(A Valedictory Address of a Seaman’s Son)
KEM EVAN C. PACATAN
Valedictorian, Grade 6
Let me begin this speech by thanking the parents who are unfailing in their love and support as proven by their presence in this momentous event. Thank you for waking up for us, cooking us breakfast, driving us to school, and not quitting even in the most difficult assignments and performance tasks that we have to endure. This graduation day will lose its meaning without you because this is not just our journey, not just our batch’s expedition, but this is our journey as a family.
To the teachers who have painstakingly prepared us for this significant occasion, it is with the sincerest gratitude that I say, in behalf of my batchmates, “thank you for pushing us to do more, standing up for us even when we are at our intolerable attitude, and, most of all, thank you for understanding us every day of the 202 school days.”
To classmates and friends with whom I made good and wonderful memories, I am excited for the possibilities waiting for each one of us. I really don’t know whether to feel sad or happy. Probably because some might chase their dreams in another school yet I still believe that we can still go further with this expedition together, reaching our stars united, and pushing beyond our expectations as one, amalgamated group.
The character Candide birthed by the French author Voltaire said, “We must cultivate our own Garden. When man was put in the Garden of Eden, it was with an intent to dress it: and this proves that man is not born to be idle.” He was put in the garden so that he should work. But work will never be done by just well-wishing. Perhaps planning must happen beforehand but it must be translated into visible and measurable course of actions.
Rosevale is the garden which we must dress. Being situated here means that we have to push ourselves, roll up our sleeves, and cultivate with our best efforts and in effect, we reap good harvest. Nothing comes out without hard work. It pays off at the end they say. Truly, without a determined purpose, work is nothing. This is what I realized in grade school. In every quiz, project, performance task, or homework, hurdling all of these isn’t an easy one.
However, this graduation is also for the sacrifices of our parents whose flames remain unfailing.
My father is an able seaman. An able seaman works as a watchstander, a day worker, or a combination of these roles on deck. He works his fingers to the bone – a work requiring an extra ounce of patience indeed.
He works for Knutsen Philippines, Incorporated. It is a fairly new tanker company travelling in Peru, Qatar, Japan, and Australia. He travels for six months and, in that time, we don’t see him. When he makes a call, he tells us that he misses us and he would tell us that he wanted to go home to be with us every time.
My father makes sacrifices for us on deck and I know that at night, he can feel the pain in his back. My mom gets worried whenever my dad would not call us during the day without any advice why he couldn’t do so.
The last time this happened was just last week. My mom felt anxious – couldn’t sleep, kept crying, and prayed always. That is how she shows her anxiety. Finally, my dad was able to call her. After the call, she said that my dad was not able to make a call because the ship is crossing the Pacific Ocean.
My dad works overtime. My dad and his co-workers clean the whole ship for twelve hours and rest will just be for a short period of time. After he rests, he drives the ship all night and he must never be sleepy.
Every day, this is his job. In times of delivering LNG gas, and in times of overtime, he lacks the sleeping hours needed by a person. Due to his performance, the captain was encouraged to promote my dad to a boatswain.
If he gets the promotion, his work will remain the same. He cleans the engine and manages others, but the only difference is that when the engine isn’t clean, he will be in charge to manage it.
Moreover, when there is a problem in the engine, he will be the officer to be blamed. When he cleans the engine, I couldn’t imagine the heat he experiences since the engine is very hot.
Rainy day, sunny day, or even during the cold winter, work will still be the same; it is continued even if he is sick. I cannot imagine how he is able to do it; but like what he always tells me, “It is for our future.”
Being a seaman as what my dad said, is one step higher than prisoner; only that it is dazzled with food from different countries, television, air conditioned rooms, and a nice bed.
He strongly believed that I must not become one like him for the reason that a seaman sees only the large ocean surrounding him wherever he looks and his most compelling reason is that a seaman has the least time for his family.
My father is my inspiration from whom I draw the determination to keep pushing forward. I know that the work I do in school is nothing compared with his efforts.
In school, we must also be able to match the efforts of our parents. Let us keep in our hearts the reason why they work hard for us. And so it is with our teachers who are our second parents in school. Let us keep in mind their dedication.
Graduates, let us remind each other again that as we walk the corridors of success in the future, we remember the family in which we always and forever belong. Wherever the expedition of life would take us, we magnify Rosevale’s glory when we exude the strength of character and sharpness of understanding.
More than this, it is right that we always and forever reserve a listening heart for our parents whose guidance is for our good. We are their masterpieces. We must remember this.
My dear batchmates, let us work harder in high school; but let us also not forget to do it with a happy heart. Let us be people who overflow with positivity. Surely, with the repertoire of skills that our teachers cultivated in us coupled with the formation and strength of character that Rosevale instilled in us, if we live by these always, we will always be guided by the Rosevale astra.
Let us discern always before we decide. If one day we are faced with a seemingly difficult situation, let the words of our dear saint from Barbastro stir our hearts – there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations and it is up to each one of us to discover it.
Saint-Exupéry once made us realize that what makes the desert beautiful is somewhere it hides a well. There is something far more meaningful than the big waves of life.
This chapter of our lives ends as this graduation ends; but the expedition never ceases. It is inevitable that we will face new challenges. Things might be different in the years ahead of us. We as Rosevaleans are equipped with wings. We can soar higher than the obstacles.
Let us continue to make inspiring contribution for others by being true to our values and committing ourselves to the Rosevale core values as we reach our dreams. Let us never lose the sense of wonder.
Grade 6 boys and girls: grade school experience is indeed a wonderful expedition. Until we meet again. I pray that the Lord keep us companions – brothers and sisters indeed.
Summer vacation is just for two months. It will just be two months of being apart.
God bless and Godspeed.
Per Aspera Ad Astra. Thank you and congratulations to all of us. (Printed with permission; submitted by Abraham Ilera)