tayo successful na.

In my hands are copies of one of my best-selling books, Paano Maging Successful. Sino po ang may gusto ng librong ito? Iniisip ko kung ano’ng mangyayari kapag inihagis ko ito. (Throw the books)

Walang taong tulog ang nakukuha ang gusto nila. Kung gusto mong masalo ang biyayang ihahagis sa ‘yo ng buhay na ito, dapat gising ka. Dapat nandun ka. Dapat ready ka. Wag kang ngumanga. Wag kang tatanga-tanga. Kung hindi, tamaan ka. At ang bagay na inaasam-asam mo, masasalo ng ibang tao.

Many people may have the will to reach for their dream. But only a few are willing to do what it takes to make it. So listen. Your willingness to succeed is more important than your will to make it.

Life will throw random things at you. Some are good. Some are bad. If you are not around, how can you possibly catch any of them?

Success only happens when you are around. And people who are present are the only ones who get the present (Throw a shit toy from Blue Magic)

Life will throw some S-H-I-T on you. But it’s not about what life throws at you. It’s about how you respond to whatever life throws at you.

And if life should throw some S-H-I-T on you, catch it, then clean up, and prepare for another stuff to catch. Maybe this time, it’s not S-H-I-T you will catch anymore.

Life will never run out of good and bad stuff waiting for you. So you should not stop trying to catch the next one.

Sa ganitong okasyon, malamang sasabihin ng speaker: Follow your dream. I don’t believe in that. Maraming mga tao sinundan ang pangarap nila pero hindi sila nagtagumpay. Bakit?

Mali ang pangarap.

May sikreto ako. Atin-atin lang ha. Dati gusto kong mag-artista. Kaso hindi pala pwedeng gwapo lang. Ayun, tinamad na ako. Hindi ko na tinuloy. Kaya kahit anong tawag sa akin ng viva, hindi ko na sinagot. one time, sinagot ko. Sabi sa phone, ready ka na bang mag-trabaho sa viva? Sabi ko, “Sige po.” Pagdating ko sa studio, hindi ako nilagyan ng make up. walang nag-aasikaso sa akin. dumating yung director. “Lloyd, Lloyd, Lloyd, finally, you’re here. Halika nga. Paki-buhat naman nung limang galong tubig.” Viva Mineral Water pala.

Marami sa inyo dati gustong maging Snow White, Cinderella, Wonder Woman. Kung titingnan mo siya ngayon, tingnan mo katabi mo, di mo maiwasang magtanong, “Ano’ng nangyari at bakit nagkaganon?” Dati gusto mong maging Iron Man. Ngayon, mukha ka nang magbabakal.

Do not follow your dream. Instead, follow me on Twitter. No. I mean do not follow your dream. Follow your playful heart. Ang tamang pangarap nararamdaman ng puso hindi idinidikta ng kung kani-kaninong nguso.

Noong bata pa ako, siguro mga two years ago, I mean two decades ago, pangarap kong maging jeepney driver. Nag-fail ako. Di nagkatotoo. Di ko na-achieve ang pangarap ko.

Sabi ko, iba na lang. Naisip ko, magpari kaya ako. Papasok na sana ako sa seminaryo nang ma-realize ko, kapag may hitsura ka mahirap mag-pari. Ayun, nag-fail na naman ako.

17 years ago, sabi ko professional musician na lang. I was about to enroll in UST Conservatory of Music because my parents were so conservative. Then naalala ko, mahirap lang kami. Walang pambayad ng tuition. Ayun, yung pangarap kong maging UST Growling Tiger, napunta ako sa PUP, naging Hello Kitty. Nag-fail na naman ako.

But 17 years later, last year, nailabas ko ang kauna-unahang CD commercial album ko. (Throw one CD away)

What did I learn? Some dreams take time. Kung hindi mo makuha ngayon ang pangarap mo, pero committed ka na makuha ito, darating ang oras na makukuha mo ito.

Your dream will find its way when your heart is set to achieve it.

At age 17, I took yet another strange decision. I wanted to be an engineer. Kaso hindi rin natuloy. Ni hindi nga ako nag-board. Bakit? Wala lang. Ayaw ko kaseng maging topnotcher. I gave chance to others. Saka limang taon na akong bored na bored, tapos magbo-board pa?

I remember back in the days, my classmates were working so hard because some of them were running for cum laude. One night, guess what? I found an easier way. Instead of running for cum laude, I ran away from it. Very easy. No maintaining grade necessary.

Before reaching the age of 24, I didn’t know what I should do with my life. I knew I wanted to be something. I knew I wanted to be someone. I knew I had to prove something to some people. But no one would be around to tell me how. Or maybe, there were some people around. I just didn’t bother to ask.

I failed many, many times before in my life. And I can’t even describe the pain, disappointment, and frustration that went along with my failures.

Ilang beses din akong umiyak. Minsan nga umiiyak ako habang tumatawa. Yung parang konting-konti na lang baliw ka na.

But then, I realized one important lesson in life: Failure is not the enemy of success. It doesn’t tell you what works. But sure it tells you what doesn’t work. Knowing what doesn’t work eventually introduces you to what works. And when you know what works, that is success.

And just as how success could define some people, failure could also define who you are. It’s what you do when you fail that builds your stage for success.

In college, I took Electronics and Communications Engineering. Hindi ko gusto pero yun ang suggestion ng magaling kong panganay na kapatid. Sino’ng mga panganay dito? Taas-kamay. O, pakialamera yang mga ‘yan.

Dati kapag fourth year high school ka na, college na ang kasunod. Hindi pa dati nauuso yang K9 na ‘yan. Wala pa dati.

Ha? K-12 na pala. Nag-upgrade na sila.

Tinanong ako. Sabi ng kapatid ko, “Ano’ng kukunin mo sa college?” Sumagot ako. Sabi ko, “Ano’ng kukunin ko maliban sa allowance?” Sabi ko gusto kong mag-Mass Comm. Sabi n’ya, “Mass Comm? Nakapa-competitive na kurso. That is so antagonistically, emulously, competitive!” Sabi ko, “Spell.”

Sabi n’ya, “Basta. Alam mo na ‘yun. Hindi ka nag-iisip eh. Simpleng logic lang ‘yan.” Sabi ko, “Logic? Ano ‘yun?” Sabi nya, “Logic. Magpapakahirap ka na rin lang sa college, bakit hindi mo kunin yung pinakamahirap?”

Napaisip ako. Sabi ko, “OMG! What a piece of wisdom!”

E di engineering yung kinuha ko. Nung nasa engineering na ako at nahihirapan na ako, minsan naiiyak na ako. Sabi ko, “Lord, ate ko dapat ang nandito e. Idea nya ‘to. Ako ang nagpapakahirap.”

E sa engineering pa naman kapag ang mga Math subjects nagkasabay-sabay, mababaliw ka talaga. One time, nagkasabay-sabay yung subject na Calculus, Lacto Bacillus, Cumulus, Nimbus. Ayun, hilo ako.

Hindi lahat ng pangarap ay tamang pangarap para sa ‘yo. E pano malalaman kung tama ang pangarap mo? Kung nahihirapan at napapagod ka physically pero masaya at fulfilled ka naman spiritually. Kapag stress ka pero happy ka, nasa tamang pangarap ka. Kapag stress ka pero depress ka, nasa maling pangarap ka.

Malamanag sa ganitong okasyon, madalas ninyong marinig. “Don’t give up.” “Wag kang susuko.” “Laban lang.”

Today, I say, “Give up.” If you want to level up, first, you must give up.

Starting tomorrow, you are not students anymore, at least academically speaking. Embrace the idea that the world outside is not as forgiving as what you wish it to be. Your school has been your shield for years. But it can no longer protect you when you leave.

Give up on your former self. Embrace your brand new self, hopefully so ready, so enthusiastic, so brave to face the future.

I gave up on my former self long ago. Iniwan ko yung dating ako. Nag-evolve ako. Dati kase pangit ako. Ayun, tingnan mo naman ngayon. (Anticipate laughter)

Hindi ko na kailangang i-compare ang sarili ko sa iba dahil ang alam ko hindi ako mas magaling sa kanila pero alam ko rin na hindi rin sila mas magaling sa akin. Ang alam ko, magkaiba kami.

I gave up the things that make my life easy because they don’t prepare me for anything, they don’t strengthen me, they don’t challenge me, they don’t bring out the better version of me.

An easy life will never make you a better person. And get this: When you understand your suffering, pain will never be an issue.

Just like many normal people, I’m allergic to Mathematics. Sino rito yung kagaya ko? Allergic sa Math?

Saan ba kase ginagamit ‘yan mga equation na ‘yan?

Hindi ka naman sasakay sa jeep tapos magbabayad ka at sasabihin mo sa driver, “Manong, bayad po, 4x plus 3y po yan.” Magulat ka sumagot yung driver, “x is equal to the 4th power raise to negative five divided by the square root nine multiplied.” “Manong, ang galing mo. San ka nag-aral?” “STI.” “Bakit driver ka na?” “Drop out.”

Sa school, itinuro sa amin na gamitin ang displacement method. What is displacement method? Anyone?

If you don’t know, pretend. It is a formula na ginagamit para masukat ang weight ng isang solid na bagay base sa sukat ng tubig na natapon.

Noong minsang umulan sa amin, nag-panic ang nanay. Sabi niya, “Anak tumataas na ang tubig. Bumabaha na. Umalis na tayo.”

Sabi ko, “Mom, can you please wait a second. I’m still computing. According to my computation, alas-10 pa ng gabi tataas ang tubig nang hanggang leeg. Ala-6 pa lang oh. Relax. Excited lang pumila para sa relief goods?”

Sabi niya, “Sure ka ba sa computation mo?” I said, “Come on, Mom. Trust me. I’m your son!” Bumulong siya, “Yun na nga e. Anak kita at kilala kita kaya ako nagdududa.”

That incident almost killed us. Mali yung computation ko. Alas-8 pa lang hanggang leeg na yung tubig.

There are many things in life that you won’t get right the first time. But you don’t have to get everything right, right away. Whatever journey you take, you will have to fail at some point. That’s okey.

Kung sa tingin ninyo natapos na ang mga exam sa buhay nyo you’re wrong. Hindi dahil natapos na kayo sa school, tapos na rin ang exam.

Sa susunod na kabanata ng buhay ninyo, mas maraming exam na naghihintay sa inyo. Ang pinagkaiba lang, sa labas wala nang prof na nagbibigay ng grade at wala ng parents na susugod sa school para ipaglaban kayo o ipakiusap na ipasa kayo. Pero ang kalidad ng buhay ninyo ang magsasabi kung pasado or bagsak kayo.

But the good news is, you are your own prof now. You can choose to give yourself a perfect score even if all your answers are wrong. Your are your prof anyway.

You can choose to teach yourself or just be content with what you know. You can choose to give yourself an easy exam with your notes open during the exam or challenge yourself with impossible questions, don’t answer them and still get a perfect score.

You can choose to attend your own class or dismiss it because you are busy Facebooking, Twittering, and Instagramming.

Graduates, you are not an ornament of your generation. You are not born just to accept everything that is presented to you by the previous generation. You can’t be afraid. Well, be afraid but fight anyway. Never allow yourselves to be taken advantage by anyone in the position of power.

You may be young but you are not stupid. But not all. May mga exempted.

Once you leave this institution, you can choose to create a society that you can call your own, a place where you are free to dream and fail and dream and fail again and dream and hopefully eventually succeed.

Ang mundong naghihintay sa inyo ay mundong kami ang gumawa. Ginawa namin para sa amin dahil akala namin kami na ang last generation. Kaya kinalbo namin ang mga bundok. Kaya nagmina kami nang sobra-sobra.

Kaya pinuno namin ng lambat at fish pens ang Laguna Lake. Na-bored kami sa napaka-plain na background ng Luneta kaya nilagyan na rin namin ng photobomber background ni Rizal sa Luneta. Kaya “ipinamigay” na namin ang West Philippine Sea sa China.

Ilang taon naming pinabayaan ang bawat isa kaya lumaganap ang droga. Paulit-ulit naming ibinoto ang mga politikong trapo. May mga artistang tumakbo at nanalo. May mga artistang natalo pero na-appoint pa rin sa pwesto. May mga pulitikong nagkaroon ng wheelchair dahil nalumpo at may kaso. Hinayaan namin ang mga korporasyong maging ganid at abusado.

Ok lang ang six months contractual na trabaho basta kami ay i-renew ninyo. Hinayaan namin ang mga taong-gobyernong magnegosyo gamit ang buwis na pinaghihirapan ng mga magulang ninyo. Sobrang naging busy kami sa paghahanda sa katapusan ng mundo na hindi namin naisip na darating kayo.

Noong 1999, nagunaw na ang mundo. Nagunaw uli ito noong 2012. Malay ba namin na false alarm lang ang lahat nang ito. At darating pa pala ang generation ninyo.

We made the Philippines you have today according to our own liking. We designed it for ourselves so we can enjoy it. We made everything about us, about our generation. And chances are, you won’t fit well in our design.

So my advice is for you to create your own path. Together, create your own collective dreamed society. Together, set your own standard higher than ours that even when you fail to reach it, it’s still be as high as our low standard. Create your own container. Or better yet, be your own container.

Besides, your age is just an idea. Success knows no age. There are people who are 59 but are still young because they never learned anything, still failing and making a lot of similar mistakes at age 65.

There are people who are 18 but are already old because they have already found their life’s meaning and they discovered their place in this world.

Don’t be afraid if we will not approve of your choices because the truth is you don’t owe us anything. You can be a girl or a boy regardless if you were born a girl or a boy.

You don’t owe this school anything except of course kung hindi n’yo pa tapos bayaran ang tuition at miscellaneous fees n’yo.

You don’t owe your parents anything for they only sent you to school because they love you. You don’t owe your teachers anything for they just performed their mission to teach and prepare you for what’s coming.

So, don’t be obliged to pay us back. But please magbigay naman kayo kung meron na.

But your real obligation now is to take good care of yourself and work with the men and women of your generation.

Make that promise to yourself that one day, you will be the best self you can ever be.

Look after each other for you only have your generation to understand you. The previous generations don’t understand, “Sup. TYVM. OTW LOL ROTF ABT PIX in your FB. BTW BRB. TTYL, K? OMG. NVM! GTG. BB.”

Don’t expect us to understand your unique linguistic pattern, your unique way of highly sophisticated, intelligent research method otherwise known as Googling, your unique way of guarding your boyfriend or girlfriend by stealing and secretly keeping his or her password.

Just like your parents, I am also incredibly proud of what you have come to take home today. Yeah, an empty piece of paper called “Diploma.”

That piece of paper is important. But diplomas do fade. Medals get rusty. Certificates get old.

On the other hand, the wonderful memories and experiences and friendships you made here will last long — perhaps long enough that you can take them off the shelves of your mind when you feel lost, afraid, disappointed.

Your achievement today may be forgotten soon before you can even land your first job simply because your achievement is nothing but a recognition of what you have become. It’s never an assurance of what you will become.

The truth is, the world does remember no cum laude, no valedictorian, no best in spelling, no best in writing.

It only remembers those who have made an impact on the lives of the people they serve. Hopefully, you will serve humanity to the best of your ability.

Your future is yours to create. It is yours to design. It is yours to embrace. We had our time. And our time is almost over.

To all parents who are present here today, and this is important, be ready to provide temporary shelter and minimum wage to your children. Their first day of “non-working holidays” starts tomorrow.

Wala yatang maraming available na trabaho so please be a good “employer” to these “highly qualified” job-seekers. Wala silang pwedeng takbuhan kapag na-reject ang application nila. So, please be kind. Who knows after five more years, may trabaho na sila.

Finally, I will tell you one important truth.

Life will not guarantee you of anything. You are not entitled to some automatic success. Some of you may make it. Some of you may not. Some of you may stumble and get up. Some of you may stumble and stay on the ground. Some of you may try one thing and succeed at it. Some of you may try many things and terribly fail at all of them.

But please know that it only happens because life doesn’t have any obligation to guarantee your success. It only gives you one assurance — that you can try to do anything at any time at any place for as long as you can endure.

But if you should move on with your life with kindness, if you keep your faith in God and in yourself, and if you stay in love in what you do best, amazing things will come your way.

Lastly, please don’t take your life so seriously. Please ask me why. Ilang beses ka na bang nagseryoso pero sa huli ikaw ang iniwan at hindi sineryoso?

Remember I told you about the only two things I remembered from our speaker on my own graduation? Hopefully, you won’t forget these words either:

To the graduating class of 2017, congratulations and God bless.

It has been an honor of my life to have been your commencement speaker. Thank you.

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