photo by: grizzly

The scene was a little bit nostalgic and the melodramatic smoke rises and covered us: black robes, caps with dangling tassles, painted faces and perfectly ironed gowns ans slacks. But this time around, I am not anyone of them; I am a total expectator, but a proud expectator to be exact.

Earlier today, I attended the first of the scheduled three batches of commencement exercises here on our verdant campus. The throng of jubilant graduates and their proud parents almost made me a poor victim of a stampede. Nonetheless, their jubilation and joy was obviously justifiable. I was once and many of us were on that side of the story, and luckily I am now part of the country’s working force; humble and grateful.

This year almost a quarter of our 12,000 strong student population will soon to leave the premises of our university signing up themselves as alumni. In the process, I was wondering on my seat if their joy and feelings of tuimph after long years of sacrifices during that day, and of course that of their parents, on their commencement has a place on a world mired by a global financial meltdown? Is there hope for them to end up working on a job that has been the center of their weaved dreams during their college life? Or are they there only to celebrate for the moment and end up unluckily to be included in the 11 million disenchanted Filipinos who are either unemployed or under-employed?

The commencement speaker was Dr. Ramon Del Rosario Jr., President of PHINMA, a distinguished businessman and banker. He shared some vestiges of wisdom to the graduates coming from his own experience and analysis of the present crises and how to waver against it devasting tide. Let me share some his thoughts here on my own words.

1. Students should focus on growth sectors
Despite the global economic turmoil, there are still a good number of local sectors in our economy that are showing stable if not aggressive growth rates. These are the BPOs and the tourism industry. To these, students should grab the opportunity that these sectors offer even if it could be temporary employment for some individuals. A pocket with some penny is surely better than one that is empty.

2. Scale down your dreams for the moment
Reality-check for everyone. No one comes up to the top spot on the first day of your job after stepping out of your university especially at today’s gloomy economic environment. Therefore, graduates should try to be creative and flexible in order to land a job in reference to the first point. It may not be your first choice or not really your dream job, but the present situation calls us to practicality. Scaling one’s dreams for a moment does not mean that you are scaling or even surrendering your future of a good life. It does not hurt to be practical on a time when so many businesses are closing shops here and there. This will even add up to one’s job experience credentials.

3. Don’t think of going abroad
What makes this crisis so serious is because it is like a global tsunami that has even swept out the wealth of the richest of nations. And most nations, if not all, though they may not admit it are trying to boost their respective local economies by using protectionist methods and schemes. To this, seeking work abroad is most often than not ends up in vain. And spending large amount of money for such a plan is totally senseless if not useless.

4. Start up your own business
Big corporations started from modest beginnings. With the vitality, creativity, enthusiasm and energy of the youth, putting up a business together with friends, relatives, or family members is one of the best option to turn stones into gold coins during a crisis. Take it from the greatest of capitalists. A business does not need to start up with a big amount of capital, but it needs a good plan, burning passion and a good dose of common sense which is unfortunately nowadays not so common.

5. Volunteer
If after all those mentioned above did not work out for you graduates, you can join volunteer groups (like the LSVP) OR Non-Government Organizations to hone your skills and at the same time be productive for the time being. Being idle because one has having fallen to the venom of disenchantment is the greatest sin that one will have to answer before the One who gave us all the talents and skills. This is a great opportunity to serve things that are bigger than yourselves, and for sure when the economy picks up, you are already ahead of the pack.

I was inspired by his thoughts. Indeed, times like this is full of golden opportunities if we only allow ourselves to see them with our mind. If we only try to look at things positively and tend to look at a glass to be half-filled rather than half-empty. The crisis is not so terrible at all if only each and everyone of us will only look at ourselves and ask if we have already given enough or had simply given up.

Commencement speeches like this together with my all-time favorite from Butch Jimenez are personal and collective moments of introspection and mirroring; if I had given my best shot at every moment that I needed to fire one, and maybe it also holds true to all who have listen to such speeches.

I am proud, and so my congratulations to our graduates and to all graduates of 2009! The present and future is not at all that dark if what is inside us is as bright as the day.

Do you guys, still remember your own graduation day with background music that forces us to shed some tears, eh? Are those dreams you weaved in school have already come?

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