MANILA -- Determination, hard work, curiosity, optimism and gratitude -- these are the five traits young people should have in order to be successful in life, according to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
Santiago was the commencement speaker of the high school department of Rogationist College in Silang, Cavite on Saturday.
In her speech, she said despite her being sick with chronic fatigue syndrome and Cavite being far from her home in Quezon City, she still chose to come to Rogationist College "because I know that here...I will see God's light shining down on the poor."
She noted that Rogationist students have become champions in various sports such as swimming, Taekwondo, lawn tennis, chess, basketball, and volleyball. They have also excelled in academic contests such as quiz bee, essay writing, extemporaneous speaking, mathematics, the Bible, speech choir, and science, she added.
"Hence, I am not only proud to be with you, I am feeling almost embarrassed and intimidated. You are an inspiration for hard work, the will to win, and the love of God," she said.
The 5 traits towards success
According to Santiago, young people now "constitute a promise of the future of our country." Thus, they should have all the necessary traits in order for them to succeed, she said.
"Learn from my generation, and do not repeat our mistakes. Be the best leaders our country deserves," she told the graduating students.
Now that they will be facing a new world as college students, Santiago reminded them that that may experience hardships.
But do not be dismayed, she told them, as "success eventually comes to those who are determined and hardworking."
"Sipag" and "tiyaga" are the first two important traits they should always have, she said.
"Not everything can be accomplished by intelligence alone. You need perseverance, motivation, and discipline to reach your full potential."
"Successful students are also those with aligned ambitions. This means that they know what they want to become when they grow up, and know how to get there. They also maximize the resources they have. For example, they join organizations in schools, run for student council, engage in sports, or apply for scholarships. Libre lang ang mangarap, but dreaming will get you nowhere if you do not work for it," she added.
Aside from determination and hard work, another trait the youth must have in order to become successful in life is curiosity, which Santiago described as having a zest for life and learning.
She urged students to study something that tickles their curiosity.
"It means questioning your surroundings in order to learn more from it. To be curious also means to learn beyond the assignments that are given to you and to learn beyond the four walls of the classroom. Be the wide-eyed explorer who continues to thirst for knowledge and experience," she said.
Another trait a successful teen must possess is optimism, which she said is not a common problem since Filipinos are usually hopeful.
But being optimistic does not only mean being hopeful, she said, it also means being open to the opportunities given to you.
"It means saying yes to life and its challenges, and showing courage in the face of adversity. Optimism also means being confident in yourself. Magtiwala ka sa sarili mong kakayahan. Huwag pangunahan ang sariling takot," the senator said.
The fifth trait the young people must have is gratitude. She said the youth should always acknowledge other people who played crucial roles in their successes -- family, friends, teachers and mentors.
"These people help you stay rooted on the ground, but help you grow by nurturing your self-esteem. Without them, you would not be who you are now," Santiago said.
"To summarize, in order to be successful, you should be a hard worker, motivated, and willing to seize opportunities. You should also ask questions, be involved in activities, and have a strong support system," she added.
Resilience vs tolerance
Meanwhile, Santiago also trumpeted the trait Filipinos are known for -- resiliency or "katatagang loob."
She said even the biggest disasters could not dampen the Filipino spirit. Despite hardships, the Filipino people could easily bounce back from a bad situation.
"We, Filipinos, after all, are a nation of strong people. We are known as 'the great survivors' and have been compared to the bamboo, which stands strong and proud but bows when the wind blows hard."
"We follow the saying, 'That which does not kill me, makes me stronger,'" she said.
But Santiago also pointed out that the public should not confuse resilience with tolerance.
"Huwag tayong maging kampante at isabahala na lamang sa Diyos o sa gobyerno ang mga problema natin. Tandaan, mainam na bumangon tayo sa bawat pagkadapa, pero dapat matuto tayong huwag madapa muli," she said.
Participating in national issues
The senator then urged the students to participate in the country's political affairs, saying one is "never too young to make a difference."
She cited as an example the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam that has rocked the whole nation. The anomaly allegedly involved several lawmakers and government officials.
She said the youth should "shame" the politicians involved and never vote for them in the next elections.
"You will be inheriting this country along with its problems. Before these problems can get any worse, be concerned, do something about them."
"Be angry at these politicians who stole the taxes you and your parents pay. When you reach the voting age, which is 18, do not vote for them. Instead, shame them now. Take your campaign to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Post your grievances on these politicians' walls. Tweet them your disappointments. Eventually, these politicians will shed their thick hides because of the shame, and reveal themselves to be spineless pathetic creatures," she said.
"A nation is only as strong as its people. Do not subscribe to the bahala na attitude and allow things to go with the flow. For evil to triumph, it is enough for good men to do nothing," Santiago added.