(Message delivered by Dr. Kadil Sinolinding during the pre-commencement and recognition rites at the Mindanao State University main campus in Marawi City on 19 June 2018)
I was here 33 years ago, wearing the same toga, and I too, had a personal vision and a mission to fulfill. It was loaded with great expectations and results, against all odds.
As a graduate, our privileges from our parents shrink and our responsibility expands. No more allowance, no more extra funds. A basic question lingers in our mind. “Where do I go from here?” Will I be in a place where others expect me?
“Who will I be?” Will I be the person others wanted me to be? Or a person I always wanted to be?
My dear graduates, life is a choice. So is every decision we make. “Will I be part of the solution or the problem?” Will I be a donor or a beggar. Will it be better to give or to receive?
How do we do that? Let me tell you something about how decisions are made so we can have success.
Everybody talks about success. How would you define it? As leadership brings followers, success can be defined as the realization of our goal in life. Big or small, it can be considered success. How do we achieve success then?
Let me share with you my personal formula.
First, we need to believe. That burning desire will drive you to make it possible.
Second, success does not happen overnight or by chance. We need to work hard because life is a hard work — it is persistent and very much consistent. Remember, reality is unforgiving while life is unfair.
Third, which we always miss out, is the window of opportunity. Extraordinary effort may be useless without that opportunity to acquire it. Some call it a break. I have seen graduates who do nothing related to their profession (CPA, BSN, BSM), and drop outs who influenced the history of the world. Take Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and a few others.
We need to be visible, to be seen and be desired as models of the children. They look at us. They copy us. They imitate us. So be careful. We lead and teach. Share what you have and be the solution. People don’t care what you know until they know you care. Heal the sick and the needy. Provide comfort as you sooth the pain. And in so doing, do not be afraid to venture out in this world. Share your love by caring for others. Fly and be free until the horizon ends. Go and reach beyond your grasp as you dream big and imagine great things. As Einstein once said, “imagination is better than education” though I shall say pure imagination without basic education is a lucky strike.
To our dear parents, I share with you the feeling of immeasurable joy seeing your children hurdle college. You inspired them.
To the teachers, be proud. Indeed the future depends on you. Be careful of what you teach. When a doctor commits mistake, he sends the patient six feet below the ground. When a lawyer commits mistake, he sends his client six inches behind bars. But when a teacher is wrong, that mistake will be recycled for generations until it is corrected.
To the graduates, make the best because you are shaping the future. Do what others believe you can’t, and go beyond what others believe you can. Failure is not the worst thing to have. It is to have not tried. Be proud as a graduate of MSU. For decades it has been the catalyst of progress and development anchored in peace and social justice.
With the unfortunate event that took place in our beloved city of Marawi, let it be a lesson for us to learn. In war, everyone loses. But no matter how difficult, life starts again. No matter how painful, we will rebuild again.
Many of us are hurting. But we need to move on. We can always reconstruct what we have lost by not giving up on our dream. Of being truly who we are — free and determined people of Moroland.
We shall compete with our skills. We shall fight with our intellect. Our weapon is the pen that writes down on paper our contribution to a better history. This is the new battleground. And the war we wage is anchored on peace.
Sail on graduates. As you answer those questions I asked you … you are now ready to face the world. God bless you as you make your first step towards independence and self worth.
Mabrook! Wassalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.
(Dr. Kadil Sinolinding is the Secretary of Health in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao)