Valedictory Address of Arjean Banting (Summa Cum Laude, FEU Institute of Education) delivered during the 86th FEU Commencement Exercises held last April 21, 2014.
Our commencement speaker; chair emeritus of the FEU board of trustees, Dr. Lourdes R. Montinola; ,members of the board of trustees chaired by Mr. Aurelio R. Montinola III;/ administrators led by Dr. Michael M. Alba; faculty, parents, friends, fellow graduates, good morning.
I always wanted to become a pirate. When I was young, I loved watching cartoons. I would take out my toys and re-enact the awesome scenes. There was this time when I watched Peter Pan. I hurriedly looked around the house a long object that I could use as a sword. I took the “walis tambo” but mama scolded me. So again, I looked around and I saw dead branches under the guava tree. I collected and fastened them with a string which I secretly took out from mama’s sewing kit. I could not explain the excitement that I felt when I held my own improvised sword and became like Peter Pan. Even if my parents had told us not to go out, I sneaked through the gate and played freely outside.
But unlike Peter Pan who was able to escape the troubles caused by Captain Hook, I was not able to do the same. My obedient younger brother watched me as I was ran over by a red car driven by a drunken man. Thinking that I was dead (I thank God that he did not think that I was still role-playing), my brother told my parents what had happened. I was rushed to a nearby hospital. I learned my lesson the hard way; it took a couple of months before I could walk again, and the worst part was, I and my brother were grounded for a year.
But neither accident nor punishment can stop me from becoming what I wanted to be. I still want to become a pirate, but no longer like the boy-who-never-grew-up. Steve Jobs gave this statement /that has inspired me to become a pirate, like him.
“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”
He was not pertaining to the pirates who are selling knockoffs at a cheaper price in Quiapo, or those who are lurking at the waters of Somalia to plunder resources from ships. He was pertaining to people who dared to live differently. He redefined pirate as a proud person, an innovator and a risk-taker. For him, to become a pirate is to be different. Today, I would like to reiterate the challenge of Steve Jobs for our generation, “Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”
In this fast-evolving world, let us admit that it is never easy to live differently like a pirate. We love to like a beautiful selfie, share an awesome video, re-tweet an inspiring quotation or follow a popular person. There is nothing wrong about these activities; but to focus only to these, and forget about the fact that you can create something that people can like, share or re-tweet, we are depriving ourselves to become a pirate.
The society dictates what we should become – we wear what’s in, we listen into what’s popular and we buy what most people buy. And I bet, when we go back to the time you we’re looking for a school where you could enroll, the so-called “Big Four Universities” are on your list. These universities cast a big shadow that many would like to follow. But, why stay in their shadow, if you can also step forward along with them to cast your own shadow?
I’ll boldly say that Far Eastern University is one of those ‘pirate’ universities that has chosen to step up and cast her own shadow, and as graduates of this university, we should be very proud of this fact. I know most of us will be immediately looking for a job, so let me tell you my experience.
While I was waiting for my turn during the final job interview, a co-applicant asked me, “What school are you from?” I raised my Tamaraw horns and proudly replied “I’m from FEU.” “FEU? May Eduk pala doon?” I felt a suspicious tone on her reply, and inasmuch as I wanted to tell her “Yes, I’m from F-E-U, did I spell it incorrectly?” I just smiled back /while repeatedly telling myself “Uprightness, Uprightness. Uprightness…”
Some of us might have already started living apart from the standards of this world. But let me emphasize that most of us do not live like a pirate, not because we cannot do it, but because we have not realized that we can do it. Do not think that you will not get hired/ just because you did not graduate from the “Big Four”. Instead, think that you will get the job /because you are a proud FEU graduate. Graduates, let me ask you a question, are you proud to be a product of FEU? The first step in becoming a pirate is to be proud of where we come from.
To become a pirate is to be an innovator. The technology that we are enjoying today is not given to us just “to take selfies” and “flap our birdies”. We can use it to re-invent ourselves and re-invent our environment. We should not wait for someone to take the lead; I think our university has equipped us to be innovators. Remember Edukahon – an innovation used to teach children with special needs? It is a brainchild of an FEU student who was one of last year’s Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. We do not need to have high IQ or Pac-man muscles just to be different. All we need is a little courage to do what others cannot, and a large amount of hard work to make it happen.
To become a pirate is to be a risk-taker. Living like a pirate has its risks; you will meet accidents (including car accidents), you will fail sometimes and you will be alone. Do not be discouraged by what you might lose, but be encouraged by what you might discover or gain. Since we are talking about risks, here is a ‘risky’ situation that I think we might have gone through while we were students. During examinations, cheating is an option, especially for those who were not able to study. I’m not pertaining to the risk of being caught while cheating, but about the risk of failing by being honest. To risk living differently will pay off especially when others notice you and eventually live like you do.
Graduates, before we sail away with our ships to the new and unknown world out there, let’s put off our hats to those who have helped us in our journey as a student. Have you uttered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, the One who promised that he will never leave nor forsake you, so that He will be glorified through your life? Have you dedicated this achievement to your parents, those who have strived hard to send you to school, so that they would know how much you value and honor their sacrifices? Have you visited your professors, those who have shaped your mind and shared their lives to you, so that they would have fulfillment and motivation to teach with passion? Have you embraced your friends and classmates, those who have stayed up late and stood up with you, so that they would know that you are also there for them?
As we sail into the unknown, remember these words, my fellow Tamaraw pirates:
“Your power to change the world lies on your ability to realize that you can be different
and that you can do a difference.”
Congratulations Tamaraws! Dare to be different! Dare to become a pirate!