Today you donned your graduation robe and mortarboard. I was the happiest person on the planet. Probably happier than you.
Today was the culmination of your four years of hard work. You have earned your Bachelor's degree in Hotel Management. Congratulations, Mickey!
My second college graduate. My youngest child. You are now a grown man, equipped with skills to make your mark in your chosen field.
Where did all the years go? It was just yesterday that you were a baby. Always quiet, forever content with a few toy cars and building blocks. You had your share of childhood accidents. That scar on your forehead will always remind you that jumping off a chair was never a good idea.
Did you know how much my heart broke when I left to work abroad? I remember you reached out to hug me before I went in the check in counter at the airport. I pinched your nose and ruffled your hair. I remember saying, "Be a good boy always." How I wished I could have said, "I love you" instead.
Remember the times we used to disagree when you showed lack of interest in your studies? That was when you were in high school. You kept telling me, "I don't want to go to school anymore. My classmates keep teasing me because I can't catch up with the lessons. My teachers keep screaming at me. I'm dumb. I'm not like my siblings. I'm just that. Dumb."
You are not dumb. It was just that time when your siblings were doing very well in school. I did not compare you with them. Each one of you is unique. I never lost hope. I knew we'd find a solution. It took three transfers to different schools before you finally found your confidence. The right school and a pair of prescription glasses and you were back on the right path.
Another four years after that, here we are, at the Philippine International Convention Center. My heart was full of joy as I watched you get up that stage and accept your diploma. To witness your graduation was enough to forget decades of working the graveyard shift to earn money for your education.
May I ask you for one thing? Just one thing.
Never forget the people who helped you to get to this day. No, they do not want you to repay them with material things. All they need is a heartfelt "Thank you for believing in me and supporting me through all these years."
Fly high, anak.