- Full Speech of Ms. Dolly de Leon Commencement Speaker for Class 2023 June 12, 2023
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Full Speech of Ms. Dolly de Leon Commencement Speaker for Class 2023
Beacon Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Andy Locsin
Head of School, Mark Escaler
Distinguished Faculty, Parents and Class 2023 Graduates
So you’ve finally made it! Give yourselves a big hand. Turn to the person to your right and say, “GOOD JOB.” Turn to the person on your left and say, “YOU’RE AWESOME.” Now pat yourselves on the back and say, “ANG GALING KO.”
You did it! Despite the challenges of the past few years because of the pandemic. You’ve had to learn from home, you’ve missed your friends, you’ve had to rewire your brain to be able to navigate a new world. But now look at all of you, you’re still standing and you are about to face probably one of the greatest challenges of your lives.
You are about to enter another new world, a very different and exciting world. You’re probably very eager, maybe a bit terrified. The unknown is always daunting.
Which is why I’d like to talk to you about FEAR. I’d like to talk to you about fear because you’re going to experience fear somewhere along this new journey because it’s inevitable. You’re probably experiencing it now.
Fear is an emotion I’m very familiar with. I guess I’m what you’d call a subject matter expert. I’ve danced with fear all my life. I won’t bore you with all the gory details of my history but I will share with you my most recent brush with fear.
Fear was my constant companion late last year when I had to step out of the comforts of home and face complete strangers, take in the wonders of a culture that was alien to me when I went to the west to campaign for a film and to work on two films as an actor.
It was a daunting experience working in the States. I had been so used to working here in the Philippines that navigating in their world felt absolutely unfamiliar to me. I went through a serious case of Impostor Syndrome. Are you familiar with Imposter Syndrome? It’s when an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
Questions like: “Why did they choose me?” “Why am I here?” “Did they make a mistake?” “They’re going to find out I don’t know what I’m doing, that I’ve been faking being an actor all these years”
If you think about it Fear actually serves a function. It’s the body’s natural response to danger. A defense mechanism that protects us from harm. Unfortunately, it can also limit us. When we are trying to reach our full potential fear can get in the way because fear can be a trickster. It may sometimes cause us to perceive threats or dangers that may not actually exist or to overestimate the risks associated with a particular situation.
In this particular situation I was hyperaware that it was fear playing tricks on my mind. With some self-talking (which I always do. I always talk to myself. I don’t recommend this, dear Graduates, especially not in public), so with some self- talking I managed to convince myself that I was WORTHY, that I had a place in their world, that they had good reason to choose me. That I was capable and all the good things coming my way were deserved.
Sounds easy, right? No.
FEAR didn’t stop there. Fear put the idea in my head that I’d be better off working THERE FOR GOOD. I witnessed firsthand how efficiently they worked there, how diligently budget was allocated across all departments, etc. and it was just so tempting to stay.
Again, FEAR. I was scared. I was afraid that nothing would ever happen to me in my own country. Why would I work here when we are so behind?
And then I realized this is precisely why I should still work here, because ignoring the problem does not solve it. I see what needs improvement, and I have the power to make change happen. Why not use this power for the good? I could not let fear get in the way of my country’s growth. And I love home so much that I will do everything in my power to make things better.
From this I learned that fear is a great teacher. I’ve come to know myself better. I’ve come out stronger, knowing that I beat it. But it is an ongoing battle. Fear will always be there but at least now we can identify when our fears are irrational. It’s simple if you think about it. All we have to do is think, “Is the fear I’m feeling in this moment serving me well? Will it help me achieve my purpose?” If the answer is NO then we know it’s the irrational kind of fear. And when it’s irrational it can be incredibly powerful and debilitating. When it consumes us it clouds our judgement and prevents us from making rational decisions. Fear can paralyze us and and prevent us from using our minds to their full potential.
Dune novelist Frank Herbert said “Fear is the mind-killer.”
When we’re afraid we may become stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts and emotions, which can make it difficult to think clearly or objectively.
And the only way to conquer fear is to face it. This is the greatest battle we face as humans. Courage will allow us to claim our worth in this world. Know that courage is not the absence of fear. Courage in fact isn’t possible to exist without fear because COURAGE is the result of transforming fear into love. And using that love to create, to build relationships, touch people’s lives, effect change and leave an indelible mark on every soul we touch. That is our mission, dear grads.
My dear Class of 2023, I have two challenges for you. The first is to embrace fear as a natural and important part of the human experience. It may be uncomfortable at times but it’s also a valuable tool that can help us to protect ourselves and navigate the twists and turns of the world around us. Remember we are all worthy of greatness. It’s in all of us. All we have to do is to nurture this greatness so we can watch it unfold. It is, after all, our birthright to BE THE BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES. Second I’d like to ask you to never settle. To never say “That’ll do.” Nor “Ganyan talaga.” Nor “Pwede na yan.” No. We have the skill to change things. We have the know-how to make things better in all aspects of our lives. We have the power. My hope is that together we all rise to the challenge of making our country a better place BECAUSE SHE NEEDS US. Let’s all work together to create a brighter future for the nation and for the world. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you’ll accomplish in the years to come.
(Photo by Nel Lacsinto)
Dolly de Leon graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of the Philippines- Diliman where she trained under National Artist for Theatre, Antonio Mabesa. She is recognized globally as an established actress in theatre, television, and film. She is best known for her roles in the films Verdict, Historya ni Ha, and the Palme d’Or-winning Triangle of Sadness, for which she gained international recognition and won the LA Film Critics and the Guldbagge Awards for Best Supporting Actress. She is the first Filipino actor to be nominated at the BAFTAs and the Golden Globe Awards.
A loving mother to her four children, she is a self-professed peace advocate who likewise advocates for social justice in our country. She is one of the forces behind Ladies Who Launch, a social enterprise that supports groups and organizations through worthy social projects. Their most recent project was Hulmahan for the Bayanihan Marikenyo Marikenya.