On seeking success and finding fulfillment | Inquirer Entertainment

On seeking success and finding fulfillment

/ 12:15 AM December 11, 2022

The author delivering a speech

The author delivering a speech

The past months have been very busy for me. But last week, I had quite a realization, or an epiphany. I had a glimpse of my life, how it all began and how it turned out … the 360 degrees of it. I don’t often go out unless it is necessary, but of course in filmmaking, we must appear where we’re needed.

But within a week’s time, I delivered a commencement speech at Far Eastern University (FEU), was awarded with fellow alumni at University if Santo Tomas (UST), and attended an event for the Manila Solar City project.


In our line of work, we want to educate and, hopefully, inspire. We want to awaken the minds of the young ones, those who come after us. While it may not be easy for all to find their purpose and their true selves in this world, those of us who have enough experience may be able to remind them of the importance of seeking it, and making the choice to be true.


Like the hundreds of graduates before whom I spoke, I dreamed, made mistakes, and alternately felt lost and felt certain. I went to school, was fortunate enough to graduate and find a job. I worked hard, became successful enough, and was able to give back to those around me.

I made films, was rewarded and recognized at times. I got older. And as I continued walking down my path, I dealt with various people who also had a different expertise. Still, I must say that being successful or rubbing shoulders with those who are deemed as accomplished does not mean one has already found his fulfillment or true purpose.

Today, I would like to share with you, dear readers, my commencement speech in FEU.

Every year, thousands of students graduate, though we must not forget that many are even unable to attend college. As you wait to receive your diploma, you may consider yourself fortunate, and from here, there are so many ways to pursue your goals. And with the technology these days, there are greater opportunities to learn and work on.

For our family

In a developing nation like the Philippines, we have this mindset that we must work hard to finish school, to be able to find a job so that we may serve and provide for the family. Our plans and actions are always attached to our families, who must rise with us.

It is rare when our intention to graduate is solely rooted on our own success, or pursue a career that doesn’t immediately benefit our loved ones. Inuuna natin ang pamilya kaysa sa sarili.


This mindset is not a bad thing, it has even contributed to our survival.

But sometimes, we don’t pause to consider: What does “success” truly mean? Many times, a student is told what path he should take, or what he or she is meant to be—a teacher, a doctor, a waiter, or a nurse depending on a family’s capabilities. I myself was told that I should not take up Fine Arts because, in a country like ours, it would not make me rich. I was told to be an engineer instead.

The world seems to have a fixed idea of what success means­—that is, to be able to accumulate wealth. It’s true, money enables us to do what we like. We have different definitions of success, but ultimately, you have to ask the question: Ano ang totoong bubuo at magpapaligaya sa ‘yo? (What will make you happy.)

I don’t want to tell you about my lowest moments, because anyone who has experienced success has also experienced the worst failures—that’s a given. I won’t try to encourage you with stories that make me look like a survivor. What happened has happened, and I learned from it—and this is where I am now.

As an artist and a professional, my story is about plain hard work. I don’t blink when I say that my success is paid for with my efforts, lahat ‘yan pinaghirapan ko. Awards and recognition are just a bonus, because receiving them is not my ultimate goal … it is the process of filmmaking that makes me happy and fulfilled.

There will be rewards for the efforts you make, and you’ll also have to pay a price if you wish to reach a certain place. Nothing we get for ourselves or our family will come without sacrifices.

Perhaps you invited me to speak here because I have enough accomplishments that may inspire others. But I can only tell you what I told my daughter, who’s about your age: Maybe I can guide you, but I can’t tell you what to do, or what will complete you. I can only stand here and share what I learned, and to remind you that life isn’t just about survival. Having achievements is not the same as being fulfilled. Whatever you decide to do, my wish is that you find fulfillment in life. I also wish you’ll find it while you’re young.

Finding purpose

Yes, society has its expectations from us. We’re often told to conform or play a certain role. And people might applaud and pay you when you stick to that role. For others, it may be a thankless role.

We’ve all been given a purpose, and you’ll have to find yours. You don’t have to be selfish in pursuing what matters to you, at ‘di ka rin dapat mahiya kahit na iba s’ya sa inaasahan ng mga nakapalibot sayo. Give what you have, and suffer for it if you have to. When you think of it, you’ll encounter pain in whichever path you take, whether it’s something that you want or what others want for you.

In the end, we all have destinies to fulfill. We will make choices, right and wrong. We don’t really know where these decisions will lead us. But if you make a mistake, try to make it right.

Your parents and those who love you wish you success, and this moment is already a victory that leads to more, but you have a long road ahead. This pandemic alone has shown us how difficult things can become, so be prepared for the reality that life will not be easy.

In your hands

There is no certainty in the future, but what you can be certain about is that the dedication and labor you put into your pursuits will bear results. This is the only thing you have control over; it is in your hands.

As you try to find your destiny and help others rise and give back to those who have helped you rise, you will be tested … you will get hurt. You might not want it… you might at times get broken by it. Matuto kayo at umusbong, at sana, ano man ang tagumpay o kabiguan n’yo, saan man kayo mapunta, hangad ko na mabuo kayo at makatagpo ng totoong kaligayahan.

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Maraming salamat sa pagtanggap at pakikinig ninyo sa akin. Mabuhay and good luck!

TAGS: brillante ma. mendoza

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