2017 Commencement Speech of Sen. Bam Aquino: Three Secrets


Before anything else, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to your commencement exercise. It is an honor to be speaking to all of you on such a momentous occasion!

This is the culmination of all your hard work as students! So let’s take some time to thank the people who were part of your journey.

Of course, our teachers who took on the challenge of arming our graduates with the skills they need to succeed beyond these walls.

We must not forget our parents and our family – those who worked so hard to afford your education and support you. I’m sure they are filled with pride today.

Let’s give them all a round of applause! Damo nga salamat, teachers, parents, family, friends!

 Ang tagumpay ninyo ngayon, mga graduates, ay tagumpay rin ng inyong mga pamilya!

But of course, we must give the biggest, loudest applause to our graduates! Palakpakan niyo po ang inyong mga sarili! Congratulations!

Today, you are celebrating the hard work and sleepless nights you put into finishing your thesis, the nerves you conquered during every exam, and all the times you pushed yourself to excel and do better!

Beyond the academics, today, you are also celebrating the unforgettable moments you created, the friendships you forged, and the person you’ve grown to be.

It is the sum of all these experiences – good and bad, successes and failures – that prepare you for your new adventure outside Carlos Hilado Memorial State College.

And, truly, dear friends, every Filipino should be given the opportunity to earn a college degree, have a chance at a better job and a better future.

During the course of your education, I’m sure there were times when people in this room were worried about their finances, may mga nahirapan po magbayad ng school fees.

Siguro po may mga kilala rin kayo na hindi nakapagtapos – hindi dahil mababa ang kanilang grades, ngunit dahil nahirapan sila makahanap ng pambayad sa tuition.

 Pero mayroon po akong good news para sa inyo at para sa kanila!

In the Senate, we recently passed on third and final reading the Affordable Higher Education for All Act, which will make tuition fees free in all state universities and colleges – including CHMSC!

Ang mga kaibigan ninyong hindi nakapagtapos ay pwedeng bumalik sa kolehiyo at, tulad ninyo, maka-graduate na rin!

Ang inyong mga kaibigan, mga kapatid at kamag-anak na nag-aaral sa mga SUC, matutulungan na sila, kahit kaunti, dahil sa libreng tuition.

 Siguro iniisip ninyo… Senator Bam, graduate na po kami. Bakit niyo pa ito sinasabi?

Well, dear friends, I have 2 reasons.

One – hindi pa po ito batas. Kailangan pa po ito ipasa sa Kongreso at pirmahan ng Presidente. Kailangan po naming ang inyong suporta upang bantayan ang proseso at siguraduhin na maipapasa ito sa lalong madaling panahon. We need you to help us spread the word.

 Second, I know you will appreciate it. You who have worked so hard to pay for a good education for all 4 years. I know you will appreciate this bill and make sure na maipasa ito para sa inyong mga kaibigan, mga magulang, para sa susunod na batch, susunod na mga henerasyon.

 This is our gift to every Filipino family whose dream is to have a member, at least one person, in their family to earn a college degree.

Pero hindi po ito ang pabaon ko sa inyo ngayon, mga graduates!

My gift to you today, before you venture out into a wild, uncertain, and complicated world, are 3 secrets!

The first secret is the secret to living.

 Sa mga mayroong smart phone, pakilabas ito at ilagay sa camera mode! Itapat sa inyong katabi. Itapat sa noo… sa ilong… sa pisngi…

 Ngayon naman, itabi ang inyong mga phone. Itabi na ‘yan at titigan naman ang inyong katabi.

For five minutes. Stare at your seatmate. Get closer! Lapit pa hanggang sa maamoy mo na ang kanyang hininga… Hanggang sa malaman mo na kung ano kinain niya for lunch.

Ok! 5 mins is up!

How did that feel? Was it uncomfortable? <pause> Alin ang mas nakakailang? Alin ang mas may impact? <pause>

Hindi ba’t mas ramdam mo ang iyong katabi pag walang gadget sa pagitan ninyo? Mas ramdam mo rin ang hiya!

Pero parang mas totoo, parang mas nakilala mo ang kaniyang mukha at pagkibo kapag gamit mo ang iyong dalawang mata.

Friends, life too short to be living behind a screen!

This, dear graduates, is the first secret: Live life with no filters.

If you’re flirting with someone online, lakasan ang loob at makipag-landian in person!

Kung may kaaway ka online, why not have a face-to-face discussion? You might even make a new friend.

In this day of Facebook and Instagram, marami na pong filters sa ating buhay. But these filters should only be in our photos and videos. Filters and preconceptions must not cloud our minds.

We must not allow these filters to waste the experience of knowing each other in real life.

The challenge of this first secret is to experience the world in its fullest, to open our minds beyond a screen, beyond what we think we already know.

Because it is only by living without filters that we truly open up to what the world can offer and what each person can teach us.

That is, to me, the secret to living: to go beyond filters, break down barriers, and genuinely reach out to our fellow men and women.

Tanggalin po natin ang mga harang na iyan at huwag hayaan na hanggang Facebook lang ang pakikitungo natin sa ating mga magulang at sa ating mga kaibigan.

The secret to living is to live life with no filters.

Now, what’s the second secret? Secret number 2 is the secret to winning!


“Why are you so good at winning? What did you do?” This question was posed to a very wise man after he won yet another game.

The tall wise man, with his knowing eyes, paused and rubbed his wise old head. Then he answered:

“Excellence is a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”

Can you guess who this wise man is? It’s none other than… Shaquille O’Neal, legendary basketball player!

After winning so many basketball games, he said the secret to their success was to make excellence a habit!

Truly, habits take up a large part of our day-today and habits lead to success. So how can we expect to succeed if we get used to the mediocre, ang “Pwede Na”?

Makapasa lang – maka-graduate lang. Pwede na ‘yun!

Ang bako-bakong daanan – nadadaanan pa naman. Pwede na ‘yan!

Ang mabagal na internet – nakaka-download pa rin naman. Pwede na!

Pero hindi pwede and pwede na. <slow it down> Kasi pwede pa!

<Speed it up!> Kaya pa nating pagbutihin, pagandahin, pabilisin, palakasin, padamihin… Kaya pa natin basta’t handa tayong magtrabaho at gawing gawiin – gawing habit.

And we do not need to be born very talented or very intelligent to be excellent. What it takes is practice and effort!

A recent psychological study revealed that the key characteristic for success is actually a combination of passion and perseverance This combination is what psychologist Angela Duckworth calls grit.

Grit! It is the ability to keep trying and keep working with heart!

I hope you stay with me for this equation; huling math lesson niyo na ito, promise!

If Talent x Effort = Skill

And Skill x Effort = Achievement

Then with a little Algebra:

Talent x Effort x Effort = Achievement


So you see, effort counts twice!

Let’s take it from Shaq, from science and from our basic math! The secret to winning, the secret to success, is to keep working hard to make excellence a habit.

Now we’re down to the last and final secret for all of you. And this, I think, is the most important.


The third secret is the secret to happiness!


During my days as a social entrepreneur, I was fortunate enough to be part of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and one of the seminars I attended was entitled “The Secret to Happiness”.

 I was so surprised to see that this seminar was attended by some of the richest, most accomplished leaders around the world… Mga tulad nina Bill Gates, hindi rin pala nila alam ang sikreto!

 The speaker in this seminar was actually a scientist who was there to talk about the research they conducted on the human brain.

She said that in moments when humans are happy, certain chemicals are released in the brain and they were able to measure this.

So what they did was try to look for the moments and memories in our life that make our brain release a lot of these “happy chemicals”!

But before she revealed the secret to happiness, she wanted to know what the crowd of VIPs thought. Baka naman alam na nila ang sagot!

She asked everyone, “Do we feel happiest when we have so much money?”

Even the wealthiest men in the room shook their heads no. A lot of money did not make them happy.

“Do we feel happiest when we’ve accomplished so much? When we have earned so many degrees and won so many awards?”

The room was silent. Hindi pa rin!

Her third question really made us think – Do we feel happiest when we are in love?

Yes ba? Mukang maraming inlove/sawi dito!

The answer is no. The secret to happiness is not love and romance; it’s not money; it’s not accomplishments.

The secret to happiness, dear graduates, is kindness and compassion for others.

According to scientific research, “happy chemicals” are released in our brains during moments when: one, we are most kind and, two, when we are most compassionate.

Are you surprised? When I heard it, I was surprised. It was a big realization for me… and I hope this secret warms your heart as it did mine.

Because in these days when we are asked to be tough, to be cold, and to harden our hearts… Now, more than ever, we need to remember to be kind and compassionate to one another.

We must remember that there is courage and there is true happiness in being kind and compassionate to our fellow Filipinos.

Dearest graduates, now with these three secrets, I hope you can live a life that is rich in experiences and rich in love.

I sincerely wish that all of you find both success and happiness, because those two don’t always go hand-in-hand.

And I fervently pray that you never forget your capacity to make your own life better, make the lives of your loved ones better, and even improve the lives of the people in your community.

Lastly, huwag na huwag niyo pong kalilimutan na kahit graduate na kayo, nandito pa rin kami para suportahan kayo at maging cheerleader niyo!

Your teachers, your friends, your family, your parents will always be here to support you.

Because you need them and they need you. Friends, now more than ever, we need each other.

If we, as a nation, can build bridges instead of walls, build respect instead of hate, build friendship instead of rivalry…

If we can build up instead of tear down, then the Philippines can move out of mediocrity and we can finally live in a kind and compassionate society that cares for one another.

This hope for our country and these secrets you can use in your life beyond these halls, iyan po ang aking pabaon.

Madamo gid nga salamat sa inyo nga tanan! Mag-ulupdanay kita , sa pag-uswag! Sa liwat, Congratulations Graduates!

[Thank you, everyone. And congratulations, once again, to our graduates!]



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