GS Reading of Honors

The Grade School Department’s Annual Reading of Honors was held last July 5, 2017 at the Angelo King Multi-Purpose Center. The following outstanding pupils from Grade 6 were awarded with First Honors:


Guest speaker and Xavier School Alumnus Atty. Carlo Roman (XS ’08) shared tidbits of wisdom. Grade 6 student Lance Patrick Mercado of section A also had an opportunity to share a few words with his peers during the latter part of the program. You may read both of their speeches in full below:

Atty. Roman

President Aristotle C. Dy, Xavier School President;
Ms. Jane C. Cacacho, Grade School Principal;
Ms. Flora Anne R. Alfonso, Assistant Principal for Academics;
Ms. Joanne Clarisse C. Pusta, Assistant Principal for Formation;

Our dear faculty and staff, especially to my own ‘chers from way back in the day;

My fellow Xaverians, good morning.

Before I begin today, I would just like to start with how overwhelming all of this is for me right now. It has been roughly nine years since I graduated from these hallowed halls, and though the campus is now much nicer, the feeling remains the same. The years since my high school graduation have brought me all over, but by and large, my fondest memories will always be with my alma mater, and my heart will always bleed blue and gold.

I’ve been told that I’m currently in the midst of Xavier’s smartest and brightest. Years from now, you will probably forget most of what I will be saying today, but if there’s absolutely anything that I would want you to pick up from me, it would be these two things:

Smart is not real; and

Smart is not enough.

Number one: Smart is not real.

In today’s ceremonies, we come together to celebrate excellence. Not too long ago I was in exactly the same boat that you all are in right now – scrambling to finish my assignments, trying to fit everything into my HSC notebook, and trying to manage the stress of an eight-subject school day. Amid the busyness of Xavier life before, I would always marvel at my smartest classmates – how do they do it? Why is it so easy for them to get good grades on all their quizzes? Basically, why are they so smart?

It has been nine years since I left Xavier, and if those nine years going through college, law school, and professional practice have taught me anything at all, it is this – smart is not real. Simple talent is fiction. While there may be a few outliers who were born geniuses, for the most part, the things we admire most about people – high grades, excellent performance, a perfect swimming stroke, a beautiful jumpshot – do not simply fall on their lap. These are earned, and earned only through honest-to-goodness hard work.

My favorite basketball player of all time, Kobe Bean Bryant, retired relatively recently, or at least that’s the way it feels like to someone who has admired him for so long. Growing up, I marveled at his competitive fire, his poise in the clutch, and his perfect footwork, but more than anything, his legendary work ethic.

One Kobe anecdote that I can never forget is that story about him and OJ Mayo in his basketball camp. OJ Mayo, who was then the number one high school player in the country, approached Kobe and asked if he could work out with him. Kobe said sure, and that he’ll meet Mayo in the gym at 3:00. The next day, Mayo comes to the court at 3:00 pm to find an empty gym, only to eventually realize that Kobe was not going to show up. Mayo then approached Kobe that night at dinner, asking where he was for the scheduled workout, to which Kobe replied, “I meant 3:00 am.”

My apologies to LeBron and KD fans, but I will always contend that Kobe Bryant is the second greatest basketball player of all time – not because of his physical gifts and God-given talent, but because of what he made of it by always, constantly pushing himself.

Today’s celebration is not about intelligence, talent, or smarts, because these things are nothing without the hard work that these Xaverians have put into their craft. Today’s celebration is about the day-in, day-out effort that these gifted Xaverians have exerted, performing well in the day’s classes precisely because they busted their butts studying for their tests the night before. High grades and academic achievements do not come by accident; rather, they are achieved through constant dedication, every single day for every single class. As Fr. Ari’s namesake once famously said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Smart is not real, but competence is. Not everyone may be born smart, but every single one of us here today can be competent if only we wanted to be, and if only we put in that honest, nose-to-the-grindstone hard work.

Smart is fiction, but competence is the truth – and that’s exactly why it is one of our 6 C’s.

Number two: Smart is not enough.

Ironically enough, I used to think it was. When I was in Xavier, my main concern was to do well and make my parents proud – as you should, because you rightfully owe them that. It always made me happy to bring home a good report card, to get great scores on quizzes, and to perform well in my extra-curriculars, and I fully expected that the rest of my life will always simply hinge on that.

Fast forward to the present and I’ve quickly learned that it’s not enough to strive for magis in my personal endeavors and pursuits. That oft-repeated line about great power coming with great responsibility is every bit true, and as gifted Xaverians are, that great responsibility calls on us to practice magis beyond ourselves.

You’re young, but I’m sure you’re not immune to the fact that our country lives in trying times. Newspapers and social media feeds consistently deliver sad and terrible news, and it sometimes seems like it’s the most intelligent and competent people who do the worst things. Being smart and doing well in school and collecting awards for the rest of your academic life is not enough. As a Xaverian, you’re called toward something more.

I remember exactly how it felt the day I left Xavier and entered the real world – really, when I realized how huge the world was. I also remember questioning what good all these grades and honors would do in such a huge world, filled with so much evil and apathy. What difference could I make as a man for others, when there were just so many others who simply did not care?

Then I remember a parable from one of my favorite Filipino teachers in High School, who ended our third year with this story entitled, “The Weight of a Snowflake”:

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a sparrow asked a wild dove.

“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.

“In that case I must tell a marvelous story,” the sparrow said. “I sat on a branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not a giant blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch – nothing more than nothing, as you say – the branch broke off.”

Having said that, the sparrow flew away. The dove thought about the story for a while and finally said to herself:

“Perhaps there is only one voice lacking for peace to come in our world.”

My fellow Xaverians, smart is not enough, but character is – and you should never, ever get tired of living your life with it. Because in a world filled with smart, talented, and capable people, it’s still – and always will be – the ones with a good heart who will make the most impact, even if that impact is not immediately apparent.

Smart is not real, but competence is. Smart is not enough, but character is.

Congratulations and Luceat Lux.

Lance Mercado

Good morning fellow Xaverians, please allow me to start off by asking you questions. I want you to answer my questions in your heads. Again, please answer my questions without speaking. Now show me a thumbs-up if you’re ready.

Question number one: Do you dream about anything in your sleep?
Question number two: Do you usually have good dreams or bad dreams?

If they are bad dreams, I’m positive that we are all glad that we have awakened from those dreams. But if they are good dreams, I’m sure we all have wished that they never ended.

“Some people dream of success…while others wake up and work hard at it.” This is a quote by the founder of Facebook, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. According to him, a dream is just a dream if you don’t stand up and do something. One dream that every student has is getting high grades. To us students, that’s our mark of success. However, high grades don’t just fall from trees. In school, there are challenges that we students have to face in order to get those high grades. Some of these challenges are quizzes and performance tasks. I’m here to help you face those challenges and tell you why you should never give up even in times of trouble.

I’m going to share with you how I am able to motivate myself to achieve success. It’s actually very simple. And believe me when I say it’s not rocket science. My achievements at school make my family happy. Families are our lifetime supporters. They will always be waiting for us no matter how late we get home from school or how late we finish studying or doing homework at night. They will always be just around the corner, always supporting us and motivating us to reach our goals. Whenever I see my family happy, I feel motivated to keep working hard every day. Whenever I see them happy, I feel like my brain is telling me that burning that midnight oil; doing homework and studying for a test are all worth it.

We all get nightmares from time to time. They can be in the form of a failure or mistakes. Being down because of a low mark in a test or feeling sad because of a warning from a teacher is actually part of achieving success. We all have heard of it before. So whenever I’m down, I think of my family, how sad they would be if they see me sad. So instead of being in that sad state of mind, I think about how happy they would be if I try again to achieve my goals. I use that as a booster, a booster for me to strive harder. Whenever they’re happy, I’m happy and when I’m happy, they’re happy. To me, that is the best feeling in the world!

We, Xaverians, shouldn’t just give up easily. We need to persevere and put all our efforts in our work every day to make our families happy and achieve our goals in life. Now, I challenge you to not just dream but to stand up and do something!

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