I am greatly honored to stand here before these resilient graduates of 2020 and 2021. After two years, here we are, physically present to celebrate the success of these graduates. Delays are the beautiful languages of opportunities. Difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity to learn and master persistence and resilience. As I stand here before you, I feel the indescribable energy of success and the sense of excitement of everyone. COVID-19 is still a threat this time but not as the way we perceived it during its first wave. It is important to always remember that when times get tough, persevere, exude resilience.

As philosopher Aristotle said, “excellence is a habit”. Successful and excellent people may not necessarily be the brightest. But they are the ones whose habit is to learn and live the lessons of life everyday. Along with the philosopher Socrates, excellence is only possible when you examine your life. "An unexamined life is not worth living," he said. Excellence is an outcome of self-examination. No one excels in this life if he does not know himself. To understand this deeply, I would like to share with you success stories of some not really famous but became famous and excellent individuals later because of their resilience and perseverance.


Steve Jobs has been known as an iconic figure for the establishment of Apple as the world's biggest company. However, it is extremely shocking to know that the $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees was started with only two people in a garage. Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to his success.


The word 'Einstein' is associated with intelligence and is synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that: "Success is a failure in progress."


Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best. In this great man's words, "My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure." Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America. The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.


Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times. While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years. Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all. To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.


Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army. One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for "not being creative enough." Yet today, the genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come. The logic behind this is simple: "We don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”



Starting as an employee in a drugstore prior to World War Il, Mariano Que found his opportunities when he saw the need for antibiotics. Using his knowledge in pharmaceuticals, he procured sulfathiazole antibiotics and sold them in single doses in extremely poor areas. Fueled by the booming demand from the masses, he was able to make a profit from his P100 capital and built a kariton, which allowed him to sell even more antibiotics and reach more areas. Because of his dedication and hard work, he was able to work his way through and build his first drugstore in 1945. From his humble beginnings, Mercury Drug now has more than 700 branches worldwide.


Tony Tan Caktiong as a young boy started as a helper in their family business. He grew up cleaning tables, washing the dishes, and serving the customers. Because of his family and his own perseverance as well, he was able to earn a degree in BS Chemical Engineering from the University of Sto. Tomas. He ventured into the restaurant business following the path of his father and franchised the then famous Magnolia Ice Cream House from the money he borrowed from his family's savings. Soon enough, he expanded his ice cream parlor and offered chicken and burgers on his menu. Soon it was his burgers that outsold the ice cream products. Tony and his siblings immediately decided to transform their ice cream parlors to burger restaurants, which they named Jollibee. Today, Jollibee Foods Corporation is one of the leading restaurant brands not only in the country but also all over the world. His strategy: nothing is impossible if you believe. Just like going against the giants in the business, with close attention to what your customers demand from you, and if you have the right attitude toward managing the risk and its rewards, you too can make it big in the saturated industry where you're in.


Left with only 10 cents in his pocket, Henry Sy started to empower himself by studying commerce, learning English and Filipino language at the same time. He began selling surplus Gl boots. Sy focused on trading shoes on the onset which led him to discover local suppliers and explore importing shoes to be able to cope up with the supply and demand chain. It was not at all an overnight success for Henry Sy, he started selling shoes in the streets of Manila under the heat of the sun and the cold of the rain. At one point in his past, Sy was shot by a shrapnel and almost died in excessive bleeding. Someone helped him, and that someone became his friend and as an act of gratitude, he became a business partner and now indeed became successful because of him. There had been so many obstacles in the startup process but he was able to overcome it one step at a time. I am relating to you their stories because their difficulties before were likened to a pandemic during that time. Dear graduates, I hope that together with everyone, you are inspired by the stories of some famous people in our country and abroad. I wish that soon you will be strengthened by the lessons of the pandemic by making your lives more meaningful and inspiring to others and to contribute to development and nation-building.

Remember these 3 wise quotes:

1. "Do not fear failure, but rather fear not trying." Success is a matter of trying and trying in order to understand imperfection and the requirements of humility. Those who failed and learned to stand up are brave and will excel. Those who do not are cowards and will lose.

2. "Life has no remote, get up and change it yourself!" We love instant things such as remote controls to easily find the best channel in our TV set, or to quickly start our car, and air-conditioned units; and 

3. "If you believe very strongly in something, stand up and fight for it."

Your graduation today is your victory over yourself and over all the challenges in earning your college degree despite the risks and threats of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is just the beginning. Do what you know and teach what you understand. Do not stop discovering yourself and knowing others. As Lao Tzu said, "Knowing others is wisdom; knowing yourself is enlightenment." Be wise and be light to others and to the world. Thank and appreciate your parents, your teachers, your classmates and all those who helped you realize your dream.

Let the future unfold with you as you journey along and as you hold quality outside and within you as your first principle. Unlock the door of opportunities and develop a sense of right in all your undertakings. Live the VSU Spirit! 


Explore the world and plant seeds of quality anywhere you go. Go with all your heart in things that will make you excellent. The real treasure of human achievements lies in good deeds that transform lives and multiply progress in this country and in the world. 

Dear graduates, you all survived the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations for keeping your resilience on the ground to inspire all of you to go on with the journey to success! Through your earned degree, you are prepared to face the 21st century, become mobile in the international community, ICT-driven, research-oriented, globally competitive, personally and professionally grounded, outcomes-driven and technologically innovative.

You all deserve this success today. Keep it up to a higher level. Congratulations! 

From here and after this graduation, keep the lessons you learned from this institution. Treasure the experiences that molded your values. Your degree is life. Create shining and best moments out of it here and in the world. Draw your own map and create landmarks of achievements as you carry the banner of your alma mater anywhere you go. Tomorrow is something only God knows. But God gave us the rationality to unravel tomorrow through the daily events and challenges in life. It is the right attitude in life that matters most in order to succeed.

Always place God as the beginning and center of everything. Contribute to peace, work for justice, labor for the love of nature, and believe in the right things. When you do these, all things will just be balanced. Again, be always resilient with or without the pandemic. Always do excellence, maintain excellence, and live excellence with resilience. Persevere and never stop believing in success. 

Congratulations, dear graduates! 

Congratulations to Visayas State University! Congratulations to the president, administrators, faculty, staff, parents, and graduates!

Graduates, may our God continue to shower you with all the blessings to keep your paths shining with resilience and excellence. Live the lessons of the pandemic and expand your wings into the vast universe of challenges and opportunities. Do not be afraid. Live to succeed.

Mabuhay po kayo! 

[The live event of the VSU Recognition Rites for Class 2020 and 2021 can be replayed here:]


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