Lorenzo Quiogue's valedictory address to AHS Class of 2013
Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, Fr. Anthony Pabayo, Mr. Gabriel F. Mallillin, members of the Board of Trustees, administrators, teachers, parents, guests, and fellow graduates, a pleasant evening to all of you.
It’s quite surreal to think that after four years, dozens of projects, hundreds of long tests, and over a thousand quizzes, we find ourselves here today, about to formally close this chapter of our lives. To use a math analogy, for four years, we were like asymptotes, getting closer and closer to the axis but never really reaching it, and today, we finally cross that axis. It’s a testament to who we are as people that we are here today, about to walk up the stage. It’s not about the diploma, but it’s about what the diploma symbolizes – that we completed the seemingly Sisyphean climb, and we did it together.
It’s hard to believe that after tonight, we will no longer be students of the Ateneo de Manila High School. We all know that letting go was never meant to be easy, and once we exit these covered courts, these halls and classrooms that have become such a big part of our lives will soon be reduced to memories.
Jean-Baptiste Massieu once said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart,” and as we look back on our journey throughout high school, we’ll always be grateful for everything – for the lessons we learned, for the experiences we underwent, and for the relationships we formed. How can any of us forget the madness along EDSA during our KFD, or the Palig competitions where everyone suddenly rose to the occasion, or the class retreats when people opened up and shared secrets that will never see the light of day? These memories are what define us as a batch, and I know that once we all go our separate ways, we’ll always have these memories to hold on to.
There’s a certain duality between “goodbye” and “thank you”; we even acknowledge this duality in the classroom every day when we say goodbye to our teachers. Today, as we bid our final goodbye to this school, I know that we also feel a deep sense of gratitude, one that tries to encompass all four years of high school. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I am absolutely overwhelmed by this gratitude, and I know that each and every person we encountered here in high school contributed in a big way to who we are today. Truly, we are all blessed to have been given this opportunity to study in this school, and I know we’ll always be thankful for it.
Before I end, I know that we all feel the need to acknowledge everyone who played a big role in our journey over the past four years, so on behalf of the entire batch, I’d like to thank all of them. First, I’d like to thank God for leading us down this road. Everything that happened in the past four years was part of His divine plan; every day, I continue to be amazed by His wonders, and I think I can say that for all of us.
I’d like to thank our classmates; these people have been our brothers over the past four years; and I know that our bond is one that will last a lifetime. I’d like to thank the other people we attended classes with, like the different sections in PE, and the pull-out classes for certain subjects; we spent many, many happy days with each other. I’d like to thank the Sanggu-HS and all the councils and committees we joined; you guys really taught us what service is all about. I’d like to thank all the people we were grouped with for different events – the groups for the Freshman’s Day and the summer CAT flights to name a few - for helping us gain a new appreciation for this wonderful batch that we are graduating with. I’d like to thank our teammates on the various academic and sports teams for helping us represent this school that we love so dearly. I’d like to thank our orgs, for giving us the chance to express and discover ourselves and to learn about leadership, and I’d like to thank our teachers for always guiding us and giving us extremely valuable life lessons that I know we’ll never forget.
Finally, I think the ones I’d like to thank the most are the 570 other people that make up this graduating batch of students. It’s been an absolute honor and a privilege to go on this journey with you, and when it comes to friends, to borrow a line from the band Vertical Horizon, you guys are truly the best I’ve ever had.
I know that wherever our lives may lead us in the future, we’ll never, ever forget what it truly means to be an Atenean. I know that we’ll always be proud of this amazing school, and I know that we’ll always be thankful for the opportunity we received; that opportunity to wear that seal on our chest each and every day. Above all, however, I know that we’ll never lose the meaning of those four letters that we scribbled at the top of every test paper: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
Maybe, one day, we’ll all meet again; I hope and pray that when that happens, we’ll flash each other a knowing smile, a smile of appreciation for everything that we’ve been through. I hope that the memories will come flooding back, and I hope that we’ll think back to the four wonderful years that we spent together. However, until that day comes, I can’t help but remember a prayer I learned from Mrs. Rica Bolipata-Santos last summer, a prayer inspired by a particular passage from the Bible, and a prayer I’d like to share with all of you today. Until we meet again, I pray most of all that the Lord may keep us together, even when we are apart.
Goodbye, good luck, and Godspeed. Congratulations, thank you and good evening to all of you.