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High School Virtual Graduation, 2020

To the members of  the Aldersgate College Corporation and Board  of Trustees headed by the Chairman Dr. Willie A. Damasco;  Members of the Administration, Faculty  and Staff; Members of the Graduating classes; Parents and Guardians, a blessed day to all.

What we are about to do today is the very first of its kind for me, for you and for Aldersgate College: a virtual graduation ceremony.  Looking back to the last graduation rites at the Highlander Hotel last June, 2019, who would think back then, that we would be doing something different today? No stage preparation, no graduation march, no handshaking and hugging after diplomas are awarded … so different, so not normal, but at this point in time, we are forced to accept things as the “new normal”.

Be that as it may, life has to go on, and we have to make the most of what we have. One of the things we have to be grateful for is the presence of many platforms brought about by technology, by which we can connect and still be able to continue doing familiar things differently. I know that many of you dear students, for the past three monhs, have grown accustomed to communicating with your friends and other people through facebook, twitter, and other social media connections. We have become dependent on online sellers for food and other items. Many of our friends and relatives, or we ourselves, have become instant businessmen by selling all kinds of stuff online. But then again, this  does not free you from your responsibilities as students. You were still required to submit papers,  and other requirements  to complete your grades in school. The abrupt disruption of our classes when the lockdown was imposed caught us all unaware.  But I am so grateful that Aldersgate College is equipped with multi-skilled personnel who are more than ready to meet this new challenge. Within days, we were able to come  up with possible solutions to the problems that confronted us as a result of the lockdown. Despite the possibility of using the internet to interact with our students, we had to consider the plight of those who live in remote areas with no access to the world wide web.  Those who do not have internet access therefore  are given the option to accomplish modules to be submitted  via drop off points.

We may differ in the way we face this new situation, but definitely, we have to understand that the lockdown is not an extended vacation. You may have gotten used to getting up late, to being glued to your gadgets playing online games, but you must never forget  that Education is still part of your life in preparation for a bright future for yourself.

At this point in time, have you pondered on what happens after you finish your Junior or your Senior Education? Have you decided to go on learning despite the situation we are in? After all, education is not merely feeding the mind. It is also feeding the heart. What did this pandemic teach you? Has it made you more aware of the importance of your family? Have you learned to appreciate things which you have taken for granted before? Have you given time to tend a garden, care for pets, do a hobby and most importantly, to connect with God? It is now more than ever, that we have to strengthen our faith in the Lord, regardless of our religious affiliation. Are you one of the millions who are praying seriously that this pandemic will soon end? That a cure will be discovered, and that we can go back to our normal lives? And when I say normal life, I mean a life with no fear of an unknown virus that may infect us anytime, a life lived in harmony with our fellowmen, and in harmony with God’s creation.

The Theme of the Department of Education for this School Year,  “Sulong EduKalidad: Pagtataguyod sa Kinabukasan ng Bayan’ or Championing the Nation’s Future, speaks about how we can assure  a bright future, not only for us, but most importantly, for our children. The theme emphasizes the essential role of quality education in helping Filipino learners achieve their full potential in order to fulfill their dreams and contribute meaningfully to nation-building.  This is easier said than done, especially at this time, when we do not know when this pandemic will end.

We, in the academe are not only beset by problems of the content of learning but also by how we can best deliver it. Do you think it is easier for teachers to do their job now? Definitely not. We have to realign our curriculum with the needs of the times. Our teachers have to undergo webinars to equip them with new strategies and new content. This can mean total revision of what we were used to doing before.

You, our dear parents, have been our partners in educating our children since the beginning, but we need your partnership with us now more than ever. Thank you for being there, supporting your children. Together, we can do this. Together we can survive this pandemic.

At this juncture,  let me congratulate our Grade 10 Completers and our Grade 12 Graduates for having come this far in their educational journey. Do not think that it is bad luck that brought us to this situation. Take this as a new kind of challenge that needs to be met by a new strategy.  Let your creativity get to work and face this challenge head-on, after all, it is not the end of the world. So much is still in store for you. The world is waiting for a new generation of workers to gravitate it, a new generation of players that will make a positive impact on society and the environment.

According  to the 2016 McCann Worldgroup’s global study on “Truth AboutYouth”, Filipino millennials and centennials are characterized as socially conscious and aspiring to have a greater purpose. I believe that you are like the 96 % of  Filipino millennials who are inclined to make a positive contribution to the community and the  26 % percent who want to be remembered as someone who made a difference. That’s accoding to the study.

In conclusion, accept my warmest congratulations for successfully hurdling the obstacles that may have otherwise hindered you from getting to where you are now. May the Father Almighty continue to guide us all today and in the days ahead!