Exactly four (4) years ago, Future Generation Philippine International School (FGPIS) in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia invited me to be their commencement speaker.

I was glad Facebook has an “on this day” feature to always look back at your special memories in life.

My wife was beside me when I received the plaque of appreciation.


“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

I shared the value of finding true joy, accepting one’s limitation and loving your parents to the graduating students.

True joy doesn’t result from things or circumstances. Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.

Jesus never promised trouble-free living. In fact, He predicted the opposite, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

To quote C.S. Lewis, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” New things may bring a temporary sense of happiness, but alas the newness wears off.

Lasting joy is not tied to material things but to a vibrant relationship with the one who is our source of joy! So take time to rediscover your joy, and learn to enjoy the journey.

Surrender to the existence of your limits. This is the only place from which you can truly start the journey of adapting, and when you accept and adapt, you can find a new way of living filled with a lot more peace – when you accept your limits, and when you accept reality, it’s then that you can discover what is still possible.

Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old. Appreciate your parents. You never know what sacrifices they went through for you.

FGPIS is one of the leading Philippine schools overseas committed to the holistic development of its graduates with special emphasis on science and technology.

They have a high culture of excellence imbued with personal discipline and multi-cultural consciousness.

The school was founded through the collaboration of the its owner Sheikha Bareah Bint Sabah Salem Al Hamoud Al Sabah, Kuwaiti princess and the group of seven dedicated, intellectuals, and efficient Filipino teachers headed by Mrs. Marie Con C. Caro, school principal and Mrs. Zenaida C. Meren, school assistant principal.


I would like to share this picture taken 24 years ago during our Citizen Army Training (CAT) days in high school.


“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.” Photo credits to Batch Lima (1996) Adjutant Joseph Delgado. 

I was the First Battalion Commander back then.

CAT (Citizen Army Training) was part of the fourth year high school curriculum in the 90s.

To be at the top, my fellow CAT officers endured all the physical, mental and emotional trainings.

Just like the military, we have to go through the drill and formation.

Our CAT uniform was the fatigues or battledress, a military suit.

I was part of Batch Lima (1996), our corp commander was a lady who stood tall amidst strings of challenges.

We were the triumphant group who took home the Championship trophy for the Best CAT Platoon of the Division of City Schools Manil held at Araullo High School.

Our training was spearheaded by the Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM) officers.

We have continually exemplified that honor is not a medal pinned to our chests but a way of life embedded in our hearts.

We were always encouraged to have an overflowing love for service and integrity.

We thrived in the spirit of volunteerism and bayanihan.

“Champions are those who never quit,” this quote inspired us to never give up easily.

We were required to memorize this poem by heart.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are –
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Indeed, quiting was never an option before and until today.

Whatever life throws at you, remain grounded, head held high and never give up.


During the SFC “Relentless” 25th International Conference, I finally met Bro. Donnie Ray Aquino, a fellow member of PICPA Riyadh Toastmasters Club (PRTC), a passionate communicator, a dedicated brother in SFC and a very talented fellow OFW from Oman.

I never had a chance to mentor him in toastmaster and he was full of wit. His charisma speaks for her gift of gab – a natural charmer.

He was a prominent humoruos speaker.

He joined the famous game shows like Game Ka Na Ba and Pinoy Henyo.

Recently, he joined Tawag ng Tanghalan as one of the contenders from Mindanao. It was an uphill battle but he fought hard. He did not win but the experience taught him to never surrender.


To feel truly confident, you need to really believe you are capable. The best way to get that belief is through using your skills and talents — by learning and practicing. Bro. Donnie did that with love.

I lauded his efforts to showcase his God-given talent whenever the opportunity arised.

Bro. Donnie, thank you for being fearless. Your self-confidence was an inspiration to many.

Win or lose, we are here for you. We are looking forward to your next endeavor. All the best!

Bro. Donnie’s confidence emanates from a place of truth.

Believing in yourself is the fire starter for success of almost any measure. But how do you develop that self-confidence?

According to the Dalai Lama, it’s simple: “Love brings self-confidence. Anger brings fear.”

Self-confidence, he says, comes from generosity, from thinking and caring about others.

If you live your life with a genuine concern for the well-being of others, you will feel better about yourself, and in turn, feel more confident.

This is who Bro. Donnie is.

Full of love and kindness, a true brother and a servant of God.