12 10 / 2013
Five for Fighting’s subject song always makes me look back. It’s always bittersweet to reminisce. I smile at the good memories and feel sad at some painful ones.
Listening to this song makes me miss my grandparents a lot. As a kid, I thought they’d always be there; at least until I get married.
I also remember my college classmate and good friend Esprite who battled cancer for two years until she left too. I remember all the fun memories when we were still students. I will never forget when we would talk about the life that was ahead of us.
Then there’s also my uncle, who passed away so suddenly. And lastly, another uncle who was also my godfather. He was the most generous man I know and he will always be a big part of my life.
The song reminds me of what has gone by. And while many often say that they do not have regrets about their past or don’t want to change anything for it has brought them to where thy are now, I on the other hand want to prolong my younger years.
I want to savor those moments with these people who have made an impact in my life. I’ve always dreamed of my life with people I love dearly and it’s sad to lose some of them along the way.
I wish I was younger. I wish I had more time to talk to them. I wish they knew how important they were to me.
30 5 / 2013
I was going home yesterday when this news (see link) was being mentioned over the radio. The cab driver commented that compared with the latter part of Erap’s admin and GMA’s 9-year regime, more people are taking cabs now. I told him that it’s actually very hard to get a cab nowadays. Then we continued on discussing how his younger brother, an OFW in Dubai, was envious of him because even if he does not earn big, he is home with family and friends.
The driver said that almost everyone he knew wanted to go abroad before, including him. But with the strengthening peso now, he finds it more practical to stay. The OFWs were lucky before but since the economy is having a momentum, they are concerned especially if their relatives here just keep on spending. He is hopeful and positive that the country will be able to sustain its growth.
I believe there are a lot of factors why the Philippines even beat China in terms of Q1 GDP growth. Primarily, the government is spending more compared with 2012 because it has too. Thus industries like banking and construction some key industries that are at the forefront of this growth. It’s also noteworthy that we just had the midterm election so there was much cash in the market.
Interestingly, domestic consumption was also sustained. It means that either more people are buying or the same people who buy are spending more. The reason for this observation is the unemployment rate of 7% remains one of the highest in SEAsia and the poverty level is still a little more than the quarter of the population.
If several of our industries will feel this growth, hopefully they will expand more thus open more jobs. Government reforms is key and inclusive growth, one that involves momentum for small to medium enterprises is vital. Once this happens, more taxi drivers will feel good about their jobs and their life.
Excited to see what’s next for the Philippines. Again, I did not expect this to happen in my lifetime.
26 5 / 2013
How am I different from people who give “happy endings” in exchange for cash?
I just finished a NatGeo feature about this guy exploring streetfood in Amsterdam and I’m really jealous. Earlier today, I saw an episode of Inside Africa on CNN where host Erroll explored the streets of Johannesburg and interacted with the locals. The locals were living their dreams as musicians, book peddlers or restaurateurs. On the other hand, I am bound to a corporate job I’m still trying hard to convince myself that I love.
When a masseuse offers the deed, almost always, it’s not because she wants to do it. She does it for the cash. It pays her bills. And the more satisfied her customers, the bigger tips they get in return.
If I had the choice, I want to be that guy in NatGeo, or Erroll himself, or Diego Bunuel. I want to see, hear, taste, feel more diverse cultures I have not experienced. But for now, I need some bills settled. That’s why I have to abide by the corporate life five days a week— endless meetings and brainstorming sessions and planning on how to keep the numbers growing at a favorable figure. And the better I’m at doing my job, the bigger the bonuses, the better are the offers. Doesn’t anybody need cash?
As it becomes routinary to offer “extra service” for money, how much of the soul is left with the masseuse. A deed that is supposed to be a form of intimacy out of genuine, passionate emotions, it becomes a boring job. One which does not have fulfillment. One where pleasure is one-sided. But until when will she do it?
In his address to Standford students, Steve Jobs said to do what you love. May be not all people— including me— are willing to take that leap of faith? The sad thing is, the more afraid we are of uncertainty, the more we become less of ourselves, the more our soul gets ripped in pieces and the farther we get from our dreams. We get used to it.
Am I really doing this because I want to learn and I’m passionate about business. Or is it because being a slave to the corporate world assures me of stability I am not willing to let go?
26 5 / 2013
I finished elementary in a public school in our community. Back then I know it was a public school in a rural area but it did not matter. Most of my cousins went there and school merely felt like an extension of the family compound where we resided. Everyone my age I knew went there. Though I have to admit that being a relative of the community’s local leader who was serving for more or less 40 years certainly had its perks. Plus my grandfather was a popular businessman in our community. Teachers were kinder and nicer but I think they also saw that I was a hard working, earnest student.
When I was about to graduate, I wanted to go to a private school. I’ve heard many stories about how advanced the lessons were and they had the best facilities. I had many choices then. Later, I found myself enrolled in the region’s most prominent Jesuit University. I remember one time when my mom briefed me about going there. She asked me to be very conscious about my behavior because of her uncle. Her uncle— my grandmother’s brother— was the School Principal. My mom was concerned that I would embarrass her uncle and the family.
Ever since I was young, I have always been a confident, assertive boy. Since I was the first grandchild in my maternal side, I was spoiled and pampered by everyone around me. And they exposed me to learning at a very young age. I was around four if I’m not mistaken when my mom talked to the local Kinder teacher if I can sit in.Later, I was in class with kids who were two-three years older. This experience taught me social skills and introduced me the fun in learning (There were plenty of crayons at that time).
Before classes started in high school, I knew I was going to make my mom and family proud. I was very competitive as well. For me, graduating from a public school shouldn’t make me feel inferior. Hell, I graduated Salutatorian with several medals! I remember that during my first year, I was very active in class recitation on all subjects that when it was time to elect the class officers, my classmates made me the Class President! Majority of my classmates were from private schools but I always reminded myself never to be intimidated by kids with affluent background.
I would carry this confidence and attitude of being very competitive until my college years (also in the same school). Of course, it wasn’t a perfect school experience especially at times when I had to deal with family issues. And while it is true that in some instances, I wished things were different, the struggles I had made me a stronger person and prepared me for even greater battles later on in life.
As far as challenges are concerned, I will always be reminded of my favorite Religious Studies teacher, Fr. John Chambers. He said that one will not be given any trials if the He knows that the person can’t handle it. This means that every time there are problems, one should feel flattered because He believes that we can survive that test.
I pressured myself especially when I reached college to get really good grades. It wasn’t enough that I pass the subjects, I always wanted to be on top. The subject I hated and feared most was Mathematics. I had Algebra and Basis Statistics on my freshman year. But I’ve always thought that the mind controls everything. If I believed that I would get a high mark and I forced myself to study harder, then there was no way that I would not be able to be an excellent student. I got one of the highest grades in Statistics in that class.
If there was one thing I am also grateful for during my years in school, it would be my friends. And I have been told that I am very choosy when it comes to friends but for me, one has to. I had to be surrounded with people who shared the same dreams. I wanted to be have a comfortable life. I aspired to travel and see the world. I am fortunate that I’ve met those kinds of people as well. They reminded me of what we had to do. In other words, they helped me focus.
My life right now isn’t perfect. And I have a lot of dreams still unaccomplished. Sometimes I feel that time is running out. But looking back, I am proud because I turned out fine and there is still that little boy in me who is hopeful and positive. I am still chasing most of my aspirations and almost every time, I feel frustrated that it’s taking me a while to achieve them. I also question why it comes handy for others what I want for myself. Then I am reminded again by one of my mentors, he said, there are two realities in life. One reality is about all things that you can’t change, your parents, your family, your background, where you came from, other people. The other reality are about all things that you can change. He was talking about my attitude, my behavior, possibly my character. He asked me, if you fail, then what do you do about it? And he also reminded me to always judge my decisions based on the circumstances I had at the time that I made that decision. He said, sometimes we find ourselves regretting what we did, but we have to think, what was the best that we could have done at that time?
I told those two boys— the fourteen-year old and the sixteen-year old— it was not their choice or their liking that their fathers died. The families they were born into were not their decision, even the situations that they are facing now. But how would they use these experiences for them to be come better persons? To be fair, they have done well so far. They are hard working students considering the medals they’ve received. I told them to use the experiences— challenging experiences— they have now to motivate them or to drive them to uplift their lives. For sure, these boys don’t want to get stuck to their current struggles.
I know how hard life can be and how most of the time people pray for that break, that opportunity to realize the kind of life they want. May that come to these boys too and may they reach their stars.
22 5 / 2013
The highlight of last Sunday’s lunch with Tita M was not that fact that it was a reunion for both of us after almost a year since we last had a get-together. It was when she introduced me to three young men close to her and compelled me to inspire them. Seriously.
I cannot remember their names at this point but I remember the boys’ ages. The first is a 14-year old incoming second year high school. The second, a 16-year old incoming college freshman and the last has the same age as me. He is working for Tita M.
The 14-year old.
He is Tita M’s nephew. He is the son of cousin closest to her. When this boy’s father succumbed to a heart attack, as it is customary for Filipino families, the relatives including Tita M took it upon them to help the cousin’s wife, a public school teacher, in rearing her two children.
The boy got 23 medals when he graduated Valedictorian in grade school. They must have been awfully heavy. And his mother might have been ridiculously proud just like the rest of the family. The boy is clearly promising.
As the case in most public schools in the country, the family became a victim of academe politics during the boy’s first year in high school. Since there is little that can be done in the public school system for cases like this, Tita M suggested to transfer the boy from the public high school to an exclusive, reputable Catholic school in their province. This means that she will also support the boy’s education. When she remembered that I graduated from the same school in my hometown, she was very excited for me to speak with the boy! But how do you talk to a 14-year old who recently lost his father and experienced injustice in a public school?
The 16-year old.
He is the son of one of Tita M’s family caretakers in their rest house in the province. According to her, she has practically seen the boy grow since his parents have been with their family for a very long time.
The teenager just graduated from high school—Valedictorian— and he got 11 medals. Unfortunately, just like the 14-year old, his father also died leaving him in the custody of his mother. Again, Tita M saw potential in the kid and volunteered to help find a way for the brilliant young man to continue his college education in Manila.