To our Dear Executive Director, Mr. Albert III Cabasada, to our Senior High School Coordinator, Engr. Lucila Sison, to our Senior High School and Tertiary Faculty, to our School Administrators and Staff, to our Guests and Visitors, to our Beloved Parents and loved ones, and to my fellow Batch Mates, a greeting of Fortitude, Excellence, and Uprightness!
First of all, I want to congratulate all the graduates of the pioneer batch of FEU Diliman Senior High School (We made it guys!). Indeed, the hardships and sacrifices of our parents and teachers were paid off into a priceless endeavor and diploma.
Truly, it wasn’t an easy 7 years of studying in High School. With all the pressure, sleepless nights, expectations and deadlines, we indeed thrived to finish this chapter. I believe, each one of us has an individual story to tell. Honestly, I’m not really confident speaking in front of many people. I’m afraid that I may commit failure and disappoint my parents, friends, and teachers. I am, too, a person who has bundles of flaws and mistakes. I am honored to be first in rank but it is like a place where failures and mistakes are the scariest things. Nevertheless, allow me to share with you my story of defeat and triumph.
Seven years ago, I was a completely different person that nobody can imagine. Year 2011, I stopped schooling. I was supposed to be a third year college student right now, but it didn’t happen. That was the point of my life where everything was falling apart. My family that time was slowly breaking apart. My grades were so disappointing. I even lost my friends little by little until I lost myself and deactivated my Facebook account.
At that point, my parents did everything for me to continue studying. I remember my dad was dragging me out of the car just for me to go to school. I even tried home schooling, but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t know what to do because I felt like everything was worthless and my life has no direction at all. When people were asking me why I stopped, all I knew was I was very sad and tired of life.
When my mom asked me, “Do you really want to stop?” I said boldly, “I’m tired, just let me stop.” “Ayoko na mag-aral, ayoko na pumasok ng school na umiiyak habang nagtuturo yung teacher ko. 18 absences in two months, sobrang nakakahiya, bagsak-bagsak yung quizzes at grades ko, ayoko na rin umiyak sa loob ng CR every recess for 15 minutes na nag-aalala kung may tao pa ba akong babalikan sa bahay kasi baka wala na.“
At the age of 12, I experienced severe depression and anxiety. Every day for 9 months, there wasn’t a time I didn’t cry. I suffered from severe insomnia that I slept at 2 am every day. I felt like I didn’t have a reason to be happy as happiness was a war I couldn’t face and my greatest enemy was SMILE. I didn’t know how to smile genuinely anymore.
So I wasted my time. I played Tetris Battle, Hotel City, Farmville, browse FB for 10 hours a day like a couch potato. I neither read book nor studied. I just watched movies and Korean series, slept, played and ate. For 9 months, that was mostly my routine and the worst thing was that I was not just a bum, but also stubborn. I hated everything around me, the people, their achievements and their so-called happy life. The hatred in my heart grew in fury. It was full of regrets, envy, jealousy, bitterness, and fear.
People around me pitied me, belittled and saw me as someone “na sayang na bata bat di nag-aaral?” I always heard them “tambay ka, sayang naman, pupurol utak mo.” They always saw me as, “sayang.” This made me questioned God. “Lord, totoo ka ba? Ba’t ganito yung buhay, just have me there in heaven, ayoko na dito, tingin nila sakin tamad at sayang na bata, gusto ko na mawala. Kasi pakiramdam ko di ka naman talaga totoo.”
With this, I tried to commit suicide. But, I realized I was scared… scared to die.
After months, another school year was approaching. I was left behind by my batch mates and became part of K-12 curriculum. I was full of fear going back to school. But despite of the doubts, my mom still believed in me. She encouraged me to take the entrance exam in a Science High School in Caloocan City. But as expected, I failed. I was so ashamed of myself. I felt like my brain was empty and foolish. I saw myself as a BIG failure.
With that deepest nightmare of my life, I didn’t expect that my life will still change. I encountered God in a way that I least expected. I met God’s love and truth that made me decide to live differently and walk for a purpose. First thing that God taught me, Marisse, never be self-centered.
I went back to school as a Grade 7 student. Still, I was trembling with fear as I saw my classmates as giants those who were honor students from their former schools, while me, as seemingly insignificant in one corner of the classroom. I even told my mom after my first day, “Ma, pang-top 55 ako sa class, out of 55.” Then my mom said, “Don’t mind it, just study, kaya mo yan.”
So, I set my goal, my plan, and told God, “Lord, I will do everything for you, I will trust you, please help me pass the acceleration exam, (that’s my goal) I can’t do it alone.” That time, THREE words marked my heart while studying, the words FOCUS, DISCIPLINE, and PURPOSE. I knew in myself that I was not good in Math, Science and English. I always cry solving fractions, analyzing problems and writing academic papers. However, I realized, crying and doubting was just a waste of time. So what I did was, I used my ears, my eyes, my hands, and my feet to accomplish it. (We have to make an action, if we want to do something, words are not enough, we have to do it, we have to make a step for it.) So what I did was, I borrowed books from my cousins, practiced Math day and night (though I really wanted to sleep), and discovered my potentials along the way.
One school year had passed and the result of my endeavor was something that I never expected. It was just like a miracle. I just asked one wish but God gave me more than enough of what I asked for. (Just one wish, one wish, but God gave me 10 times more of what I asked for.) I realized that my defeat, pains and hurts were made for a purpose. Therefore, I made a decision not to take the acceleration exam anymore and continue with K-12 curriculum right now. I realized that I have a different chapter to walk in for God called me for a purpose (To share my life, my life to other people)
For 2 years of being a Tamaraw, I learned that in everything we do we must equal dedication, perseverance and integrity. FEU core values taught us that in every circumstance and opportunity, we should give our best shot. Even if we see ourselves unworthy and small, believe that God gave us enough potential and talent to achieve our dreams in his perfect timing. I am just a steward of God’s grace, because everything is from Him. I am not better than anybody else here. I believe every one of us is different from one another. Everyone can be the best in their own way. All we have to do is to believe, take the risks and make a decision to seriously CHANGE our lives, for life is a test and a trust. We have to trust in order to pass the test. Yes, it is not easy, but we must never lose our faith and trust on God’s plan in our lives. Just like what Sir Gil told us, “NO PAIN, NO GAIN.”
As this is my last testimonial speech as a Senior High school student, let me relish this opportunity, my favorite part, to thank the people as the reason of my being. I will never be the person I am today without them. I was and will never be alone in my journey. So, first, to my family, thank you for everything. I may be a stubborn one and lazy at home but still you never get tired of loving and supporting me with the things that I love to do. Second to our Senior High school and tertiary faculty, especially to Sir Bacus, Mam Ortha, Mam Chat, Sir Bonanciar, Mam Saludario, Mam Jim, Sir Nash, Mam Dhez, Mam Pam, Sir Erwin, Sir Gil, Sir Geco, Mrs. Bajal, Sir Luke, Mam Joy, Mam Yan, Sir Sam, Mam Irish, Sir Neil, Sir Cris, Mam Bueza, Mam Pita, Sir Melo, Sir Darwin, Sir Alexei, Mam Len, Mam Roda, Mam Anabelle, Mam Hannah, Mam Bless, Sir Bernie, and to the rest of my teachers thank you for all the sacrifices and hard work. Indeed, great students will never exist without great teachers. To Mam Lucy, our “nanay” in FEU Diliman, thank you mam for all your support and love for the Senior High School family. Your heart for this institution is priceless. To Sir Albert III Cabasada, Sir, I really appreciate your support and dream for the students of FEU Diliman. Thank you, Sir. Moreover, to our school administrators, staff and other personnel, thank you so much. To our security officers, clean masters, Chef and Butlers, without you, FEU Diliman will never be an organized and peaceful institution.
Also, I want to say thank you to all of my classmates from sections Agility and Artistry. Without my classmates’ support and love, I can’t be the Marisse Alvarado at FEU Diliman. My classmates’ stories and memories will always be beautiful. Especially, I want to say thank you to my friend, Mia Alexene Ecube, because with my ups and downs for the past year you never left me, you’re always there for me. Likewise, with Eca and Nash, you guys are awesome, with you two, we make the best team. Same thing with other volunteers, Jhazz, Faith and Ken, thank you. To Lance, James, Leonnie, Sha, Jeh, Q, Nicole, Bianca, Denise, Chelle, Nav, Gracia, Mai, Frances, Usman, and the rest of Agility, I love you guys. “Kudos! Maraming salamat sa lahat.” To my clubs, organizations and to my advisers from Good Samaritan, Tam Scoop, AYA, YMO, EB and Libro, I really had great times of meaningful activities and projects and I had learned so much. And to my fellow schoolmates across strands – ABM, STEM, HUMSS, SPORTS, and GAS, I know our strands are different from one another but, I believe we have exhibited excellence in our own ways and passion. For two years of tears and laughters, for all the memories that we shared together, thank you.
This might be the end of our high school chapter, however, with endings, there are new beginnings. As we enter our college chapter with braveness and determination. Let the past pains and failures be a stepping stone. Our journey will not always be sweet and happy. As each one of us are going through pains, hurts, and fears that only ourselves know. However, keep in mind that “We can do it.” “Never give Up.”, and “Look at the brighter side of the day.” Never stop growing and planning for our future self and future endeavors. Keep on walking no matter how hard life would be. Keep in mind that there is a time for everything, if it is not meant for us at this time, then maybe it is meant for the next chapter of our lives. Just be patient and faithful. Besides, at the end of the day what matters the most in life – love, family, friendship, health, character and our relationship with God.
Once someone asked me, Marisse, how did you overcome depression and downfall? Two things, by God’s grace and a change of perspective. How we set our mind, determines our goal.
That is why, we must keep on moving forward towards our goals. Keep on growing to be person with a good character. Let’s walk with Love and Humility (let’s never forget that) in every step of the way as we see how God transforms our lives. Let’s have faith and trust that God has a plan, since all the glory and honor belongs to Him.
Remember that we are Tamaraws. Always do your best with a pure heart, never stop doing what is right, and BE BRAVE.
Again, congratulations, Senior High School batch 2017-2018. Let us all be an embodiment of the core values of our Alma Mater, Fortitude, Excellence, and Uprightness. Thank you and God bless us all in this new exciting chapter.