(Delivered at the graduation rites, via Zoom, of Batch 2020 of the College of Law, Ateneo de Davao University on Saturday, 25 April 2020)
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 April) — To our University President, Fr. Joel Tabora; our Dean of the College of Law, Atty. Manny Quibod; to our Assistant Dean, Atty. Lydia Galas, to our beloved professors; and to my fellow graduates and their proud parents, good morning.
When we were in our first year in law school, one of our Professors, Atty. Galas gave us a word of warning: law school is like a walk in the park. Jurassic Park. Wide-eyed, nervous, and scared for our lives, we endured the treacherous journey that is law school. Graduation day seemed to be an insurmountable mountain to climb.
And yet, years later and against all odds, here we are. Looks like we made it outside of Jurassic Park. Alive!
It took countless nights of reading our notes that seemed to never end, recitations that were filled with dread and anxiety, exams that almost brought us to our knees, missed birthdays and family events that we will never get back, and a river of tears as we cried our hearts out.
Although we did not get out unscathed, every hit and failure created the person that we are today — A fighter.
Thank you to our teachers who gave so much of themselves to us. You have not only taught us about the law, but you’ve also taught us something more important — life. Thank you for your understanding, consideration, and grace. We hope and pray that you continue to be the voice inside our heads as we venture off to our final destination — the bar.
Thank you to the ever-supportive staff of the law school office —Maam Gina, Kuya Niel, and Kuya Ronnie – who understood our crazy and ever-changing exam schedules. We would not have managed it all without your help.
Thank you to our friends, family, and most particularly to our parents. Who we are today is a mirror of what we learned from you. Your faith in us gave us strength. Law school was a perilous journey, but your love made us brave.
And most especially, we give all thanks and glory to God. Thank you, Lord, for Your love has seeped into the broken parts of our downtrodden spirits. You have offered us your warm embrace every time we failed. You have carried us every time we fell. We offer all of our victories to You.
To my fellow graduates, “Batch Linog”, “Batch COVID”, “Batch 2020”. We have always mused about how unlucky we are. The universe decided to unload all of these catastrophes during our final year. As the saying goes: when it rains, it pours.
We could have drowned in this torrential storm, but we didn’t. We braved the rough winds and endured the harsh rain because we knew we were not who we once were. We’ve been changed by everything that we’ve been through together, like dirt inside of the oyster, pressured over time, and became diamonds. We shined for each other because we knew each other’s struggles. And as we venture off towards what may be our last journey as a batch — the bar exams — it is my prayer that once again we be the light that guides each other as we encounter more storms ahead.
As future lawyers, we must rise to the challenge of leading the post-COVID World. May the resilience and perseverance that have carried us amidst the disruption of our regular academic learning continue on even after this pandemic. As Ateneo de Davao Law School Graduates, may we never forget the teachings of our dear alma mater. Our mission, as persons for others, will always be to go to the peripheries and defend those who cannot defend themselves. All this we do, for the greater glory of God.
Thank you and I pray that we all survive this pandemic so that one day, we can all see each other again and marvel in our light. Have a wonderful day ahead.
(Kahlil Denise Arnado Alcomendras delivered this message on behalf of the graduates of Batch 2020 aka “Batch Linog” [earthquake] and “Batch COVID” of the College of Law of the Ateneo de Davao University during the graduation rites on Saturday, April 25, 2020, via zoom. Alcomendras is the Class President of Batch 2020. She finished Bachelor of Arts in International Studies major in Asian studies also at the Ateneo de Davao University).