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 think I always had an idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I sort of tweaked it along the way. I knew I wanted to work in the field of education, but like most kids, I wasn’t exactly sure where I fit in.

When I was 7 years old, I wanted to be an agriculturist. At the age of 14, I wanted to do absolutely anything for the Philippines as a lawyer. By the time I was 18 years old, I wanted to be a journalist.

When I finally did grow up, I found myself working in a dead-end office job; this lasted for most of my 20s. Who was I to complain? I was making decent money, but I felt awfully unfulfilled.

I knew that I had what it takes to actually be an educator, but I was not sure exactly how to get there. And for a moment, I thought it was too late.

Until, I was given a chance to mentor young people few years back and I am still a work in progress.

Inspiring young people

The message of the Christian gospel is that there need not be any “has-beens” in God’s kingdom. He is the Lord of mercy who specializes in restoring his wayward people from their failures and dashed hopes. And He promises to be our partner in building a meaningful life of service to Himself and others.

After many years of struggling to get to where I am, I realized some very important things that I would like to share with you:

Never give up on your dreams.

Even if you kicked them out of the way because someone told you they were impossible, they’re still your dreams; you’ve merely set them aside.

Think back and remember the dreams you once had, whether it was to go to college or to become an animal rescuer or even to travel the globe. Your dreams have never truly gone away. If you work hard enough and do all of the necessary planning, you can achieve any goal that you set.

Learn to take risks and ignore all of the “what ifs.”
When I first started college, I had enough “what ifs” to build an entire country.

What if I’m too old? What if I can’t handle students? What if going back to school will be too much of a financial burden? What if, what if, what if…

I finally had the nerve to just kick the “what ifs” off of the boat and take the plunge into the sea of dreams. You can conjure up all of the “what ifs” that your mind will allow, but that energy is better spent working toward your goals.

I’m convinced many of us are tormented by “what ifs” in our lives. “What if I’d gone to the doctor sooner?” or “What if I’d not driven that route that day?” or “What if I’d been morally stronger?”

Alas, the “what ifs” plague us, but there’s nothing we can do to alter the course of the past. No one of us, no matter how strong, is strong enough to pull back the hands of time.

‘What If’ are two words, which have great power: the power to imprison the soul or to set it free – the choice is ours to make.