Graduation is a huge milestone in someone’s life, when 4 (or in some cases, more!) years’ worth of hard work and sacrifice is finally put into fruition. While for some of us, this kind of sacrifice includes sleepless nights studying for exams and finishing academic requirements, for others, it entails more. Stories of students winning over life’s odds and attaining accomplishment through graduating are so inspiring — even more when they excel and finish at the top of their class!
Chris Loren Vinluan came from humble beginnings, yet overcame adversities and graduated valedictorian at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy. His valedictory speech is the kind of inspiring message anyone ought to hear. So for those students currently having it rough in school, this just might be the read you need:
I was a simple young person before I entered PMMA. Ours was not a privileged family, my father was a jeepney driver who when I passed the exam and medicals, and was finally a candidate for admission, had to sell our jeepney so that we can pay for the enrollment fees.
My mother, an elementary teacher for more than 30 years up till now in San Jose elementary school, Anda, Pangasinan is still saddled with loans that she barely earns enough, taking home only 3000 pesos a month from the more than 30 thousand pesos she is supposed to get.
This is because all their sacrifices, their meager earnings, are directed to the education of their children. I will always be proud of where I came from. We always had moments when a meal was kamote tops which we eat with bagoong and NFA rice, for we couldn’t afford even a can of sardines.
We have seen how hard it was for them to carry this burden. I can vividly remember a story between me and my brother when we were in highschool. There was a time when we tried to save enough for a bike. We made a bamboo piggy bank where we put in the slot half of our ten pesos baon a day. Everyday.
We were closely monitoring with gladness in our hearts as the said “alkansya” started gaining weight, for it means that we are saving money for the bike which both of us are dreaming of. BUT THEN, one night we heard our mama’s crying from the walls reaching us inside our room. She and my father were talking in hushed tones. They were discussing the troubles with not having enough to send our Kuya and Ates who are then in college in Dagupan.
We felt sorry for our mother. So we both decided to just crack open the bamboo and give all the money to our parents. There were tears in my mother’s eyes when she accepted the piled coins from our hands to hers. Telling us “Mga anak, babayaran ko na lang to ha pag nakaluwag luwag na. Maraming salamat” All of us couldn’t stop crying. We knew then, in that simple but profound way hearts and minds are molded that in such an age, as our way of helping those whom we look up to and love the most, we exchanged our dream of having a bike to help our parent’s dream of giving all their children a college education.
That brother of mine who I once shared a dream of having a bike together graduated last year. He went up also on this very stage as a member of Class 2014, graduating CUM LAUDE.
I on the other hand, am the youngest of their children who will graduate. When I go down this stage, I will be a testament of my parent’s love and commitment to their children. An electronics and Communications engineer, a Registered Nurse, A Certified Public Accountant, a Third officer who is a future captain and finally me, a board passer for marine engineers theoretical aspect and a future Chief Engineer. Finally, all five of us can proudly call ourselves, college graduates.
I pushed through my education here with hardwork and perseverance, giving my all in every single thing I do and learn so that I can return all that my parents have given us. And God is so gloriously great, that He has placed me here, right before you all, to deliver this valedictory address. A gift I never imagined will happen, but it did. And so I say, to my parents, through the Lord’s kindness- this I DEDICATE WITH ALL MY HEART, MY LOVE, MY DEVOTION TO THE BOTH OF YOU. Napakapalad ko at binigyan ako ng poong maykapal ng magulang na katulad po ninyo. Nais kong sabihin ito sa harap ng lahat ng narito ngayon, na mahal na mahal ko po kayo Ma at Pa, at habambuhay akong magpapasalamat na naging anak ninyo kami. Unang una po itong para sa inyo at pinapangako po namin na mula ngayon kami naman ang magsusukli sa inyong mga paghihirap at sakripisyo. Lahat ng iyon ay ibabalik sa inyo ng di mabibilang na beses. Tapos na po Ma at Pa, graduate na po ako.
That is what I want to share to all of you today. We are not the only one graduating this day my fellow members of class 2015. Our parents and loved ones graduate with us, for finally their sacrifices and hardwork comes to an end in the matter of our education. Now is when they reap with us the fruits of our mutual labors. There is no greater way to show your love to the persons who mean much to you than to sacrifice every last piece of comfort you can have, the smallest leisure you can partake, every waking minute of your worries, just so can give them the best that life has to offer. Even if it means you will live a heavy and burdened life. And the best example of this is a parent’s gestures and actions for the betterment of their children.
Being on top of this graduating class fills me with trepidation. For I know there are lofty things expected of me as I go my way to face the real challenges of my profession. But in all of these I have learned to live with one guiding belief in my heart: that poverty and trials are not hindrances to achieve your dreams so long as you keep a prayer within your heart and give your best in everything that you do.
This is further molded by my entry into this institution. For it is here where we learn the oft repeated virtues of HUMILITY, RIGHTEOUSNESS and COURAGE. Tenets which will guide us as we sail the unpredictable waves of our lives.
Righteousness is not a mere word. It is a way of life. WE choose the right things, we do the right things, we follow the right path and we live the right way. We must set our moral compass so that it is unassailable in guiding us. Our morals and laws must have the powerful bearings in our decisions and actions.
We must also remain humble, to not let our success or glories come into our head and turn us into arrogant fools. We must always remember where we came from. Life is not a set destiny. There will be moments when one is weak and needing help. When you have risen from these, don’t forget what it felt like when you were at the bottom.
Finally, there is courage. The courage to do what is right and admit your mistakes when you are wrong. To balance humility and righteousness. To show to the world that sometimes asking for forgiveness is the bravest thing one can do.
These my fellow graduates are just a few of my views. I exhort you to discover upon yourselves all the various facets and imports of these words you can read prominently just over there. There may come a time when those written on the small part of this parade ground will crumble and return to dust, taken once again by the earth, but the timelessness of its meanings must forever be etched in our hearts.
At this point let me continue my message of gratitude. Of course first and foremost, to the Lord almighty for his countless blessings. Thou art truly great and your majesty is eternal.
To our teachers and mentors, for your patience in molding us and giving us the necessary intellectual capacity to face head on what in lies in store for us out there. Sa mga guro at tactical team, habambuhay kaming titingin pataas sa inyo. Sa inyong mga serbisyo sa mahal nating PMMA at pagbibigay sa aming mga produkto nito ng sapat at matibay na pundasyon bilang mga magsisipagtapos.
Our parents and loved ones who gave their full measures, who are behind and with us every step of the way, and who were always there when we need them- this is all for you. Kasama namin kayo, ang mga pangalan nyo’y di man naka nameplate sa aming mga gala, nakatatak naman sa aming mga puso at kasabay namin kayong nangagsipagakyat dito sa stage ng grand stand.
To our dear Alma Mater, PMMA, we will never forget you. Lagi kang nasa puso’t isipan namin. The virtues that you have inculcated in us will always remain and we will use it as the light throughout our entire journey in life. “KAWASTUAN, KABABANG-LOOB, KAGITINGAN”.
Ngayon, wala na tayong dapat ipangamba sa buhay na ating susuungin sapagkat tayo na ay matatawag na PMMA’ers. Tayo ay naihanda at nahubog upang maging matatag at de-kalidad na marino. Umaasa ako na darating ang araw na tayo ay nasa tugatog na ng tagumpay kung saan hindi lamang ating pangalan ang ating dinadala subalit atin ding iwinawagayway ang apat na letrang kalakip nito, P-M-M-A.
Let’s all be proud, we graduates, ikaw man ay awardee o hindi, mataas man o hindi ang grado, paglabas natin sa pintuang daan ng Akademyang ito, still we are PMMA’ers. And dugong tumatalaytay sa aming ugat ay taas noo naming masasabing ito ay dugong PMMA saan man tayo makarating.
May God bless us all and again CONGRATULATIONS to my bunkmates, PMMA TANGLAW LAYAG Class of 2015. Goodluck and mabuhay tayong lahat.
ENS Vinluan, Chris Loren C., PN, Res.
-Class Valedictorian PMMA TANGLAW LAYAG Class of 2015
-Magna Cum Laude
-Top 1, Bachelor Of Science in Marine Engineering,
-Leadership and Discipline Awards Recipient,
-Best In Mathematics
-PMMA Superintendent Saber Awardee