The following is the transcript of the Response on Behalf of the Graduates, delivered by Karenza Mae Rivera (MGT, ’17) during the morning of the 179th Commencement Exercises, held at the Philippine International Convention Center last June 17th:
“Warmest greetings to our esteemed University President and Chancellor, Executive Vice Presidents, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, our special guest speaker for today, Administrators, Faculty members and University Staff, parents, and all honored guests who graced us with their presence today. A blessed morning to all of us.
Let us take this moment to express our sincerest and deepest gratitude to those who have helped us along this journey—to our administrators, who always have been dedicated and committed in giving the best to every Lasallian, exerting great effort to be able to effectively manage all the administrative works of the university; to our teachers, for bringing about a new perspective in the lives of us students, as you have become a medium of knowledge and inspiration to us all; to our beloved university staff for working tirelessly in order to keep the campus running smoothly; to our parents, who have been our guiding light in this long academic journey, this would not be possible without you; and to our friends with whom we shared fun and laughter through all these years. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all of you today as we end one chapter in our young lives and open a new one as graduates of this revered institution.
Is it possible for us to be superheroes? Is it possible to gain abilities surpassing human limits? Most of us, if not all of us, want a positive answer to this question. Perhaps there exists a desire within us to become a superhero–a possessor of supernatural abilities. This desire leads us to another inquiry: can superheroes exist? Is it possible? Through the years, we have all been dazzled by stories of ordinary people gaining superhuman abilities. We grew up watching their stories on TV before dinnertime and on movie houses on weekends. It has, ever since, been a question of the possibility of these superpowers existing.
Unfortunately, science has proven that it is virtually impossible for any human being to gain such extraordinary powers. It’s true that there are cases when exceptional people achieved remarkable feats of abilities, yet none of them surpassed the borders of human capacity. We are bound by limits: a point or a level which we cannot go beyond or pass through–a restriction or a boundary.
Superheroes, on the other hand, are fictional characters living in a world where it is possible to possess abilities that go way beyond the human limit. We know lots of these characters: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Ironman, Wolverine, Captain Barbell, and Darna to name a few. They have always left us amazed of the things they can do, so much so that it stimulates a desire to be like them.
As for me, I want to have the abilities of superhuman strength and of flight. I tried, I tell you; but it just won’t happen. Hitting the gym or attaching wings will never lead me to develop those abilities, much more be a superhero. I am not qualified. I have no powers. I am not like Superman who can fly around transporting an airplane with one hand. I can’t run like The Flash if I wanted to escape. The fictional world they live in is just too different from the real world. However, this doesn’t make an excuse for me not to become a hero. Let me tell you this: we can never be “super”. But friends, in our own ways, we can be heroes.
If I were to name one similarity between the world of superheroes and ours, it would be the existence of battles. Everywhere around us there’s a battle being fought. In a corner there’s a teen struggling in his dysfunctional family. Across the street is a parent fighting against poverty. Downtown, there’s an out-of-school youth wishing for a chance for education. Up north, there’s a young professional unhappy with her career path. Put these together with battles not mentioned and we get war. There’s war against poverty, where Filipinos were found to be living below the poverty line by which 12.1 percent were living in extreme poverty (Inquirer, 2016). We have war against lack of education, where countless street children are deprived of education due to the lack of financial provisions and other concerns. There also exist the infamous war on drugs, war against corruption and bad governance, war against unemployment and underemployment, etc. The list just goes on. But whatever these battles are, one thing is certain–it takes a hero to win the fight.
I am certain that each of us has capabilities to be a hero. Though not “super”, we can be heroes in our own ways. We have skills, talents, abilities, and opportunities we can use to fight these battles. This university has helped us hone these abilities. This institution has given us the knowledge, fortitude, and drive to make an impact in our respective circles. We are now equipped to go and be heroes: for our family, for our friends, or even for our community. This is surely a challenging but a possible task. We can be heroes. We can face those battles and make this world a better place.
In facing these battles, we will go through lots of ups and downs. We may fail. We may falter. We may doubt our abilities. Upon the arrival of those situations, let us remember that failures do not define who we are. Even superheroes find themselves in moments of defeat, yet their failures do not make them less the heroes they are. The same goes for us. We are more than what we think we are. Friends, we can be heroes.
Being here on this glorious day is indeed fulfilling. Think about how far you’ve come. Today marks the end of struggles, challenges, stress, sleepless nights, and hard work for the many facets of our academic endeavor. Today marks the start of perhaps the biggest change about to unfold in our lives. Today we face these questions: what are we going to do next? What will be our next move? To answer that I give you a challenge: be a hero. As to the kind of hero you’ll be, that’s up to you. We are now well-equipped. Let us take the learnings DLSU has shared to us and use them to help create a better society and a brighter future.
As we open ourselves to a new chapter in our lives, each one has a role to play in this generation; a purpose to make a difference. We are born not to be nobody but to become somebody. We are born to create a mark and leave a legacy. It is scary out there, a new world, a new beginning outside the comfort of the walls of this university (literally and figuratively). No matter how difficult life may be, no matter what obstacles we may face, let us not give in to complacency or defeat. Always remember that the limitless possibilities that life offers can pave way in making a difference. And as we march in to our limitless possibilities, let us always remember to put Christ in every action that we do. Lasallians, for one more time, live Jesus in our hearts (forever). Congratulations batch 2017! Thank you!”