The following remarks were delivered by Isaac Go after the high school Christmas Mass on 16 December 2016. Fr. Ari Dy, SJ, School President, invited him to address the community after his spectacular and dramatic performance that brought the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles to the UAAP Finals earlier this month. Isaac was subsequently recognized as the “Most Improved Player” this UAAP season.
Fr. Ari Dy, S.J., School President, Ms. Aimee Apolinario, High School Principal, Fr. Munching de Guzman, School Chaplain, administrators, teachers, and students, a pleasant good morning to you all.
It’s been almost three years since I graduated and I can see that a lot has changed—new buildings, new batch of Xaverians, teachers, and administrators. However, admist the changes, the values our school preaches and the standard of excellence it holds itself to are ever present.
To the students, I was once just like you—seated in those monoblock chairs during a mass. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be up here talking to you guys as a UAAP basketball player. Most of you would know that I started out as a tall wimpy kid who could barely run up and down the court without gasping for air. In other words, lampa ako! Time and time again, I didn’t make the cut to the team—and when I finally did, I was just a bench warmer who barely saw any action inside the court.
The early days of my basketball career were the most difficult. Not only was I struggling to keep up with the physical demands of the sport but I also struggled to do the basics such as dribbling. Regardless, what set me apart from my teammates was not skill, but their love for the game. I didn’t see basketball the way they did. While I initially just saw this is a leisure activity to play with my friends and classmates, they saw this as an opportunity to showcase their skills and to make a name for themselves.
I had all the reasons and excuses to quit—wanting to devote my 100% to my studies, or believing I wasn’t cut out for the sport. However, I heeded the advice of my brother and my parents that my God-given height must have been given to me for a purpose. They had faith in me—believing in what I could do when no one could see it.
My role back then was to make sure that I had both my arms straight up on defense to challenge shots and it does not get any simpler than that. As time passed, I realized that I needed to do more than just raise my arms to challenge shots on defense. I needed to work on my skills so that I could be both an offensive and defensive threat. I made the commitment to do extra work before and after practice to improve on my game and to lose some weight kasi sabi ni Coach Tab mataba raw ako.
Despite all the time and energy I devoted in basketball, I could not leave my studies behind. I still made sure to do my work in advance and to manage my time properly—especially now that I am studying in an educational institution as demanding as the Ateneo. Hindi na nga yata ako tumatangkad kasi napupuyat ako studying every night. But I would always remember my parents’ constant reminder to do my best inside the classroom because a career in basketball is only temporary. Mabuti sana kung kasing gwapo and talented ako ni Jeron at pwede ako pumasok sa showbiz.
I am a living proof that it doesn’t take talent to succeed. Success is about believing in yourself and working hard to be the best person you can be. There would always be days when you want to give up or when the task seems to be daunting. But behind every problem, is a challenge and an opportunity to showcase what you’re made of. Sometimes, just like in the UAAP Finals, your best is not enough and there will still be times where you still fall short. Working hard does not always guarantee results. Instead, it helps you better prepare when an opportunity arises. When it does, take advantage of it, seize the moment, and never look back.
Before I end, I would like to borrow a quote from Confucius — our greatest glory is not in never falling but rising every time we fall. There will always be challenges and obstacles along the way—tasks too big or naysayers who say you can’t do it. But if there’s one thing that Xavier taught me, it was to persevere amidst the difficulties, and to always give more than was what expected of me. Magis is more than just the spirit of doing more—it is the spirit of doing the right thing.
Once again thank you and Merry Christmas to you all. Luceat Lux!