Living From Within
A Valedictory Address
By Sharmaine Dianne C. Mamaed
Ateneo de Davao University
Class of 2015
Rev. Fr. Joel Tabora of the Society of Jesus, President of the Ateneo de Davao University;
Mr. Benjamin A. Lizada, representing the Board of Trustees;
Guests of Honor,
Fr. Roberto C. Layson of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate from the Oblate Missionary Foundation – Inter Religious Dialogue
Mr. Mike P. Alon of the Integrated Mindanaons Assistance for Natives;
Rev. Fr. Daniel J. McNamara of the Society of Jesus, Rector of the Ateneo de Davao Jesuit Community
Rev. Fr. Gabriel Jose T. Gonzalez of the Society of Jesus, Academic Vice President;
Deans of the Respective Schools;
Faculty and staff;
Our dearest parents and loved ones;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Never have I imagined that this moment would be possible. Throughout my five years in the Ateneo, I was more of a follower than a leader–taking orders, lending a hand, and doing logistical work. When I was given the opportunity to take the lead, I did not really take Ateneo by storm. Nothing was dramatic. Most of the events my team has organized were focused on particular audiences such as members of ARETE, struggling first year students, and eager graduating students. In fact, most of you have probably never heard of my name before this.
Yet, I am here. I have come to realize that perhaps it is not about how flashy nor how big or glorious your actions have been, perhaps what determines the true worth of what we do is what goes on inside us.
I would like to think that the principle behind this adage brought me here. That made the difference for me.
I desire for it to make a difference in your journey, too.
Living from the inside out necessarily begins by looking within. In this, we try to discover WHO we truly are and see our WHY–that reason behind everything we do. Afterwards, we can now do our WHAT from the dictates of within.
Embrace Your WHO
Let us embrace who we have become. I invite you to look back to our years in the Ateneo. Let us keep in mind all the insights, fears, difficulties, and victories; and see how far we have gone.
Let us remember all the insights we have kept. Go beyond those ideas that tickled your brain and recall those that touched your heart. From being introduced to magis and cura personalis in FYDP and putting them into action in NSTP, to those truths etched in our hearts in the quietest moments during retreats, and even the questions and perhaps answers we’ve discovered in Philosophy and Theology classes.
We are wiser now, aren’t we?
Let us also recall all of our fears during our first years in the University. For some, getting lost in the city and even in the campus; for most, highly regarded professors and difficult classes; and for a few, getting stuck in the elevator. Remember how you have overcome each one.
We are braver now, aren’t we?
Let us remember our difficulties. From physical challenges such as rushing up the stairs to the 7th floor to beat the bell, to academic struggles such as spending sleepless nights on studying for departmental exams and making our thesis and feasibility studies, and to those truly difficult times when our hearts broke, when we failed and it felt like we could never stand up again. Remember those days.
We are stronger now, aren’t we?
Let us also look back on our victories. Flawlessly executing those lines we have memorized for literature plays, completing the necessary work hours for scholarship, hearing the words “thesis accepted”, graduating from FYDP, PE, NSTP, and now, college. We have come a long way and let us take this moment to cherish it.
We have looked back on our experiences but we’ve merely scratched the surface of who we have become. Each on our own, may we also remember all the things we learned to value and uphold in every fear, difficulty, and victory. Some of us have learned to value upmost integrity and honesty; for others, it could be faith and love; still, for some, it could be fortitude and courage. It could also be a little bit of everything for many. Our experiences in and out of the classroom have led us to be individuals imbued with these values and ideals. This is who we have become.
Know Your WHY
Let us look even deeper within, shall we? It is time to know our why, the reason behind everything we do—what our hearts beat for.
Naturally what comes to mind are our family and for some, a special other. But, let me invite you to discover another “Why” which the University has gradually cultivated in us throughout the years.
Remember all the times when you became a man and a woman for others. It could be during NSTP field work, Theology immersion, or outreach programs of student organizations. It could be the times when we were acting out on our own initiatives—feeding the little children in the streets, tutoring a friend’s friend, or simply picking up the trash. It could even be those academic tasks we did—doing a research or study on relevant societal issues and problems such as renewable energy, flooding alleviation, and social enterprise. Relive that feeling of doing something, big or small, for another.
It was beautiful, wasn’t it? Could that be your WHY, too?
Could it be that your WHY includes the hungry, the jobless, the displaced, the grieving, and the suffering?
As graduates of Ateneo de Davao University, we are called to be sui generis leaders. For many, this might sound too big and foreign a challenge, but we’ve already began the journey towards it as evidenced by those moments we just reminisced. Our stay in the University has made it possible for us to contribute, no matter how little, to the effort towards the realization of the common good.
Now, is the time to be more conscious of our journey towards it. We could be a supporter of that all-encompassing common good and be socially responsible in a general sense. But, I challenge you to also take the lead. What is that particular “Why” that resonates with you? It could be protecting the environment or providing opportunities to the marginalized or it could be fighting for good governance, preserving culture and heritage, upholding justice or achieving peace. It could even be as straightforward as loving the least in our society. You may spend some time figuring out that “why” later, but, keep that particular “why” in your heart. May we make it our core as Ateneans.
Do Your WHAT
Now, we’re done on the inside, it’s time to let it flow outwards. We’ve known who we are and realized our why. Now what? What do we do to save the environment? What do we do to uplift the marginalized? What do we do to achieve peace? What do we do to love the least? Endless questions that at first we might think require big answers. But you see, every fire starts with a spark and let us not forget that Jesus used a mere five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 people.
Really, taking small steps could be enough.
What can we actually do?
Do what you’re good at, be grounded in your values, and keep the heart together with it. Business majors could empower, improve, and live with integrity. Architects and engineers could build, design, and innovate—all for sustainability. Communication majors could maximize media and positively influence. Educators could teach and mould the leaders of tomorrow. Medical practitioners could heal and care, rooted in love for the other. Researchers and scientists could discover knowledge and find better ways. Politicians could use power well and legislate fair and just laws. Lawyers and judges could fight for the truth.
As fresh graduates, even these steps may sound too challenging. What most of us are probably doing after graduation is take the board exam, apply for a job, manage a business, or even pursue further studies—the simplest of things that will not take the world by storm for they are neither glorious nor flashy. But, you see, what determines the true worth of what we do is what goes on inside us.
I would like to think that as long as we are grounded in who we are, as long as we keep our values, and as long as our heart beats for something, we will still be on the right track, no matter how little and ordinary the steps that we take.
May we not discount our contributions in building a better society. May we look at the eyes of the homeless, hear the cries of the hungry, listen to the grief of the displaced, and ask ourselves, “If I would not help them, who else would?”
Let us live out of the “abundance of our hearts.”
As we take on our first jobs, as we face the real world, there may come a time when we just go through the motions, just do the job and earn the money. We might forget our why and at times abandon our values. But, you see, the mind might forget but the heart never will. It will give us that feeling of something lost, and one day will lead us back to where our heart was meant to be. Four or more years in the Ateneo and this is who we have become, this is what we have been living for, and though we may lose sight of it sometimes, I believe at the end of the day, we will all come back to it.
Heeding to the call of my heart as a Filipino and a Mindanaon, I cannot not speak about peace. Perhaps this is one of the most significant call for us today. With the Mamasapano incident where 67 Filipinos died and with the current offensive operations against the Bangsamaro Islamic Freedom Fighters where more than 100,000 Mindanaons have been displaced, peace is definitely a pressing issue in this part of the country. We may not be the ones fighting, but we can do our part to win peace. Let us stand for peace. Let our statesmen and our fellow Filipinos know that we, Mindanaons, want peace. Social media is our weapon.
Let us also use our education to take the time to know more and evaluate the proposed Bangsomoro Basic Law.
May we also pray for peace and for wisdom for our leaders and all the other voices of various stakeholders.
Let us make an effort for a lasting peace in Mindanao not just for us but even for future generations.
Let us make a stand for peace for without it, how else are we going to achieve our own specific WHYs?
Before I end, I have to speak what is surely in the hearts of each and every graduate today.
In behalf of the batch, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and love to our parents and guardians who have made many sacrifices just to see us through this moment. Thank you for the unconditional love.
Many thanks to all our mentors and teachers who have forever left a mark not only in our minds but also in our hearts. Thank you for believing in each one of us. You are one of God’s greatest gifts to us.
In behalf of all other scholars here, I would also like to thank the College Scholarship Committee and all other sponsors and benefactors. You have not only provided us with financial resources, but you have also given us a better chance in life. Without your generosity, we would not be reaching this point.
Thank you, Ateneo, for the quality education, for the opportunities that allowed us to discover who we really are, for forming our hearts to value the common good, and for instilling in us that we can and are able to make a difference.
To end, may everything that we do come from the abundance of our hearts, formed through the years by our experiences and nurtured by what we have come to know as the Ateneo education.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!