On Second Chances & the 2011 Outstanding AlumniBy Randell Tiongson on September 8th, 2011
A few months ago, my former teacher in Economics called me up and asked for my CV. She said that she wants to nominate me for the annual school alumni awards. I was honored and thankful to even be considered.
Most people assumed that I was an exemplary student, but I am far from it and I want to share something that’s really personal to me for this post.
I had a very colorful history during my University years. When I entered college, I was a mediocre and too care-free. During my freshmen year, I never paid attention to my classes nor do I even listened to my professors. As expected, I started to fail my classes and since my school had standards to uplift, I was being debarred from re-enrolling. I can vividly recall the fateful day in the summer of 1985 when my parents got the advise from the University letting them know of my debarment. My father was furious and it really broke my mother’s heart. You see, my mom and I had a special relationship. She was my very first fan and at a young age, she told me that I will do great things in life. In a palanca letter in high school, my mom told me that among her 7 kids, I was the most different and that I will do great things in life. My first ‘real-life’ lesson happened in the summer of ’85 and I was determined to remedy my situation.
My solution? I turned to the Lord. At 19, I prayed and prayed to the Lord that He save me from my situation. A distant relative appealed my situation to the college regent, a Dominican priest who agreed to hear my appeal. The priest talked to me and felt pity on me, so much so that he said he will give me a second chance but I need to be in academic probation. He only asked that I do well this time and that at the end of the semester, I should go back to him to show my class cards.
Did I learn my lesson and take my studies seriously? You bet! On the first semester of my academic probation, my grades were all up and I narrowly missed being in the Dean’s List. It was probably the first time in my life that I became diligent; I opted to sit in the first row, intently listening to my professors and actually taking time to study my lessons. As promised, I came back to the college regent and happily showed my class cards. Upon seeing my grades, the priest looked at me with a smile and told me “I knew you can do it… keep it up”. Since then, I never failed a class, never failed a test, never missed an assignment.
The rest of my stay in college became great and by my senior year, I became a student leader and even becoming the president of an umbrella organization composed of about 10 to 12 universities. About 2 years after graduation, I found myself in the same college, this time teaching a few classes on Business Administration. I bumped into the priest who gave me a second chance and this is what he said… “a few years ago, you were pleading with me to stay in the university — now, I am talking with you here at the faculty room.”
I have graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Commerce majoring in Economics in 1988. Since then, I taught there for a semester and been back a couple of times to speak to students and teachers.
The other day, a mailman was in my house and handed me a letter. When I opened it, I was delighted to read this…
Reading this brought back a lot of memories and on the importance of 2nd chances. Fr. Terry Campillo, O.P. — thank you for believing in me when no one else did. To my mom (she passed away before I graduated), thank you for never losing your faith in me and for planting the seed that I can do great things in my life. To my teachers who patiently taught me and also guided me, my appreciation. To my dear wife who stands by me regardless of our situation, my undying thanks.
And to my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ — my eternal gratitude. You loved me despite my sins; you were faithful even I was not; you stood by me despite my rebellion. You orchestrated everything in my life because you are after my welfare, even if I wasn’t. All of these is because of your grace and all of these is for your Glory. Thank you.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8, NIV