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Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for June, 2012


Holding on, or letting go? 1

Posted on June 23, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated June 24, 2012 12:00 AM

It’s a new moment as I write this. I spent a few minutes attempting to write an article for this column but it wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought I’d seize this new moment that is unfolding right now and just go with it.

It’s frustrating when it happens but what’s a writer who is stuck but has to meet a deadline to do? As usually happens, there is a lesson, an inspiration even in being stuck.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and not insist on pursuing paths that are not delivering. There’s a time for stubborn pursuit and there’s a time to let things just go.

There are guys who pursue girls doggedly for years and use their entire arsenal to win their love — chocolates, flowers, gifts, expensive wooing, and putting their best foot forward, but to no avail. The frustration that follows often tempers expectations and is a tough lesson in handling disappointments and accepting reality.

There are also those who expend a lot of effort fighting sickness, or a disease like cancer, going through all sorts of medical protocols and treatments, only to fail and die in the end. And that is very sad.

People explain such situations in many ways. There are those who salute the efforts of those who try really hard and fail, quoting Alfred Lord Tennyson, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

And there are those who insist that perhaps, staying the course a little longer and not giving up could have tilted the results in one’s favor. In other words, in the eyes of those who judge, despite everything, they still did not try hard enough. Others who are less severe in their judgment and are philosophical will simply say that some things are just not meant to be.

The question of when to hold on to something and when to give up is a tough one. In a relationship that isn’t working out well, for example, on the surface, holding on seems to be the ideal, brave and courageous thing to do. Many will automatically give advice and, more often than not, it is counsel that urges the parties to stay on and work things out. Which only seems right and noble.

On the other hand, it is easy to equate giving up with failure or weakness. It seems like a cop-out, an abandonment of purpose, a failure of character to walk away from something one has sworn to be bound by. It is rare that a person who walks away from a relationship is not given a bad rap by outsiders who are often simply on the outside looking in and analyzing the situation from an uninformed angle.

Just as there are reasons to stay the course, there are also valid reasons to abandon a situation, abort a plan, cancel promises made. And knowing which path to take depends on how one weighs things.

In the heat of the moment, it is difficult to make the distinction between giving up and letting go. There is a difference between the two. To give up is to realize that one’s efforts were not good enough and by leaving, one is cutting his or her losses and freeing oneself from any more pain.

To let go, on the other hand, is to divest oneself of attachments like expectations, bitterness and eventually, even pain. To give up is to accept that one is not up to the challenge and to center on the unfulfilled promise. To let go is to conclude that there are more important and sensible scenarios to consider than staying the course. The former implies the end of the road. The latter suggests an unburdening to be able to travel lightly, perhaps on a new road.

Someone unknown once said, “One says you aren’t worthy of the prize, the other says you are the prize.” This makes the distinction clear.

When one gives up, there is a turning away and often, there is bitterness and enmity that accompanies it. Letting go, on the other hand, does not only bring emotional release, it can even be an amicable cutting of ties and a freeing of oneself of any formerly desired outcome. It allows things to unravel outside of one’s control. It implies a willingness to turn away and move on, unfettered by the past.

Another unknown wise person counseled, “Giving up does not always mean you are weak; sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go.” The strength that is alluded to here is not only strength of character but a non-attachment to winning, or the wounded ego’s wish to always be in control. And that is certainly enormous strength right there.

In the acquisition of wealth where greed and exploitation must be tempered, one is also asked to “give up.” I am not talking here of merely “moderating greed” as former NEDA chief Romulo Neri counseled during GMA’s presidency. I am talking more about “giving back,” which is what the enlightened rich and good companies with corporate social consciences actually do — give back to the community that has made them rich.

So, to go back to the question, when does one hold on and when does on let go? It’s hard to say. The poet and novelist Herman Hesse wrote, “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. “

We can only let go when we realize that we have no control over many things, much less people, even if we care a great deal about them. And ironically, sometimes, it is a reason enough to let them go because we care about them. When you give up and let go, a remarkable thing happens; the pain goes away. If it doesn’t, it’s only because it clings back, because you are still clinging to it.

But when does one hold on? You hold on when, deep down, you know that the difficulties are temporary and can be overcome and the bigger payoff of growth and happiness awaits.

Rey Valera: The stuff of legends 2

Posted on June 16, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated June 17, 2012 12:00 AM


I first saw and met Rey Valera sometime in the late ‘70s. APO was an up-and-coming group then. Those were the early, heady days of OPM. Rey Valera was a younger singer-songwriter. Boboy, Danny and I were hosts of a late afternoon TV show on GMA 7 called Discorama with the late Bobby Ledesma who offered us the job after his co-hosts Tito, Vic, and Joey left for the greener pastures of Channel 9.

Rey was one of the pioneers of OPM and like many among the ‘70s generation, he wrote tons of music that continues to be played today.

The amazing thing about that era was, even if the songwriters grew up on Western music, we decided to write in Pilipino. There were no meetings or consultations among artists to push this agenda. Writing in Pilipino was a spontaneous rebellion, a proclamation by a generation of its identity. It literally just happened. And what a big deal it was, the Original Pilipino Music that came out of it!

From time to time, through the decades, I would bump into Rey Valera in the different shows I either hosted or guested in. We would talk shop and joke around, just shooting the breeze.

I am currently hosting an Internet show called Past/Forward on www.RadioRepublic.PH where I discuss with my guests the history, continuity and issues pertaining to Original Pilipino Music. Last Tuesday, I invited Rey Valera to be my guest.

I have always enjoyed his music. He writes with elegance and truth that resonates with the Filipino soul. His songs are timeless in a soft, somewhat maudlin, sentimental, and yes, an “emo” kind of way, that touches his audience’s heart. His melodies take flight and soar quite naturally. He sings about aspects of love that bring out moments that make you sigh and turn you into a love junkie.

It was a thrill to have this great songwriter on my show. His presence in the studio excited everyone in the room and made me realize what a fan I really was. I knew almost all of his recorded stuff and I have marveled at how easily his melodies take off.

Rey talked about his early years, which has elements of what legends are made of. He came from a broken home and as a teenager, was sent to live with an uncle in Bulacan. He was lonely and, finding no privacy in his uncle’s house, discovered the quiet time and solace he longed for in, of all places, a cemetery, a few steps away from where he lived. It was there where he indulged in his teenage angst and came up with some of his immortal songs in his younger days.

He wanted to sing, do recordings, concerts and come out on TV but he felt that he was not the type who could become a matinee idol or a pop star that the times were looking for. He says half-jokingly that it was only when he saw Rico J. Puno make it big that he mustered the courage to go for his dream since he saw that he was better-looking than his good friend.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Rey Valera’s songs were a staple of radio. We heard his songs on air, even if we were not looking for them. His hits have been recorded by many artists, but among his favorite versions are those recorded by Sharon Cuneta and arranged by Willy Cruz, a songwriter-musician-arranger Rey and I both hold in the highest esteem and admiration. The album is called “Sharon Cuneta sings Rey Valera.” The songs on the album are often used as movie themes. Today, his work continues to be heard as soundtrack themes for telenovelas, ensuring a new generation of fans for his vintage songs.

By all accounts and measures, Rey is a successful singer-songwriter. His albums have sold gold and platinum and he has built up a library of hits that are his OPM legacy.

And it seems that is both good and bad. There are problems that come with success.

When I asked him if he was still actively writing songs, Rey answered in the negative, but he said he knows he can pick it up again if he wants to, although at the moment, he seems to be experiencing writer’s block. The problem, he says, is he can’t seem to decide if he still wants to continue writing. He isn’t sure if he wants to just rest on his laurels or have a “second wind.” After all, his kids are now done with school, he has a house that’s been paid for, and enough to live on for the rest of his days in his hometown in Bulacan.

But probing more deeply, I sensed that the reasons he was holding back were: 1) he wasn’t sure if there is still a market for new songs he may wish to create, and 2) whether the young kids would buy his stuff.

Acceptance is every artist’s issue, and it is more acute when one has not been actively on the scene for sometime and has seen the landscape change totally. There is the haunting, unsavory image of the aging or over the hill artist forcing himself on an audience that has moved on, or a new audience that prefers something else.

I told him that I, like everyone else, also faced the same dilemma but I felt that, beyond my fears and anxieties, the issue was quite simple. A singer sings. A runner runs. A cook cooks. A songwriter writes songs. It’s as simple as that, as simple as night following day. The less we let fear in and demand that certain conditions be met before we do what we do well, the easier it becomes and the better it will be. I told him about my recent solo album called “Laro’ which I made primarily to delight myself. The marketing aspect is not my concern but I hope that the people who are tasked to do the job will take care of that. In other words, the primary duty of an artist is to simply show up and just do it.

I detected something light up inside him, which he summarized by saying, “If you are a songwriter and you do not write songs, you are not doing your job.”

It was a great 90-minute session during which people sent tweets, comments and questions. The sincerity of this artist and the songwriting skills he has honed through the years are impossible to ignore. I also had the pleasure of singing some of his songs with him that night. The young people in the room were completely mesmerized by his music and his comments throughout the show. He still has a lot to teach and share with the younger generation.

I was singing Kung Kailangan Mo Ako to myself on my ride home that evening. An apt song from Rey Valera which this new generation can serenade back to artists like him.

* * *

Basic Photography Workshop is on June 23, Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m. P3,920. Call 0916-8554303 (Olie)/ 426-5375 to reserve a slot.

Lessons for High school and beyond 0

Posted on June 03, 2012 by jimparedes

Lessons for High School and beyond
Humming in my Universe Philstar.com

 

By Jim Paredes

 

Headmaster Robert Mallett, Members of the Board of Trustees, The Middle School Faculty, Parents, Grandparents, Guests, and Members of the graduating class of 2012.

 

Good afternoon.

 

When I was asked to address the graduating class of Beacon School at this commencement, I hesitated. My initial reaction was to say ‘no’ since I could not readily imagine how someone like myself, who is five or six generations older than my audience, can possibly give advice to today’s youth.

 

It’s been almost 50 years since I left grade school and that is eons ago to the contemporary youth sitting here. How can I address students who probably look at people my age as ancient? I also wondered how much attention span young people can politely spare to listen to an old fogey give advice. Besides, what could I possibly say that would be of interest to young people?

 

But after I allowed the possibility to play out in my mind, the idea started to seem somewhat feasible. And the moment I considered saying ‘yes’, a flood of memories of  my own grade school years came rushing back to me.

 

I realized three things while I was walking ideas for his speech in my head: One, how amazing it is that I still remember a lot of what I went through during those formative years. I can still remember the sights and smells, and most of all, the pains and joys and discoveries of my journey into my teens and young adulthood.  Two, how much of this part of school life never quite left me even after almost 50 years. And three, how much my high school years shaped me into what I am today.

 

You are leaving your childhood and moving into the bigger world of high school.  I wish you luck. In many ways, the next stage you are about to enter will be even more important than what you have just finished.

 

I want to share with you some lessons I have learned that have been validated by the gift of hindsight. These are realizations in  high school which turned out to be quite important in my journey to adulthood. In fact, if I had not learned these things in high school, I would probably not be invited to address you today. It is because I learned them and nurtured them in college and beyond that I turned out to be a more or less functional human being, an adult qualified enough to address distinguished people like yourselves on this important rite of passage.

 

 

Here goes:

 

 

1)   You are capable of actions and decisions that have life-long repercussions. Keep this lesson close to your heart and mind. I remember classmates who died in high school all because of recklessness – speeding on a motorcycle, getting into a fist fight, playing with a gun. There were also those who never quite recovered from drugs or alcohol, and those who became unplanned parents in their early teens.

 

The lure of drugs, reckless sexual behavior, violence, the attitude of entitlement and invincibility can get you in big trouble. The path to adulthood is exciting and full of opportunities for growth, but it is also fraught with danger. It requires the wisdom and courage to say to say no to foolhardiness and say yes to true, worthy challenges that will expand you as a person.

 

2)   It is good to find a mentor.

 

It would be extremely helpful for a young person to find a mature, wise adult who can be a role model for responsible behavior and who can give much-needed advice in matters of studies, career, love, and life itself. There’s nothing like having an older, wiser person you can trust when you need to have a good talk, or are seeking good advice. It is also very empowering to have a mentor who believes in you.

 

I was lucky to have had teachers like Ed Garcia, a former Jesuit seminarian who now works for Amnesty International, and Onofre Pagsanhan, one of the greatest teachers the Philippines has ever produced. During my high school years, they were adults who could talk sense into me. They were true mentors who not only cared about what I thought and felt, but saw the goodness in me when I could not see anything redeeming in myself.

 

3)   I am pretty sure you got excellent sex education in this school. But here’s some practical advice anyway. Learn to be in control of yourself and your situation.

 

Sex is an issue you will be dealing with for the rest of your life. Raging hormones – and you have a lot of it at your age – can get you thinking of nothing but sex for long periods of time. Sex, like all things wonderful, must be entered into with full consciousness, attention and great control. When I gave my own kids ‘The Talk’, I likened the sexual drive to a horse. You either take it where you want to go or it takes you where it wants to go. You either control it or it controls you. The sooner you learn to tame and harness its power, the better you will be as an adult.

 

Learn about the opposite sex not just by having girl friends or boy friends but also by observing your own brothers and sisters, your father and mother. The worst sex education you can get is what you learn exclusively from the movies and TV and other media.

 

When you can look at the opposite sex with respect and compassion, and understand them without your hormones getting in the way, then you will have become not only a wise person, but a more likeable one, and even a potentially good life partner.

 

There are other urges that need controlling, such as anger, moodiness, sensitiveness, and other strong feelings that you will need to tame so you can get through your teenage years with the least possible damage.

 

The same goes for the urge to be violent, or the need to prove yourself or gain acceptance by taking drugs, committing petty crimes and surrendering to negative peer pressure.  Casualness produces   casualties.  To be in control ensures survival. To not be in control can make you a victim.

 

4)   Cultivate a spiritual life.

 

In high school,  I saw that my classmates were either quite religious, or were totally disinterested in any kind of spirituality.  Being spiritual does not necessarily mean being religious. It is more than going to church on Sundays. Spirituality is the capacity to be appreciate life as it is and its gifts. It is the gift of recognizing the higher unseen power that runs the universe. It is the ability to cope with almost any circumstance. It is the capacity to boldly say ‘yes’ to life, however it presents itself.

 

You do not know how fate will deal the deck of cards that is your life. But you must have the faith to believe that you play an important part in the scheme of things and that only you can play that part well. No one else is going to live your life better than you. And you must play it with whatever cards are handed to you. But you must also believe that a higher being is with you in all this to help and guide you.

 

 

5)   Many of your classmates now and in high school will be  your friends for life.

 

Anyone who has been at least 20 years out of high school will confirm this.  High school years are golden years that you will always look back to with fondness and bitter-sweet memories.

 

The eminent Dr. Tony Dans, at a graduation ceremony in the Ateneo, pointed out that your former classmates will be the people you will run to later on when you need a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, a financial adviser, a priest, a counselor. You may end up staying with them in their homes when you go abroad, or become their business partners, so it is always good to treat them well as early as now.

 

6)   Get close to your parents, or at least, do not alienate them from your life.

 

You are going through a lot of changes  — physically, emotionally, intellectually — in your teen years. Remember that your parents went through essentially the same thing, even if under different circumstances. While the dynamics of your wanting to assert independence and their need to have parental control over you may seem irreconcilable at times, you can arrive at some sort of age-appropriate accommodation, with lots of patience and dialogue on both sides.

 

 

7)   Teach yourself discipline and develop study habits.

This sounds like the most “square” piece of advice I will dish out tonight, but believe me, it DOES matter that you have read a few books and can write coherently by the time you graduate from high school. It does matter that you have the discipline to concentrate and do homework and tasks. I teach in a university and I find that I am more partial to students who use a wide range of literary references when they speak or write essays than those who hardly read.

 

Furthermore, I notice that the readers in my class often submit better written papers because they are capable of explaining themselves more intelligently. Students who are habitually casual about their requirements never quite make the grade when it counts. I was somewhere between a good student and crammer in high school, depending on the subject. In the subjects that I used to cram, studying only the night before the tests, I never really got good grades.

 

True education takes time and effort. The writer Stephen Covey was right when he said that you can’t plant a tree and expect it to bear fruit overnight.

 

Lastly, I wish to share a quote from Albert Camus, a philosopher you will meet in college, who said, ‘In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world.’

 

This is not a call to be selfish, or to be ego-centric. This is a call to young men and women who have novel ideas and firm values they wish to share with the world. This is about challenging the world and changing how it works.

 

To a young person looking at the big, bad world from the outside, the view may seem daunting. The need to conform, to join the status quo, to march with the herd toward social acceptance, to achieve ‘financial stability and success’, to be politically correct – can be compelling. The values of the establishment will attempt to swallow you up. And many will regard you a fool if you do not succumb.

 

But here’s something I learned: the world is always changing, and this is because there are people bold enough to look it in the eye and refuse to accept it as it is. They are willing to dare and try to reshape the world. Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa are three such people who tried and succeeded. Some of you in this class might surprise yourselves and find that you actually belong to this noble league.

 

I am hoping to see all of you in that league. And I have every reason to hope. You are young, bright and gifted young people who have the advantage of being born in the circumstances you are in. You have the resources and your family’s support and you have been raised with more or less the right values. Your challenge is to pursue those values and ideals and excel and exceed those who have come before you.

 

Your school motto is ‘Truth and Light’.  See to it that everything you do is in pursuit of these two great values. Armed with Truth and Light, learn as much as you can and prepare yourselves to engage the world, not as victims who are hopelessly swept by the tides and fortunes of events. No! Engage the world pro-actively, passionately like champions, and never stop learning, never give up your idealism and beliefs, even in the midst of shifting fortunes.

 

May you cultivate the courage, perseverance and creativity that are already inside you. And may you pursue your passions and dreams and be shining beacons of Truth and Light!

 

Congratulations and good day.

Author delivered this  Commencement Speech at the graduation at Beacon School last May 25, 2012

Lessons for High School and beyond

 

Commencement Speech for Class 2012

Beacon School

 

By Jim Paredes

 

Headmaster Robert Mallett, Members of the Board of Trustees, The Middle School Faculty, Parents, Grandparents, Guests, and Members of the graduating class of 2012.

 

Good afternoon.

 

When I was asked to address the graduating class of Beacon School at this commencement, I hesitated. My initial reaction was to say ‘no’ since I could not readily imagine how someone like myself, who is five or six generations older than my audience, can possibly give advice to today’s youth.

 

It’s been almost 50 years since I left grade school and that is eons ago to the contemporary youth sitting here. How can I address students who probably look at people my age as ancient? I also wondered how much attention span young people can politely spare to listen to an old fogey give advice. Besides, what could I possibly say that would be of interest to young people?

 

But after I allowed the possibility to play out in my mind, the idea started to seem somewhat feasible. And the moment I considered saying ‘yes’, a flood of memories of  my own grade school years came rushing back to me.

 

I realized three things while I was walking ideas for his speech in my head: One, how amazing it is that I still remember a lot of what I went through during those formative years. I can still remember the sights and smells, and most of all, the pains and joys and discoveries of my journey into my teens and young adulthood.  Two, how much of this part of school life never quite left me even after almost 50 years. And three, how much my high school years shaped me into what I am today.

 

You are leaving your childhood and moving into the bigger world of high school.  I wish you luck. In many ways, the next stage you are about to enter will be even more important than what you have just finished.

 

I want to share with you some lessons I have learned that have been validated by the gift of hindsight. These are realizations in  high school which turned out to be quite important in my journey to adulthood. In fact, if I had not learned these things in high school, I would probably not be invited to address you today. It is because I learned them and nurtured them in college and beyond that I turned out to be a more or less functional human being, an adult qualified enough to address distinguished people like yourselves on this important rite of passage.

 

 

Here goes:

 

 

1)   You are capable of actions and decisions that have life-long repercussions. Keep this lesson close to your heart and mind. I remember classmates who died in high school all because of recklessness – speeding on a motorcycle, getting into a fist fight, playing with a gun. There were also those who never quite recovered from drugs or alcohol, and those who became unplanned parents in their early teens.

 

The lure of drugs, reckless sexual behavior, violence, the attitude of entitlement and invincibility can get you in big trouble. The path to adulthood is exciting and full of opportunities for growth, but it is also fraught with danger. It requires the wisdom and courage to say to say no to foolhardiness and say yes to true, worthy challenges that will expand you as a person.

 

2)   It is good to find a mentor.

 

It would be extremely helpful for a young person to find a mature, wise adult who can be a role model for responsible behavior and who can give much-needed advice in matters of studies, career, love, and life itself. There’s nothing like having an older, wiser person you can trust when you need to have a good talk, or are seeking good advice. It is also very empowering to have a mentor who believes in you.

 

I was lucky to have had teachers like Ed Garcia, a former Jesuit seminarian who now works for Amnesty International, and Onofre Pagsanhan, one of the greatest teachers the Philippines has ever produced. During my high school years, they were adults who could talk sense into me. They were true mentors who not only cared about what I thought and felt, but saw the goodness in me when I could not see anything redeeming in myself.

 

3)   I am pretty sure you got excellent sex education in this school. But here’s some practical advice anyway. Learn to be in control of yourself and your situation.

 

Sex is an issue you will be dealing with for the rest of your life. Raging hormones – and you have a lot of it at your age – can get you thinking of nothing but sex for long periods of time. Sex, like all things wonderful, must be entered into with full consciousness, attention and great control. When I gave my own kids ‘The Talk’, I likened the sexual drive to a horse. You either take it where you want to go or it takes you where it wants to go. You either control it or it controls you. The sooner you learn to tame and harness its power, the better you will be as an adult.

 

Learn about the opposite sex not just by having girl friends or boy friends but also by observing your own brothers and sisters, your father and mother. The worst sex education you can get is what you learn exclusively from the movies and TV and other media.

 

When you can look at the opposite sex with respect and compassion, and understand them without your hormones getting in the way, then you will have become not only a wise person, but a more likeable one, and even a potentially good life partner.

 

There are other urges that need controlling, such as anger, moodiness, sensitiveness, and other strong feelings that you will need to tame so you can get through your teenage years with the least possible damage.

 

The same goes for the urge to be violent, or the need to prove yourself or gain acceptance by taking drugs, committing petty crimes and surrendering to negative peer pressure.  Casualness produces   casualties.  To be in control ensures survival. To not be in control can make you a victim.

 

4)   Cultivate a spiritual life.

 

In high school,  I saw that my classmates were either quite religious, or were totally disinterested in any kind of spirituality.  Being spiritual does not necessarily mean being religious. It is more than going to church on Sundays. Spirituality is the capacity to be appreciate life as it is and its gifts. It is the gift of recognizing the higher unseen power that runs the universe. It is the ability to cope with almost any circumstance. It is the capacity to boldly say ‘yes’ to life, however it presents itself.

 

You do not know how fate will deal the deck of cards that is your life. But you must have the faith to believe that you play an important part in the scheme of things and that only you can play that part well. No one else is going to live your life better than you. And you must play it with whatever cards are handed to you. But you must also believe that a higher being is with you in all this to help and guide you.

 

 

5)   Many of your classmates now and in high school will be  your friends for life.

 

Anyone who has been at least 20 years out of high school will confirm this.  High school years are golden years that you will always look back to with fondness and bitter-sweet memories.

 

The eminent Dr. Tony Dans, at a graduation ceremony in the Ateneo, pointed out that your former classmates will be the people you will run to later on when you need a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, a financial adviser, a priest, a counselor. You may end up staying with them in their homes when you go abroad, or become their business partners, so it is always good to treat them well as early as now.

 

6)   Get close to your parents, or at least, do not alienate them from your life.

 

You are going through a lot of changes  — physically, emotionally, intellectually — in your teen years. Remember that your parents went through essentially the same thing, even if under different circumstances. While the dynamics of your wanting to assert independence and their need to have parental control over you may seem irreconcilable at times, you can arrive at some sort of age-appropriate accommodation, with lots of patience and dialogue on both sides.

 

 

7)   Teach yourself discipline and develop study habits.

This sounds like the most “square” piece of advice I will dish out tonight, but believe me, it DOES matter that you have read a few books and can write coherently by the time you graduate from high school. It does matter that you have the discipline to concentrate and do homework and tasks. I teach in a university and I find that I am more partial to students who use a wide range of literary references when they speak or write essays than those who hardly read.

 

Furthermore, I notice that the readers in my class often submit better written papers because they are capable of explaining themselves more intelligently. Students who are habitually casual about their requirements never quite make the grade when it counts. I was somewhere between a good student and crammer in high school, depending on the subject. In the subjects that I used to cram, studying only the night before the tests, I never really got good grades.

 

True education takes time and effort. The writer Stephen Covey was right when he said that you can’t plant a tree and expect it to bear fruit overnight.

 

Lastly, I wish to share a quote from Albert Camus, a philosopher you will meet in college, who said, ‘In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world.’

 

This is not a call to be selfish, or to be ego-centric. This is a call to young men and women who have novel ideas and firm values they wish to share with the world. This is about challenging the world and changing how it works.

 

To a young person looking at the big, bad world from the outside, the view may seem daunting. The need to conform, to join the status quo, to march with the herd toward social acceptance, to achieve ‘financial stability and success’, to be politically correct – can be compelling. The values of the establishment will attempt to swallow you up. And many will regard you a fool if you do not succumb.

 

But here’s something I learned: the world is always changing, and this is because there are people bold enough to look it in the eye and refuse to accept it as it is. They are willing to dare and try to reshape the world. Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa are three such people who tried and succeeded. Some of you in this class might surprise yourselves and find that you actually belong to this noble league.

 

I am hoping to see all of you in that league. And I have every reason to hope. You are young, bright and gifted young people who have the advantage of being born in the circumstances you are in. You have the resources and your family’s support and you have been raised with more or less the right values. Your challenge is to pursue those values and ideals and excel and exceed those who have come before you.

 

Your school motto is ‘Truth and Light’.  See to it that everything you do is in pursuit of these two great values. Armed with Truth and Light, learn as much as you can and prepare yourselves to engage the world, not as victims who are hopelessly swept by the tides and fortunes of events. No! Engage the world pro-actively, passionately like champions, and never stop learning, never give up your idealism and beliefs, even in the midst of shifting fortunes.

 

May you cultivate the courage, perseverance and creativity that are already inside you. And may you pursue your passions and dreams and be shining beacons of Truth and Light!

 

Congratulations and good day.

Author delivered this Commencement talk T the Beacon School graduatio last May 25 2012

#   #   #

Basic Photography Workshop on June 23, Saturday, 1 to 6PM. Call 09168554303 (Olie)/ 4265375 to reserve a slot. Email me at jpfotojim@gmail.com for queries.

 

 


The sound
of water
says
what I think.

– Chuang Tzu

http://jimparedes.com

#   #   #

Basic Photography Workshop on June 23, Saturday, 1 to 6PM. Call 09168554303 (Olie)/ 4265375 to reserve a slot. Email me at jpfotojim@gmail.com for queries.

 

 


The sound
of water
says
what I think.

– Chuang Tzu

http://jimparedes.com


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