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  • Writer's pictureAncher Cua

Inspiring future Tourism graduates as Guest of Honor and Speaker

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Delivering a speech as Guest Speaker is truly fulfilling and inspiring. Since I was a kid, I have listened to numerous speakers on programs – educational and non-educational ones – and I always wondered how it feels being onstage (not being an event host), standing on the podium and talking to everyone about our outlook in life and success story. With gratitude and a look-back to the people who have molded me, I firmly accepted invitation and have ticked another life goal.

On May 11 2023, the first pinning ceremony titled 'Pagsibol' (means “to sprout or grow”) was organized by my alma mater, Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) – Tourism and Hospitality Management Department together with the Association of Tourism Management Students. This program aimed to pre-congratulate and recognize the efforts of all graduating Tourism Management students. It was the biggest highlight of the 'Takipsilim' Tourism Week as it served as a tribute to over seventy future tourism professionals who will be marching on July 14, 2023 at the university’s monumental Sunken Garden for the Commencement Exercises. This major event will signify that they have completed the prestigious four-year degree. As such, I had two big roles that day – to provide an inspirational talk and conduct the pinning along with MMSU’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) Dr. Prima Fe R. Franco; College Dean, Dr. Angelina Abrojena and; THM Department Chair and a former adviser, Prof. Luzviminda Mendiola.

The speech is titled “The Growth of a Peach Tree”. This inspired me to create a message that would talk about growth, character, life and learning. I’m proud to share the full video and feel free to jump on the following timestamps: 0:23 for the introduction of speaker by Ms. Lucky Charm Arce and talk begins at 5:52. A full transcript is also available for reading.

“To our ever great University President, Dr. Shirley C. Agrupis; our distinguished Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Prima Fe R. Franco; the supportive Dean of the College of Business, Economics and Accountancy, Dr. Angelina B. Abrojena; our Chair of Tourism and Hospitality Management Department, Prof. Luzviminda Mendiola; President of the Association of Tourism Management Students, Crisan Marc Calderon; faculty, parents, students, especially our future graduates, a warm afternoon to all.

Just about a few weeks from now, you will get to walk with your togas at the proverbial and monumental MMSU Sunken Garden. Witnessed by your loved ones, you smile and take in the moments and even reminisce your days from the time you took the admission exam until you finally receive your college diploma. Grabe no? It’s really a long journey for more than two decades and look where you are right now – firmly determined, sitting gorgeously and handsomely plus standing proud wearing your program uniform as you are ready to receive the symbol of completing this four-year course – Tourism Management. With this, I am allowing you to give your seatmates a pat at the back or even a warm embrace to express your profound joy of finishing together and for coming this far. Everyone, palakpakan po natin sila.

Today has been the anticipated pinning ceremony as spectated by the ones who have molded you. Truly, these people aren’t just merely our audience on this event. They are a witness of your success and a testament as to what life would bring for all of you. Each of us, which includes me, would congratulate you and at the same time, wish you all the luck and best for starting another journey and chapter of life. Sa ibang salita, magsisimula na kayo sa totoong takbo ng buhay at mundo. We can undeniably say this but we know that all of you are ready. The diploma you’ll be holding soon is not just an education concluder, but a responsibility for yourself and the world. But don’t worry, as your kuya and a former tourism student of our beloved Alma Mater like you, I’m here to say what’s best for you. So future graduates, what Filipino word describes your pinning ceremony today again? That’s right. “Pagsibol” means “to sprout” or “to grow”. Growth has always been a strong word to describe learning, progress and reap the fruit of hard work. Now associating the said word with what you call yourselves as tourism students here in MMSU, what fruit describes you here? Correct. Peaches. So let’s talk about the peach tree.

Foremost, what are the characteristics of a peach fruit? What colors can you see? Its mixed colors of bright pink (some are red with orange) and yellow gives us the feeling of being pleasant and vibrant. How about its taste? Its taste is a manifestation of our character being warmhearted and sweet. That’s what we truly are. But did you know that peaches are also a creative inspiration? Take a look on some of the works of the infamous painters such as Auguste Renoir, Claud Monet and Vincent van Gogh. They’ve painted iconic still lifes featuring the peach fruit. Several countries would also give meaning when peaches are fully ripe. In China, they are a symbol of luck, protection and longevity. In Korea, it’s a source of good energy to fight bad spirits. In Hungary, it helps relieve stress and provide calmness to a person. Aside from the fruit having featured in Disney’s James and the Giant Peach, lately, in the Super Mario Movie, some of you may have already heard via Facebook reels or TikTok when Bowser was singing the dramatic song “Peaches”. Did you know that song is about to be nominated for an award? Yep. That will sure come out. And of course, as some people would also say, “A happy face can blush like a peach”. You’ll get to see a lot of peachy faces during your commencement exercises soon.

See, the fruit alone is more than just a food itself. It’s not just a physical nourishment, but we also derive a lot of things from it when we talk about belief, creativity and importantly, inspiration. But how do we associate ourselves with the peach tree? What does it take to become a full-grown peach tree person? Especially you - our future tourism professionals.

In the four stages of peach tree growth, the first one is the dormant stage. This is the starting phase as peach trees come from a seed. Imagine yourself as a seed in the soil. That seed represents your starting year in college. During this stage and for the next three years, you’ve been watered with knowledge, skills and professional thinking. You have been sprinkled with the competencies and character that every graduate should possess. All the assignments you worked, the exams you took, the projects you finished, the cheerful and conflicting moments with your classmates, and even the days you spent just to defend and submit your outputs and research on time plus the preparations for the Takipsilim Tourism Week activities, all of these are part of sprouting in the academe. In fact, these things cannot be absorbed and worked on a little time as it would even take years to hone yourselves and prepare for the best. Your professors have taken care of you as their seedlings. They will continue to watch over you, water you with their expertise and provide sunlight through their enlightening insights about passion and career. The minerals you gain from the soil is a depiction of the rich activities you’ve been engaging in – co-curriculars and extracurriculars – they have been nourishing you so you can explore your maximum potential and grow even further, healthier and firmer from the soil.

But in the process of growth, there will always be hindrances - seasons and storms. It is undeniable that we fight our own battles. Meron tayong sari-sariling suliranin. Some may take for a while to happen, some are even devastating. Some occur internally and some are caused by various external factors. You may have faced tons of these trials but remember that you fought for yourself, found ways to solve them and had the courage to surpass all of it. You battled and won, then that gives you the strength and perseverance to keep on going. That’s why you are here right now. Your stems, branches and leaves are well-fortified and they unceasingly expand until you’re ready for the next phase. Dear future graduates, by the time you receive your diploma and go out to the real world, you are already in the second step called blossoming stage.

In this phase, you get to build your career and life outside of the academe. You start applying for jobs like as a travel consultant or agent, flight attendant, tourism educator, hotel, restaurant or event manager and who knows, an event host like me. Maybe others would even prefer to have their own business, company, establishment; pursue an educational advancement such as masters or doctorate; some may land on non-travel and tourism occupations or work and live overseas. Regardless of your work or wherever you are, this is the time of independence and you’ve started to live the most out of your work and life. You began to earn and travel. While this process may take time as you’re still embracing the world’s reality and uncertainties, take note that it’s normal for you to find yourself and look for something that would give you the much-needed fulfillment and self-happiness leading to the third phase which is the fruit stage.

This is what we simply call “the fruits of labor”. As mentioned, a peach is vibrant and sweet. Its vibrancy symbolizes how our hard work and perseverance have brought vitality and paved the way to success. The sweetness of it signifies the fulfillment and happiness we gained. For example, got a stable career, have earned adequate financial resources, travelled and explored different cultures and cuisines; have taken photos of the world’s famous destinations and personalities; finally experience all the things you read in books or the ones being discussed during classes and; eventually look for the one you called, “AFAM”. Ay este, “ka-forever”, whoever he or she is.

By the time this perfect fruitful period comes, harvesting is the final stage to complete the growth process. This is the part where you realize how much fruits you have to reap. Every peach fruit represents the things you have achieved and experienced in life. These can be your successful career or stable job, trips outside of the country, your own house or car, your kids and family, anything or everything that you would tell yourselves that you are well-fulfilled. Everyone, this is deemed as the most important phase. Why? Once harvested, where do the peach fruits go? Two places. First, they go to the people. Yes, you may think that it’s for them to consume since it’s a fruit. But what makes it wonderful is when you have rewarded yourselves with the great things in life, it’s always a fulfilling moment to look and give back to these people who have nurtured you from being a seed until you have your fruits to share – these are for our families, our teachers and the ones who have helped us as to where we are today or where you are in the future. Try giving them a peach for free, you would clearly see how they would smile and blush like a peach. You will get to see how happy and proud they are for you for humbly growing and sharing your blessings.

And second, they go back to the soil. The seeds of a peach are planted in order for it to become a tree again. Where it all started. And this is where I am today standing in front of you. In this very stage, this is where you will also get to share your life experiences to everyone and motivate more people to keep the story and tradition going. Life, it’s always a cycle and the growth are endless. I know and I believe that all of us here have the responsibility to keep on planting and bearing fruits because we know how important it is to reminisce how we started, what we should achieve, where we should be going, when we should take the time of our lives, and why we should keep on growing and inspiring. Life is too short yet the world is so big. So start making a story for yourself and for others. Travel, discover, love, live and share. You aren’t just tourism graduates because that’s what you wanted to, but you are a message to the wonders of the world. You hold the key in unveiling the great treasures, history and our people and the reason for our young generation to dream and someday pursue what you have.

Significantly, a well-grown peach tree is not based on how fast it took to grow and how many fruits it bears. True as the saying, live life at your own pace. With different environments and conditions that we have, our future is not about competing and who gets to harvest the greatest number of fruits. It’s still about progression, survival, and acquisition of life lessons to profoundly instill these to our future generation of seeds. It is also worthy to mention that whatever kind of tree or plant you are and what stage you reached, you still contribute to every being’s breath. Or if you don’t consider yourself as a plant but more of a gardener, you are still a life giver to the plant. Thus, everyone here is special, everybody gives and will always be part of the growth cycle.

Maybe some of you are wondering why I haven’t talked much about the industry, my personal and life experiences and other things about travel and tourism. That’s because my dear friends and everyone here, it has been a true-to-life understanding that just like the branches of a tree, we will not be landing on the same field and each of us will be walking on different paths. I would prefer to speak the growth of a peach tree because that’s how you students grew, that’s who you are and that’s how special and vibrant you peaches are. Actually, this message is even applicable to everybody regardless of what specialization they’re in. By the time comes, we get to realize what stage we are on a plant or tree’s growth. Duon natin malalaman kung nasa blossoming stage pa lamang tayo o nasa fruit or harvest phase na. I would also like to leave an inspiring sentence that I personally made just for this occasion and for this group, “A true peach is the one who reach and teach”. I hope you will all remember this when years have passed and you finally reached your dreams. Teach the young ones about what it takes to become a peach tree.

Lastly, I would also like everyone to know that peach fruits are heart-shaped and the inside is the color of joy, yellow. Therefore, we have the heart that proudly make us Filipino flag bearers representing the heartwarming character of our nation. Tunay nga naman na karapat-dapat nating isa-dibdib kasama ang ating mga kamay sabay sabi ang famous tagline ng Philippine Airlines, “The Heart of the Filipino”.

So continue to be liable, universal, exemplary and for being a proud peach. With all honor I say, congratulations AToMS and congratulations MMSU Batch 2023 - Tourism Graduates!”

A post-speech photo when I received the token from my alma mater. I was joined by the VPAA, College Dean, THM Department Chair with Faculty and Organization President with Adviser. Maraming salamat! ~ #ApplauseNCHeERs

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