Veteran writer Ricky Lee found value in a college degree and finally received a diploma after over 5 decades of a stellar career.
The 72-year old new degree holder is multi awarded film and television scriptwriter, book author, and writing mentor. He is known as the writer of highly acclaimed film “Himala” which bagged awards for the film and for actress Nora Aunor.
Lee was awarded with a Doctorate in Humanities Honoris Causa by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
The commencement speaker delivered his speech before an estimated 3,000 graduates, families, and academicians gathered at the PICC in May.
“Akala ko di na ako gagraduate. Ilang dekada ko rin itong hinintay. Masasabi ko na ngayong graduate na ako. Nakatoga pa,” Lee said to the crowd.
Lee proceeded to deliver his graduation speech in true storyteller fashion. His recollections and anecdotes were full of dramatic twists.
In the speech transcript published in full by ABS-CBN, Ricky Lee had three insights he shared to the new graduates.
1. The world does not owe you anything.
Ricky Lee advises the new graduates to shun the belief they are entitled to easily receive good things.
“Tinanggap ko na, na sa buhay na ito ay laging hindi kompleto ang silya. Hindi nakaabang ang mundo para ibigay sa’yo ang lahat ng kailangan mo. Hindi ka entitled.
You have to be resourceful. You have to work hard. Kailangan mong pagtrabahuhan ang kulang na silya,” says Lee as he draws lessons from his life journey from being a student in the 70s struggling to complete his studies.
The empty chair he refers to has a backstory that represents fulfilling dreams and aims.
Highschooler Lee left Bicol to study at the University of the Philippines to become a teacher. He stayed with provincemates in a house that lacked chairs.
Lee took on several jobs to support his studies. He eventually dropped out of school to join the protest movement against Martial Law.
Lee then joined the movies as a writer, and achieved his dream of being a teacher as he conducted free writing workshops.
2. You are not perfect.
The veteran writer tells the youth to accept they are not expected to know everything.
“Hindi mo kailangang maging perpekto. Hindi mo kailangang labanan ang sarili mo, o pantayan ang iba. You are never worthless. Just be yourself. Langoy lang nang langoy, lipad lang.”
Lee directs the young audience to not mind making mistakes. He tells them to keep working hard to achieve dreams.
“Hindi baleng mabigo ka na ipinaglalaban ang mga pangarap mo, kesa nabigo ka nang hindi man lamang dahil sa mga ito.”
Ricky Lee reveals how despite being an honor student throughout elementary and high school, and a university scholar at UP, he had an inferiority complex.
But he learned to accept life’s challenges, like the need to revisehis writing over and over again.
Lee says his current successes are founded on several failures from which he arose.
3. Get involved.
Ricky Lee sacrificed his dreams and opted to leave school to join the movement against Martial Rule in the country.
He fought for his beliefs and encourages the young to fight battles to help others and society.
“Ang buhay na hindi inilaan sa kapakanan ng iba ay parang lantang gulay o bilasang isda na walang nakinabang.
Magtanong ka kung anong maitutulong mo. Magkaroon ka ng boses. Ng opinyon. Mundo mo ito. Di ka parang hanging nagdaan lang. Mag-iwan ka ng marka.
‘Yang hawak mong diploma, para ‘yan sa iba, hindi ‘yan para sa’yo.”
Ricky Lee shares how he realized his sacrifices to help others made his life more meaningful.
WATCH the video of Ricky Lee’s graduation speech.
With reports from Marclee Agustin.
What do you think about Ricky Lee’s advice to the Filipino youth? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
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