Graduation story

Cathy, Caridad and Pia

March is known as women’s month, March 8 being International Women’s Day. But in the Philippines it is also considered graduation month.

To close this very special month, we thought of reprinting a graduation story written by Inquirer columnist Cathy S. Babao-Guballa, which, on close reading, is also a “herstory” of three generations of women.

In the article, Cathy ruminates about the high school graduation of daughter Pia and how she feels having graduated too “after more than a decade of shuttling her to and from school.” She then goes back to her own school days when her mother, actress Caridad Sanchez, was doing the same thing for her.

Read on and be reminded of how we felt – or would feel –  “graduating along with our own kids”.

Our sincerest thanks to Cathy for allowing us to have this article reprinted on our blog.


Parents graduate along with their kids
Written by Cathy S. Babao-Guballa

The movie in my mind began to play again the other day as my daughter graduated from high school. After 14 years, we finally bade goodbye to familiar roads, corridors and faces. Notice that I said “we.” Because after more than a decade of shuttling her to and from school, I felt I had graduated too.

Watching her walk up the stage to receive her diploma, I thought about how my mother felt 27 years ago. Perhaps back then, she had felt the same way I do now.

Mom had driven me faithfully, with me in my green and white uniform, to and from the sprawling green campus on Katipunan. On rainy days, she would wade through flood to pick me up, totally oblivious of her celebrity status.

In school in the ’70s and ’80s, I was always known as the girl who wore Pocahontas pigtails, and the one whose artista mom drove her to and from school each day. My high school diploma was as much my mother’s as it was mine.

Some three decades later, my daughter graduated with the entire caboodle cheering her on, including her yaya.

How different it was for me back in 1983, when I had only my mother and brother to cheer me on. The summer before graduation, I had lost my father to a heart attack. On graduation day in 1982, I missed him terribly.

For my daughter on her graduation day, there was mostly joy, though I’m pretty sure that the day did not pass without her remembering her own loss too, many years ago, when she lost her kid brother to sickness.

Graduation season always makes us both wistful and hopeful. Time flies by too fast, but I keep telling close friends how grateful I am that for most of those 14 years, I was hands-on in raising my daughter. Our children are truly our greatest blessings.

New chapter

Commencement exercises also mark the beginning of a new chapter in her life, and I must slowly learn to let go. The circle of life goes on as our daughter finds herself on the very same campus that her father and I once found ourselves in.

This morning, my daughter and I walked through her new campus as she began making preparations for her new life come June. I eagerly walked her through the many corridors that were once so familiar to me. Though much has changed, a lot of things remain the same. I thought it was uncanny that she opted to wear a yellow Ninoy Aquino shirt with the classic Ninoy image and “Ninoy lives in my heart” written on it. The very same shirt was in vogue when I was a freshman in college on the year that Ninoy was assassinated.

And so the memories of the years spent on campus – both happy and sad, came flooding back. Passing by the bookshop, I could not help but purchase a blue and white shirt that resonated with me that morning. The shirt, emblazoned with a quote from the school’s most famous alumnus (Dr. Jose Rizal) on his thoughts about our school, called out to me – “I spent many happy years there.” Though high school was fun, I found college years to be even better. I pray that it will be the same for my daughter and for the many other graduates who leave their comfort zones this month. The world lies waiting for you – seize it with faith, kindness, diligence and compassion. Congratulations!

[This article was published in the March 25, 2009 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Please click here to read the original column online. Visit the following blogs to read more articles by the writer: Midlife Mysteries, Cathy Chronicles, and Grief Is A Journey. ]

4 thoughts on “Graduation story

  1. Jocelyn Pilapil

    Naalala ko bigla ang mother ko with this post. She was really sobbing during my high school graduation. She must have really beeen that proud of me then because she herself did not finish high school. And the sobbing episode will defintiely be repeated when my son, her favorite apo, graduates next year, with the two of us becoming the new “crying ladies”. Cathy is right, “Our children are truly our greatest blessings.”

  2. Ronald de Jesus

    My memory of my grad rites on march 15, 1983 is so vivid and clear that I can still remember the efforts ng parents ko to rent a small jeep (yung apatan lang ha, not the long-type) para lang makarating kami sa PICC where we had our rites. I would feel how proud they were at that time. . . It was to their surprise when they were told that they were to escort me as I marched to my seat (I was then the grad class valedictorian, and was the last to enter the plenary hall with matching follow spotlight). It was my simple gift to them for the hardships they did mapagtapos lang ako. Thanks to you Papa Tiago and Nanay Angeles (may her soul rest in peace).

  3. Larry Ramos

    This is indeed a very heartwarming story. I also felt the same joy and pride seeing your children climbed up that stage to take their hard-earned diplomas and medals. What made me prouder was to listen to children delivering their valedictory addresses (Larriza and Lester) for graduating on top of their class. Can’t help being teary-eyed specially when other parents start to shake my hand for the wonderful speeches my children delivered, ably crafted with the help of my eldest daughter who is a very good speechwriter (Tolits, influenced by Bayan Muna? Hehe). I feel that they are my personal achievements. My children though, have not enjoyed material prosperity, what they have learned is the value of education. Three years from now, Lester my youngest will be graduating in college and hopefully will climb up the stage too to hang another medal like Larriza, who graduated cum laude from UP Diliman. Another feather in the cap is my son’s Encho passing the board exam for architecture last year. These are wonderful things that I really appreciate because God is so good that He gave me wonderful children. Incidentally, my two daughters graduated from UP Diliman and my two sons graduated and studying, respectively, at “Parang UP” (PUP) Sta. Mesa. Thanks for this article.

  4. Aileen Profeta

    hello po ms. cathy,

    sobra ako natutuwa at nalulungkot sa artikulong ito. sana may mga kwento pa kayo na nakakapagbigay ng aral tulad nito. meron po ba kayong libro na naglalaman ng mga katulad na kwento? saan po mabibili? salamat po.

    The Site Team: Hi Aileen, maaari mong sulatan si Ms. Cathy Babao sa email na ito: cathybabao[at]gmail[dot]com. Salamat sa pagdalaw sa aming blog.

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