Graduation Reflections
Over a Cup of Tea
Heidi M. Pascual
Publisher & Editor
2006 Journalist of the year
for the State of Wisconsin
I have always had happy feelings and lots of excitement whenever I attend graduation ceremonies. But this one
really made me happier than usual, with a bit of worry though.

Recently, I attended the high school graduation of one of my beloved grandchildren, Kyle Frederick, in Quezon City,
Metro Manila, and like his parents, I was equally proud to see him graduate. It was a long 18 years of waiting, I am
sure, because Kyle is not the typical child in the clan who carries several distinction and awards at events like this.
Kyle never took education seriously until his last year in high school. A 6-footer young man at 18, Kyle preferred --
and still prefers -- to excel in the basketball court most times. Aside from his gadgetry and computer games, my
grandson loves good food and restful hours in the salon taking care of his physical assets. (His graduation photo
proves my point.) I am just glad and thankful that his parents can afford this boy’s life choices. For his college
education, he has been accepted at the Far Eastern University (FEU), and I heard he’ll take up culinary arts and
engage himself in basketball as a student aiming to participate in the popular sports game to represent FEU at
college tuition costs in Metro Manila’s private colleges! Kyle must think about his parents’ sacrifices to give him all that he needed in order to

Reflecting on Kyle’s graduation and his parents’ pampering, though, I thought about many other students who work so hard just to get an
education worthy of a good job.  Many are not that blessed in terms of having parents providing for all their needs, but I am sure of one thing—
these students would be very capable to face the real challenges of the world after school. I know of a lot of students who never experienced being
spoon-fed in their lives, but who have succeeded in their careers and many of them have become leaders of our country.

I remember my mother who gave her children the best advice ever, “Study hard and graduate; that’s your passport out of poverty.”  But that was not
all that she wanted her children to do! She hated procrastination and idleness. She would say, “If you can walk, you can work.” She also wanted
kids to be respectful of others and to follow the golden rule at all times. As a former public school teacher, my late mom knew that the hardships of
students and their parents could only be rewarded by outstanding school achievements and exemplary character marked by good traits,
particularly industry, persistence, patience, and love of God.

For parents who experienced poverty in their youth and are now well-off, the tendency is to never allow their children to experience the same
hardships they had. In so doing, however, they mold their children to grow lazy. In many households here in the Philippines, we have domestics
doing the work which should otherwise be done by family members, or be useful to train kids—like washing dishes, cleaning floors, gardening,
feeding the dog/s, polishing furniture, washing and cleaning the car and garage, or folding blankets. I know because I am guilty of this. My three
kids were used to having maids serving them! It was probably pure luck and blessing that all of them graduated from college and the two oldest
ones landed good paying jobs thereafter. I guess what I’m saying is, as parents, we should train our kids to do household chores and to be good
persons, in addition to requiring them to study hard to get good education. A wholesome personality, coupled with industry and diploma, would
definitely push our kids ahead, fast and surely.

Another thing to reflect upon is to ask ourselves, are we training our kids in such a way as to help them grow spiritually healthy? Maybe this is
something arguable, especially among many who believe in freedom of belief for grownups. But I’m talking about kids growing up to shape their
own beliefs. Upon high school graduation, our kids are considered adults already, so whatever they have learned in terms of their spirituality, that’s
about it. What I want to say on the matter is, education also includes learning about beliefs. I wish to again reflect on my mom’s example. She was
very active as a church worker in the Catholic Church. So she didn’t need to tell me where to spend my weekends. Well, since I have always been
an obedient child in those days, I joined the church choir and became a regular organist at  daily and Sunday masses. I’d say that music, in a way,
took me closer to the church, which shaped my basic spiritual belief as a Christian. I must admit, though, that as an open-minded individual, I
learned to accept other beliefs and friends from them, believing that God created them as well, not only Christianity and Christians, and many of
them are very good and kind individuals, even much more admirable and respectable than some Christians I personally know.

Before I digress farther from my topic, let me stop here and go back to Kyle.

Graduation truly is a life event that marks another beginning, a new chapter in a person’s journey, which, for the most part, would involve himself
as the major decision maker to shape his own destiny. As an adult starting to own and chart his path, my grandson would face a lot of challenges.  
I could only pray so hard that he build upon the love that his parents showered him, learn from his weaknesses, and focus on his strong, good
traits from then on. His future would depend on how he handles stresses and solves problems, with or without his parents behind his back.
(L-R) Kyle's graduation photo; Kyle poses with his parents; with his grandma
University Athletic Association of the
Philippines’ (UAAP) competitions.

I salute Kyle’s  mom and dad for everything
they had done to keep this boy in school. Kyle’
s mom (my daughter Sherry), despite her very
busy work schedule, consistently looked after
her son’s school work and performance, and
had constant conversations with his teachers
whenever Kyle’s grades seemed to reach
“unacceptable” levels. I know that Kyle spent
a number of extra summer classes in order to
pass some major subjects, and it always
cost more money in a private school.  Indeed,
Kyle’s tuition in high school was as high as