A message during the 20th Commencement Exercises of Elementary Department, Harris Memorial College
By Ms. Mariquit D. Camba
Harris Alumna, Elementary Valedictorian, Harris Memorial College
Summa Cum Laude, University of the Philippines-Diliman
Top 7, Licensure Examination for Teachers
Dr. Cristina N. Manabat, Dr. Elvira Dollaga-Mercado, Mrs. Cleanor C. Ladia, Rev. Estelito M. Binuya, Jr., ating mga guro, minamahal na magulang, at mga magsisipagtapos, magandang hapon po.
Alam niyo po ba kung anong tawag ko sa Harris noon? Ito ang aking school on top of the hill! Eleven years ago, andito rin ako. Iyan yung parehong mga upuan. Iyan yung parehong piano. Ito yung parehong chapel. At malamang, yung nararamdaman niyo ngayon, ‘yan din ang nararamdaman ko noon! Bored, anxious na umalis na dito at pumunta sa high school kung saan parang cool ang mga tao. But at the same time, parang nakakatakot diba. Anong meron sa high school? Nakaka-pressure. Ngayon, yung mga adults hindi na kayo tatratuhin na parang bata! Dadami na ang responsibilities niyo. Tataas na ang expectations sa inyo. But in these moments when the pressure is real, when I felt lost and directionless, I found a hidden strength, like a spirit inside me, flashing memories of here, of our monthly chapel services and the songs we sing, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” At pinapaalala nila sa akin na magiging okay din ang lahat. That there is always a plan; that there’s a better tomorrow ahead.
And when I faced heartbreak dahil iniwan ako ng mga friends ko kasi masyado akong weird or kung ano pang rason, nandyan ulit yung spirit na ‘yun. Bumubulong na magiging okay din ang lahat. I will always have these people that I met here in Harris, these friends, not just my classmates but also the teachers and the staff. And the bonds that were established here, the feelings of belonging to a community here, have strengthened me into believing that I can make more friendships like that again, this time with new people.
And when the acads started to get tough-ayan, magkakaroon na kayo ng Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, Chemistry, at kung ano pa-when the papers started to get long and deadlines were impossible, I don’t panic too much. I can trace it all back to the study habits we were trained for in Harris. For here, they don’t just teach what to learn but how to learn.
So when I faced these challenges and so much more in high school and beyond, it was this spirit that accompanied me: the Harrisian spirit. And I know that this spirit is what fortifies you, too. Yung Harrisian spirit ay nasa inyo rin. I know that not all of you will be here next year. You’ll go to different schools or even different towns, but I am sure that our spirit of community here today, the spirit of all the days you spent together and all virtues that were ingrained in your personality, will stay with you long after you have graduated.
Alam niyo kung paano ko ito nalalaman? Dahil dito rin sa Harris ipinanganak ang advocacy ko. Ang advocacy ay isang bagay na ating pinaglalaban, yung bagay na gusto nating makamit, pagtrabahuan, at makita. Sa Harris ko unang natutunan ang Inclusion. Ang Inclusion ay isang konsepto sa edukasyon, pero para sa akin applicable din ito sa ibang mga larangan at pati na rin sa buhay. Inclusion is when we don’t see others for their disabilities or what they can or cannot do. Inclusion is when we think about all people as wonderful human beings, when we understand that people are different and thus need different kinds of care. Inclusion is when we, as teachers, educate our hands with as many strategies as we could to reach out. When we educate our minds to expand the kind of audience it could address. When we educate our hearts to feel neither pity nor indifference- hindi natin sila dapat kaawaan pero hindi rin yung wala tayong pake-but just the right amount of care.
Dito sa Harris ko natutunan ito. Dito sa Harris ko nakilala ang aking incredible friend na si Mang Jaime. Siya yung nagdadala ng bag ko sa fourth floor. Hinahanap nya ako kapag dunating na sila Itay at sinusundo na ako. And best of all, he listened to me in his own patient, enthusiastic way, habang nagkwekwento ako sa kanya ng kung anong nangyari buong araw. Hindi ko matandaan kung paano kami nag-uusap. I think I wrote, I did makeshift signs- I don’t remember. In fact, I don’t think that at Fourth Grade I truly realized that you were Deaf-that he was deaf. All I knew was that you were my friend, a kind, happy friend. And you taught me what it is to live inclusion, to live it every day. You taught me how it is to be inclusive by heart, where our perceptions of people are not based on what they can or cannot do but on who they are in totality, who are they by heart.
Kaya ako lubos na nagpapasalamat sa school na ito. The seed of this advocacy was sown in me here. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang magiging advocacy ninyo someday, pero alam kong may itinanim din ang Harris sa inyo. I hope that as you go forth, the things that you will face- challenges, triumphs, defeat, adventures-will only serve to nourish that seed.
Iniisip niyo siguro ngayon kung ano ang sikreto: paano maging Summa, Summa ng UP; paano maging topnotcher? Pero sa too lang, hindi ko sinadya! Basta ang alam ko, simula first year high school palang, tuwang-tuwa na ako sa pag-aaral. Ang school para sa akin ay hindi puno ng subjects o mga exam, kundi kung saan tayo tinuturan ng iba’t-ibang skills. Skills ng writing, skills ng speaking, skills sa pag-compute, sa pag-observe at pag-verify, skills sa pag-iisip ng magaling at maingat. Hindi ko masyadong naiisip yung tamang sa exam-oo, kasali yun-pero isipin nyo na itong mga simpleng skills na ito ang gumagawa ng talents, ang gumagawa ng career, ang building blocks ng kung ano man ang pangarap niyo. Kaya dapat maging passionate tayo sa pag-aaral. Dahi sa totoo lang, ang pag-aaal ay pagbuild-up ng ating mga sarili, pagpapagaling sa ating mga sarili. Studying allows us to reach the best versions of ourselves. It is through learning and learning new and wondrous things that we can become very good students, reliable members of our families, helpful citizens of our community. At one day, kapag tayo ay magaling na, mas madaling tumulong sa iba.
I hope that as the day ends, as the summer months fly by and you enter High School, you will all remain enthusiastic but vigilant, in separate places but always together in spirit, trusting yourself and yet always acknowledging the presence of God wherever you go and whatever you do.
Congratulations to all, and may the spirit never fade inside all of us!