Atenista Ako!

Eight years ago, I was made to sit in front of a committee searching for the 2005 graduation speaker. The chairperson of the team asked me a very striking question: “What is your edge over the other candidates?”

I was silent for about a minute. I could not answer the question right away. It was surprising to hear it. Perhaps, it was because I never had a chance to answer such a question. In my almost 20 years of being an Atenean, that was the first time I was asked to sell myself and perhaps brag and say “I’m better…you should choose me”.

Although I tried to answer the question in the best way I could, I must admit it was not as flashy or witty as anyone would expect it to be. I could not blame myself; aside from being informed about the contest just the night before (I had to sleep at three in the morning to finish writing my graduation speech proposal), I never had a chance to be in a “search” before — not even a simulated one which could have happened in one of my English classes before.

I could not point out everything that I did. I usually just let them pass and be happy about the deed. I could have bragged about my achievements (little or big), but I could not remember all of them. All I could remember were the more recent ones and especially those that I did regularly. Actually, I just don’t like to talk about my achievements — the Ateneo teaching which taught me to just give and never count the cost must have sank deeply into my system. Hence, I ended up answering the question in a very general tone, not proudly said, unconvincingly.

I must say I could not forget the experience. I wasn’t satisfied with my answer. But if given a chance again, I would end my answer this way:

“…I would rather that you choose me not because I am better or greater than the other candidates but rather because I have lived the Ateneo way.”

*Atenista ako means “I’m an Atenean!”


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