tolosa vsu

To the Visayas State University board, administration, faculty, staff, graduates, parents, fellow workers in government, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

To the 2022 graduating batch, congratulations and welcome to a new chapter of your life. It is a wonderful privilege to be with you all this afternoon. I want to thank you and Dr. Lauzon for graciously inviting me to be your commencement speaker. I look forward to our time together this afternoon.

Allow me to share with you my prepared message for you. 

A few days ago, my good friend's daughter celebrated her debut. All of a sudden, I was asked to give a short message to the debutante. I was unprepared. But I went forward anyway, received the microphone, gave a few heartfelt compliments, and said the only encouragement on the top of my mind.

I said that life is complicated. I tried to expound on this statement but I couldn't. It was complicated. So I ended by saying, just ask your father why life is complicated. Looking back, it might not have been the most encouraging message to a debutante that life moving forward is going to be complicated.

But that observation about life is true, isn't it? And so to this graduating batch, I also want to say to you that life is indeed complicated. 

Life moving forward will be complicated. You will now be stepping into the world of employment, career building, profession exploring, and other complicated endeavors. You will now be expected to think, behave, and function like an adult during one of the biggest transitions of your life. 

There will be days when you will question why you chose certain jobs and certain career paths. There will be days when you will look at where you are and wonder why you're not farther along in life, why you haven't achieved what you thought you would have achieved by this time. You will realize, often to your dismay, that life is complicated. 

While I can't make life simpler, I can offer some principles that I have learned in over 50 years of my life experience as an entrepreneur, a politician, a husband, a father, and a friend. 

My prayer is that these principles will encourage you, inspire you, and motivate you as you navigate the complexities of life.

Let me share with you these 3 principles that I believed in. 


The first principle is this: Investments take time.

One of the hobbies that I took up during the pandemic is taking care of plants. In the course of two years, I became a certified plantito. If you go on my social media page, you will see many of my posts about rare and exotic plants. 

Let me tell you something about plants. You can water a plant everyday. Leave it out in the sun everyday. You can also add nutrients and compost to keep it healthy. 

But even if you do these things every day, a plant will still grow in its own time, and in its own way. In fact, if you force a plant to grow by watering it too much, or by keeping it longer in the sun than it needs to be, or by adding too much compost and nutrients, it will die. 

We need to let the plant grow in its own time, in its own way. And different plants grow differently—some grow fast, some grow slow, some grow big, some stay small. But each is exactly as they were designed by their Creator. We just need to provide them with what they need, let them be, and trust the process. 

Many things in life are like that. Your career path is an investment, and that takes time to grow in value. Your network is an investment, and that takes time to grow in value. Your education is an investment, and that takes time to grow in value. Your experience is an investment, and that takes time to grow in value. 

If you try to speed up the process, if you cut corners to reach your targets, if you cheat people to get ahead, if you steal so you can earn more, it might benefit you in the short term but you are actually killing your future. Because nobody will trust a slacker, a cheater, or a thief. 

But if you wait patiently, you perform your tasks excellently, you develop a reputation of integrity and humility, and you discipline yourself to do the right things the right way, that investment will grow in value over time. 

People will like you, people will trust, people will want to partner with you, people will support you, people will present you with opportunities, people will be invested in your success. That is why I say, investments take time.



The second principle is this: Goals are good, but discipline is better.

At the start of every year, many people make a New Year's resolution. A New Year's resolution is essentially a commitment that we make or a goal that we set for the year ahead. 

I believe many of you here have made New Year's Resolutions in the past. Perhaps, some of you made one at the start of 2022. But perhaps many of you have already forgotten your New Year's resolutions. 

According to Forbes, 80% of people admitted to abandoning their New Year's resolutions by February. Research shows that just two months after making a commitment or setting a goal, people abandoned their commitments or their goals. 

The truth is, if we do not have the discipline to do what needs to be done on a daily basis to reach our goals, then our goals are pointless. If you just set a goal but do not build the discipline to reach that goal, your goal will remain a daydream. 

But If you do one small productive thing towards your goal everyday, all of those small actions will compound to produce something significant and meaningful. 

My eldest son used to play football in the high school varsity team of Bethel International School. He was not born athletic. In fact, as a young boy, he was very sickly. He often did not eat breakfast because eating breakfast made him want to vomit. He was also often admitted to the hospital. So as a young boy, he was thin and fragile. 

When he got a little bit older, he went the other way. He began to love eating. He would stay with his cousin and they would get served delicious food five times a day. So during his pre-teen years, he became obese. 

Around that time, my son joined the football team. Because he was obese, he was fat and slow. He would usually only be a bench player and would never even get to play during games and tournaments. 

But he showed up to practice every day. He would come on time, do the drills, and stay to pick up the cones and the soccer balls after training. He would even assist the coach in bringing them to the storage room. 

As he continued to do this over the years, he became more fit, he began to improve in his skills, he became a starting player, and was given bigger and more important roles. 

In just his third year of high school, he was appointed as the Varsity Team Captain, surpassing even the seniors on the team. In 2014, he was scouted to play with the Region VIll delegates at the Palarong Pambansa. 

His success in the field even translated to his studies. He graduated valedictorian in high school and was admitted to Ateneo de Manila University as a Director's List scholar. 

But my son will be the first to tell you that he is not gifted or talented. He struggled with studies and sports when he was young. But he will also tell you that what people see as talent or giftedness is actually years of hardwork and discipline. 

It was never really his goal to be Team Captain, or to play in the Palarong Pambansa, or to be valedictorian, or to get a scholarship. But because of his discipline that compounded over time, these opportunities came to him. Goals are good, but discipline is better.


The third principle is this: Don't strive to be perfect, strive to be whole.

One of the pitfalls when entering the professional world is you might begin to pattern your life according to the priorities of someone else. 

Your time, effort, and energy will be devoted to doing things that other people say you need to do. And what will happen is you will become stressed, unhappy, dissatisfied, and you won't even know why. 

If I asked the room right now who among you would say that family is a priority, I am sure most of us would raise our hands. If I ask who among you will say that health is a priority, many of you will likely say that you do. 

But here's the question. When we look at our schedules and our calendars, do we make time for things we say are priorities—such as family and health? 

A lot of the time, we prioritize things like our careers and our jobs because those are the things that earn us money. There is nothing wrong with earning money, nothing wrong with doing your job well. But when our devotion to our jobs and careers pull us away from our true priorities in life, we will be left stressed, unhappy, and dissatisfied. 

And If we do not find happiness in what we do, if we do not find fulfillment or meaning, that will overflow into every other area of our lives. 

That is the danger that many young people face today. They strive for perfection in their work, that they have disregarded or forgotten being whole in their life. 

There is a story of a pilot who would often fly his plane across a certain river. Every time he flew a plane, he would pass over this one river. His co-pilot began to notice that he would fly over this specific river every time. 

One day, his co-pilot decided to ask him, "Every time we fly, you pass over this specific river. Why do you always fly over this river?" 

The pilot looked down at the river longingly and said, “When I was a little boy, I would always fish in that river. Whenever a plane flew by, I would look up at the plane and I would wish I was flying. But now, I'm looking down and I wish I was fishing." 

Many of us are like this pilot. We look towards our dream jobs, dream companies, dream careers hoping that it will give us happiness. But when we get to where we want to go, we realize it's not what we always dreamed it would be. 

That instead of giving us happiness and fulfillment, it is causing us stress and dissatisfaction. That is because we have prioritized the wrong things. And so we look longingly back to the past and wish for simpler days. Don't strive to be perfect. Strive instead to be whole. 



I would like to close with this encouragement that I hope summarizes and concludes the heart of this message. 

This is a quote by James Clear, bestselling author of Atomic Habits. He said and I quote:

"Most big, deeply satisfying accomplishments in life take at least five years to achieve. This can include building a business, cultivating a loving relationship, writing a book, getting in the best shape of your life, raising a family, and more. Five years is a long time. It is much slower than most of us would like. If you accept the reality of slow progress, you have every reason to take action today. If you resist the reality of slow progress, five years from now you'll simply be five years older and still looking for a shortcut." 

Remember that investments take time. Goals are good, but discipline is better. Don't strive to be perfect, strive instead to be whole. 

It has been a pleasure being with you today. I pray that the things I imparted have impacted you in a meaningful and significant way, motivated and inspired you as you enter a new chapter of your life. 

Congratulations once again, and have a blessed afternoon. 

[The live event of the 47th Commencement Exercises of VSU Tolosa can be replayed here:]

Customer Feedback

Your feedback matters!

As we commit to continually improve our services, we have developed ways for you to reach us online!
Your responses will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and will only be used to improve our services.

Submit Feedback

Or Email Us Directly