“Dream. Enjoy. Fail. Share.”

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“Dream. Enjoy. Fail. Share.”

Topic |  

boholano-thumbI am glad and proud to share these glorious excerpts from Dr. Cielito F. Habito’s Speech at the 12th Commencement of our Kalayaan College, in New Manila, Quezon City, on June 4, 2016.

“A glorious afternoon to all of you! This is where my daughter Monica and my son Miguel Ramon also earned their baccalaureate degrees several years ago….  xxx. The four words I’d like to share with you – and hopefully leave imprinted in your memory – are: Dream. Enjoy. Fail. Share. I’ll say it once more with feeling: Dream. Enjoy. Fail. Share.

Let’s start with the first: Dream. You must dream, and dream grand dreams.  Hindi bawal mangarap. Ang bawal daw ay ang maging tamad. The world’s greatest achievements all started with a dream. Let me ask you: Do you have a clear picture in your mind what you would want to be doing 5, 10, 20 years from now? If you still don’t, better start having one. xxx So define your dream, set you minds and hearts to it, pray for God’s guidance, and go all out for it!

xxx. Enjoy – and this relates directly to the first, your Dream. In defining your dream, you only need to ask yourself: what is it that makes me happy and fulfilled? What do I enjoy doing? How can I use what I have learned, to build on that happiness and turn it into fulfillment? And then dream, work for that dream – and God will make the rest fall into place.


In his famous commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, Apple creator Steve Jobs said: “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly (happy) is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you (have trouble finding it), keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it.”

I’ve seen too many people trapped in a career that appears to most as successful, but on closer look, is missing something vital: happiness and fulfillment.

In line with this, I hope that many or most of you will not be content with looking for a job, meaning, work for someone else to earn an income. I would like to see many more graduates whose ambition is not just to find a job, but to create jobs. Not merely to earn an income, but to create wealth.  And that means we need more graduates who want to be entrepreneurs. I believe that if only our schools and teachers would consciously mold young minds towards aspiring to create jobs and create wealth – rather than be content to just to find a job and earn an income – then our unemployment rate wouldn’t be as high as it has persistently been, and our people – millions of them – will not have to go overseas to seek their fortunes and sustain their families.

This brings me to my third word: Fail. Perhaps you were wondering earlier about this word, which is a negative one, unlike the others, which are positive words. Maybe it sounded like an IQ test where the question is, which one doesn’t belong? And indeed, “Fail” sounds like the odd one out.

Well, it does belong. Obviously, I’m not asking you to work with a deliberate intention to fail. The message, of course is: Be prepared to fail. Don’t be afraid to fail. Let me assure you that the most successful people we admire – be they artists like The Beatles, businesspeople like Steve Jobs, political leaders like Margaret Thatcher, or what not – all would have their own inspiring stories of failure to tell. Some of them were massive failures, but obviously, that didn’t stop them from achieving success later.

As you set out making your own destiny, it is certain – 100% – that you will meet setbacks and failure face to face at many points along the way. Don’t let that ever stop you. Instead, draw strength from the lessons of every failure, and that will equip you for even greater and more glorious successes as you move closer to your set dream.


xxx This is very important especially for young people like you who are just starting out on your careers, full of hope, and full of dreams.  Remember this: falling and failing is part of every successful life. What is important is that with every fall, we get back on our feet, and strive to rise even higher each time we get up. Through all such trials, we should never forget that we have a God who loves us unconditionally, and that He will make sure that we rise from every fall, if we keep an abiding faith in Him.


The last of my four words is Share. On occasions like this [graduation], you usually remember all those who helped you achieve what you are achieving now, and equipped you to pursue your college diploma that could well be your key to success. They probably do not expect you to pay it back to them, but do remember to pay it forward, and this you do by caring and sharing for others not as fortunate as you are. xxx

Let me tell you one more story of sharing before I close – and this is a story that I have told for the last fifteen years or so at the end of almost every speech, presentation or economic briefing I have given. I like to point out to my audiences that our statistics say that about 20% of Filipino families, or one out of five, are poor. But this means 4 out of 5 are not poor. If only one of those 4 who are not poor would care and share enough to just “adopt” one poor family to bring it out of poverty, then we can wipe out poverty in the Philippines. But then my audiences question the statistics. SWS says one out of two are poor, and Ibon Foundation says 9 out of 10 are poor, they say. So my reasoning won’t work. But then I answer with my sharing story.

Many years ago, my wife Pilar and I and our family discovered the joy of putting God in the center of our lives through the Bukas Loob sa Diyos Catholic Charismatic Community. Pilar and I began to have Bible sharing sessions called “Living Word Groups” with some squatter families in a place called Patay na Riles in Barangay Mayondon in Los Baños. In one particular session, a lady shared her story of how one evening, as she was about to begin a humble meal of a bowl of rice flavored with salt with her 5 children, they began to hear the crying of children in the squatter shanty next door.  “Nanay, kailan tayo kakain, gutom na gutom na kami,” they heard the children cry to their mother.  She said her heart broke when she heard the mother next door reply: “Mga anak, walang wala tayo ngayon… tiisin niyo na lang ang gutom…” This lady sharer told the group that she could not in conscience go on with her meal with her children, so she brought her bowl of rice next door and shared half of it with the hungry family next door, before returning to her own children to eat what was left.


Her story brought tears to all of our eyes. If someone already so poor still finds it in her heart to share, what more with those of us who are much more comfortable in life? What more with you who are now armed with a college diploma that will certainly make you much better off than that lady and her children?

That’s why I truly believe in the words of Pope and now Saint John Paul, who said: “No one is so poor to have nothing to give; and no one is so rich to have nothing to receive.”


As an economist, I believe that it is in genuine caring and sharing that we will achieve truly inclusive development and shared prosperity as one nation and one people. Please remember to be instruments for such inclusive development as you pursue you careers and your futures.


In closing, let me say this to you: You can forget about me, and who I am, but do me a favor – no, do yourselves a favor – by remembering my four words: Dream. Enjoy. Fail. Share. [Let’s all say it together: Dream. Enjoy. Fail. Share.]

Don’t worry about what others will say, or think, of you. It is what you think, and what you believe that matters. Steve Jobs, anticipating his death, told the Stanford graduates: “Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important… Avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

I said it earlier, and I’ll say it again: Today, commencement day, is not the end of your education. It is the beginning.

My warmest congratulations, and I pray for God’s blessings for you and your proud parents, and for those behind your equally proud alma mater, Kalayaan College!

Mabuhay ang Kalayaan College! Mabuhay ang mga bagong graduates!  

Dr. Cielito Flores Habito (“Ciel” to his friends) is Professor of Economics at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he also served as Director of the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development for 11 years. He currently heads the USAID Trade-Related Assistance for Development (TRADE) Project.

An admirable “Public Intellectual”, Ciel writes the regular “No Free Lunch” column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that enlightens and inspires numerous grateful readers. 

  From U.P. Los Banos Ciel Habito earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Summa cum Laude, in 1975.  From Harvard University he earned the Master of  Arts (1981) and the Ph.D. in Economics  (1984). He also holds a Master of Economics (1978) from the University of New England (Australia).   His professional career began in 1975,  31 years ago,  as faculty member at the Department of Economics of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB), where he served for 15 years.

He joined the government in 1990, when President Corazon Aquino appointed him  Assistant Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and subsequently Deputy Director-General. President Fidel V. Ramos appointed him to his Cabinet  in 1992,  as Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning and Director-General of NEDA, a position he held throughout the Ramos presidency.  He was elected Chair of the 6th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in 1997-98 in New York,  in his then concurrent capacity as Chair of the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development.

After leaving government in 1998, he has held board directorships in private corporations including the Manila Water Company, Metrobank, Metrobank Card Corp., Philsteel Holdings, Lepanto Mining, and others. He is also Chairman of Brain Trust Inc. and Operation Compassion Philippines, and is a member of various professional, civic and religious organizations, including the Philippine Economics Society, Galing Pook Foundation, Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF)-Philippines, Ramos Peace and Development Foundation (RPDEV), Knights of Columbus, and the Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community, among others.

Born in Cabuyao,  Laguna, Dr. Habito is married to Pilar Relova of Pila, Laguna, and is father to five children and grandfather to three. (By Jose “Pepe” Abueva)


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