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Lessons in Flight
SFFI's official online newsletter
From “Stigma” to “Astig Na”
Date Posted: 2010-05-30, Source/Author: Mr. Bert M.
A parent’s testimonial address to the Graduates of Batch 2010

First and foremost, on behalf of the parents, relatives and friends of our graduates and all other guests present here this evening, I extend to our graduates, our joyful congratulations and fondest wishes. I am grateful and honored to have been given this opportunity by Ate Chit, to speak on this very special and highly awaited event. I view this evening as a thanksgiving as well as a celebration of a major milestone in the lives of our graduates. This is also an excellent time to express our sincerest appreciation to Seagulls’ leadership – Kuya Ed and Ate Chit – and of course the staff led by Kuya Jun for their caring interest, full dedication and endless patience in counseling our loved ones towards the path of recovery and sobriety. They are truly the wind beneath the wings of Seagulls which enables it to soar above other facilities in the country and perhaps even in some parts of the region. Let us recognize them thru a warm round of applause.

Twenty one months ago, we brought our son Bing to Seagulls for behavioral management. It was one of the most difficult and nerve wracking decisions we had ever made simply because we were facing a situation and a process that were totally unknown to us. Without even realizing it then, we were already putting in to practice – tough love. In looking back, without any doubt, thank God, we made the right decision.

Our deepest thanks to Seagulls for making our decision fruitful, Bing has significantly changed for the better of course in terms of his attitudes and behavior. He is more open, a better listener, more patient, with a much more controlled temperament and disposition. He is a positively different person. Our hope is that the transformation continues. When that happens, it would be the greatest blessing we could ever have wished for. Everything else will pale by comparison. I am sure our fellow parents and codeps feel the same way. May our wishes and aspirations come true.

At this point, allow me to do some additional sharing, similar to what is done in the weekly T-Group, of which my wife and I had had regularly attended around 75 such sessions over the past 21 months. So we are some sort of graduates ourselves. From the learnings we derived, may I share with you some particular thoughts which standout in my mind.

First major thought is that to graduate from the Seagulls school of life, is obviously very big achievement. But our graduates should always remember that by no means is it the end of the program because the program is a continuing journey and not a specific destination. One practical way to look at graduation is that it is the beginning of a new beginning in life, make it work. While graduation is a source of gladness and fulfillment, it should not lead to overconfidence which is very dangerous and can easily result in a disaster. Even in sports, like basketball, better teams sometimes lose due to overconfidence.

Second major thought is that I am of course not an expert in relapse prevention. But I just want to mention 3 preventive measures which to me are so basic and full of wisdom:

  1. Stay connected with Seagulls in one way or another. Kung hindi, dear Graduates, para kang saranggola ni Pepe na umalagwa at kung saan na lang pupulutin
  2. Avoid the triggers. You know who and what they are. By their very nature, triggers tempt, attract and lead you to back slide and thereby waste your progress. Parang tren na nadiscaril.
  3. Be productive. Do something useful. Because as the saying goes – “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. Maganda rin na sabihin sa Tagalog – Ang taong walang ginagawa ay paboriton project ng demonyo, kaya tulad ng sinasabi ni John Lloyd sa kanyang TV commercial – “Ingat!”

Third major thought is that huwag natin isipin na and galling sa rehab ay stigmatized o parang markado na. If you think that way, sa umpisa pa lang, talon a. It will be an excuse to not even try. It’s like losing a game by default. Pagnangyari yun, ang “new beginning” para sa graduate ay magiging “sad beginning” And dapat nating ipakita at patunayan sa lahat ay ang Seagulls graduate sa halip na may Stigma, ay “Astig Na”. Ano naman ang kahulugan noon? Siyempre, hindi ito ang pagiging isang basagulero o pasikatero, kasi kung ganoon, eh malamang balik Seagulls.

Ang tatak Seagulls “Astig Na” ay medyo naiiba. He or she is a person with strength of character, honest, may humility, may disiplina, one who has faith in the program and therefore deserves the gift of hope, one who knows the meaning and importance of tough love, one who understands and learns from confrontation, one who develops better judgment through the power of consequential thinking. Hindi madaling gawin and mga bagay nay an. Kaya nga pag graduate ka ng Seagulls, ikaw ay tunay na – Astig!
Our graduates should now be ready to move on to the real world. After completing all phases of the program, kung baga, game na ngayon. Seagulls has done its part, it is now time for our graduates to do theirs. We all know that in life, success is seldom guaranteed, it has to be earned. It demands a lot of hard work, will power and sometimes luck. It rarely come like Manna from heaven. Let us constantly remind our loved ones of this reality. Meanwhile, let us give our graduates wholehearted support and inspiration so that their “new beginning” may last a lifetime. More importantly, we also need to encourage them to keep their faith in the Divine Providence as a source of strength and guidance.

I end with a final food for thought with a quote I came across some years ago. “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Your success will always be in the mind of Seagulls. But it is really in your hands.

Again Congratulations to our Graduates of 2010.

Mabuhay ang Seagulls! Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Thank you.

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