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Whenever Lourd de Veyra speaks, Filipinos listen.
Whenever he’s on TV or on the radio, people tune in.
And during the few times that he’s asked to deliver a speech, everyone pays attention, whether friend or frenemy, fan or felon, follower on Twitter or friend on Facebook.
On Sunday, April 22, 2012, Lourd was asked to do something he has never done before in his whole life—formally and publicly address a graduating class, which happened to be Class 2012 of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.
Thanks to his talent, Lourd was able to pull this off, delivering a speech that injected humor when it was least expected. As a result, it became one of the most widely read articles on InterAksyon. [See: Lourd de Veyra's graduation speech]
His remarks were a whiff of fresh air in the arguably musty halls of the Philippine academia.
Besides ending with a poem written by Pete Lacaba, Lourd’s speech also imparted a few pieces of advice on how to survive life after graduation.
1) Do what you love.
This is easier said than done.
After all, not everyone is a rock star who has received various Palanca Awards for Literature and currently hosts an eponymous television show on top of reporting the weather for TV-5’s evening news.
Lourd was able to do all that because he loved what he was doing, even helping push a decrepit service vehicle whose batteries ran out during a shoot (or at least when his show had no money, which is not the case now).
“Mahalin mo ang ginagawa mo,” he said in his speech. “Huwag magtatagal sa isang trabahong hindi mo gusto? Bakit mo naman gagawin yun? Dahil sa salapi? Darating din yan, basta buhos mo lang ang kaya mo, kesyo indie film man yan o isang artikulo tungkol sa pagkain o paglalabada.”
(It’s one thing to love what you do. It’s a completely different thing to find someone you love. Check out this love story with video by Aliana Gimena that took place after two people met at a reunion of World War II survivors.)
2) Be informed.
“Bawal maging tanga,” Lourd said in his speech, citing the wealth of information on the internet that’s been previously unavailable to the past generations.
“Nabubuhay kayo sa mundo na wala ka nang karapatang maging tanga, maging mangmang,” he continued, recounting the days when he used an electric typewriter to write a paper and had to go to Makati City to do research at the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center.
“Sa mundong umaapaw sa datos, wala na tayong excuse maging mangmang,” Lourd’s speech said. “Pero kahit si Christopher Lao ay ganap na abogado ngayon, he was still not informed. Minsan, sa pagnanais nating makakuha ng impormasyon, nakakalimutan natin ang talino.”
(To keep you informed about the latest in news and trends, always visit InterAksyon.com, the news website of TV-5.)
3) Don’t take yourself too seriously.
No person who makes people laugh takes himself too seriously, a fact that Lourd knows too well.
Besides having a good sense of humor—which he uses to great effect both on air and online—he also has a generous measure of self-deprecation, a quality that endears him to his friends and a whole lot of fans.
“Wag seryosohin ang sarili,” he said in his speech. “Pero teka, kelangang klarohin ko ito. Okay lang ang serious, huwag lang solemn. Walang bagay sa mundo ang hindi napapagaan ng pagkakaroon ng sense of humor.”
Early in his speech, he even admitted that he was unable to attend his graduation because he felt too embarrassed, having taken him seven years to finish a four-year course.
Instead of going to his graduation, he shared more than a few beers with two of his college buddies, angsty about the beginning of the end of their lives.
That may be too much information he revealed about himself.
But then again, that’s what makes Lourd Lourd—always making fun of others, including himself.
(Check out essays of Jessica Zafra, published at InterAksyon.com, that deals with the lighter side of life, among others.)
4) Learn how to dance.
He meant this figuratively.
Our Lourd doesn’t know how to dance.
Or at least that’s what he says.
But he sure found ways to tango, cha-cha, and boogie his way to success.
So how did he do it?
He didn't make plans, Lourd said in his speech, citing one of his favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut.
“Kung totoo na talino at galing ang sekreto sa tagumpay, dapat wala ako dito ngayon. Hindi ako ang pinakamahusay na manunulat sa aming kolehiyo. At higit na mas marami ang mas magaling mag-isip kesa sa akin. May paborito akong kasabihan mula sa idolo kong nobelistang si Kurt Vonnegut. “Unannounced changes in life’s itinerary are like dancing lessons from God.”
He added: “Sa dancing lesson, wala kang ibang pwedeng gawin kundi sumunod. Pag hinila ka dito, sunod ka na lang. Pag binaba ka, bumaba ka rin. Pag hinagis ka, magpagaan ka ng katawan.”
(Like Lourd, not all of us know how to dance. It's different for the Ifugaos—they participate in a ritual, which includes dancing, to appease their Rice God. Check out Bernard Testa’s essay and photos entitled The Ifugaos, the Caretaker of the Cordilleras.)
So there you have it, friends.
We hope that these tips will prove useful as all of you take another step into what is considered the beginning of the rest of your lives.
Good luck, new graduates.