I spent the day hiding my sadness over the passing of my Lolo Saqueo. My work has taught me not to be affected by personal circumstances. It’s a very busy week for Don Mariano Marcos as classes are ending with closing ceremonies. As for me, having to provide inspiration for the community to appreciate the value of education has brought me again to the thought of my Lolo. As I was trying to compose my thoughts for the talk I will give the sadness occupies me.
This year’s theme for the ending of school is “The Gift of Education, a tool for Nation Building.” Although I can very well discuss this topic, I felt this was an opportunity to honor my Lolo. My speech goes:
"Today marks the end of another school year. A capping of another year of hardwork and perseverance moving forward towards greater heights in nurturing the minds of our youth. Connecting the value of education to nation building is a difficult task but I will try to do this by telling you a story. A story of my Grandfather, my Lolo Saqueo.
My Lolo came from Ibajay, Aklan. This was a small town in the province of Aklan who prides itself as being the origin of the famous Ati-Ati Festival every January. At the time of my grandfather’s youth, this was a place with very limited opportunities which prompted him to look for greener pastures. His plan was simple, to get an education.
In those days, it was San Carlos City of Negros that had some prominence. This was the time when Negros became the sugar capital, all thanks to the booming sugar industry in San Carlos. San Carlos became a city precisely due to the growth brought about by this industry. My lolo studied at a school called Colegio de Sta. Rita. It was from that school that he got his Bachelor’s degree to become a teacher. To say that education was a gift was an understatement to the blessing it brought my clan. When he was already settled as a public school teacher, he took it upon himself to send his younger sister to school. She also became a teacher.
My lolo’s value for education was then passed on to his children as he also ensured that all his children will get their own degrees. My father benefited from that and graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1979. My aunts and uncles all had degrees.
Today, people regard me as a successful person. They think of me as some lucky person who has a good paying job and enjoys the luxuries of a fulfilling career. But let me state that, by the grace of God, whatever it is that you think I am blessed is merely a result of the hardwork of one Saqueo Cabales, a long time ago who had the foresight to see education as his key to success. This was the same key that I also enjoy now and will pass on to the next generation of my family.
To the parents, let me remind you that more than anything else, it is your job to nurture your children and ensure that they are educated. If you cannot see education as a means to success just look at me now. I am a product of a dream of one man whose effort is still being rewarded two generations after. You may not be able to see that success now in your life but perhaps it will come to your children and to your grandchildren. Education is an experience that happens even outside the classrooms. Do not depend on the teachers at the school for the education of your children; you should also take the active role to educate your children through your nurturing..."
I went on to reiterate the importance of the role of parents to the education of their children and ended with a congratulations to everybody. I originally intended to say that my lolo has passed away but held back after realizing that saying it will cause the tears that I have been holding on to fall.
Unlike my other siblings, I did not have much of wonderful memories with my Lolo. For various reasons that is not worth remembering, I did not have the luxury of really discovering the personality of my grandfather especially in his younger days. But my father made up for it through his own experiences with Lolo. My father idolized my Lolo so much that it was all he could talk about when he reminisces his childhood. From these stories, I developed my sense of family, something that has lingered in the way I am now as a husband to Abegail and father to Star. It was from these stories that I drew up the dictum: never quit on family.
His legacy is raising a Family name that can be worn with pride. His legacy is a diverse group of individuals who will stick to each other even if they do not necessarily agree with each other. His legacy is a family that will provide undying support to each other without counting or waiting for rewards. Thank you very much Lolo, you will be surely missed.