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My Education: My Contribution to the Future

Message of Colonel Benito T. de Leon, Commander, 104 th Infantry (Sultan) Brigade, 1 st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army as Guest Speaker during the 24 th Commencement Exercises of Balo i National High School, Lanao del Norte, on 31 March 2009.

Bismillah Hirahman Niraheem. Assalamu Alaykom Warahmatullahi Wabarakato. May the peace and blessings of The Almighty be upon us all.

I am pleased, but more honored to be part of the 24 th Commencement Exercises of Baloi National High School, and to contribute to your aspirations as you, the graduating class, face your journey to the future.

This is definitely a special day of celebration for what all of you—the graduating students including your parents and your teachers—have achieved, which you should be proud of and from which you can draw inspiration. To the teachers, appreciate your graduating students; to the parents, take pride of your graduating children; and to the graduating class, look hopefully to the future that is unfolding before you.

When I was your age, I was similarly brimming with so much excitement and hope to face the future. I was confident to meet the challenges with the education my parents and teachers gave me, along with the studies I did on my own. Yes, I did study on my own after I discovered there is so much to learn outside what was taught in school. Earlier in my childhood, I spent so much time in the libraries, reading and reflecting on the wisdom that was written in various books. It led me from one book to another; then from one library to the next. My quest for knowledge was unending: not contented with my extra readings, I sought the personal views of friends and even those from strangers. In the end, I challenged the saying “experience is the best teacher.” To my mind, I would often say, “only fools learn from their own experience, but wise men learn from the experience of the fools!”

My passion for reading and educating myself has been carried to this day: now, I also spend so much time on the internet and have found too much information, but I realize it is today’s trend of education. In a way, this obsession to learn has broadened my perspective that made me understand and tolerant of different peoples, cultures, and beliefs. With this view, I believe that education will be the key to harmonize peoples from different cultures and faiths. And this is also the reason why I find it important for me to see Christians and Muslims accepting each other and living together in harmony.

Undoubtedly, my education made me what I am today and the manner by which I address many concerns of the day and those that I will yet have to meet. So, indeed, when there is education, there is a prospect for a brighter future.

We the elders, particularly the teachers and parents, look at you—the graduating students—to carry and sustain the hopes to provide for us all a better future. We have done our part to pass these hopes to you. So much time and money were invested to make this happen. Your parents sacrificed a great deal to put you in school with high expectations. Similarly, your teachers patiently passed the lessons to prepare you to meet the challenges of the future. Government, for its part, provided the appropriate school facilities that allowed your learning process to take place. All of these—so that you, as students, will have to learn and seriously prepare yourselves in your future roles, whatever they may be.

Our “Panatang Makabayan” or the Oath of Allegiance, which we often recite as citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, shows us how you need to prepare yourselves and the reasons why. I now repeat this pledge for emphasis and understanding of how you can best contribute to the future:

Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas. Ito ang aking lupang sinilangan; Ito ang tahanan ng aking lahi. Ako'y kanyang kinukupkop at tinutulungan upang maging malakas, maligaya at kapaki pakinabang. Bilang ganti ay diringgin ko ang payo ng aking mga magulang; Susundin ko ang mga tuntunin ng aking paaralan; Tutuparin ko ang mga tungkulin ng isang mamamayang makabayan at masunurin sa batas; Paglilingkuran ko ang aking bayan nang walang pagiimbot at nang buong katapatan; Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Pilipino sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa.

I love the Philippines.

It is the land of my birth; It is the home of my people. It protects me and helps me to be strong, happy and useful.

In return, I will heed the counsel of my

parents;

I will obey the rules of my school;

I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law abiding citizen;

I will serve my country unselfishly and

faithfully;

I will be a true Filipino in thought, in word, in deed.

I ask you then to reflect on the meaning of this oath—a pledge you must deliver by committing your time and energy to become true patriotic Filipino citizens. A pledge you

have to fulfill to the best of your abilities for the future of our country. Certainly, it is through education that you can best provide yourselves the skills, and develop your talents to better serve our country. It is through the powerful means of education that you can change our society and the world for the better: a fitting contribution to the future and the generations to come.

As I look once more to this happy occasion, I share with you the pride, inspiration and hope of this moment having also been a teacher, a parent, and a student. This was the same heartwarming feeling that I felt a few days back, when I also witnessed the high school graduation of my youngest son.

And so, to the teachers and the parents and especially the graduating class, my heartfelt congratulations. I wish you all the very best as you continue your journey to the future. May The Almighty Bless us all, may He Bless Lanao del Norte, and may He Bless the Philippines. Wassalam.