Learning as Walking

(Homily delivered during the Academic Orientation at the Opening of the School Year)

The activity that you are having today is aptly known as the Freshman Walk. This is of course a symbolic gesture in your life as students – that you consider your stay here in the university as a journey. Hence, you need to walk. You must walk.

I find walking more profound than any bodily movement. Running connotes rush. Learning is no rush. Otherwise, it is already cramming. Jogging implies leisure. I am sure, most of the time you would not find your classes as leisure. I think, walking captures best the motion of learning. Walking is constant. It is continuous. Walking too suggests pondering. When you see somebody walking back in forth, you could sense that he/she is in deep thoughts and is up for a big decision. Once a philosopher had said: “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

As you indeed walk. Let me offer you some guideposts along the way. Consider this as coming from somebody who has walked before you. Or, as from somebody who would be walking beside you.

I offer just three guideposts to make it to the world of learning and meaning: Honesty, Hard Work and Passion.
Every first class that I have, as a sort of orientation, I always emphasize- “Honesty alone will make you pass this subject.” Yes, that is the only requirement I badly need. Or should we say, the only requirement that we all badly need? I am not impressed by your good grades, neither by your medals and diplomas. Impress me with your character. There had been honor students before us, but they were dishonest. They become monsters of graft and corruption. There had been bright scholars, but they turned out to be cheaters. Hence, we could say that what the world actually needs today are honest people. This generation suffers from scarcity of decent men and women.

I have already counseled countless marriages. Believe me, the number one problem is dishonesty. Cheating. A student who cheats in the classroom will most likely be a cheater in any relationship. Kaya, kung may nanliligaw sa yo tapos alam mo na nangongopya kapag exam, maawa ka sa sarili mo, basted na agad yan! At kung may crush ka na babae tapos napansin mo na parang mahilig gumawa ng codigo, wag mo na syang ligawa. Sakit lang ng ulo yan! E, hindi nga sya honest sa papel sa exam, papapel pa ba sya sa buhay mo? Never!

I guess, the traditional practice still holds very true for everybody- Honesty is the best policy. It will always be the best policy.

The second unsolicited advice is Hard Work. The great Albert Einstein had said: “None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Indeed, studying and success is all about perspiration. It is about thesis and sleepless nights. It is about copying on your notebooks and not just photocopying. Xerox pa more! It is about waking up early in the morning to beat the rush of the traffic. It is about beating the deadlines of submissions of research papers. It is about grueling memorization. With all these and more, you have no choice but to perspire.

From now on, consider inspiration as nothing. I beg to disagree now with Einstein. Success is 100 percent perspiration and nothing of inspiration. What is inspiration after all? Inspiration is a kind of push for you to accomplish something. I dare say, that the only inspiration allowed would be the deadline! When you know that the deadline is fast approaching that for you is the push that you need. Deadline is my push, my only inspiration.
Do not get me wrong though, that is of course to drive home the point about what truly matters – hard work.

Lastly, passion. This is not the least though. Passion is love. Love of study. Love in what you do. It is also loving your goals. It is about loving your classmates and mentors too.

In terms of love in school, how do you look at your classmates? Do you consider him/her as your companion on your journey or as a rival? A threat? Nauunahan nya na ako sa ranking a, guguluhin ko pag iisip nya. Bibigyan ko sya ng boyfriend! Mas matataas na quizzes nya kesa sa akin, isasama ko sya sa gimmick. O kaya, I chat ko na sya lagi sa Messenger. Is this the kind of love we show to our classmates? How about loving our professors too? Do we consider him/her as mentor or as tormentor? Do we always look at our professors as terror? If that is the case, you will always be frightened. You could not study well. And I think, the university is not a place for frightened and threatened people. It is for loving people. Finally, studying is also love of those who pay for your tuition fees! Maawa kayo sa nagpaparal sa inyo. While there are now freebies in education, still marami pa rin ang hindi libre sa mundong ito. Do not waste time. Do not waste energy. Do not waste money. Love your studies.

Indeed, as you begin to walk today, consider these three. I guess, this is good enough. Hetong tatlo ang babaunin nyo, hindi lamang sa pag-aaral, gayun din sa tunay na buhay – Honesty, Hard Work and Passion.

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