UPCA 2017 Valedictory Address

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Last Sunday, I was granted the greatest of  honor of standing before the graduating class of the UP Diliman College of Architecture, and sending them off with pieces of hope and gratitude carefully woven into the seven-minute speech. I’m sharing my composition here for posterity (and publication convenience).


Two days after his thesis deliberations, a close friend of mine told me that he immediately started looking for career alternatives. I’m looking at you right now, and I’m telling you that you are not completely alone in how you feel.

I don’t mean to start this speech off on a negative note, and I certainly don’t mean to alarm our proud parents on this happy occasion, but the reality is this: we are straddling the threshold between the relatively predictable life of a student, and the chaotic volatility of life outside our beloved college. It’s way too easy to get lost in our heads, and caught up with doubts and fears at this point. We suddenly end up being so cautious of every step we take, and worry that the choices we make now can miserably chain us to a life we don’t want.

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there are days when I feel
as if I am a lonely interlude

squeezed between
the verses of your life

a mere intermission
lacking depth and tone

drawing out perfection
into a careless medley

i struggle to be heard
over the nymphs and sirens

who gloriously sing
the sweet melody of your name

but the harder I try
the deeper my voice cracks

twisting lyrics into
desperate cries for attention

Making Peace with 2016


2016 started out rather auspiciously for me. I was in a crowded Spanish plaza, eating grapes (as per tradition), popping champagne bottles, and taking selfies with festive locals who were randomly hugging and kissing strangers. It was a good start to a seemingly good year — but I was equally as far away from home as I was from reality.

The events that followed soon after we got home from our Spanish excursion were quite troublesome and unfortunate. Needless to say, 2016 turned out to be a severely hostile year for me (and for the entire world, in general).

Being an extremely sentimental person, however, I’ve decided to make peace with 2016 and move on to 2017 with nothing but gratitude for all that went right and for the lessons from all that didn’t.

So this 2016, I am thankful for…

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