Being a flunker was my wake-up call » Manila Bulletin News



By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD


A despondent man was being roused by his mother one early morning. “Son, it’s time to go to school,” the mother said.  He replied, “I  don’t want to for two reasons: I don’t like the people there, and the people don’t like me.”

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The mother gazed at him and said: “My son, you should go back. I also give you two reasons. First, you’re 59 years old, and second, you are the school principal!”

Yes, classes have started and students, teachers, and principals have to return to school…whether they like it or not.

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With the new school year, let me share some tips on how to succeed as a student.

When I was in grade school, I wasn’t focused and didn’t take my studies seriously. As a result I flunked in Grade 3. My schoolmates laughed and teased me.

Looking back, it was all my fault because I preferred to play with barkada leading an easy-going life—which was of course more enjoyable than sitting on my butt, doing my homework.

* * *

The painful experience was a wake-up call. I promised to myself that it would never happen again. Slowly and painstakingly, I progressed.

When I reached Grade Six, I got promoted to the bright section. It wasn’t easy because there I  had to compete with the cream of the crop.

* * *

When I graduated from high school, I made it to the top ten. And when I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, I attained a distinction of magna cum laude.

This is not to blow a trumpet. Well…maybe it’s part of it.

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But my experience only proves that we all have the potential to excel although for some, it may not be in academics but in vocational, technical course, or sports. The crucial thing is we have to develop that latent talent within us. But that requires focus, time, and, above all, discipline.

* * *

That reminds me of the wise dictum about the priorities in work — do what’s NECESSARY, then what’s USEFUL, and last what’s ENJOYABLE (unless your profession is that of a comedian).

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My training in Christ the King Seminary on E. Rodriguez Avenue, QC, from high school to college helped a lot because we were allotted times for daily prayer, classes, work, recreation, and study periods, and the prefect of discipline monitored our activities.

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But obviously even with all the regimen and discipline, we have to accept the reality that there is INEQUALITY in the distribution of talents and abilities.

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The important thing, however,  is that after all the hard work, it’s all worth it because you gave it your best shot. As the writer Grantland Rice puts it: “For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He writes — not that you won or lost — but HOW you played the game.”

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SUPPORT SEMINARIANS. It’s the start of school year. Let me appeal help for our poor, aspiring seminarians under our Adopt-a-Seminarian scholarship program. Seminarians are our future priests. We cannot have priests if we don’t support seminarians now.

For inquiries, e-mail me at

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  1. JUDE. Tomorrow, Thursday, is novena to St. Jude, Saint of the Impossible,  at the Divine Word Shrine, Christ the King Seminary Compound on E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City, after the 6 p.m. Mass.

A healing session will follow. JOIN US.

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