By Monsi A. Serrano
What a way to celebrate my gift of life loaned to me by GOD. What moves me is when a factory worker’s father gave me a handshake to thank me for my inspirational talk to the graduates. He told me, “Tama po yung sinabi nyo para sa aming mga anak at magulang. Factory worker lang po ako pero pinipilit ko pong mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang mga anak ko na makapag aral sa private school. Minsan po nagaggalit sila kapag di nabibigay ang luho nila.” ?
Five years ago, I almost left this world and reported back to my Creator… But after being alive and kicking again, I said to myself, GOD has given me the CHANCE to CHANGE… And that CHANGE is to CHANGE for the BETTER, and not from WORSE to WORST.
To set the record straight, I don’t have the typical vices of a man like drinking and smoking. My lifestyle has been very simple and will remain simple wherever GOD takes me with my TEAM in The Philippine Business and News.
Two years ago, when I was invited to be the guest of honor and speaker at graduation, many parents and graduating students were shocked to see that I was still using a Nokia (which is still with me) worth 999 pesos while others want their phones to be the latest model. Back then I told the graduating students to be grateful for what they have, being educated in a private school that teaches good values, education, good manners, and proper conduct.
I wanted them to realize that demanding the latest phone model from their parents is just too much if what they need is just a phone which they can use to communicate with their families, classmates, and friends. Feeling bad that their demand cannot be met and hating their parents for that was very cruel and ungrateful. Having been sent to a private school was a big blessing already and a lot to thank for. When they started to work, they can buy their own new phone, and then when they become parents themselves, they will realize how magnanimous their parents had been for ignoring their own needs and sacrificing their own little pleasures to afford the education of their children.
I am a proud product of a Mababang and Mataas na Paaralan (Public Elementary and High School system). I value the importance of education and I treasure what God has given me through my parents who are all resting in peace with HIM now. But we have to keep in mind that being educated does not necessarily mean you are learned. You may be educated in a premier school, but if your attitude remains abrasive and doesn’t treat others with respect especially the ones who cannot pay us back for our goodness, then to me your education is useless. Go to the mountains and provinces and you will experience how the people there will treat you — they will treat you with respect and care. They are not “educated”, but their hearts are filled with compassion and kindness.
I have been to many countries and met different kinds of people, but I still ride a jeep, tricycle and walk several kilometers when necessary. Because I want to live a simple life. And that is the CHANGE I want to do in my life.
That is the reason when some friends asked me why I didn’t buy a more “respectable handphone”, I politely say to them, “My phone doesn’t define me.”
To be fair, my Nokia has already been replaced. I now use a XiaoMi phone. Some call it the Google Phone. It was given to me by a friend. Unfortunately, that phone’s LCD cracked when it fell. But it is still working well for its purpose: taking photos, recording voices during media coverage, taking videos, making calls, and text messages. No frills… I don’t live my life to impress people, but to make a difference in the lives of the people because my life, your life and everyone’s life here on earth no matter how powerful or rich you are, will all end when we are called back by our BOSS.
As the Italians would say, “Quando finisce la partita il re ed il pedone finiscono nella stessa scatola.” (“At the end of the game, the king and the pawn will be in the same box”)
If it was my schedule to leave this world 5 years ago, then I would not be here in front of you; in front of the people who I tried to inspire and share my journey with. The Philippine Business and News would remain a Facebook Page and not a multi-media company that it is now that continues to provide support to business enterprises, young entrepreneurs, business organizations and many other well-deserving institutions.
I have a heart problem, my blood pressure was 210/180 but I said to myself I am okay. So don’t worry. Little did I know that I was a ticking time bomb back then. The Doctors and Nurses had to restrain me because I did not want to lie down because I thought I was okay. I know how I feel and “I know” when my body is in “danger” or aching because it is my body!
I was so arrogant for always thinking I was right. I thought back then, that this is my body and I have all the right to do as I wish without realizing that my life is just loaned to me by God and that my body if the temple of the Spirit, thus I need to take care of it.
With all those realizations and the continuous invitations to give talk to different audiences and groups, I realized that the CHANCE given to me is for me to CHANGE… To make a difference and promote positive change.
You, young ladies and gentlemen, your teachers, parents and school administrators are all called and empowered to make a change. Yes the world is changing… Too much hate, too much lies and deceit, too much technology that sets us apart if not managed well, and the worst part is lacking of discernment.
As I said, you may be educated, but having an education is not enough. What is important is to use our education in discerning the truth and what is right from falsehood and what is wrong. Sadly, the “ever-changing world” posits threat and danger to us, especially to the youth. Why because the principle of technology is simple, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”, or “GIGO”.
The creators of the new technology may have an insidious desire to lure people to walk in damnation instead of salvation. And you, Generation Z and the Millennials will rule the world soon. But you must not neglect and part away from the conventional wisdom and values taught by your teachers, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties, and other elderlies in your community.
Perhaps, down the road and because the world is changing fast, there will be a “virtual” Christmas and New Year celebration with the family or “virtual” wedding ceremony. GOD forbid this will happen. Well, virtual courting has long been existing since Facebook and other online communications came into being.
We have to embrace the digital technology as a reality and part and parcel of our evolution in business, education, and means of communication. But let us not forget that nothing beats being physically together and preserving the Filipino tradition of closely-knit family ties. Let us not allow technology to set us apart.
You are all blessed young people because there is your best friend Google at your beck and call. Back in our time, I had to carry and read voluminous books, chew and digest every word or essence being taught and be able to apply it in my life and workplace. But the downside of having the information at the tip of your fingers is that you tend to be complacent and forget to validate the “facts” you have read or seen.
Admit it or not, you may have fallen into a trap on several occasions by sharing fake news to your friends and even your own social media accounts. I know a lot, some are even “educated” people.
The theme in your graduation is very apt, “Empowering the Youth in this Changing World”.
Let me remind you of a few things.
First, with power comes responsibility, in as much as freedom is not absolute and it’s always tied up with responsibility. Second, the world changes and it will always do unless it is already the end of the world. Point being, don’t allow the world to change what is inside you — your values, morals, attitude, and culture of being a Filipino regardless of your religion. Third, keep in mind the acronym.
CHANGE: Character, Honor, Aspiration, Nationalism, God, and Environment
All of these will lead you to POSITIVE CHANGE
You need a strong character that is imbued with your right mental and moral disposition in making a decision. Yes, technologies are there to make things easier, but should we always be dependent on them?
HONOR: The greatest honor you can keep for yourself is not to sell your honor for money, title, or position or any other things. When you are already working, make sure that you give the honor and pride to your school, your family, and your race being a Filipino by showing self-respect. Don’t make other people or other races steal your dignity and honor by displaying impropriety and allowing them to trample down on you. The moment you do that, expect more, and brazen trampling down on you will happen.
ASPIRATION: Young people like you have so many aspirations, and that is good. In as much as your parents and teachers aspire that you become good products of your family and school. Aspire for greatness, by doing the right thing in the eyes of morally principled people and in the eyes of God.
NATIONALISTIC: Show love for your heritage, your culture, and your race. Down allow others to push you around. Take pride of being a Filipino wherever you are. Sadly, not everyone is doing that anymore. I saw some posts on Facebook especially from those who already tasted the comfort of life abroad, they forgot being Filipinos and worst, some even badmouth their own Kababayans and their country for no apparent reason.
GOD: If you don’t keep in mind that there is God, you will never change. Because you think God is stupid and you are better than him. I remember the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who once said that “God is dead.” Sometimes, when power, or rightly said, drunk in power intoxicates us, when we tend to play like a god, and when we do, you will end up doomed. Remember, only God can draw straight from a crooked line, and therefore, God can change everything. Take him out from the equation of CHANGE, you will end up being scammed in the CHANGES you are promised to achieve.
And E is for ENVIRONMENT: Because the world changes, attitudes and values tend to change. But an honorable and decent person would not be allowed to be changed by the environment simply because it is the trend and it is what is being dictated. You want a change, make sure you all become agents of positive change. Because if not, then don’t even aspire for the change if this will just lead you from damnation and not salvation.
There will be no CHANGE if you don’t change yourself, from good, to better and best. Knowing yourself, Being Yourself, and Being Your Best Self is a good headstart for a POSITIVE CHANGE. Don’t change the world, CHANGE yourself, and work together with those who equally share your aspiration for positive change. Just remember, for me, there is no CHANGE if it does not lead to POSITIVE CHANGE.
As Ellen Glasgow said, “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.”
Again, congratulations to you and to your parents… Always thank your teachers and schools for changing you and transforming you to become a better person through the years under the tutelage of Children of Mary Immaculate College Valenzuela. Let us also congratulate the Chairman of Children of Mary Immaculate College Mrs. Eleanor de Leon-Llenado for her indefatigable service and milestone in celebrating their 40th founding anniversary this 2019.
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