Archive for the ‘Life Series – Lessons Learned’ Category

Reflecting on my Private Education

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been blessed with a Green mind and Blue Blood – not literally of course. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to sharpen my mind and hone my skills with the “high-class” education and facilitites of LSGH and ADMU. From 1993 to 2010 , I whiled my time in classrooms, in the football field and in organizations absorbing lessons and information like a sponge and spending hours on end preparing for tests and exams just to get good enough grades to impress my parents, my teachers, friends, and ultimately, my employers.

Almost 2 years removed from the educational system, I’ve had a “rude awakening” of sorts as I observed my friends tread different paths and as I took steps to carve a path of my own.

I have always been told that we were being prepared for the real world; honestly, the educational system from which I sprung is nothing like the real world which I was led to believe.

Rude Awakening # 1: On falling in-line

My being in those schools afforded me with privileges such as having no need to fall-in-line. My parents fell in line for me to register when I was in elementary and in high school, I had a someone help me when I first got my driver’s licence and the online registration in college allowed me to choose my classes from the comforts of my own home (but at the mercy of our internet connection).

So imagine my shock when I first registered to vote (when I didn’t join Ateneo’s group registration), when I went to get my first NBI clearance, when I got my SSS number, medical exams and other pre-employment requirements.

The first thing is that, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t used to the long lines, and I certainly wasn’t used to going to government offices to get things done for myself.

I wasn’t taught how to get my NBI clearance and fall in line for 6 hours straight in scorching heat. I wasn’t taught the value of getting my SSS, Philhealth and HMDF and Cedulas, I had to find out for myself how to register a corporation, get business permits and such.  Hell, I wasn’t even taught how to fall in line to get my licence back from the LGU’s when I decided to stop paying the traffic enforcers and do the right thing. From the hours I spent falling in line, talking to people I didn’t know to pass my time and humbly asking them how to go about things, I learned a lot.

School conditioned me to think that my education allowed me privileges that no other person could have.  The real world exposed to me to the unfair reality that those with “money” have shortcuts and can get away with almost everything while those who have less have to go through the “normal process.”

What gave me the right to skip lines, to bypass procedures, to pay my way out of the law?  The reality is that we must learn to go through things the way normal people do in order for us to understand the hardships that others go through on a daily basis and hopefully be smart enough to do something about it.

Rude Awakening # 2: On School Pride

For 17 years, my mind was being formed to think that “I am in the best school, therefore I am one of the best if not the best.” Can you imagine what that would do to one’s ego? It bloats to an extent that encountering someone who’s more brilliant but who comes from a “lesser known school” is a kick in the groin.

I left college full of pride and confidence knowing that I received the “best education available”. 2 years removed, I sit here humbled as I recall people I encountered  and worked with who have done greater things and have achieved more despite graduating from a different school. (or having not graduated at all)

We just have to accept the fact that there are more brilliant students out there regardless of their educational background.

I was taught to be proud. Now I wish I was taught to be humble instead.

Rude Awakening # 3:  On being “Christian Gentlemen” and “Men and Women for Others”

Yes I’ve been told to lead a life in the service of others. I’ve written many a paper and delivered just as much reports on how I am to serve others – especially the less fortunate. Yet, despite the A’s and recognition I’ve garnered, my soul is left wanting.

The reality that set in was that I did all those to get the grade, to ensure my “future” with a multinational corporation or whatever dream job I envisioned to have back then.

“Christian service” and being a “Man for others”, for the most part, is limited to NSTP, JEEP and a weekend immersion. (For others who are  more enlightened, it also involves weekly trips to areas). I’m sure if you go through all the papers and reports submitted over the years, you’ll see thousands of “solutions” to help our less fortunate countrymen. Brilliant ideas that remain as such – concepts and plans waiting to be put into action.

Painful as it is to hear that Ateneans and Lasallians are so far removed from the harsh realities of our country and the unimaginable daily plight of the impoverished, these are all true. It’s about time we do something about it

The day we’ll become real men and women for others is the day we go beyond writing papers and giving reports – it’s when we step out of our comfort zones to really reach out to the people who have been knocking on our doors far too long. We’ll become men and women for others when we stop doing it for the grade. When we hope to be measured not by letters, but by impact.

Rude Awakening # 4: On being ignorant

When I graduated I thought I knew a lot and I had the whole world in my hands. The brutal truth? What I knew would barely help me survive in the real world.

I realized how ignorant I was to not know about things that are seemingly trivial, but essential. Things like commuter routes, like government office SOP’s, like paying taxes, like registering vehicles, like living on a tight budget and many more.

I wish I paid as much attention to life in the real world as I did my classes and lectures.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for being given the chance to study in those schools, much thanks to my parents and grandparents for making that happen. It’s just that the perpetuation of the current system results to our being disconnected from the world so much so that we already deserve to be called selfish, snobbish and without a care for the world. Being educated in the top schools was a privilege – yet we are entitled to nothing unless we make sure that we who have been given much will serve those who received less and not the other way around.


Enter With Hope: My First 2012 Entry

December 31, 2011 1 comment

A personal reflection on the year that past and the year that beckons.

Before the smoke clears from tonight’s festivities, I take a look back on the year that just passed. 2011 was rough – filled with falls and tumbles that I’ve never experienced before. The whole year was a test of my own resolve and willingness to get back up on my feet after being run down to the ground.

I look at the past with pain and disappointment.

I look at today with thanks.

I look at tomorrow with hope and optimism.

I realized that from my failures I had much to learn while from my successes I had much to be thankful for.

When things seem to be at their worst, then there’s no other recourse but to hope for the better.

When the world throws shit at your family, fight back. Adversity brought my siblings and I closer than ever before and for that I look to 2012 with hope and confidence that we can go through anything. A sudden change made me believe and trust in my parents more than I ever had and the fragile state of my grandmother woke me up.

When the world decides to break your heart, be patient. Someday, someone will come along to put back all the broken pieces of your heart together.

When the world shows you a road less travelled, take it. I realized how difficult yet life-changing it was to tread a path of my own. It will be a struggle; but the hardships will all be worth it in the end.

When the world bestows upon you a talent, use it. Nothing beats doing what you love most and what you are best at and getting rewarded for it.

When the world separates you from your dearest friends, reach out. While social networks make it easy (yet boring) to communicate, nothing beats unending laughter and stories over a bottle of beers and a table full of food. A real hug will always be better than receiving a “like” or a “poke”.

When the world gives you much, give back. Help out those who have much less – then you’ll be given so much more than what you already have.

Finally, When the world throws everything it has at you, take it all in, offer your middle finger and smile. There would always, always be a glimmer of hope. For everything else, there are the things that will forever be with us – family, love and friends. Those should be enough to keep us sane.

Happy New Year. 🙂


Dream Come True!

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Since college, I’ve dreamed of one day working for a big consultancy firm and facilitate various programs and seminars for corporations. Let’s just say that my biggest passion in life apart from playing football, is to conceptualize, plan and execute training modules to groups and individuals.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to work for Management Strategies  Asia Inc during one of their programs held in Fontana Leisure Resort in Clark, Pampanga.

I spent 2 days with 4 wonderful and really helpful senior consultants (very helpful as they really spent time to teach me and share lessons with me throughout the program) and I watched and marveled at the way they executed their program for one of the top Pharmaceutical companies in the country. I spent the first day observing and helping out in set-up, documentation and logistics.  All I can say is that never in my life have I learned so much and enjoyed so much just by simple preparing simple materials, writing down what the participants say and watching the senior consultants at work.

In the evening while we were settling down inside our villa, I was handed a folder containing a formal agreement between the company and I to formalize my being officially “on-board”. I remember lying down on my bed in slight disbelief that I was actually reading and about to sign an agreement with a consultancy firm. I was too excited that I forgot to sign in until I woke up.

The second day was much different as I was tasked to facilitate 2 activities during the day. While I have facilitated and crafted many training programs before, I never felt so much pressure to deliver.

To cut the long story short, I believe I turned in a pretty good performance if I say so myself.

I dreamed of one day facilitating activities for general managers and top officers of established multinational corporations. I just never thought that I’d get that opportunity this year. 🙂

Words just can’t explain how happy and fulfilled I am to have been given such an opportunity and hopefully a lot of other opportunities to work with and learn from the best. 🙂

I know I have a long way to go just to be close to the status and experience that the senior consultants have reached but I’m really willing and excited to do what I can to get there – but someday, I will. 🙂

A Lesson from a Deaf Percussionist

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Through this talk, I realized that there could be no better way to learn how to listen than listening to the talk of a deaf percussionist. Without the use of their ears, they learn how to listen to people and to music through other means.

While so many of us struggle to even give undivided attention to listen to our friends, lovers, family members, teachers without our minds wandering into God-knows-where, there are others who have been given less but can do so much more.

The first challenge of learning how to listen is to finish her 32 minute talk. It kind of gets difficult to focus as her ideas continuously and freely flow but if you listen enough you’ll get a beautiful message. Plus the mini-concert at the end will make everything worth it. 🙂


The Devil’s Three-way

As a curious teenager, especially since I turned 18, I always wondered what it was like. I always heard about it, I always saw it, I once dreamed about it, but I never got to really experience it. Until today…

The devil’s three-way! a.k.a The three car accident. (Sa mga madudumi ang utak at nag-click ng link dahil sa title, sorry to disappoint you!)

So I was driving turning left towards Katipunan avenue, driving at 55Kph down past shell towards Ateneo, when suddenly this black car moved towards my lane (it was a two-lane area), so I stepped on the brakes… Then, I didn’t hit him.

But a moment after stopping I heard this screech, felt a bump, and then my car move forward, and then I heard another one and my car moved forward again (nung una akala ko malakas lang ang speakers ko at sumobra yung boombox. labo amp.) Then I sat and looked at the black car before me go (as if hindi niya nakita na nabangga kami).

To cut the long story short, it took 5 minutes for an MMDA to arrive, an hour before  the police assistant arrived, another hour for the tow truck to arrive, 30 minutes to get to the police station and almost 2 hours before I could leave the station with my copy of the police report and my trunk tied to it’s hook because it wouldn’t close.

My car, the honda city 1998 model looked like this

Bago ko buksan ang trunk na ngayon hindi ko masara

The guy who hit me, with a huge ford everest, looked like this (his car, not his face),

FrontBack (Solid to, promise!)

and the car of the guy who hit him, looked like this..


That’s my version of the devil’s threeway…

and while I was experiencing the whole 4 and a half hours of my-productive-time–is-slowly-going-to-waste time, I sort of gathered the things I learned for the day:

1. Seatbelts are there for a reason. Sometimes we feel confident about not wearing them because we forget that it protects you not what you can see while you are driving but for what you won’t see while driving.


2. Old cars were built stronger and sturdier – I don’t know about this car-crumpling technology and stuff but seeing a brand new car crumple like that is scary. (the everest and the civic were driving at approx. the same speed, but look at the difference in the damage.) Mas minahal ko tuloy ang old honda ko. hahaha!


3. Accidents have no exceptions – I thought I’d be spared after having my car rear-ended twice, flat-tired twice, backed-into 2 times in Ateneo in the parking lot, and broken down in the middle of the night in tagaytay and so much more. Hindi naman ako careless. Nag-iingat naman ako. Bakit binabangga parin ako? Promise, once lang ako talaga nakabangga ng car.


4. Newfound respect for the MMDA – Kawawa ang mga MMDA, wala na nga silang radio, sila pa ang magbabayad ng kanilang load (eh every accident they have to call HQ or their field leader or what to report the accident and request for necessary back-up. Tapos sila rin nagbabayad ng gas ng mga motor na gamit nila habang umiikot-ikot. (Madami pang ibang nakwento) So next time mahuli ako, i’ll be nice.


5. Please palitan niyo na ang typewriters na ginagamit ng mga police at ng karamihan ng Gov’t agency natin. PLEASE.


6. Tama nga sila, Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Kung hindi siguro ako nagbreakfast, namatay na ako sa hilo dun sa police station.


Sana mapaayos na ulit to.

On the brighter side, mapapa-ayos ko na ang lahat ng bangga ng car!

At masasabi ko na sa mga future apo ko na, Naka-experience ako ng “Devil’s threeway”

Lesson # 1: From This Whole Lesson Writing Thing

The reason it took so long before I wrote the last one was because I got stuck thinking about where I’d derive my last lesson from. Would it be from the NBA? From the last movie I watched? Osama’s death? The Royal Wedding? From Labor day? From Manny Pacquiao? The list goes on.

Then it dawned on me that doing so would only prolong the end of this chapter of my blog. So I decided to derive one from this whole lesson writing thing.

1.1. Lessons can be taken from anything. All we have to do is step back and take a look at what’s in front of you, around you and inside you.

1.2. Writing things down (whether privately, or publicly) clears a lot of things that otherwise would have been nothing but clutter in my already cluttered mind.


1.3. While there are indeed things which we cannot explain nor control; there are those like the way we see things and derive lessons from them, the way we strive to become better, the way we pick ourselves up when we fall, and even the way we see the good despite the bad — and these  would make living easier and more beautiful than it is. (inspired by the poem below)

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.


Now, time for some free blogging (no themes and challenges). Unless someone challenges me to do or write about something else. :p

Lesson # 2: From the Church

April 24, 2011 2 comments

Our Church - Mt. Carmel Shrine

I was sitting on the pew, ready to take in and receive my easter message and blessing. All was good and well, the homily started with the messages of love and sacrifice. I was intent to listen and take in everything that I could. That is until our parish priest went on attack mode and talked about the supporters of the RH bill – about how these people were acting like God (nagpapaka-“Diyos”) and that they all Sin as they support the “killing” of lives and how they were “unworthy”.

Up until that point I absorbed every single word and felt that indeed, I was unworthy of God’s blessing, much more his body and blood.

I quietly stepped out of the Church and just listened right outside the giant church doors.

The priest went on to attack more than just the RH bill supporters, he also lamented the politicians, the government leaders and so much more. [Later on, I find that this was the Church’s theme for Easter.] [Not so long ago, this happened.]

[If you want to know about the RH bill, you can see it here.]


Now this is the part where I will say that this entry is not going to be an attack on the Church per se but rather on the whole societal structure that exists and perpetuates such discord among us. (But I am to use the Church in some examples as well)

Nor will this entry be an argument in favor of the RH bill. I will leave that to the experts.

I’d like to call this phenomenon the SPONGE EFFECT. I call it as it is because that’s how we we were taught to be – like sponges. We were trained to absorb every word, every lesson, every tradition and we were (and still are) expected to think, breathe and act in certain ways that those around us determine.

From the moment we were born, it has been this way. Norms and standards and rules have been set. Deviate from the norm and you suffer so much ignominy by being branded as deviants, criminals and sinners. You become outcasts, rebels, and are threatened with excommunication, humiliation and even death. Such an effective tool to prevent others from doing so, yes?

Let’s look at it on a micro-level. Our parents tell us what to do, how to do things, how to act, what to wear, what to say, what not to say, who to date, who to love, who to marry and everything else. We can’t fault them for that though because that’s how they were raised to be, and that’s how our grandparents were raised to be and so on and so forth. In short, we do what they say lest we be grounded, spanked or worse, disowned. (Harsh but true)

Take a look at school. Lesson after lesson of being told how things were, how things are and how things should be. We do what they say lest we fail and be kicked out. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Take a look at the media and how they influence how the people think. How successful they’ve been in creating the mindset that all it takes is one game show to save our lives and end this poverty. How they brainwash nations and cultures about others so much so that it creates a much bigger divide.

There are so many external factors that influence how we behave as individuals. While of course we ought to take stands and make choices in our lives, what really bothered me and brought about this entry is how I see people take things, even the crappiest arguments, matter-of-factly. They just absorb. They never filter – they just take in whatever comes their way.

You see, I’d like to just ABSORB everything for convenience’s sake. Just so that everybody would be happy. But I can’t and I won’t.

All our lives, we’ve been told what to do and how to do things. Doesn’t that bother you?

Haven’t you thought that maybe, just maybe, we were taught wrong?

or that the message has been lost in translation already? (Think of the game “Pass the Message”… If 8 people can get a single sentence wrong just by passing the message, what more if the message goes through billions of people and hundreds of generations)

Haven’t you thought that you could create your own identity and culture?

Today, had I been the SPONGE that this society wanted me to be, I’d have flagellated myself for supporting the RH bill, I’d have ignored the fact that “the Church of the poor”, is mostly for the rich (see, even Priests have cars), and I would’ve done so many things and believed so many things without question not just from the church, but even from my family, my school and everything else.

We were made to think and tread a path of our own – not to simply absorb and follow the paths that others have taken.

We were gifted with reason. All we have to do is put it to good use.

Happy easter. 🙂


(INSERT NEEDLESS RANT HERE: From the inspiration of this entry alone, I just couldn’t take being branded as “unworthy” of my God just because I believed in something that our priests don’t. From the profession of faith alone, “I believe in God, the father almighty”… “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son – our Lord”… Can’t say the same for the Catholic Church. Sorry.)

Sorry if I offended anyone with this entry, especially the devout Catholics. Again, this is only my opinion. You are free to have yours. 🙂

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