Persons for Others: Xavier HS celebrates student awardees in the Annual Reading of Honors

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Photos in this article are from the XS Media Team

The annual Reading of Honors joins the revival of traditional Xaverian celebrations as fully onsite classes return. Despite inclement weather, the student body, teachers, administrators, and parents filled the High School Gym and bore witness to the event, Aug. 14. 

Present among the attendees were School President, Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ; High School Principal, Mrs. Ma. Theresa Ladrido; Assistant Principal for Academics JHS, Mr. Paolo Suapengco; and Assistant Principal for Academics SHS, Ms. Maricel Ngo.

The ceremony began with an invocation led by the school’s Campus Minister, Fr. Felipe Yohan Jr., SJ. Once this was over, Mrs. Ladrido welcomed the many attendees with her opening remarks. To align with the recognition of student awardees, she succinctly emphasized the value of competence and personal development in her speech.

Following the opening remarks was the presentation of both the Magis and Xavier Awardees led by Mr. Suapengco and Ms. Ngo respectively. As with any Reading of Honors ceremony, the awardees were individually called up on stage to receive their awards.

Shortly after their recognition, Mr. Jean Pierre Reniva introduced the event’s official guest speaker, Mr. Katipunan Ryan Delos Reyes, ‘17 — a former Student Council President and Football Team Captain.

Delos Reyes began his speech by reminiscing about his student life at Xavier and recalling his own struggles. “I think the Reading of Honors is essentially like reading a chapter of a book. The awards we receive are the book itself; it’s the outcome and ending of the story, it’s the hard-bound, 200-page finished product that’s displayed on the shelf for many others to see and be inspired by,” he said.

Following this, Delos Reyes shared his experience as an aspiring college athlete. Securing a slot in the UAAP lineup in his rookie year, he was well on his way to fulfill his dream of playing for the UP football team. This dream of his was abruptly cut short by a knee injury, putting the promising athlete out of games for over a year. 

Delos Reyes’s life then took a different direction: together with his co-members, he founded a marketing education and excellence hub geared toward educating Filipinos on the power of marketing as well as setting up a marketing consultancy. He mused the importance of self improvement and adaptability when pursuing his own goals. 

“Again, the original achievements I set out for myself were not met. But the drive and purpose behind what I was working towards shined bright and led me beyond what I imagined,” he asserted.

Delos Reyes ended his speech remarking how his collective experiences, most especially those as a student at Xavier, instilled the foundation that would pave the way for his present and future self to thrive.

“Life is a long and continuous journey that goes well beyond the years on this campus – learning more, becoming more, and doing more. Whether we have official awards today or not, we are all working towards some destination in life, whether we know clearly what that is now or not. But it’s important to keep on with the journey, day by day, and see how it brings out the best version of you.”

The presentation of the annual academic awards followed, with Physical Education Department Chairperson, Mr. Peter Uyengco, presenting the Grades 7 and 8 awardees; Christian Life Education Department Chairperson, Ms. Lou Mesina, for the Grades 9 and 10 awardees; and International Baccalaureate Program Coordinator, Mr. Exxon Yu, for the Senior High School awardees.

To conclude the ceremony, Fr. Ari Dy, SJ gave his closing remarks, congratulating the many student awardees and motivating the rest of the student body to strive for the same level of excellence. This was then followed by the singing of the Xavier School Song.

To read the entire transcript of Mr. Delos Reyes’s speech during the event, here it is:

Fr. Aristotle Dy, Xavier School President; Mrs. Ma. Theresa Ladrido, HS Principal; as well as our HS Assistant Principals, Administrators, Faculty and Staff, Parents, Guests, Awardees, and my felloXaverians – good morning and thank you for having me.

There are several things I can think of saying in this Annual Reading of Honors, but I’ll start by saying this 
– coming home to Xavier School has always been one of my greatest privileges in my life as an alumnus. It energizes me to recall the journey that I started here many years ago, and often I find myself looking back at my Xavier life to look ahead to the rest of my life – because I am not who I am today without what I had gone through here. And when I think of Xavier School, there are a couple of things that I’m reminded of. I’m reminded of the sweet victory of a championship that a team worked years for, but also of the pain and inconvenience brought by repetitive injuries from games. I’m reminded of a happy fair celebration that an entire batch poured their heart into planning, but also of cancelled events and urgent shifting of priorities towards relief operations for a natural calamity. I’m reminded of awards and honors granted for academic standing and achievements, but also of failed semestral tests and late nights up finishing a project. Like many of you, my journey has been one with highs and lows – and looking back, I would not have had it any other way.

That is perhaps what the Reading of Honors symbolizes to me as I reflect at my time as a high school 
student not too many years ago. At first, I saw this annual event purely as a moment of recognition – a time to be congratulated by my friends and batchmates for the achievements I would receive as an honor student, or to make important figures in my life such as my parents, teachers, and mentors happy for my success. It was also an event to be inspired – whether it was by hearing from talks of guests invited, or by seeing other awards earned by fellow students and thinking “hey, I want to be able to do that, too.” After all, I did put in the hard work and sacrifice to get good grades, perform well in and out of the classroom, and strive for excellence in all activities. It wasn’t an easy journey though, I encountered difficult classes, failed a couple of exams, pulled off a few all-nighters, and had to sacrifice a lot to be able to balance everything I needed to. But it was only in retrospect that I started to get a clearer view of what this event really meant for me, and particularly, what these awards really meant to me. I think the Reading of Honors is essentially like reading a chapter of a book. The awards we receive are the book itself; it’s the outcome and ending of the story, it’s the hard-bound, 200-page finished product that’s displayed on the shelf for many others to see and be inspired by. But behind each book and behind each award are individual pages that collectively build the story of a journey. The shiny medals and glossy certificates I’ve received are still displayed at home, while the moments of walking up on stage to be recognized and achievements on my resume remain to be evidences of success. But the real treasure that I hold onto is the journey I’ve taken to get me there – it’s the 200+ individual pages of that I had written between each Reading of Honors, where I learned about myself, grew beyond what I thought I could be, and wrote the book that is my life. More and more, I’ve seen how it isn’t just the destination or the awards that matter – but just as much is the journey we took to get there, and how that journey shapes us every day into the best version of ourselves. To give you some idea of how this worked out for me, I’d like to share 2 short stories from my journey after Xavier that brought me a step closer to my best self.

For all my life, I had dreamed of playing in the UAAP. When I graduated Xavier a few years ago and 
joined the UP football team, I had the chance to make that dream a reality. For months I trained with the team, got exposure in important games, and learned from my coaches and teammates. After the first semester, I was delighted to find out I would soon be included in the lineup for that UAAP season, and was well on my way to representing the school in my rookie year. But all of that went out the window in a pre-season game where I picked up a major knee injury that would sideline me for the next 1.5 years. Suddenly, what was once a dream nearly turned reality was now lost; a “what if” that would linger in my head in the years to come. This was a core part of my college life, and in my time in the team I carried with me all traits I developed in Xavier’s classrooms and football field – to work hard for the goals I set out, to persevere and have determination towards reaching my full potential, but also resiliency in the face of roadblocks, or in this case, my injury. Beyond what I had learned in my time here, I realized that not all failed dreams are failures at all. Sometimes, they’re just what we need to steer us to something greater.

The time away from the sport as a player allowed me to see it from a different lens, and I realized my 
passion for football was much greater than just competing in it, and from this my aspirations turned into coaching, grassroots, and professional development. This experience served as a doorway for me to see sports as a channel for nation-building, where I now aim to improve livelihood, youth development, and opportunities for the marginalized. I never got the UAAP medal, never got the pride of having my name on the season jersey, but the journey I had taken made all the difference in making me an even better version of myself today.

My second story is about how the pandemic served to be a blessing in disguise for a passion project I had with 
one of my college organizations. In UP, I was part of a marketing organization that led several projects, where, over time, I fell in love with the idea of advocacy marketing. In most semesters, I took leadership roles for MarkEd, which was the organization’s flagship committee that conducted marketing education initiatives for both private and public school students within Luzon. As most of you can probably relate, when the pandemic hit and we were forced to stay home, everything changed. We could no longer visit schools or host events like we used to; none of the working models worked out anymore. Fortunately, I worked with another passionate org-mate to rethink how we could deliver this impact, perhaps in an even better way. After months of brainstorming, convincing stakeholders of the value, and inspiring other members with our vision, we started a marketing education & excellence hub that was geared towards two things: one was to educate thousands of young Filipinos beyond Luzon about the power of marketing, and one was to set up a marketing consultancy arm that provided pro-bono services for NGOs and social enterprises to promote several causes ranging from the environment to at-risk community support. My time in Xavier prepared me to live a life of service and gave me the perspective to see all things I do in this light. In addition to that, this experience taught me more about myself – that even when everything seems to go against you, success can be attained if the love you have for what you do and why you do it is even greater. Again, the original achievements I set out for myself were not met. But the drive and purpose behind what I was working towards shined bright and led me beyond what I imagined.

I once thought, as a student in Xavier, that who I was at the time would be who I am forever. I couldn’t 
have been more wrong. My story is just one testament to how our Xavier journey molds us into the men we are and will become. But if there’s anything I’d like to reiterate, it’s that life is a long and continuous journey that goes well beyond the years in this campus – learning more, becoming more, and doing more. Whether we have official awards today or not, we are all working towards some destination in life, whether we know clearly what that is now or not. But it’s important to keep on with the journey, day by day, and see how it brings out the best version of you. This journey of yours, like mine, starts here in Xavier – so be sure to embrace everything it has to offer, from inside to outside the classroom – it will equip you to reach your full potential and live a life of excellence and service throughout the highs and lows.

As you know I’m a passionate athlete, and so I’d love to end my time with you today quoting an excerpt 
from a former women’s footballer of the UP team, which she wrote as the Filipinas made their historic debut in the women’s World Cup. She beautifully writes of the journey behind a destination; of the 200+ individual pages behind a finished book on the shelf. Because while the game wins and first honors, and other awards we collect are significant and meant to be celebrated and recognized, we must keep in mind that it’s the journey towards these desired destinations that truly mold us. And I quote: “Through daily drills on pot-holed fields, wins and warmups, losses and locker room chats, I learned all the lessons that I needed to navigate the often uneven pitch of life. That you don’t get to that millisecond of victory without the hours of hard work. That we only make progress if we pass the ball as much as well as demand it. That pressure means you are in the game and can actually make a difference. That we make every touch count, not just for ourselves, but for everyone that’s come before and will come after us. That you are always playing a bigger game than the one you are trying to win on the field.”

Thank you and Luceat Lux!

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