White Island, Camiguin

Thank you Lord... :-)

Cagwait Beach, Surigao del Sur

Friday, March 23, 2018

SPEECH: 51st Commencement Exercises of San Antonio School



51st Commencement Exercises of San Antonio School
Message of Inspiration to the Graduates
by: Prof. Richard S. Celeste, MBM, REB


Greetings of Peace and Prosperity!!!

Reverend Bishop Nerio P. Odchimar, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Bishop of Tandag

Reverend Father Allan R. Fiel, School and Spiritual Director

Mrs. Myrna Salibay Delaluz, School Principal and one of my former teachers in Filipino.

Mr. Rosendo R. Daytol, GPTA President

Other school administrators. Please allow me to make a special mention: Mr. Diosdado S. Dagsa my former teacher in Trigonometry and Mathematics. Ginang Hyacinth Pascual-Espinoza my batchmate and former Binibining Wika.

Members of the faculty, staff, senior high school graduates, proud parents, my dear batchmates, my beautiful and loving wife Mary Joy and handsome son Baby Abraham, friends, ladies and gentlemen good morning.

It is indeed a privilege to be this year’s Commencement Speaker of San Antonio School, an academic institution which played a big part of what I am today. When Ma’am Salibay-Delaluz invited me via facebook, I readily said yes for two reasons: 1. It was a natural instinct for me to respond positively to the invitation. Time has come that my beloved Alma Mater through the able leadership of Mrs. Myrna would like to have me as the Guest Speaker and saying yes is my humble gesture of giving back to the academia. Then the second reason made me realize that we may not be successful in all aspects of our lives but we all have stories of challenges surpassed, achievements unlocked and strengths renewed; which, when shared creates a meaning to “at least one person” looking for some guidance and inspiration.  

My warmest congratulations to the pioneering batch of Senior High School graduates of San Antonio School. At long last you have succeeded the 2 more years added for your secondary education. Some of you might have complained why you needed to take Senior High School, but it is for you to be more equipped as you take a step closer to your bigger dream of getting a degree in college and/or getting employed the soonest time possible. The extensive and intensive exposure that you have in the academe have surely imbibed in you the necessary values and qualities for you to face another stage of your life. These values of persistence nga bisan kapoy moeskwela for 8 hours from Mondays to Fridays, milahutay gihapon kamo. Diligence na bisan sa kadaghan assignments, homeworks and projects, maumot og madasigon gihapon kamo sa pag submit sa inyo teachers. Being resourceful especially during monthly activities naa moy mabitbit like fruits, vegetables, decorative materials og uban pa. Patience na bisan 10 years na kamo ga skwela from elementary hantod grade 10, mapailubon gihapon inyo kasing kasing na mihuwat tapuson ang Grade 12. Time Management sa pagbansay bansay sa iyo oras unhon pagpaigo ang 24 hours a day na daghan requirements, exams og uban pang aktibidades inyo apilan. Being competitive sa sports, sa klase og sa mga kanta-kanta, sayaw sayaw og literary. Being compassionate and caring na tagaan nimo imo classmates og papel kay wala xa kadala, pati ballpen og even snacks during recess. Being religious, and all other values developed and strengthened all throughout your schooling. Let these values serve as your strong foundation because wherever you go and whatever you do, everything will be well. 

Another great blessing for your batch is the UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO QUALITY TERTIARY EDUCATION ACT or the Republic Act 10931 which was signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on August 3, 2017 and its full implementation in 112 State Colleges and Universities, 78 local college or university (LCU), or a state-run technical-vocational institution (TVI) will be this coming June 2018, the First Semester of Academic Year 2018-2019.  College students will enjoy Free tuition and all other school fees such as library fees, computer fees, laboratory fees, school ID fees, athletic fees, admission fees, development fees, guidance fees, handbook fees, entrance fees, registration fees, medical and dental fees, cultural fees and other similar or related fees.

Graduates, say to your seatmate. Swerte ta kay libre na atong college education.

Sa mga nanay, tatay, lolo, lola and relatives na misuporta sa mga bata, ingna imong katapad. Salamat sa Ginoo makalingkawas nata sa pang college sa atong mga anak, igsoon og apo. Lodging house, food and daily allowance dakan inyo preparahon puhon puhon.

I graduated high school last March 23, 2002 and a lot of questions bothered me at that time. Where will I spend my College Education. Will I ever go to College? Who would support my studies and will I ever make it? At one instance I overheard my parents discussing: “Hain nato paeskwelahon si Balanta? An ako kita sa habal-habal kay sakto da sa ato panginahanglan, my father said. “Magpatabang kita sa iya mga igsoon,” my mother replied. Tears flew silently from my eyes and I pitied myself. How can I fulfill my ambition of finishing a degree, of helping my parents and of making myself a role model to my nephews and nieces? Then the schedule to take College Entrance Test in MSU came and with my father’s hard-earned money which he placed in a piggybank/alkansiya allowed me try my luck in Mindanao State University. My father was too worried at that time that he insisted to have the 2,000 pesos be placed “alam niyo kung saan nilagay?” Yes under my briefs. Tinahi namin yon just to make sure that it won’t be snatched why I’m travelling and just imagine that it was a grueling 14 hours of travel from Aras-asan to Marawi City. Thanks to Lovella Mantilla for accompanying us. Salamat kadayaw Tay kay sa imo pagpaninkamot pag drive ng motor og pag ipon as alkansiya yakaabot ako ng MSU. Being far from my parents was really challenging on my part being the youngest in our family. Yeng2, my batchmate could well attest how we struggled during the early days of our stay in MSU, that every time we take a phone call appointment via Bayantel and PLDT, maghinalakay kami sa phone because of homesickness. I even told my parents that I will be going home and I will have my studies pursued at Surigao del Sur Polytechnic State College, now a state University. Without me knowing that my Nanay went to MSU just to fetch me (wala pa kasi kaming cellular phone that time, so I never had the idea of her arrival). I was actually on my way to my P.E. class and I really got surprised to see my mother right at the commercial center road. Later on I said, dili na ako modayon pag uli sa ato Nay. Padayon na ako pag skwela ngadi sa MSU. Hilak na pud ko when my mother went home. Thanks to Sir Brian, a very dear friend for convincing me to stay in MSU.

What I did then was to focus on my studies so I could overcome the loneliness I felt with my parents and I had a goal to finish schooling the soonest time possible so I could find a job and help my parents financially. That goal was so clear to me: Kinahanglan dali da ako makagraduate para makatabang na. True enough, I completed all the academic requirements in 3 years and a half, and eventually graduated with honors. My gratitude also goes to my Manang Mary Jane and Kuya Bobot who supported me in my college education.

So, the first life lesson that I would like to share to the graduates is to SET A GOAL! Setting a goal is a mental preparation of what you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have in the future. Your goals serve as the blueprint of your journey. According to Robert T. Kiyosaki – author of the renowned “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” – Goals have to be clear, simple and in writing. If they are not written and reviewed daily, they are not really goals. They are wishes. Wishes are just mere expressions and may not come true. Ladies and gentlemen, I encourage you to write all your plans in a goals book and review it daily because GOALS become powerful and attainable as you put it in writing and have it read daily. 

Second life lesson is: VISUALIZE YOUR FUTURE and Dream BigVisualization is the power of creating clear mental images of who you will become in the near future. Doing it enables you to think, speak and act as if you are already the person you have dreamed of. This is so powerful because you will be able to attract people who will help you achieve your goals. The universe will conspire to make your dreams come true. Many years back, I envisioned to have a family of my own. I never knew when, where and how, until God gave me my beautiful wife and He blessed us with Baby Abraham. J Sa mga graduates, you can have this vision but don’t make it a priority for now kay moskwela pa mo sa College puhon.

Third is: PRAY AND BELIEVE IN GOD. Saying a fervent prayer and believing in God will lead us to the realization of our dreams. Faith in God is a very powerful guiding force available to mankind because as we pray, we develop in us, a positive mental attitude – making us enthusiastic and motivated in dealing life.  My faith in God was made stronger when I happened to know this passage in Jeremiah  29:11 which has become my guiding verse. It goes this way, “for I know the plans I have for you ,declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Everything that has happened and will happen into our lives entail God’s plans, so patterned for our own good. As one author puts it: We all are tourists and God is our travel agent who already fixed all our routes, reservations and destinations. So trust God and enjoy the Trip called life.

Fourth: Believe in yourself and avoid negative people.
When you meet people who would tell you that you cannot do things, stay away from them because they can steal the passion in you. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That’s what makes you a winner (Venus Williams). I like Dr. Daniel Amen’s 18/40/60 rule: When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody else is thinking about you; when you’re 40, you don’t give a darn what anybody thinks of you; and when you’re 60, you realize nobody's been thinking about you at all. Surprise, surprise! Most of the time, nobody’s been thinking about you at all! They are too busy worrying about their own lives, and if they are thinking about you at all, they are wondering what your are thinking about them. People think about themselves, not you. Think about it. All the time you are wasting worrying of what other people think about your ideas, your goals, your clothes, your hair and your home could all be better spent on thinking about and doing things that will achieve your goals. (Excerpt from The Success Principles by Jack Canfield).

Another thing that I would like to emphasize is: Make it a habit to say I can, rather than maybe I can or I cannot. When you think you can, you awaken in your mind the power that can. This simply means that from the moment you think you can, you will realize that indeed you can really do it and certain forces will guide you to the realization of what you want. Thus, what your mind can conceive, your body can achieve. Also, what is your immediate reaction when you want something and the price seems too high. More often than not, we say I cannot afford it. But don’t you know that there is a better way of saying it. Just mention, HOW CAN I AFFORD IT. This question opens possibilities such as being able to raise that certain amount of money or somebody will give you some funds or simply someone will give you what you wanted.

Fifth is: GIVE BACK. Give back to your family, Alma Mater and Community. It is the best way to express our gratitude by helping others in many ways that we can. I got the chance to support my nephews and nieces in their schooling and I am hopeful that it will create a positive impact in our family. you can also get inspiration from the present situation in the community and from there we can extend help based on our ability and capacity. I have registered Negosyo Ta sa Mindanao in DTI which aims to empower the Mindanaoans to be enterprising. Any time soon, we will be conducting livelihood training, business development seminars and social media marketing workshops among others. Let us also not forget San Antonio School wherever life may lead us.

Before I end my speech, I would like to challenge the graduates: WHO WANTS THIS THESAURUS?

TAKE ACTION! Taking action is one of the most proven strategies to achieve your goals. It is the best way to succeed in life. Set aside the self-limiting beliefs and take one step at a time. The sooner you do it, the better. With your goals written out, make it real by taking a step one at a time. The task may be so daunting but don’t give up. Keep pushing forward until one day, you reach your dreams.  

Anytime soon, you may forget all these. Perhaps this is just one of the throwback moments you will have but I would like you to remember
the bonus lesson which is to take actions. As Ms. Fleire Castro, Founder and Owner of Third Team Media puts it, “Life is about being brave and taking that next shot at success.”

Congratulations again graduates and to your respective families for this remarkable milestone. To the school administrators, members of the faculty and staff, continue molding the students holistically because they will be among the ambassadors of peace and goodwill in Mindanao.

Mabuhay ang San Antonio School! Maraming salamat po.




Thursday, March 1, 2018

SPEECH: Grand Launching of Padian sa CBAA 2018 Opening Remarks




Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress and working together is success.

Greetings of Peace and Prosperity!!!

First Lady of the University System President, Madame Pamela Rehanna Biston Macaayong who is also the President of the MSU Botanical Gardens Society. 

Secretary of the University and of the Board of Regents, Hon. Usman D. Aragasi.

Presidential Management Staff Director, Ma’am Aliah P. Cali-Pascan

Other university officials in attendance.

Dean of the College of Business Administration and Accountancy and Chair of Padian sa CBAA 2018 Prof. Imara C. Andam. Assistant Dean, Prof. Roxan A. Tamondong, College Secretary, Mariz Jor M. Paler, Department Chairpersons Prof. Alcasar P. Maongco, Prof. Corazon M. Mangelen, Sir Hanafe L. Abdulmalik and Ms. Diana Ruth L. Bico who is also the Co-Chair of Padian sa CBAA 2018, College Extension Coordinator, Sir Halim M. Noor, fellow faculty, staff, students, ladies and gentlemen, today is Thursday, March 1, 2018 and welcome to the Grand Launching of Padian sa CBAA 2018. Today is also the official opening ceremonies of the weeklong celebration of the 55th College of Business Administration and Accountancy Founding Anniversary.


The Islamic City of Marawi has been dubbed as the economic center in Lanao del Sur because of its strategic location and the number of entrepreneurs and customers converging in the area for commercial transactions. The City has also been known for its rich cultural heritage and her people, the Meranaws are among the best producers of brassware, wood ornaments, malong, langkit and other clothes of distinct cultural designs and as well as their delectable Malay inspired cuisine.

When the City was besieged by ISIS-inspired Maute Group which started on May 23, 2017, the economy in the province was totally down with its commercial center greatly devastated and people’s livelihood hampered. Worstly damaged were 46 Barangays as well as the adjoining Municipalities where many residents have evacuated. The war which culminated in Butig and Piagapo has caused the exodus of her people in a massive number one can hardly imagine, leaving behind an irreversible economic loss. The siege lasted until October 27, 2017 and the extended crisis has had a severe impact in the livelihood of the many.

We thank God, Mindanao State University remained steadfast because of the unwavering commitment of the University officials headed by our strong-willed President Dr. Habib W. Macaayong who, together with his family, never left the campus to ensure that the constituents are safe and the academic stature of the university is well preserved. We can hardly imagine what Marawi City would be like without MSU and the pronouncement that MSU is Marawi City and Marawi City is MSU by no less than the City Mayor Atty. Majul Gandamra was never an understatement. True enough, MSU has initiated, organized and facilitated various activities to help the victims of the Siege. One notable example is the resumption of classes last August 2017 despite the ongoing battle in the Ground Zero. I salute the University administrators for their zeal and fervour to open classes despite the odds. Such a heroic move has made MSU all the more, the beacon of light and hope to the people of Marawi and hundreds of student hopefuls in Mindanao.


We all know that MSU has really done a lot for Marawi. While it is very true that the university has been instrumental in making the City thrive and flourish, there still remains a clarion call for a lasting peace and progress in Mindanao. It is a call for our collective action to empower the IDPs economically and financially. As CBAA celebrates its 55th Founding Anniversary, the faculty, staff, students and alumni converge and join hands in PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD DEVELOPMENT TOWARDS A LASTING PEACE AND PROGRESS IN MINDANAO. We firmly believe that it is one of the feasible and doable strategies to revive and awaken the passion of the IDPs to be productive and gain income through entrepreneurship. We believe that it will pave the way to a successful rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi because as people wait for the infrastructures to be in place, they are already earning an income initially enough for their daily needs and hopefully become more sufficient for their long term survival. Similarly, we are inspired with the famous saying on empowerment that goes Give a man fish and he will live for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he will live for a lifetime.”

Ladies and gentlemen, that is our rationale as we launch Padian sa CBAA 2018 today.

CBAA has always spearheaded PADIAN including Padian SA MSU for several years and every time we hold this, students and local entrepreneurs as tenants or participants share how happy they are serving customers and gaining profit at the same time. Padian is a strategic avenue where the produce of our fellows will be displayed for sale. Let us all patronize the products of our students and in the coming days and months the products of our IDPs from Marawi City.

In line with the theme, CBAA will also be conducting livelihood trainings to our IDPs such as sewing and Palapa Preservation among others. The College will also be assisting the IDPs in marketing their products to Iligan and other neighboring cities. We hope to have our Palapa have a longer shelf life with a presentable package so it would be a good advantage to make it highly saleable, thereby giving more income to our IDPs.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us join hands in strengthening the extension services of MSU not mainly because it is in preparation for our plans for Accreditation, but because we have a primordial responsibility to help our community thrive and flourish. Together we will promote, champion and support sustainable livelihood development towards a lasting peace and progress in Mindanao. And as the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Mabuhay ang CBAA! Mabuhay ang MSU! Mabuhay ang Marawi! Mabuhay ang Mindanao! 




Monday, November 27, 2017

NTC, telcos and amateur and civic radio groups offer “Libreng Text at Tawag” assistance to Marawi City evacuees



In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration last 17 October 2017 that Marawi City has been liberated from terrorist influence and DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s announcement last 23 October 2017 that combat operation in the City had been terminated, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued Office Order 179-10-2017 last 30 October 2017 instructing its Regional Office in Cagayan de Oro City, headed by its director, Engr. Teodoro Buenavista, Jr.,  to offer “Libreng Text at Tawag” services in evacuation centers for a period of seven (7) calendar days starting 31 October 2017.

The “Libreng Text at Tawag” services were located in five (5) evacuation centers in Iligan City:  Kanaway Evacuation Center, Tibanga; Sta. Elena Gymnasium, Sta. Elena; Buru-un School of Fisheries, Buru-un; Buru-un Gymnasium, Buru-un; and Maria Cristina Gym, Maria Cristina. In Cagayan de Oro City, the “Libreng Text at Tawag” services was offered in the Indahag Evacuation Center.
With the service, displaced families were able to inform their relatives, both here and abroad, of any further assistance needed.  The evacuees were also able to inform their loved ones of their safety and plans regarding their eventual return to Marawi City.  Reports say that more than 300,000 people were displaced by the conflict.
The “Libreng Text at Tawag” service included free NDD and overseas calls and was expanded to include other evacuation centers after its first week.  The NTC’s effort was implemented in cooperation with Globe, Smart and various amateur and civic radio groups, namely, Race9, ACTS Radio Club and KABALIKAT.
Here are some of the photos :)





Photo Credit: PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE

Friday, September 22, 2017

#FastingInADay Challenge made meaningful during Ramadhan



Born from an impoverished family in Aras-asan, Cagwait, Surigao del Sur, I took the risk of pursuing my college education at Mindanao State University Main Campus located in Marawi City. I must admit I had second thoughts to be at the campus because of the negative stigma tagged to the Islamic City of Marawi being a horrible place and home to a number of kidnappers, murderers, rebels and whatnot.

I could still remember the first time I experienced Ramadhan way back November 2002 as a first year student. I was deeply asleep when the firing of guns and other artificial explosives woke me up. I really thought there was an encounter between the rebels and the military, that I hurriedly went to our landlord to seek refuge and he gladly explained it’s a manifestation that the Ramadhan has commenced. (sighs). Thank God we are safe. More than the superficial signal is a deeper meaning of Ramadhan. It is a month-long fasting where participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and from having sex with their partners during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. This spurred my curiosity to closely observe Ramadhan and try fasting in a day with my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Sometime in July 2014, I finally had the chance to experience fasting during Ramadhan season. I was taught that a day before fasting, one must commit and set his mind to refrain from eating, drinking and other activities. This was my mental preparation that as early as 2 o’clock in the morning the following day, I was already awake to prepare for the suhoor - a meal before sunrise. Kuya Tommy our landlord was generous enough to welcome me in their home for a meal at 4:00AM. I ate some food, fruits and drink plenty of water. The first few hours of fasting was way manageable but I decided to stay at home resting when lunch time came and the need for water intensified. At 5:00PM, we gathered in one of the rooms of our college, did an ablution and performed a Maghrib prayer (fourth prayer of the day). After a series of preparations, we finally had our iftar – a meal that literally breaks the fast. It was like a feast of great food and drinks. Thanks to Sir Peepo and some of our students for the awesome meal. We then rested for a while and readied ourselves for the taraweeh – a night of prayer in a mosque. One of the things I learned while attending taraweeh was the equal treatment among the Muslims regardless of economic status.


We then went home at 10:00PM and my heart was filled with joy as I successfully surpassed #FastingInADay Challenge during Ramadhan Season. It was indeed a dream-come-true for me to experience how our Muslim brothers and sisters withstand the challenges of depriving themselves from eating or drinking after #suhoor and before #iftar. While having the desire to try is the first step to satisfy my curiosity, it was also a doorstep to learn important lessons in life. Being hungry and thirsty are two of the tests of faith, patience, endurance, humility and self-discipline among others. I'm simply amazed how Muslims manage to overcome the struggles in 30 days. Moreover, bowing down is truly a gesture of utmost reverence to our God. And above all, it's the realization that we actually have the same God (with different names) whom we put our trust and hope that everything will be well. Our sins will be forgiven if we are willing to repent and move away from the bad deeds. Thank you to Sir Tommy Disamburon for the provision during the suhoor, to Sir Peepo Disomimba Lucman who was readily willing to help me realize my desire for immersion, more so with coordinating with the Muslim students for the iftar and taraweeh, thank you so much Sir. Thank you also to the students who were equally willing to guide and teach me the basics of fasting. Thank you to those who in one way or another have made that day extraordinarily remarkable, unforgettable and meaningful. May Allah bless you a hundredfold :-) Thank you, thank you, thank you J

Sunday, January 22, 2017

IN PHOTOS: Lanao del Sur's Nature Trek and Marches

Staying in MSU since 2002, visiting Marawi city several times, going to the viewing deck of the cliff, fasting for a day and joining our brethren once in Tarawih during Ramadhan, taking a glimpse and swimming in the Lanao Lake made me think that it's everything I've got to see. Until I trekked down the hill for me to realize that there's a hidden beauty far from the hustle and bustle of the city where lush environment is all I could see: no trashes, no pressures, just a peaceful living. :)

Sometime in November 2014, I received an invitation from Lt. Colonel Bienvenido Alabot from the 1006th Community Defense Center to join the 1st Lanao del Sur's Nature Trek and Marches. I got excited because I really love exploring places and the thought of doing it in Marawi City is truly interesting.

The day has come and I woke up as early as 5:00AM because the assembly time was 6:00AM. With me was a colleague in the Marketing Department, Sir Ralph Buca. 

When we arrived at Campo Ranao, we were welcomed by this awesome view. :) 





The participants started gathering at the Campo Ranao Grounds.


And so the trek begins...
Sharing with you the photos as we explored Marawi and neighboring places in Lanao del Sur.

Sir Ralph Buca taking photos :)




Sir Buca enjoying the trek. :)














































It was a long and tiring day but my heart was filled with awe and gratitude. Indeed, Lanao del Sur is such a wonderful place. If only people from other places get to visit Marawi and explore its tourist attractions, one can realize that Lanao del Sur is not all about war, kidnappings and bombings. Thank you so much Sir Alabot for having us. :) God bless ;)

I'm looking forward to more adventures in Lanao del Sur :) Thank you Lord :)