Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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What Graduation Means to Me and to
Most Filipinos
It would seem a given that when a family successfully
produced a number of college graduates among their
children, their economic status improves radically. In our
culture, older children who graduate and are able to earn
a living are obliged by parents to help finance the
education of their younger siblings. It is therefore
common for a family to boast often that their children
have earned college degrees “through the parents’ hard
work and gratitude/support of older children.”

The goal to complete education –and pursue post-
graduate degrees in many cases—is the number one
aim of any Filipino parent. This is why many of our
parents seek jobs abroad to earn more and finance their
kids’ education through college. Our parents are obliged
to do this, unlike in other countries where children who
have finished high school are required to finance their
own college education by working. No, Filipinos feel they
have to make sure their kids earn a degree first before
letting them go face the world and its challenges. (In
many instances, however, kids still live with their parents
even after their college graduation and are already
working!) Filipinos are clannish, and parents shower
their children with all they have ... and there’s no deadline
as to when the family-support arrangement ends.

These days, there are lots of celebrations in the country,
because annual graduation rites have begun. There are
lots of tears of happiness among parents who really
struggled to send their kids to school, and whose kids
excelled and brought home the bacon, despite lack of
resources. Many of these children come from far-flung
barrios and walked miles to reach school!  I also salute
our parents who are OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers)
who are equally happy for their graduating children, but
who couldn’t come home to celebrate with them because
of their job contracts.

Congratulations to all our graduates and parents! Your
hard work, perseverance, and confidence in yourselves,
and most importantly, your faith in God, made all these
happen! Good luck!
As a child growing up in a slowly developing country, I was exposed early on to a culture that gives primary focus on education as the main goal
that ensures economic well-being and a respected status in society. While girls used to be denied the opportunity to study or reach college during
the colonial periods under Spain and the United States of America, that was no longer so after World War II and especially after the victory of the
feminist movement in the ‘60s. Filipinos quickly began to embrace the idea that women and girls have equal rights as men.

I was fortunate to also have a mother who was herself a teacher in a local elementary school during the day, and a steno-typing instructor at night.
She taught her children, through her example, that poverty is not a reason to remain uneducated. My late mother was an orphan at 14 taking care
of two younger siblings, yet she was able to send herself to college and earn a degree. It was because of her determination and hard work, she
used to say.

I remember the close supervision of my mother and her daily reminder to me to be the best I can be in the classroom.  She would check my
homework, give feedback on my work, especially my essays or special projects.  I wasn’t just doing well in academics; I was also excelling in
extra-curricular activities, such as in public speaking, oration, declamation, journalism, and music (folk dancing and singing). In all these, I have
to give credit to my mother, my coach. She would often say that a completely well- cultured Filipino has an exceptional brain, a talent for the arts
and music, and a beautiful, well-liked personality. I didn’t have them all in abundance, but I’m sure I got a little of each of them.

Recently, our high school batch celebrated our Golden Jubilee, and it was wonderful to see former classmates whose professional, sociopolitical
and economic successes raised the hopes of younger generations in our province and municipality.

Graduation  means a lot to Filipinos in general. It is seen as a measure of success of the student and his/her parents. It is the foundation of any
career, and the door that will lead to bigger challenges and successes. In many places hiring professional people, college graduates are
preferred because they are considered better  prepared for jobs and more knowledgeable in their fields than those who do not have degrees.
With added work experience and skills training, college graduates end up heading companies and/or government agencies.