(Editor’s Note: What appears below is the speech of Manuel Wong, an alumnus of the University, delivered during the 70th Year-End Commencement Exercises. Engr. Wong is a BS in Chemical Engineering graduate in 1983.)
“Though I’m now the General Manager of Acer Philippines and head some other organizations, it was not all a bed of roses to start with. Needless to say, I also had my share of criticisms, some of it possibly deserving, some of it possibly excessive. Though some lessons hurt, they all happened for a reason. Successes and failures; good and bad; praise and criticism—all have reasons.“
Greetings and good wishes to all the guests of Adamson University—an institution which is truly close to my heart.
First of all, I would like to acknowledge and give importance to the presence of all the parents present in this hall witnessing their children’s goals come to life. I believe that it is through their hard work, or maybe even sweat and blood, that these aspiring graduates stand before all of us here today. As such, may I request all the parents to please stand up, so that we may give to you the respect and recognition you greatly deserve? Now, let us all give them a loud, but warm round of applause.
To start off, what I think will be a short speech for the sanity of everyone involved, I would like to thank my Alma Mater for inviting me here today. It is indeed a privilege to stand here before you this afternoon and share my thoughts and experiences in this very important ceremony.
Graduates of Adamson University Batch 2008, 25 years ago as I left Adamson, I was probably like all of you right now—unsure but hopeful. But today, as I look back to those times, I am filled with nostalgia as I remembered both the good and bad—experiences and feelings that molded me, made me better, stronger. You are all probably thinking, as I did before: “What will become of me after this?”; “Will I be able to find a good job?”; “Was the course I took enough to support the job I will be getting?” For you, dear graduates, these are questions that need answers. So I will take the liberty of providing you possible answers to them in the hope that in the end of this speech, the future will not be as intimidating as some of you might think.
I would like to say that being here today is very special for me. As I stand here before all of you, I can’t help remembering the turning point in my life when I had to work to finance my college studies. I was a part-time student and a part-time employee then, which wasn’t that long ago—waking up before 7 o’clock in the morning in order to report for my job in Makati. I was indeed fortunate that my employer was very supportive of me and my studies as he allowed me to leave the office earlier at around 3:30 to 4 o’clock in the afternoon to go to Adamson and attend my classes in the evening. During that time, I had classes from 5 to 9 every evening, plus I had to devote my entire Saturdays for laboratory classes.
The life of a working student is truly tough. After working for seven to eight hours, you still have to gather the rest of your strength to be focused on classes. On top of that, you also have to review your previous lessons after coming home from school up to the late hours in the evening, keeping in mind that you must report to work in the morning the next day.
I was able to do the things I did for a very simple reason. That is, I value my education very much, which I suppose several of you do, too. I truly consider now that this is what we all here have in common.
I did all those things everyday to the point that it was somehow mechanical: every single day just passed by without me noticing it—until the time for graduation came. I remember clearly the great uncertainty of that fateful day. Many of you are justifiably anxious about leaving the secure and comfortable world of Adamson University and launching yourself headlong into the cold, harsh world of job searching, and sometimes, rejection. But allow me to guarantee you that the knowledge you all gained at Adamson is truly a gift, which is yours to keep forever.
Still, you have to keep in mind that knowledge alone may not be wholly enough to assist you through every problem you might encounter. And this is where your integrity and moral values and good virtue come in. From what I have experienced, these will serve as your fall-back or support when all else fails. These will, in the end, guide you to success, as they have done for me.
So what can you expect out there in the real world? Let me tell you. As you leave these gates and re-enter society, one thing is certain: you will experience the best of both worlds – compliments and yes, criticisms. Though I’m now the General Manager of Acer Philippines and head some other organizations, it was not all a bed of roses to start with. Needless to say, I also had my share of criticisms, some of it possibly deserving, some of it possibly excessive. Though some lessons hurt, they all happened for a reason. Successes and failures; good and bad; praise and criticism – all have reasons.
So that’s what I ask from all of you: to experience life as it comes, the good and the bad. Don’t be afraid to fall down, make a mess, and break something once in a while. Just always remember that the story is never over until you have learned your mistake and swear to never commit the same mistake twice.
Going back to the questions I posed earlier, let me seek to leave you with a quote by Arie Pencovici to reflect on.
“Graduation is only a concept. In real life, every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you'll make a difference.”
Graduates, the answers lie with you, within you. You can either let life pass you by or take the bull by the horns and forge that career path you have always wanted. Remember, winners take chances, and champions take different types of pressure as challenges to attain their goals.
Adamson University Graduating Class of 2008, I commend you for the great effort you have put into your studies. Do not forget the institution you came from and why you came in the first place.
Remember to keep in touch with your friends here, not only your own circle of friends, but the big family here, your Alma Mater, and your Alumni Association. Share your future with the younger one you left behind, help them in whatever way you can. Not only monetary, but more of your time and care for them. We know that you all will make us proud. Congratulations!
Once again, thank you for inviting me to be part of this wonderful event. More power to the Falcons! God bless us all.