Dear guests, former teachers, peers and fellow alumni of St. Michael School of Padada, MAAYONG HAPON SA INYONG TANAN!
When Elma Ayop, and then Anna Binoya asked me if I would speak in today’s reunion, I was quite humbled, but more than that actually stunned.
Perhaps, the outspoken criteria to the invitation was beer belly size? Morag dili. Dili ang gidako-on sa tiyan ang basehanan kung kinsa ang guest speaker kay mas daghan pa man diri karon ang mas dako pa ang tiyan kaysa ako. Sa pagkatinood, isog-isog gyod tang tanan nga nitambong sa atong reunion. Kay wala man ta mahadlok nga magpalista bisan dagko na ang ating mga bilbil, sinaw na ang atong mga ulo, o dili kaha, kunot na ang atong mga agtang.
Allow me to be more pensive, this time. 50 YEARS – dugay dugay na gyud na panahon sukad matukod kining atong eskwelahan. Mas tigulang pa gani kini kaysa kadaghanan nga mitambong ning atong homecoming. But in reality it doesn’t seem to be too far back in time.
In the years since we left the corridors of St. Michael’s School of Padada, through all the compelling changes that our lives (and bodies) have gone through, I look into the faces of everybody and I can say with conviction that everyone here is a SUCCESS. A success because our Catholic upbringing within the walls of this institution, molded us into individuals, who, by making a difference in the lives of a handful of people, that by struggling to be better than how we were when we walked out of the gates of SMSP. We, in our own way, have fanned the flames of the SWORD OF ST. MICHAEL and kept its fire ablaze.
Kasagaran ang sukdanan sa kalampusan ginatan-aw sa kadaghan ug kwarta, sa gwapo nga sinina, bag-o nga sakyanan, o kaharuhay sa trabaho ug panginabuhi. However, the Almighty Father, ang BIG BOSS ni Senior San Miguel, dunay lain nga sukdanan kung kinsa ang successful nga alumni sa St. Michael School of Padada. Para KANIYA, ang HULAGWAY SA KALAMPUSAN makita nato:
- sa mga amahan ug inahan nga adlaw adlaw nag trabaho para lang mapadala ang ilang mga anak sa eskuylahan.
The face of success is also seen in:
- the brightest among us who choose to be civil servants, because they still believe in our institutions;
- the honest public servants among us – barangay captains, councilors, mayors who lead with integrity, honesty and virtue;
- the single parents who gave up their own happiness and needs for the sake of their children.
- And, the businessmen and corporate warriors who have helped other people add value to their lives.
School reunions is a time when we reminisce the era that had made us the successful human beings that we are now. Our years in SMSP were memorable years! We grew up in a single, God-centered community. Education was our ticket to a brighter better world. And probably for most of us, Education was the only way out.
It was a great time to grow up. We had no money, but we learned to enjoy what was available. We did not have television, electronic games and cellphones, but we were free to learn about nature and enjoy life through our physical activities and interaction with each other. We would swim in the beach, scale the slopes of Piapi, and hunt for spiders and make them fight with each other. We walked to school, and to the church, we played and picnicked in the open spaces, serenade classmates celebrating their birthdays. We raised gardens and chickens. We cut grasses with our own hands and made crude, simple toys.
Many of us were poor, but not poverty-stricken because we had a purpose. Purpose kept us going.
Think of the teachers we had in those days! They taught us to believe we are winners. They see to it that we learn to speak and to write correct and understandable English. They made us sing in ways we never thought was possible. They showed us the logic of math and the sciences. They gave us Spanish as a living language. And our principals and the nuns kept the school running. We respected and somewhat feared our teachers, but overall, knew them as friends we could trust.
Think of the confidence we had in each other. The students were the brightest, the girls were the prettiest. The basketball and softball players were the winners. The glee club and the church choir sang like angels. The school band and the rondalla played beautiful songs. We had the pride of the CLASS of ST. MICHAEL’S. We were proud because we knew hardships was just a step in making us self- sufficient. We did not grow up to be forever dependent on the dole or the goodwill of others. We were expected to be responsible, dependable and independent adults. We wanted to accept our roles in life, whatever those roles might be. We were poor growing up but we had purpose and pride.
One other thing we had, (though we may not realized it and might even had denied it at the time), we had prayer. We clung to our prayers in those days. We had known life and death of friends and family. We had known financial and emotional trials. We had known fears and frustrations. We have felt fatigued and despair. The right and ability to pray, as we learned in school, has continued to sustain us through the years, and will sustain us the rest of our course.
We have entered into the 21st century and a new millennium since we left SMSP. Middle age is a nagging reality. We must tell our children and grandchildren, how, despite not having all the material comforts that are accessible now, we grew with purpose and pride and we continued through adversity with prayer. This is what we learned from St. Michael School of Padada. It is the same sense of purpose, of pride, and of faith that will bring us together again.
Even after 50 years, we still keep these flames ablaze as children of SMSP.
MABUHAY ANG MGA ALUMNI SA ST. MICHAEL’S!
(note: a transcript of this speech first appeared in http://www.padada.com/PR2004/alumni2004_12.htm a website put up by Czaldy Garrote and other alumni of SMSP)