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 never thought that I will be part of the first Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC) in 1999.


Presenting the Titos and Titas of AYLC circa 1999. The pioneer batch of young and committed student leaders of the Philippines. Sa laki kong ‘toh para akong one of the seven dwarfs ni Snow White sa pic.

Armed with grit and passion to make a difference – it was an experience of a lifetime that I would never forget.

Colleges and universities across the country were asked to nominate junior and senior college students with leadership potential and excellent academic standing.

It started with an invitation from Ms. Bernadette Sacop of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) – Pamantasan ng Lungod ng Maynila (PLM).

I was adamant to join but she believed in me.

I was one of the nominees who made it through the initial screening.

I went to the ultra modern and posh Ayala Tower One building in Makati.

Remember this was 1999, sikat ang Y2K dooms day bruhaha, sabi ng mga berks ni Nostra Damus nasa finish line na ang existence ni Mother Earth.

Thank you Lord, nakapunta ako dito bago magunaw ang mundo hehehe.

Syempre ang lakas maka-alta ng ambience.

Very sosyal!

Hindi pala sosyal na sosyal (sa boses ng bagong adjusted na braces sa ngipin).

Kala ko interview lang, aba may pa-essay si mayor na, ‘if you’re the President of the Philippines, what will you do?’

Ano daw?!

Play kuliglig in the background.

Inhale, exhale boom!

Bahala na si batman!

After the surprise written test, interview na.


Di ako na-orient na panel interview.

Neng! Tumbling!

Umurong yung bangs ko na very 90s at keempee style!

Pasok sa room, smile pa rin.

Deep inside nagparamdam ang Cabanatuan, intensity 9 sa tuhod ko!

Bago sa akin toh!

Gusto kong magcart wheel ng mga anim!

The panel were composed of senior executives from within the Ayala group.

In fairness, mabait ang panel.

Di ka naman lalamunin ng buo.

Di ko alam kung paano ang groupings sa panel pero ang lakas maka Ms. Q & A ng sagot ko, and I, thank you!

After a few weeks, nagpadala ng letter ang Ayala Corporation sa PLM mga beshie.

Pasok sa banga ang kuya mo!

Five (5) students from PLM qualified.

Kuya Jerry Lopez and Kuya Aliw Cleto from College of Business and Public Administration (CBPA); Ate May Harris and Kuya Angelo Tabuac from College of Engineering & Technology (CET). Ako lang ang nag-qualified from College of Arts & Sciences (CAS).

Seventy students were chosen to attend the three-day AYLC.

We were given the chance to meet and listen to leading figures in business, education, politics, science, the media, development work, and the arts.

We also took part in activities geared toward nurturing values that enhance our leadership potential.

It was a new experience for me to be sitting side by side with fellow young dreamers not only from Manila but all-over the Philippines.

Pero majority are from Metro Manila.

There were also delegates from Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Aside from the shared knowledge during the training, sinong makakalimot sa pa-Lechong Baka and the unli ice cream – sarap na combination di ba?

Huntahan at kwentuhan sa hallway.

Bungisngisan sa group presentation.

Tawanan at hagalpakan.

Kagroup ko si Ate Mae, aba iba ang amats ng group namin.

Buti di pa uso ang tokhang! Para kaming sinapian, yung masaya lang palagi.

Syempre ang makasaysayang ‘toothpick’ ni Kuya Wardy from Davao.

Ang mga team building activities na chinallenge ang katawang lupa ko.

I was not a sporty person kaya nung pinagwall climbing ako – aba buti kinaya ng mga taba ko sa cheeks ng very light.

Ramdam ko na guinea pig kami. Trial and error ang first batch, maraming matutunan na pwedeng magbenefit ang susunod na mga batches.

For me, isang malaking take away ko from AYLC is that kahit nasa experimental group ako ng training.

Ramdam ko ang sincerity ng Ayala servant leaders to make a ripple in the society na simulan sa mga kabataan ang paghubog.

Malaking investment din ito at di biro ang dugo’t pawis na nilaan ng kumpanya.

This year, 20th anniversary na ng AYLC parang kailan lang nasa bus kami papunta ng San Miguel Training Center.

Puno ng pangarap.

Walang mobile phones.

Walang social media.

Wala ngang digital camera. Ilang rolyo kaya ng film ang pinadevelop?

Video documentation nga namin walang sound eh pero nasa YouTube hehehe!

Puso ang naging puhunan.

I am so proud of my batchmate’s achievements and recognitions. Di lang sa Pinas kundi pati sa world, este the universe rather.

Part na ako ng Titos at Titas ng AYLC.

Marami pang magagawa para sa bansa.

The Ayala Young Leaders Congress is a concrete expression of the Ayala Group’s commitment to national development.

It is the keystone of “Shaping Tomorrow’s Leaders”, the youth leadership development program launched in 1998 by the Ayala group of companies as a strategic investment in the youth, and ultimately, in the future of the country.

Ayala’s dream is to nurture a community and form a network of values-based and principled Filipino leaders committed passionately to nation-building and to uplifting the lives of their fellow Filipinos.