Graduation and Graduation Gifts

Graduation and Graduation Gifts

In Events
Apr 02, 2014

If you’re from the Philippines chances are your Facebook feed is currently flooded with graduation photos with matching congratulatory messages and profession of pride from parents of SY 2013-2014 graduates. I’m one of those who crowded your feed as my youngest son graduated from High School last Sunday.

Graduation is a big milestone not only for the students but also for parents. Oftentimes, you see the parents looking prouder than the graduates themselves, flashing wider smiles despite the discomfort of wearing barong, Sunday’s best, heels, and make-up in a hot and humid covered courts. (I wonder if our alma mater will ever decide to hold the rites some place else where there is air conditioning?). Luckily, my husband and I were seated beside one of the big Iwata fans. Another parent near us even brought a cooler filled with bottled water and ice. My husband and I were also ready with our Sky Flakes and peanuts, having experienced a few graduation ceremonies lasting past dinnertime. So everything was good.

Photo op ensued after the ceremonies. Of course, the graduates wanted to take their photos with their barkadas, favorite teachers, titas, priests and other school staff. My son has developed a friendship with one of the security guards who would watch him perform in dance concerts and competitions, paying for his own ticket. He also had a photo op with Kuya Guard.

After the non-stop goodbyes and other sentimental gestures, most of the graduates had dinner with their respective families. Pinoy parents are generous. Even if they complain about the high cost of sending their children to school, they would still come up with special gifts for their graduates. I did an informal survey among my co-parents on the graduation gifts they gave their sons. Here are some of the answers: watch, PS4, Charriol bracelet, laptop, trips abroad or to a domestic destination, cash, second-hand car.

As we did with our two older sons, we gave a letter with a cash gift to our High School graduate. If you notice it’s letter with a cash gift, and not the other way around. I am personally big on letters. I’ve always treasured the ones I receive from them and I keep them in an orange box, which I sometimes open when I feel like re-reading their notes. In our graduation letter, we reminisce on their journey in school, the triumphs and trials they encountered. We thank them for their effort, citing their strengths, how they overcame their weaknesses and the moments they made us proud. Then we wish them the best of luck and promise our support as they enter a new chapter in life. The amount is modest yet significant for a teenager, so we include suggested guidelines on the use of the cash gift. We request them not to spend the money on luxury items but on something that will bring them potential cash inflow. We hope that this gives them an opportunity to try things out and not be too scared to make mistakes and lose money since earning expectations are not yet that high compared to the time they graduate from college.

Another gift that I wish I had given my sons is priceless and takes 13-14 years to complete. So for parents out there whose kids are still starting in school, you may want to consider this. A couple of years ago Brenna Martin received her High School graduation gift from her dad. She posted the story online and it garnered over 20 million hits. It was a Dr. Seuss book entitled Oh, the Places You’ll Go! What made this really special was that her dad started preparing for this gift as soon as she entered kindergarten. He asked all her teachers and coaches to write something for her. It was kept a secret from her and she only found out about it when she opened her graduation present, bringing her to tears. Isn’t that amazing? (click link to find out more about the gift)

Other interesting gift ideas that come to mind are great books that will help your child prepare for the next chapter. For my college graduate a couple of years ago I gave the book Getting from College to Career. Give them books that will encourage them learn about personal finance. Check out Amazon to find something that suits your child’s personality and needs. For self-improvement you may want to give them Dale Carnegie’s classic How To Win Friends And Influence People or Boothman’s How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds. Check out on the various books of Steve Chandler on motivating yourself, reinventing yourself, and selling. These are books with short chapters that are easy to read for a generation with short attention span. These books may help them prepare for job interviews.

Milestones like graduation and the gift-giving that goes with the occasion should be taken as opportunities to recall the journey, savor it, celebrate it and bring closer family ties. Think about the gift that you will give your graduate. Will it be good for him/her? Will it contribute to your child’s personal development? Is it something that you can afford? Some co-parents also shared that they find it important not to be pressured into giving in to gift requests from their graduates. I think not giving in to the pressure is a wonderful gift itself.

Congratulations to all our graduates and to the proud parents!


Announcement: Another gift idea you can consider for your graduates and loved ones is the gift of financial literacy. My husband Marvin and I will be part of iCon 2014, a whole day Financial Summit on May 17, 2014 at the SMX Convention Center. Students are entitled to special discounted rates. Check this link for details. iCon 2014 FAQs