POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 26 March 2015, Thursday
Advice to Krisel
High school salutatorian Krisel Mallari gave a speech not heard around the world, for the reason that she was cut off midstream by the member of the faculty.
Instead of delivering welcome remarks, she discussed the alleged unfairness of the Sto. Niño Parochial School in not considering her for valedictorian honors and the need for the school to revisit their systems.
A video of school officials preventing Krisel from finishing her speech went viral. Netizens stormed cyberspace to support her, saying under the principle of freedom of speech, she should have been allowed to finish.
School officials said Krisel’s message was not appropriate. The valedictorian told Krisel, on a TV interview, to accept that she did not get the top place, and that her speech “tarnish[ed] the school’s reputation.”
The Department of Education is investigating the matter.
Was Krisel really cheated out of the top spot? We do not know that for a fact. Were any of her rights violated when she was not allowed to complete her speech? That’s for lawyers to say.
What is clear is that Krisel was moved by strong emotion – disappointment, frustration, anger, bitterness, which may have been justified. However, she was asked to give welcome remarks, which she did not do, and thus failed to consider the thoughts and feelings of the other attendees at the graduation ceremony, while focusing on her own.
Krisel believed she should have graduated as class valedictorian. She worked hard and sacrificed much to achieve that goal, as all other honor recipients have. But not being valedictorian is not the end of the world. If she was cheated out of what was rightfully hers, that is not her burden to bear, but that of those who did.
As someone who’s been in similar situations, here’s my advice to Krisel – take ‘Frozen” as your peg let it go.
Krisel, those much-vaunted honors will not guarantee success or happiness. Academic awards, even intelligence, are not always highly valued IRL – in real life. Our society values social skills more than knowledge, relationships and connections over test rankings.
If you want to be successful, learn how to hobnob, press the flesh, kiss babies – in short, the traditional politician shtick.
Grow a strong stomach for rich food and liquor. Much relationship-building with principals and suppliers takes place over late-night inuman. Know your wines and whiskies, your fine dining and private hang-outs.
Observe your boss’s habits and find out how you can serve her with ‘extras.’ Competence is a requirement for the job is a given. Set yourself apart from the herd by performing those little attentions that mean so much – checking in her luggage when you go on official travel, getting her a glass of water at meals before she asks, driving her around when her driver is off duty.
Develop your networks. As I was told by a classmate in MBA school, “We’re not here to study – we’re here to make connections.” Befriend everyone – judges, mayors, celebrities; the lady in accounting who issues the checks, the guy who signs the licenses. That way, when you need a favor for yourself or for your boss, you have contacts who can help.
You don’t need to be a salutatorian – much less a valedictorian – to do these things.
In the real world, no one really looks at your school grades or awards, Krisel. In the end, that’s just information on your resume or personnel data sheet that goes into a filing cabinet. Earn them, enjoy them, use them to gain what points you can, but in the end, what matters is that you can deliver the goods and the ‘extras’ if need be. Be resourceful, make do with what you have. Work with grace under pressure and by golly deliver on time or even earlier.
So let it go, Krisel. You may have a right to be aggrieved. But you won’t carry the burden of having done an injustice. You can hold your head high and move on. There is much more to life than school and grades. ***