News & Events

Salutation

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

by Ysabelle T. Shivers
Malayan High School of Science
6th Commencement Exercises

The first thing I was told when I found out I was supposed to give a Salutatory Address was to welcome all of you here to this pivotal milestone. So before everything, I welcome everyone, Dr. Reynaldo P. Vea, our beloved president, Dr. Efren B. Mateo, our esteemed principal, and all the teachers and staff of Malayan High School of Science who have helped and guided us throughout our journey here. We, the graduating batch, wouldn’t be here without you - you were the ones who made our all our academic endeavors possible. Admittedly, we could never really show how grateful we are, truly. You have been there from the starting block, when we were still fresh-faced and knew nothing about the stress to come. I truly hope that your sleepless nights and early mornings don’t go forgotten and unacknowledged - in the future when you see us as professionals in our own respective fields, it will all be thanks to you.

A warm welcome to everyone's families and friends present today as well. Thank you for being here today and supporting us. To all our parents, thank you for your unwavering love, and thank you for being our first educators. There is no way we can repay you for all of the sacrifices you’ve made for us. Lastly, welcome to my fellow batch mates, who all happen to be graduating today. It fills me with great pride and a little bit of anxiety to be finally up here, speaking to all of you as a soon-to-be actual productive member of society. As we're all told, time and time again, we're going to be finally inducted into the "real world". It's daunting, and exhilarating, and I think none of us are ready for it. But that's the beauty of it - being practically unprepared, at least emotionally, for something big like this is what makes all of it memorable. That's the part that kind of makes me feel seasick - all my life I made sure I knew exactly what I was doing and how to do it. Everything I did was calculated, it was rehearsed, down to a T. Being thrown into a state of entropy both makes me want to freeze up, but it also pushes me to face my fear of uncertainty. But then again, entropy is what actually puts things into action.

The second thing I was told was that I was encouraged to make this speech personal and captivating. That was great news to me; I didn't really want this to be a glorified thank you message to everyone. Don't get me wrong, I'm forever grateful, but that would be boring, and it wouldn't really capture the strong mix of feelings I'm having at the moment. The past years have been a flurry of blossoming emotions, epiphanies for some of us here, maybe. All of us have had separate experiences, both of great joy, great sorrow, and sometimes in between those two extremes.

When I first stepped foot into this institution, I had barely bounced back from my clinical depression. Before anything, I'm not up here to tell my sob story, or to ask for sympathy of any kind. It's relevant because I feel the need to talk about it freely, without any stigma, to share my experience with you all. In the midst of my emotional turmoil, I pushed myself to limits and heights that allowed me to gain the confidence to stand here today. Looking back on it, it was daunting - being thrust into a new environment with a whole new breed of people. I was a transferee, going into my second year of high school. It was terrifying, and I remember the night before I almost wished classes would be suspended because it was raining hard the whole night. Maybe the superstitious side of me subconsciously thought it was a bad omen for things to come. I had a string of unfortunate experiences at my previous school, and the thought of history repeating itself was not looking very winsome at the time. It was a very dark and unhappy stage for me, and for a time, I sincerely thought that I wouldn't make it through high school, what more college? But I was welcomed warmly here, and it was so new to me. I had grown accustomed to being shut out and alienated.

Eventually, I found a new "cycle" of living with my new lifestyle and pace. It was much more difficult than my old school, but ironically, it was a breath of fresh air. It might seem odd that finally having a harder time at school made me feel more alive, but that’s how it is, I guess. In my old school, I did not feel challenged; I didn't feel like trying hard because I knew I would produce stellar results anyways. That factored in greatly to my depression. It's a hard habit to fall into, not putting any effort and getting comfortable with not having to try. But in spite of the culture shock, I got through my sophomore year well. As a transferee, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at the talent and the intelligence of some people here, and that not only awed me, but it pushed me forward. Now, I somehow ended up here, being the salutatorian - but I cannot attest that I am more intelligent than my peers. I cannot say that I have some special brand of acuity, because I believe I merely learned how to work extremely hard. I did my homework diligently, studied religiously, and took my responsibilities in school very seriously. I never submitted assignments late, nor did I do any projects half-heartedly. Sometimes even my own parents were the ones telling me to slow down and take a break, which I stubbornly refused.

One thing I would like to emphasize is the importance of perseverance. Natural talent is something you can be born with, or something you can hone, but I believe that grit is what shapes a person to be successful. I believe everyone has it in them to achieve their ambition. Success isn’t determined by how far away the goal is, it’s how far you can reach out for it. Tenacity, sheer determination to thrive, and a dominant aversion to failure - these qualities are what got me through high school. It’s the fighting spirit to know what you want out of yourself, and actually set out and go get it.

I’m better now. Not exactly, completely cured of my illness, but a changed person. Molded into someone better, more resilient, more comfortable in her own skin. I feel like I’m changing for the better, as should all of you. Admittedly, it’s a state of being I used to think I’d never experience again after countless visits to the hospital, and filling out surveys that supposedly determined the state of my mental health. It’s hard to talk about without sounding pretentious, and if I do, please indulge in me just this once. The healing process is long, tedious, and seems to go around in circles, but despite that, I want to extend a formal thank you to all the people who have somehow come to the conclusion I’m worth having around as a friend, a colleague, or even an acquaintance. Although human lives are small, statistically insignificant, and relatively short in the grand scheme of things, the candid feeling of love is something unique to us. I cannot begin to explain the love I feel, the unadorned gratefulness for everyone, everything. Hopefully all of you share this sentiment. Graduating high school is no small feat, and now definitely isn’t the time for bitterness or disdain.

I sincerely hope all of you go on to do great things with your potential. The world is wide, and its wideness is still something we need to experience for ourselves, but it will only be as wide as we make it to be. Take a step forward, then a few more. Life is just a long series of infinite choices. My mom always told me that I am just one choice away from ruining my life forever, and I think that’s a very insightful way to put it all into perspective. I hope all of us make the right choices in life that will be beneficial to the greater good. In our short stint at Malayan High School of Science, we found friendship, love, and the pursuit of knowledge that we will supposedly use to help the community. Although we encountered countless hurdles along the way with others, with our environment, and with ourselves, we did it! We’re here, and we fought through all the struggles, and through all the times when giving up seemed so much easier. It’s been good. It’s all been good.

And that’s a wrap. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the best past few years. Congratulations, Batch 2015!

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