by Heidi M. Pascual
Graduation reflections
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 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 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 graduate.

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
(L-R) My grandson Kyle with his parents; Kyle and me
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
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
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.