Wednesday, April 4, 2012

If ever I would give a speech to my alma mater

Last weekend, I had the chance to visit my alma mater once again (after like, one decade?)

I was humbly invited by our senior advisor, who now sits as the school's academic supervisor (woot!), to be present on this year's graduation rites where I will be recognized as one of the school's "Alumni Achiever". How cool is that? It was almost 10 years since I graduated from my high school.

There, it was a rainy and smooth ride towards the east, my school, Roosevelt College is located far east of Manila and it's very far away from my home. There's Francis, my co-Alumni achiever on the front.

I was so thrilled and happy to see the familiar corridors and alleys, the canteen and the teachers of course.


In the Philippines, the common knowledge is that most schools are Catholic institutions. We are non-sectarian, Roosevelt College is a private institution and the quality of education is extremely underrated.

Imagine being used to having a 70% average passing rate. When I entered college, most of my classmates are satisfied getting 50% of the total score as it was the passing rate. But in Roosevelt, I have to get 70% to pass. So in a score of 100, I have to score 70 so I can pass, but in college it's ok to get 50, you're still on a passing mark.

Moving forward, attending graduations is oftentimes boring. As a person with low patience on waiting, I luckily stayed at the entire length of the program.

And then, I was able to hear a Valedictory address once again. Yours truly happens to be a frustrated speech writer and dreamed one day of becoming a distinguished personality who delivers beautiful and hair-raising orations and speeches. Yours truly is now a salesman and delivering sales pitch to top 1000 corporations.

The valedictorian - Khishin Nichino, who obviously has a Japanese descent (because if none, I wonder how his parents were able to come up with a name like that) was emotional while delivering the speech. It was a beautiful piece, honest and inspiring.

Which ignited my long-time desire to deliver a valedictory address. And if ever, if time-turner will permit, this is how my address would be like. It's not a valedictory address, but actually a keynote.


Dear (insert highfalutin names and senior officials here), graduates, parents, family, friends, strangers and pets, welcome and good evening.

I wonder how you were able to look so fine and pretty while the roof of our basketball court is a natural conductor of heat. The amount of pressure is staggering, the make-up you are wearing right now is probably heavier than usual. What's with the 'toga'? I wonder who made this hideous costume. If I will be given the chance to re-do this thing, I will make it current and edgy, remove the excess fabrics and make it bright and loud.

Graduation is supposed to be fun, just like wedding (which is undeniably one of the highlight of our life). As I  do not own any school, I don't have any right to propose a revolutionary changes in this century-long tradition. But if ever I will be given a rare opportunity to alter one's graduation, I would make it like an Academy Award or something, where you can dress pretty, you can have your escort or muse, your girlfriend or boyfriend a long with you, well anyway, cut with that, we have parents over here, I cannot make this statement further.

Anyway, what I would like to emphasize this hot evening is how privileged you are. You are the generation of internet. Let me tell you, when I was in high school, Windows version is 95. That's 95 people, well I think some of you would say, 'actually it's better than us, we're running on "7" which means your version of 95 is hundred times later'. Well, enough said, our 95 is actually associated on the year probably it was patented - 1995. It is an OS with a pixelated graphics, the interface is boxy and boring, there is no fancy menu animations, you can actually bake a cookie while waiting for the system to start-up.

The maximum speed of the internet is 56 kbps. Students, if you want to simplify the term, it's like downloading one song worth 4 Mbps in 4-hours. And if you are going to download a software worth 500 Mb, might as well leave it for a week before it gets completed.

That sucks right?

You are the generation of torrents children, you can get information as fast as 50-seconds, you can research and print the 'Fall of Constantinople' in just 5-clicks. How beautiful is that? You have the auto-correct to help you out just in case you have mistakenly typed in Constantinopel. While us, we'll cower in fear if we could not find the word in the library card (I don't know if you still have it in your library, but we have a huge cabinet, with mini-drawers that contain index cards wherein the books references and titles are all indicated. It's not very online, I know, let's call it primeval.

Now you can blog, wow, we never heard of that term until the year 2000. Beautiful, now you can express your thought in Blogger or Wordpress, while us, we have to put it in a diary. That's why, I can bet, our generation has better handwriting than yours. (expect either boos or claps here - if the need arises, put yourself on a challenge with them)

I have no statistics, whether internet has significantly increased the level of intelligence of a person, but I have the theory that if, the lucky ones, will be able to harness this opportunity - the advent of internet age, use it wisely and interchangeably with the truest form of knowledge (that I refer to books, magazines, periodicals, journals, even museums), it would be a level of intelligence of epic proportion.

The past geniuses did not have the privilege of having an email. They have to resort to sending Morse codes and parchments via birds to send their formulas and theorems across borders. You have the access to online transmission of data, now there is no reason for you not to do your homework.

Now you can send text messages to your friends to tell your teacher that you are sick. Back then, we have what we call landline, though it still exists up to now, I would like to let you now, that that thing on the table right beside your lamp in the living room is what we called landline. Just in case you haven't touched that yet, or press your finger in the dial tone, try to do it, it's actually a time machine. And it's called a landline, not a paper weight. We have to put extra effort before to call in sick, we have to do the fake cough, a shivering, feverish voice just to emphasized our staged act. Now you can just send a Tweet to your followers and say - "Sick, I hate it, time to get the Vit C". You do it, because it's a machine gun kind of way, you send it to multiple people so that the message is contagious and somehow credible. How gorgeous is that?

I think it's quite a heavy statement for me to say that there is no longer any reason for you to fail. It's a challenge I would like to press. With all this great power and access, comes greater responsibility. Think before you click, exercise your brain, challenge your neurons for a minute, shake them up, put them on a treadmill by running them on 10-volumes books.

We need another breed of geniuses, thinkers, philanthropists, visionaries, inventors, changemakers, leaders. These kinds of people do not rely on WikiPedia alone.

I want to see all of you on the newspapers someday, not on the obituary or in the police report, but rather on positive news. Be proud of where you came from, I want all of you, on the day you enter college, when there's the chance to make an impression, to show them what Rooseveltians are made of.