We became close as our sessions ensued. I started calling him "sensei", the Japanese equivalent of "teacher", after a few sessions. It was fun spending an hour or two with Naoki. Other than learning what I paid him for, we spent hours eating out, talking, eating out again, talking, and eating out, and talking. After two months, our student-teacher bond ended. But we are still very good friends up to now.
Finally, graduation day had come for Naoki. He failed to graduate last year, so this time was really a great fulfillment for him. I became a part of his hard work. I worked with him in his experiments, helped him finish one of his papers, and went through with him during emotional outbursts and frustrations. It was exhausting but fun and fulfilling. It was frustrating, but finally, the hard work paid off.
Naoki celebrated his graduation party together with his friends and love ones last Sunday. The program was emotional, and Naoki's speech was really moving. After a few words of congratulations from the people, Naoki gave his song of response to everyone. He sang Lupang Hinirang. It was the first Filipino song he memorized when he came to the Philippines. Having been lived in the Philippines for five years, his pronunciation was sharp and fluent. By the end of the program, he fell into tears as he sang the song and sincerely delivered his gratitude to each and everyone who has touched his life for years now.
Nobody knows what will happen to him in the years to come. But I am certain that with his discipline and determination, he will be able to grasp the bright future that's waiting for him ahead. Omedeto Gozaimasu Naoki-sensei!