Biyaheng Peyups: A little tribute to the Graduates of 2005

It was evening. My classmate and I were taking a walk along Sunken Garden after having a so-so class in our master’s studies. We were damn tired from working during the day and pretty much anxious with the looming Philippine crisis— a topic we have been pounding on since we left our classroom.

“You really think they’re wasting their time reading those books? she said.

“Tngna, I’m telling you, walang kwenta. 90% ng mababasa nila eh hindi maga-apply sa pragmatic world!”* I replied.

She looked at me and asked “Is there hope?”

“Hope for what? I said.

“For the ideals! Alam mo naman siguro yun, naging estudyante ka rin di ba?”

Maybe she was right. I never bothered to answer her retort. It’s ugly, what work has done to my idealistic mind. I thought I was just whining and it wasn’t helping my cause of hopefully helping the youth (as what my revolutionary mind thinks) to realize that what the whole academic system is telling was not entirely true.

I tried to figure it out during that long walk, looking at these students reading their books, glued to them under a poor building light. Pondering while eavesdropping from these debate groups who were trying to express their thoughts by the sound of their ‘matter of fact’ voices. I imagined Plato, Newton and Einstein’s words convincing me that the world is full of opportunities, instances, and events that lead to bigger opportunities for the development of the human potential. There is no limit for the human potential, Soren Kierkegaard said.

Fckin potential, I got deadlines to beat and managers to appease.* See what I mean?

I was like that once, thinking that Renaissance was the best thing that ever happened to mankind. I once strongly believed that the humility of our national artists and the courage of the unsung heroes do matter to the instrumental youth for a dramatic change.

So what has happened? Why in a matter of minutes am I able to do a smorgasbord monologue on Rizal’s teaching, the classic acts of our forefathers to establish this republic and be able to scrutinize them one by one until neither one concept sounds credible? Demeaning them like a confident debunker, unbeliever, and critic? Well at least to myself. I hope this rhetoric has sent the message.

What’s in store for the youth of today then?

You must be wondering that after I get that uno, getting praises from professors and instructors, being in the dean’s list will bring me good fortunes at work. The labor force will be kind I’m pretty sure.

Not really.

Or how about if I will just hang around, do a mediocre effort and pass my subjects thinking that I’m street-smart anyway and I will fare better if I’m actually working.

Apparently not.

Or, my parents are rich, I’ll be ok, I can start somewhere and pick up where they have left. I have ample time in my hands.

Partly right but not necessarily so.

You can have it your way though, for toil will be an enduring part of your daily lives after you graduated from the university. I don’t have a single path to tell you that will lead to success, but there are some significant things, basic ones that will guide you somehow to what you are faced with if you really want to have your potential to its fullest-as part of the so-called labor force.

Hardwork, resilience, and humility.

When you feel like cursing work and not finding any good in it, always ask yourself if you have been really working hard. Jawaharlal Nehru once said that, action to be effective must be directed to clearly conceived ends. There is no shortcut to success, which is what hardwork is all about. Now having this constantly on your mind amidst failure and cynicism like the ones I have, in the middle of throngs of detractors, that’s resilience.

If you get the job, don’t think that just because you have the latest phone or gadget while sipping your mocha frap in your best corporate attire, feeling good about yourself, and surfing the net via wi-fi mean you’re more successful than others who have less. Success is relative. So is happiness. You can have it all, but fulfilment is a different thing. A street vendor may have the best fulfilment you can imagine. If you respect others and believe in their individuality no matter how good and convenient your situation is, that’s humility.

The rest, you can find in books, advices, and experiences that will get along your way. But be reminded, it’s not the university’s name that will carry you in your career path; it’s the other way around. Land that ego.

Ever heard of Buz Luhrman’s speech for the graduates of ‘97? Let me just restate one thing that may give you an idea of what’s out there and where you really are while looking ‘there’ : …whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much…your choices are half-chance, so are everybody else’s.

Did I say tribute? It’s for free right, have one. You can’t win the war by killing the messenger. I’m just a messenger, I’ve seen that war and you haven’t for you to kill me. It’s your call anyway in the end. By the way, make your parents proud and treat them on your first pay check, it’s a first you shouldn’t miss.