Dear Joseph Winlove,
Almost seventeen years ago, I decided to come to the United States upon the invitation of your Mom who was then about to deliver her first-born baby. She wanted me to be at her bedside when she delivers you, a request that no mother can deny. So I filed a leave of absence from my job as Director of the Center of University Extension Service, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, hoping that I will be able to go back to the Philippines and resume my work after you were born.
Upon my arrival, I found many of your Mom’s friends gathered at the garage of your home. There was a surprise welcome party for me! Your Mom is fond of giving surprise parties, you know. She was so excited and tired that afternoon preparing the food and entertaining her guests. She was already full term but there she was trying her best to be a gracious host and to make me feel at home. She told me that my arrival was timely. Her baby will be due in a week’s time.
The morning after the party, I heard a commotion. Your Mom was rushed to the Sharp Memorial Hospital. You came earlier than expected. The Soriano and Cudal families were all excited to receive into this world a healthy, normal and handsome baby boy. Your Dad recorded the moment with his video camera. He was so excited. The birth of a baby boy to any Filipino family is most welcomed – they are bearers of the family’s name.
Your parents were not so creative in choosing your first names – Joseph Winlove – they just adopted the names of your two grandfathers, the Rev. Jose Soriano and Winlove Cudal. Parents often choose the names of their forebears for their children as a sign of love and respect, especially when the bearers of the name are honorable and worthy of emulation. It goes without saying that your Grandpa Jose and your Grandpa Winlove are very good and godly men. You should be proud that you bear their names.
Your grandparents took good care of you while your parents returned to the normal routine of earning a living, with a difference. They have now a reason to work harder. They have a son who will one day go to college. They have to prepare for his future. They would like him to get the best education that they can provide. Their hopes and dreams are to see their son succeed in life and college for them is the ultimate venue to build your dreams on and to prepare for life.
That time has come today as you step out of Otay Ranch High School with a diploma on hand. You will start a journey of a thousand miles to pursue a career. Your options are unlimited. But the final choice is yours. You should decide what you would like to be five years or ten years from now.
Life is a matter of choices. It is up for you to choose the right from the wrong, the good from the bad. Making choices is not easy. It takes discernment, wisdom, courage and prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer. With God as your anchor, you will always be able to make wise decisions. You have to look into your core values which I believe you already have developed through your growing up years.
You are now on your own and you have chosen to pursue higher education in a different state – Utah. I don’t know why you have to go out of California but it was your decision and I respect that.
I love you enough to give up my prestigious job and to leave my homeland. You are the reason for my being here and I thank God that I had the opportunity to sing my sweetest lullabies for you every single night during your first eight months. Those were precious moments for me.
The future is bright for you. Go out there and pursue your dreams. We are here to cheer you on.
Happy graduation day!