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A Thanksgiving!

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By: Atty. Darren Mae Esto

Thank you to my Alma Mater Kalibo Elementary School for inviting me as your Keynote Speaker.
Part of my speech runs like this…
Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you today with immense pride and gratitude, reflecting on a journey that began many years ago in a small barangay of New Buswang, Kalibo. My story is one of persistence, community support, and the fulfillment of dreams—a testament to the power of believing in oneself and others.
As a young girl, I was full of dreams and aspirations, like many of you here today. Growing up in the Province of Aklan, where resources were limited, and opportunities often seemed out of reach, I quickly learned the value of hard work and the importance of a supportive community. My parents Tatay Ted Esto and Nanay Delia, teachers, and friends all played crucial roles in shaping my journey, encouraging me to strive for excellence even when the odds were against me.
Throughout high school, I encountered numerous challenges. There were moments of doubt, times when I questioned whether I had the strength to continue pursuing my goals. But every time I felt like giving up, someone would remind me of my potential—whether it was a teacher who stayed after class to help me understand a difficult concept, or a friend who cheered me on during exams.
When I entered college, the challenges grew, but so did my determination. I chose to study Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and proceed Bachelor of Laws, inspired by a deep desire to make a difference in my community and to fight for justice. Law school was grueling, filled with late nights, endless readings, and the constant pressure to excel. Yet, what kept me going was the unwavering support of those around me. My family made countless sacrifices, my professors offered guidance, and my classmates and I formed a tight-knit group, pushing each other to reach our fullest potential.
In 2023, after years of hard work and dedication, I took the Philippine Bar Exam. To put this achievement into perspective, the first Philippine Bar Exams were conducted in 1901 with only 13 examinees. By 1903, when the third exam took place, results were not released until 1905. Today, becoming one of the 3,812 successful test takers is a monumental achievement, not just for me, but for everyone who supported me along the way.
Passing the bar was incredibly hard, filled with sleepless nights and countless hours of study. But the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finally saw my name on the list of passers was indescribable. It was a moment that encapsulated all the struggles, sacrifices, and unwavering support I had received throughout my life.
This journey has taught me an invaluable lesson: our achievements are not just our own. They are the product of collective effort, love, and belief. I urge each one of you to support those around you, to believe in their potential even when they might not see it themselves. By doing so, you might be helping someone achieve greatness beyond their wildest dreams.
As I look back on my journey from a young girl in grade six to a lawyer who has just passed the bar, I realize that the true measure of success is not just in personal milestones but in the shared joy of lifting each other up. I ask you all to believe in yourself and in others. Support them, nurture their dreams, and celebrate their achievements. For it is in this collective growth that we find the true essence of our strength and potential.
Thank you.
(Atty. Esto is the legal consultant of the Aklan Media-Citizen Council)

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