article banner
From Where We Sit


Jun Cuaresma

“Make health your wealth,” not “wealth for your health.” This was one of the self-commandments I shared early this week in my commencement speech at the 69th year-end Commencement Rites of the University of the East.
I was greatly elated when the university president told me I was being invited to be the commencement speaker, being an alumnus of such a prestigious university. I then decided to share what I call my “self-commandments.” I emphasized, though, that they might already know some of those commandments, and some others might sound like motherhood statements, but what was important, I said, was how I bring those commandments to life.

Commandment No. 1—Learn new things every day in ways that will enhance your relevance to others. This first commandment relates to your professional life. If you think learning will stop on your graduation day, you are definitely wrong. If you stop, you will be left behind. Keep abreast of what’s happening around you, especially the ones that are relevant to your profession. In this world, nobody knows everything. People rely on each other, and on each other’s competence and expertise. Let yourself be the one to be relied upon.

Commandment No. 2—Build and keep your own network of personal contacts and friends. Today, the social media is the most efficient way to build contacts and friends. However, for me, physical contact, coupled with a sweet smile, is still the best. Being shy is a “no-no” for you can never build a network if you are timid. Your network gives you the sense of belongingness and the relationship that you have with them keeps you going.

Commandment No. 3—“Journey” in your own time and recognize individual differences. All of us have our own individual time and life to live, our own route to success. Life is not a race; it is about being passionate in every minute of our journey. Success comes to us differently depending on our pace. While we can be inspired by the successes of other people, we can only be successful through our own actions, and in our own time.

Commandment No. 4—Thou shall not procrastinate. Have that attitude of getting things done while you can. It gives you peace of mind if you do, as it will free you up from continuously worrying about things left undone. If you are swamped with many things to do, learn to prioritize.

Commandment No. 5—“Correct mistakes” before they happen. I am referring to the “sana” mentality among Filipinos. On your journeys, you will be hearing remarks like, “Ay, sana dinala ko yong ganito.” After completing a project and realizing an error, “Ay, sana ginawa na natin yan noon.” These are simple acts that could yield the best results if only you did the right thing at the onset.

Commandment No. 6—Deal with conflicts squarely; apologize if you are wrong and forgive if you are right. Face your problem as it occurs. Life is sometimes good and sometimes difficult. You will have conflicts with others. Accept that you can never please everybody, but whatever it is you decide to do, consider reaching out in the end to either apologize to or find forgiveness for the other party.

Commandment No. 7—Be thrifty. Learn to manage your personal finances. Do not live lavishly for it is very difficult to be in financial trouble later. So learn to live within your means.

Commandment No. 8—Make health your wealth, not wealth for your health. We all want to be financially successful but let us be conscious that we never sacrifice our physical well being in pursuit of it. After all, it will be meaningless if you use the wealth you so hardly worked for, to cure your deteriorating health. Exercise regularly, eat less fatty food and get enough sleep. You need a well-maintained physical body to bring yourself to your ultimate destination called success.

I also shared with the graduates how I see their possible life journey from their graduation day and five or 10 years hence:

First: I anticipate that speed is still the name of the game. There will still be communication overload; information will be overflowing, accessible anywhere, anytime and whenever you need them. You will live in an even faster-paced world. Hence, your ability to gather information, interpret it and make quicker decisions will be a personal competitive advantage.

Second: You will lose the human touch and that may be boring. People will communicate with people through machines, through the web and, probably, with robots. People will become very independent and “disconnected” from each other. I believe that keeping in touch physically with fellow humans is still vital. So continue to be a relationship builder and stay humanly and physically connected with other people.

Third: The last item I want to share has something to do with drugs and their proper use. I believe that there are prohibited drugs that can help save lives but some people abuse them. I wish competent medical professionals would do more studies so that drugs would be properly used, solely for the furtherance of human lives and not to cause their loss.

In closing, I made a wish for them to grow upright and dignified, worthy to be emulated and admired.
My congratulations to all the graduates of 2017!

Jun Cuaresma is the COO and managing partner, as well as the division head of Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and more than 800 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us:
@PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our website:


As published in The Manila Times, dated on 26 April 2017