We continue our series of commencement speeches for Batch 2020 with award-winning band Ben&Ben.
The nine-piece group just dropped a new single June 4 via Sony Music called “Lifetime,” inspired by a YouTube comment left by one of their fans on the official music video of their hit song “Pagtingin.”
In the comment, written three months ago, fan Anne Jou narrated how she had kept feelings for her best friend a secret for years for fear of losing him. It was only right before his wedding that she found out he once had feelings for her, too.
“We didn’t know that if only one of us had dared to make a move, a lifetime was waiting for us,” she wrote.
The band, composed of twin brothers Paolo Benjamin and Miguel Benjamin Guico (previously known as The Benjamins) on acoustic guitars and vocals, Agnes Reoma (bass), Poch Barretto (electric guitar), Keifer Cabugao (violin), Pat Lasaten (keyboards), Toni Muñoz and Andrew de Pano (percussion), and Jam Villanueva (drums) worked on the song while social distancing. Miguel and Paolo wrote it and they all recorded their tracks in their respective homes.
“Lifetime” was mixed by veteran sound engineer JP Verona, and mastered by Grammy Award-winning Leon Zervos (Pink, Rihanna, Maroon 5, Beastie Boys).
“Oh, you were a good dream,” is one of the song’s striking lines. And Ben&Ben is a band that knows all about dreams.
In his message for this year’s graduates, Miguel writes about reaching goals and fulfilling dreams—even if they sometimes change.
Day 1 dream
Hello, class of 2020!
First of all, we’d like to give you a nine-way round of applause for making it this far. Congratulations!
Let me ask you a question: What was your Day 1 dream?
More often than not, we choose our course in college for two reasons: It’s either our Day 1 dream, or our parents’. Sometimes, we’re lucky if it happens to be both.
Pao and I took up engineering in college because it was our dream, and it so happened to also be our parents’ dream. I couldn’t forget the time we passed our college entrance exams. It felt like we were finally taking our first step to climbing the ladder of our life goal.
Then, the reality of college came, and it set us on a really rough and challenging journey. Sure, there were a lot of treasured moments, but who could forget all the crammed exams, clutch projects and sleepless nights? I remember how Paolo’s first exam in Advanced Algebra brought him to tears due to the nearly impossible increase in difficulty.
On my end, I couldn’t count the number of times I dozed off during an exam because of a sleepless night spent cramming. I’m sure a lot of you have experienced it all—anxious waiting for the release of grades, nerve-wracking grade consultations when almost failing a subject, and the fear of explaining to the parents why you failed a subject.
There was one summer when Pao and I sat down with our dad and had a heart-to-heart talk. We asked him, “Dad, what if this dream isn’t really for us? What if we find that our hearts are somewhere else? Paano po kung mag-shift kami? (What if we decide to shift to another course?)”
We were expecting a stern reply. Surprisingly, though, he said, “Anak, basta napag-isipan niyo nang mabuti at sigurado kayong doon niyo matutulungan ang maraming tao sa kinabukasan dahil nandoon ang puso niyo, suporta kami diyan. (Sons, as long as you’ve thought it through and you’re sure that you’ll be able to help a lot of people because your hearts are in that direction, then we’ll support you.)”
Little did we know, that talk would set us on the right path for us, and make us reevaluate the reason behind our journey.
And so, that day, we decided to drop everything to join the band Ben&Ben…
Just kidding. We realized that we had to finish strong with what we started, so we powered through the rest of college. Two years after, we had our diplomas and it felt like a weird dream, because the impossible, indeed, happened. We finished.
Batch 2020, now you have finally reached your goal. Whatever your objectives are, you are now closer to meeting them. But what if your dreams change? What if you suddenly find your heart has grown distant from your Day 1 dream?
Sometimes, our dreams change, and that’s OK.
We were so close to applying for that dream corporate job in a food manufacturing company. But then, Ben&Ben happened. We met the rest of the band and we were set on a journey which took us on a complete 180-degree turn from where we thought we would be. We wanted to serve and love others through engineering, but we found ourselves doing that through the power of music.
A lot of you might be thinking, “But this is what I have set out to do.”
The world right now is in an extremely unprecedented state. No generation was prepared for this, and so many changes are happening as we speak. Our states of mind may change, and these times urge us to ask ourselves to reevaluate our purpose. Batch 2020, we applaud you for being such brave people to face these changes head on. We are here with you.
We’re here to tell you the same thing that our dad told us years ago: ”Basta napag-isipan niyo nang mabuti…” Dreams, purpose, significance—these are things that aren’t found on singular paths or perfectly straight roads. No one ever has to figure out things on Day 1, so if you find your current dreams are distant from your Day 1 dreams, always remember that as long as you find yourself in love and service to others, you are on the right path.
Go ahead. Don’t fulfill your Day 1 dreams. Fulfill your present daydreams. We’re here with you! —Miguel Benjamin of Ben&Ben