First of all I would like to thank you for inviting me as Commencement speaker in this year’s graduation for our elementary and collegiate levels. I would like to give special thanks to Brother Jensen Manebog who was probably the one who hatched the idea of inviting me here today, and to Dr. Alberto Domingo, our Branch Director. I never thought matters like this would reach the attention of the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, but it did. I am overwhelmed by the trust given to me by our beloved Executive Minister who approved my participation in this very important activity.
I am the President of the Rizal Technological University but it was not always this way. I had to work myself up the steep organizational ladder, starting at the very bottom to the highest position in the University. At times I had to claw myself up but one thing I never did was to shove anyone off my way to the top. Along the way I learned a few important lessons.
I learned that hard work is most important factor for success. Colin Powell said that “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” I even would like to think now that hard work shielded me from life’s constant changes and from the adversities I encountered frequently along the way.
Once upon a time there was a king who wished to visit his subjects in a town along the shores of the sea. So he ordered his personal galley ship to be prepared for travel. Now there were two cousins on the ship travelling with the king. One was a rower who worked below the deck when there was no wind, and the other was an adviser to the king. The king frequently conferred with his advisers while having wine and food with them. There was laughter and merriment and the king gave great value to the words of his advisers. His advisers were honest and were not flatterers and they told the king the right thing to do. The cousin who was an adviser studied and worked hard all his life, and read many good books and never complained when the king asked for his presence during his hours of rest.
Now the other cousin who was below decks kept on complaining. “It’s unfair,” he says. “We are all servants of the king but those advisers eat the best food and drink the best wine in the presence of the king while we pull hard all day on these oars!” This cousin was lazy when he was a student. He skipped classes often and was lazy in doing his homework. He spent most of his time away from home. He spent most of his time with friends doing nothing.
Without knowing it, the king was aware of his constant complaining and grumbling.
It was night when the ship reached the town. The king decided to stay on the ship for the rest of the night. He was tired and wanted to sleep. But there was some noise on the shore and he could not sleep, so he called the cousin-oarsman. “Go find out what that noise is all about,” he ordered.
The cousin-oarsman took down a small boat and rowed towards the shore. After a few minutes he was back on the ship and reported to the king. “Kittens, you Highness!” he was proud to report to the king. “Oh”, the king muttered. “What sort of kittens are they?” The king asked. The cousin-oarsman hurried back on the boat and after a while went back to the king. “Siamese cats, Your Highness!” proud of his discovery and thought the king would reward him for his efforts. But the king asked “How many are the males and the females?”
So he went back on shore and after a while he was panting hard as he reported to the king: “There are three males and three female kittens your highness.”
At that point the king asked him to stay as he ordered to his presence the adviser-cousin. “There is a noise coming from the shore”, the king said. “I want you to find out what that noise is.” The cousin-adviser asked a row man to row him to the shore on a boat. After a few minutes, he reported calmly to the king: “Siamese kittens, your Highness, three females and three males, and I have asked the Mayor of the town to give the kittens to you to be part of your royal pets!”
And so the king looked at the cousin-oarsman and said “You see, that’s the reason why he is my adviser and you are an oarsman.”
The next lesson I have learned is to have discipline. It is the discipline to work longer and harder than anybody else. The ant should be a guide to all of us. Even Solomon contemplated the discipline and unity of the ants and learned lessons from them. He said “You lazy man, go to the ant, watch its ways and be wise” Solomon admonishes the sluggards. “She has no master, no steward or overseer…She secures food in summer and stores up provisions during harvest time.”
Ants have determination. When you put an obstacle on their path they would find a way around the obstacle. They work hard all day. They know their roles in their society and fulfill those roles to the best of their ability. They carry objects bigger than they are. They are small but they move and work fast. They do not tarry. They decide quickly. And so ants never lack anything. They plan ahead like Noah who started building his ark during drought, or Joseph who built up the supplies of Egypt for seven years in anticipation of a famine that may or may never come.
Those of you who play basketball probably know how the greatest players in the game work hard and have the discipline to do it day after day. Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams lift weights and do gym work for hours after a game. Dirk Nowitzki shoot three point shots for hours after a game. Ray Allen practiced his shots four hours before a game. Stephen Curry is even better in his practices. Here is how Scott Davies, a correspondent of the Business Insider describes his practice routine: Curry sets up in the right corner and splashes nine of 10. “Good,” says special assistant Nick U’Ren, rebounding for him.
Curry moves to the right wing and cans 10 of 10. “Better,” U’Ren nods. Curry skips to the top of the circle and drains 10 of 10 again. U’Ren turns to a couple of spectators under the basket. “Wow,” he mouths. Here it is, the Curry Zone. He starts 48 of 50…He sweeps back across the perimeter, hitting 10 of 10 from the left corner, 10 of 10 from the left wing. Teammates are watching. Cameras are filming. “Don’t get giddy,” Curry tells himself. He’s made 77 in a row, and when he finally misfires from the top of the circle, he grabs Green’s jersey and screams. He finishes 94 of 100.
The third thing I learned through all the years of hard work is the value of Obedience. I am not saying mindless obedience. I have served the RTU in key positions under three Presidents before I became President myself. I know that Presidents welcome suggestions provided they are motivated by honest intentions to help improve the University. I know that Presidents, or at least the Presidents I served under, would not insist on a wrong decision if proper explanations are given. But obedience is vital. Now here is a story in obedience.
John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family’s housekeeper:
It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House.
“Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.”
“He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.”
“Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.”
“No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you. When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. “Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.”
John Kenneth Galbraith, A Life in Our Times, Houghton Mifflin, Reader’s Digest, December, 1981.
You who have rebellious minds should put in mind what Joyce Meyer said:
You see, rebellion, and the disobedience it causes, keeps us from having the power of God that’s available to us as Christians. Joyce Meyer Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/rebellion.html
As Christians, we know that we are not the masters of our fate. We are not the captains of our soul.
One very important lesson I have learned and still learn as University President is that I cannot be an atheist. Often, and the situations are quite often, when all you can do is pray. You may have the best educational preparation and professional experience for this job but after doing your best you still feel that not everything is within your control. And then you pray. You pray hard. You pray often. Because often, only God can help you. Lastly, I would like to tell you an unverified story about Abraham Lincoln:
During the US civil war Abraham Lincoln met with a group of ministers for a prayer breakfast. Lincoln was not a church-goer but was a man of deep, if at times unorthodox, faith. At one point one of the ministers said, “Mr President, let us pray that God is on our side”. Lincoln’s response showed far greater insight, “No, gentlemen, let us pray that we are on God’s side.”
Lincoln reminded those ministers that religion is not a tool by which we get God to do what we want but an invitation to open ourselves to being and doing what God wants.