Posts Tagged ‘al labadan’

boxes

June 24, 2010

The boxes proved larger than I initially thought. And with good reason, I have always made my life public and with that, people talk, comment and yes, box. (Adj.)
The reason why it’s ok for me to live like an open book is because I have been through a whole lot of fugly and if other people can learn from my mistakes and hasten their own personal improvements based on my experiences, then I would be happy. Because I would have been able to help them. No, I don’t seek accolades, I seek to inspire. More and more people are growing sad because of convoluted feelings of self-worth. You are not worthless and you will never be.

I would have wanted someone to say this to me last week but since nobody did, I had to say it to myself. Pathetic? Probably, but I am very comfortable with myself because I have learned the hard way that I shouldn’t seek for too much affirmation and approval, from anyone. If it comes, I say thank you. If it doesn’t, well, life goes on.
And that’s precisely what I would have wanted last week, for people to move on in my life, or better, move on with their lives and leave me be. You see, what happened was, one of my old professors was making a big deal about my grades back in college and how this would affect my performance in graduate school. I was shocked, hurt, harassed and furious. I’ve always been put in boxes because of this waterloo. Strangers, not even in my circles, get updated of this waterloo because I guess it’s so fun to talk about. I even received confirmation that a whole department is talking about me semester in and semester out, making it a point to update their students of who I was. Jeez. I just hope they’re using a flattering picture in their power point. LOL. Alf is fun to talk about. Boxes beget boxes.

After four days of being all hot and bothered, I gave it up and reflected on the experience.

Boxes, preconceived notions, impressions and judgments’ derail people from seeing the true value of one another. Our judgments’ of others block our view and promotes division and rejection. When we begin to see the value of each others worth, focusing on what they CAN do and not what they CAN’T DO, we also open ourselves to the possibility that this person that we are so quick to judge may help us in some way. In the case of this old professor, I still can’t understand what drove her to say the things she did, or what it was that she hoped to achieve. But what I do understand is there are times that I too am very guilty of boxing other people in. To address this, I have a conscious system of dealing with people so I can free myself from the devastating effects of judging them. I call it my plus-minus system.

It works this way. One of the things I try to practice is to keep my mouth shut whenever I am on the verge of saying something awful. Remember the old adage? ‘If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all?’ Believe me that is very hard. I am in the business of people relations and marketing so conversations account for a lot of my waking hours. And there would always be people who are more opinionated than I am. And there would always be people who are just plain disagreeable.

Minus points are awarded to people who are disagreeable. These are the types who make it a point to argue even over the most senseless topics. Do I hate them? No. Are they reaping negative points? Yes. To free myself from negativities (I try to be as positive as I can), I shy away from these types of people. I don’t want to judge them so ill just lessen my interaction with them. One of the hardest things to do is to affirm a negative person but if you are able to do it, you would see changes in them. It’s better to give out affirmation than to demand it.

Minus points are also given to people who don’t see my worth. While I don’t claim to know everything and while I know I am poor at some things, I also know that I am good at some things. We all are uniquely gifted! And while I don’t wear a placard saying I’m good at these things, people who know me, know. So it’s very puzzling to me when someone approaches me for help but doesn’t listen to what I have to say. It’s like being in a monologue. Their monologue. Where information is unidirectional. Do I put them in boxes? No. I think they have not realized my worth yet. And if they hadn’t well, that’s not my problem.

Plus points on the other hand are easily given out. These I give to people who make me laugh, smile and feel good about myself. A huge bag of points is given to people who make OTHER people happy because of a good deed, a kind remark or even a silly joke. I radiate towards positive, happy, fun-loving people who can catch my attention. I’ve talked a lot about this already, I get bored easily and it’s difficult to catch my attention BUT if it’s something I’m really interested in or something YOU made me interested in, well, that’s more PLUS POINTS for you.

Pluses and Minuses free me from tagging people permanently as lost cases. This I do because there are a lot of people who, through our long and bumpy relationship as friends, chose to never give up on me. I owe these people a lot. It’s just paying it forward. My plus and minus system keeps it real, it’s like saying: I don’t really like you now but its okay. I’m sure we will be able to regain what was lost in the future. Furthermore, I also believe that every one of us has this sort of system in us, a system of social interaction constructs based on differing human relations. It’s just that I put a brand name to it. Yes, you may refer to it as ‘Alfred’s Plus and Minus System’ LOL

I have written a lot about expectations and how we should lessen or increase it based on the level of relationships that we have. The problem is there are no hard and fast rules that govern expectations in all forms and types of relationships. It’s up to the involved parties to figure it out for themselves. Believe you me, I would want to give you a quick guide on this but it won’t be accurate. Relationships are uniquely designed to the people involved.

Remember the idiom, ‘Jack of all trades master of none?’ I believe that. I believe that no one is self-sustaining and I believe that no one is that good to know all facets of a business or all there is to know about life in all its glory. It just doesn’t work that way. True, they can profess to know but do they really? Hmm. I guess this is my cue to shy away and keep my mouth shut. =)

There are some things that I can’t do and there are some things that I’m good at. Having a healthy respect for each other’s unique genius opens doors to deeper, more meaningful relationships. I’ll end this reflection with a story I read from the online Didache sent to me earlier today by Bo Sanchez’s web team:

unique genius

“What, then, will this child be?” – Luke 1: 66

A teacher once told Michael’s mother that he’d never be able to focus on anything in his life because of his difficulty in focusing on the lessons in the classroom.

As a boy, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He’d often stand up and can’t stay quiet. It was very hard for him to concentrate. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Fred Phelps won eight gold medals in various swimming events — the most gold reaped by anyone in a single Olympics. That’s aside from the various awards and records he still holds.
Often, we hold biases and beliefs about how a child would grow up based on what they are now and what they do.
We tend to box a child (or other people for that matter) with what we see or of our impression of what they do. We relegate them to the sidelines. The cruelest thing we do is give up on them.
God made us great with our own unique genius. We should treat others and ourselves as such. Jun Asis (mabuting.balita@gmail.com

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cerebrus interruptus

June 21, 2010

Admit it.admit it. I break your trail of thought =)

Hi network. I’m back.
Yeah,I admit, I might’ve started one of my past microblogs using the same phraseology.thats ok.im allowed to repeat myself =)

I was inspired by one of the many things i read online earlier today,the blog was written by a friend of mine and the point of his treatise was finding someone who could be with him when he’s lonely.Not that way you perv,but more of having someone to talk with.Yep,he’s intent on finding a GF. For our purpose,and to be totally crude about it,lets refer to it as ‘finding a mate’

But im not goin to talk about that,what i wanted to talk to you about is how You as an individual can do stuff so you wont have to feel too down when you dont have a ‘relevant other’

Thinkin about it, i don’t have any tips on hand to address those kinds of thoughts either. What i am confident of is i Will be able to churn out stuff for you and I to think about after a long days worth of work or study or play or whatever it is you do.

I,alfred labadan,your marketingman friend,do solemnly promise to interrupt your thoughts,and to go all Disney about it: ‘in the most delightful way’=)

How’s that eh?
For the students,it’s now june,time for you to start workin on gettin that degree again, i for one am excited because i too am starting classes next week.

For the working stiffs,businessmen and parents,hello. It’s another day for you and me to earn and inspire and make good with what we have achieved thus far.

To all of you, This is my hello,your LifeTrekker is back =)

Same rules apply, comments are very much appreciated.you can subscribe or unsubscribe anytime and you can register your friends numbers as well.LifeTrekker Mobile is available for Globe and TM subscribers only. This is the beta version of LifeTrekker online

Let us LifeTrek together!=)

waiting in line for food

July 31, 2009

one of my brods commented this one time that we shouldnt wait in line for our food. he said ‘it’s just wrong’

i forgot the reason, cause and discussion that ensued after that but i was reminded of it minutes ago while i was still standing in a long queu for my burger.

yes, this is my second post about McDonalds and their burger but unlike the previous post, i didnt really plan on partaking of their burger for lunchy today. i just wanted a quick fix, nothing fancy, something i could just grab and go so i would have time to log on to multiply today (i was really busy earlier and the GM’ers were really distracting)

so off  i went and decided on a fastfood chain, realizing that it would be too taxing to slurp on my favorite sinigang here in my affice workspace. Pizza Hut is full, so that’s out and besides that’s more of a sitdown place with friends. KFC Vito Cruz is packed so its out, but its really very nice with the chic interior decor and lighting. So Mcdonald’s was next.

sauntering over, 7 lines filled the store. 7 ridiculously long lines
and
inspite of myself, i plunged in, and hence
‘waiting in the line for food’

i decided on a chicken but after a second, realized theirs is too gummy, i’d prefer chicken joy, then i saw the cheesecake, which i figured, would be good, since its been a while, and i could use the sugar rush. but then i realized, i just downed a whole long pack of double stuffed oreos. sugar was not my priority.

4 people down the line, i decided on the burger which was, i thought, the obvious choice because i had wanted a grab and go meal. but then Little Miss Greeny on the counter seemed to be ordering for the whole store; it was taking her such a long time to get all her orders and my tiger looks aimed towards her didnt seem to matter. Ugh. So instead, i gazed upon the plethora of carbo-loaded, greased up, cholesterolliffic goodies. And realized again, that this diet is really adding to my bodily belt bag budget (and i have seen Supersize me!)

Thats when i saw the ‘must try/ new’ red lettered on yellow explosion logo beside ‘double cheeseburger deluxe’ and i said to myself: after this long wait? I DESERVE A DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER DELUXE’

see? marketing people! its all about marketing! and me, knowing fully well of this ‘make people wait long lines, assailing their nostrils with every aroma we can bludgeon, making people hungry by visual stimulation, I KNOW THIS! PINAG ARALAN KO ITO SA mmgt102!! hrrr.
this
IS
NOT
RIGHT

‘May i have your order Sir?’

double cheeseburger deluxe to go please

large fries?

yes

large drink

NO. AHA!! i caught myself in time you-friggin-little-fattener-of-people-you!

would you like to upgrade it to a float sir?

(gulp)

Yes please

and one apple pie nadin

DANG!

iMode guide

July 31, 2009

iMode

isolation and reflection guide

by alfredlabadanII, vdpSj,hcye

I suggest at least an annual iMode for people who are always on the go and always out for the next big thing, easily excited, creative and gregarious, sanguines tire easily and bore quickly. With iMode, people like me can regain perspective and know what’s essential and what’s important.

But iMode is not exclusive for use of sanguines only, melancholics, cholerics, phlegmatics and a mix of all those in between can get fantastic results if the resolve for reflection is enough.

An effective iMode starts, begins, proceeds and ends with the consciousness examen which I have printed below and which i have learned from the Jesuits. You can do the Consciousness examen with step no.4 and 5 increasing in increments daily  until the end of your iMode

Let me reiterate though, an iMode is not being literally isolated from everyone, since that it virtually impossible, students need to go to classes and workers need to do their jobs. iMode, takes cues from the C.E. and its processes. It capitalizes on Fasting, Abstinence and Sacrifice. If you don’t know the difference between these, ask your shepherds.

Once you’ve done the Examen a few times, you will find your own rhythm and method. Cover all five points daily with freedom to dwell more on one than another, as the Spirit moves you. You might also like to add some music, candles or images to help you pray.

iMode learnings

in my book, a good iMode must end with a resolve to change and must have some sort of ‘learning’ afterwards, actions steps, reflections and realizations done may be written and shared with other people. By doing so, your spiritual accountability may increase. This is one basic foundation of why Youth Shepherding works, check and balance.

THANK YOU for downloading this special edition PDF of iMode


The Consciousness Examen

St. Ignatius at prayerThe prayers and methods of praying suggested here are based on nearly five-hundred years of Jesuit spiritual tradition. They could help you grow in intimacy with God and experience Jesuit spirituality first-hand. St. Ignatius believed that he received a gift from God that not only enriched his own Christian life but was meant to be shared with others. The gift was a “method,” a way to seek and find God in all things and to gain the freedom to let God’s will be done on earth. This way of praying allowed Ignatius to discover the voice of God within his own heart and to experience a growth in familiarity with God’s will. Jesuits call this prayer their daily examen of consciousness.

This is a prayer where we try to find the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives as we reflect on our day. This prayer can be made anywhere: on the beach, in a car, at home, in the library. Many people make the Examen twice daily: once around lunchtime and again before going to bed. There are five simple steps to the Examen, which should take 10-15 minutes to complete, and what follows is just one interpretation of these five steps in discerning the movement of God’s Spirit in your day. Through this method of praying you can grow in a sense of self and the Source of self; you can become more sensitive to your own spirit with its longings, its powers, its Source; you will develop an openness to receive the supports that God offers.

Before you start: Try to be in a place where you are least likely to be disturbed, and where there is the least amount of external noise. Perhaps you might light a candle or change the lighting when you pray to symbolise the start of this activity. Sit comfortably and still yourself; relax, be aware of your breathing, your body and how you are feeling.

1.   Recall that you are in the presence of God. No matter where you are, hilltop or valley, country or city, in a crowd or alone, you are a creature in the midst of creation. As you quiet yourself, become aware that God is present within you, in the creation that surrounds you, in your body, in those around you. The Creator who brought you forth into being is concerned for you. The Spirit of God, sent by Christ, will remind you that you are gifted to help bring creation to its fullness. Ask the Holy Spirit to let you look on all you see with love. “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; … it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right … Love hopes all things.” (1 Cor.)

2.   Spend a moment looking over your day with gratitude for this day’s gifts. Be concrete and let special moments or pleasures spring to mind! Recall the smell of your morning coffee, the taste of something good that you ate, the laugh of a child, the fragrance of a flower, the smile brought forth by a kind word, a lesson that you learned. Take stock of what you received and what you gave. Give thanks to God for favors received. Also look at your permanent gifts that allow your participation in this day. Recall your particular strengths in times of difficulty, your ability to hope in times of weakness, your sense of humor and your life of faith, your intelligence and health, your family and friends. God the Father gives you these to draw you into the fullness of life. As you move through the details of your day, give thanks to God for His presence in the big and the small things of your life.

3.   Ask God to send you His Holy Spirit to help you look at your actions and attitudes and motives with honesty and patience. “When the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13) The Holy Spirit inspires you to see with growing freedom the development of your life story. The Spirit gives a freedom to look upon yourself without condemnation and without complacency and thus be open to growth. Ask that you will learn and grow as you reflect, thus deepening your knowledge of self and your relationship with God.

4.   Now review your day. This is the longest of the steps. Recall the events of your day; explore the context of your actions. Search for the internal movements of your heart and your interaction with what was before you. Ask what you were involved in and who you were with, and review your hopes and hesitations. Many situations will show that your heart was divided—wavering between helping and disregarding, scoffing and encouraging, listening and ignoring, rebuking and forgiving, speaking and silence, neglecting and thanking. Remember, this is not a time to dwell on your shortcomings; rather, it is a gentle look with the Lord at how you have responded to God’s gifts. It is an opportunity for growth of self and deepening your relationship with God. Notice where you acted freely—picking a particular course of action from the possibilities you saw. See where you were swept along without freedom. What reactions helped or hindered you? See where Christ entered your decisions and where you might have paused to receive His influence. “Test yourselves,” St. Paul urges, “to see whether you are living in faith; examine yourselves. Perhaps you yourselves do not realize that Christ Jesus is in you.” (2 Cor.) His influence comes through His people, the Body of Christ. His influence comes through Scripture, the Word of God. Now, as you pray, Christ’s spirit will help you know His presence and concern. As you daily and prayerfully explore the mystery of yourself in the midst of your actions you will grow more familiar with your own spirit and become more aware of the promptings of God’s Spirit within you. Allow God to speak, challenge, encourage and teach you. Thus you will come to know that Christ is with you. Christ will continually invite you to love your neighbor as yourself and strengthen you to do this.

5.   The final step is our heart-to-heart talk with Jesus. Here you speak with Jesus about your day. You share your thoughts on your actions, attitudes, feelings and interactions. Perhaps during this time you may feel led to seek forgiveness, ask for direction, share a concern, express gratitude, etc. Having reviewed this day of your life, look upon yourself with compassion and see your need for God and try to realize God’s manifestations of concern for you. Express sorrow for sin, the obscuring darkness that surrounds us all, and especially ask forgiveness for the times you resisted God’s light today. Give thanks for grace, the enlightening presence of God, and especially praise God for the times you responded in ways that allowed you to better see God’s life. Resolve with Jesus to move forward in action where appropriate. You might like to finish your time with the Lords Prayer.


where do you want to go today?

July 31, 2009

(written july 13 2008)

Acclaimed blogger vanooti asks blithely as readers come enthralled by her mind adventures

On this same vein, I started my Sunday me-time adventure. Cousins, after all, should have some sort of semblance, however indirect.

I parked my trusty scooter at my moms’ bff in umali, the donya Alicia manor replete with erstwhile guests, transients & boarders

And with ipod all charged and ready and with my decidedly sporty ichura, I walked with energy and full resolve to regain comfort in my personal space and depth of self. Thinking about it, I’m really comfortable bein with myself contrary to what people usually take me for. I realize this fully now. My identity is not dependent on other people, you know why?

Because I walk. Think about it.

So I Headed south towards ‘the Radiancy’ while the Hill songs guys were crooning ‘there is no one like you’

First thought was of the time when I dropped off joms at Nikki’s white house near the orange store. It was after mass, years ago

Turning left, I passed by Miggy’s house, where Kappa O’s once hung out, we shaved our heads & fought about a white towel

Crayon Box reminded me of the cerebral Pedro & his roomie that we hung out with IC’S Halloween Party 05

Farther down the road was Whitehouse where certain units reminded me of certain college nights with college friends with my college org. I’ll leave it at that. Insert College smile here

Aling Eves Isawan & Provenan reminded me of 5years ago when ARHGP hung out regularly here while downing greasy street food with all the trimmings and free cholesterol and cholera.

Right before the raymundo gate was where the original Bertie’s was and where distinct memories of blueberry cheesecake, pesto and oolong tea where being ordered left and right by the hungry staff of the Ruralite.

Turning left saw me looking at DAERS where I had my AEC1 class, my first 1.0 grade in UP with Ms. Filma Calalo, my no-nonsense teacher, whom my mom and I saw a months ago at Baan Thai

Walking, walking, I passed by CSI where my old afficemate slash businessman Jonas goes to worship.

Westbrook Residences, with the very snazzy ‘W’ logo done artfully in white, orange and black

I was carrying the notebook for kuyecarloe so I went straight ahead to their house where memories of loud people, a closely knit family and lots of food and parties converged.

Up their street, I imagined myself drivin down their in 1996 with Marvin Amante in the white pick up (AKA super pick up) setting up for YLSS 3 LB

Down the faculty road and onto the bridge I had flashes of monjay being mugged because of the wang-bu hat and marc maligalig’s practical jokes on me and Winston at the start of the bridge.

I stopped in the middle where I realized and felt the not so familiar acrophobia sneaked in but not before I was able to peer over the edge onto the different colored shirts being sunned on the rocks. But sunny it wasn’t hence there were no other walkers and strollers like me.

Moving on, I walked down the road towards auditorium where I saw myself, Teacher Ryan and Teacher Grace inserting flyers to the parked cars of the MS Montessori graduation. Targeted? Yes! Stylish? No. Seemed like a lifetime ago, but that was March of last year

I turned left again to the Thai Temple where years ago, Brian Kalaw and I spent 9 straight hours talking for our one on one in preparation for his YLSS

Women’s Dorm reminded me of Bloc5 meetings for our History presentation during a time where laptops where scarce and having them was a status symbol

YMCA reminded me of Dewi Callo, daughter of the owner of one of the computer shops there, outreach team head, a good friend, the football field saw me and kumareng jing and gabby and choichoi years ago playing ball with avs and manel and kim.

This further reminded me of one crazy aito night of running barefoot in the rain towards the fertility tree. The crazy cast included Marc, Kim, Manel, Avs, Winston, Oli, me and Pedro

Baker hall reminded me of Laktu- an event hosted by BFF’s org, VLV ang VKV. We were made to push a car from SU to baker. Carlo was driving while Hansel, Tatang, Rap, Mike and I were up against the Trantados.

We lost of course, but we didn’t have a chance, CARLO HAD THE HAND BRAKES UP. Yehey.

DMST reminded me of the evil officers of my high school days as the Battalion Private, where fear was accompanying me Saturday mornings. This was my first year as intercessory head. Morning PMT, afternoon Pray over. Fugly, fugly times

Animal Science Lecture Hall was screaming with excited freshmen 10 years ago, where our professor in Agri 11, Dr. Penalba was tryin hardest to maintain his composure.

Agronomy reminded me of Lady Guard, which I haven’t met during the times while we were still hanging out there. Most vivid memory was of Marc winning Mr. Clash with Riz.

The Lab beside CEAT reminded me of our overnight stays there while Ava and her female group mates finish their work, me and rap and wins were designated protectors of the ladies for that semester.

Social Garden saw me pensive because 25 years ago, I got lost in this place and I was crying and I don’t really remember it, just that I was held by the beautiful emcees and was made to stand on the table until my parents came looking in response to the commotion (and racket I was making) That was the garden show

The Fruit Crops area taught me how to do grafting and marcotting with much consternation because my teacher, Sir Sanchez, was looking over my shoulder the whole time

Walking down that line, you’d see great ornamentals and majestic looking palm trees right beside the generator plaza.

The hanging bridge now overgrown with weeds saw me taking pictures of its demise with Noel and Harry and Roy hours after Milenyo settled.

Gonzalez compound reminded me of stories of the very early days of the Labadan Clan because this was apparently where they first lived after moving here from Nueva Ecija.

And then I arrived home

To St. Therese of the Child Jesus parish where so much of my past, present and future are intertwined. Like, UPLB, STCJP saw my growth from the thin and pasty kid who started prep in its old chapel to the shy MSI boy to the religious ruralite to the gregarious college kid and now to the marketing man through and through.

I arrived in the arms of my new friends and old friends and lambs and colleagues and barkada’s and kappa o’s who just heard mass.

Two weeks ago, I was hangin out with the super friends at Café Antonio and being the usual friendly person that I was, I was greeting people left and right. My homie gorgeous guia, sly and sarcastic, acridly remarked, ‘Al, yer such an LB person, why don’t you run for public office? To which I candidly retorted, ‘I’ll take that as a compliment’

There really is no place like home.

ripples of change

July 31, 2009

I was talking with a good friend, erwin last saturday more or less about the topic of effecting change and doing something good and worthwhile for our fellow brethren. A couple of weeks back, he sent this message through GM expressing this same need and wanting to do actual, tangible good.

He strikes a familiar chord by initiating this, because i too, have been wanting to effect change, so much so that coffee conversations end up on the topic of accountability and responsibility and social change.

But far be it from me to go to the streets and demand for reforms. I did that bit a couple of times already, once during the height and hoopla of the whole ‘edsa dos’ where ousting erap was all the rage. I couldnt resist the throngs of people and the multitude of emotions so despite all instructions from my family not to go, i did anyway and wore a black shirt to boot. My mom, of course threw a fit.

The second one was when i decided to do a cameo in the recent La Sallian noise barrage which was held in the middle of taft avenue smack in front of La Salle and Benilde. All were wearing green of course, i chose to wear maroon =) But the din was too much for me so after 5 minutes i went back to the comfort of my freezing office.

So, ripples of change. Erwin’s proactive SMS is the recipient of my ‘marketing support’ and i promised him to do all i can in this project of his. I thought about it again as i walked from the hostel on the way to work earlier. I saw the same man i saw two days ago, crippled and seated at the intersection of quirino and taft. I saw the family living in a pedicab with a girl and a boy loitering aimlessly in the streets. I remembered the old lady at the Gil Puyat LRT station who has a skin disease and the old man a couple of steps above her begging for loose change so he could buy bread. I could go on and on about all the marginalized poor i see everyday.All this I am seeing with the rich chinese tycoons cruising along the same streets in Adriatico in their beemers and hummers. Amidst the squalid of the rugby boys and kids with tattered clothes are filipinas clad in pretty tight dresses beckoning to the nearest Joe.

And then theres me, a small town boy wanting to effect change, writing about it in his blog for many times already, feeling all inadequate yet sincere, armed only with prayers and a burning will to help.

I need a good dose of jabez in order to effect ripples of change
Are you with me?

If you appreciated this article, you might also want to check out this one, which tackles a similar topic, written earlier this year

http://alfredudepareh.multiply.com/journal/item/49/cup_of_soup

dont waste your time lookin for somebody else to blame, solve the problem

July 31, 2009

i got this from my best buds page. read in conjunction with my previous post, ‘ripples of change’

How could a nation that has gone through so many changes actually have changed so little? Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J. answers this question and more with “Deepening spirituality, building the nation”:


The Ateneo Sesquicentennial, our 150th anniversary, is fast approaching. The themes of the Sesqui, as you can see in the seals and banners all over campus and in our websites are: “Celebrating Excellence, Deepening Spirituality, and Building the Nation.” Our goal and culmination is “Building the Nation”. We believe deeply that the Ateneo is not for itself, nor just for us, but for the nation. I would like to reflect with you at the beginning of schoolyear 2008-2009 on the last two themes: “Building the Nation and Deepening Spirituality.”

There is a book about the Philippines by an American Southeast Asian specialist, David Timberman, whose title keeps coming back to me. The title is “A Changeless Land” and it comes from a passage in F. Sionil Jose’s, “My Brother, my Executioner”. Timberman’s book was written in the late 1980s after the Edsa Revolution and so, yes, it was written in a period of great change. Thus, the questions he asks are, first: “How could a nation that has gone through so many changes actually have changed so little?” . . . and last: “Does a mechanism exist to enable peaceful and positive change in the future?”

If you have been reading the newspapers or watching television, don’t you get the sense that we are indeed a changeless land? We see the heart-wrenching tragedy of the MV Princess of the Stars – and it is the same tragedy as the Dona Paz or the MV Gretchen or the Ozone Disco. And the same reactions and response: Look for somebody to blame, in this case the captain, who is not to be found, then do investigations, by the Senate and everyone else. But we all know what the end result will be. Nothing will change and a few years from now, another tragedy will happen and we will go through the same cycle.

First point: We never seem to learn. We seem to have a truly serious “national learning disability”. I spoke about this in a brief address to the Phi Kappa Phi society in UP in 1996, soon after the Ozone disco tragedy. And I connected it to a thought-provoking book by a neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio, entitled “Descartes’ Error”. To oversimplify a bit, he says we learn from experiences that leave a deep impression on our spirit and our neural system – experiences that leave what he calls somatic markers. These are feelings “that have been connected by learning to predict future outcomes of certain scenarios.” If I have once put my hand on a hot dish, the pain leaves a “somatic marker” and “hot dish” sends a message through my nervous system, “avoid touching.” There are actually people whose pain mechanism does not work. They do not feel the pain from touching a hot dish. That’s great, you might think. No, it is not great. They burn their hands, get all banged up – they are a physical mess.

I connect this with our theme of Deepening Spirituality. When you hear the word “spirituality”, you probably immediately think of your own religion and theology classes. Older alumni wonder about our students today, whether they go to mass every Sunday or whether they pray the rosary regularly. Education in the faith, prayer and sacramental life are surely very important for spirituality. The apostles saw Jesus getting up early in the morning to pray and asked him, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” And Jesus taught us the beautiful “Our Father.”

But we cannot equate spirituality with prayer. In our Ignatian Spirituality in Education Workshops (ISEW), I define Christian spirituality as a way, a way of following Jesus. In the Acts of the Apostles, Christianity is often referred to as simply “The Way.” Jesuit and Ignatian spirituality is a way of following Jesus, in the spirit and following of St. Ignatius.

What then is central in this Way, in the following of Jesus? Prayer, of course, as I indicated above. But if we take time to read the Gospels, most central to Christian spirituality is the Way of the Cross. “If anyone would come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me.” When James and John asked to be with Jesus, to sit one on his left and the other on his right, Jesus simply asked them if they were ready to suffer with him.

I venture to say that the reason we have this “national learning disability” is because we do not face the pain that comes with accepting responsibility. We run away from our crosses. It is painful to accept responsibility for something like the Princess of the Stars tragedy. But other nations do face the pain. In Japan, the President of the company would bow in apology before the family of the victims and most likely resign. But don’t you think that we are a bit like people whose physical pain mechanism does not work and so they keep placing their hands on hot dishes? No one ever accepts responsibility for major problems or tragedies and so we keep repeating them. Our avoidance of the pain of responsibility starts early. Parents and others make false excuses for their sons in our grade school. Sadly this goes on even in college and law school. We want to protect them from pain, we say. But by protecting them from pain, we also protect them from learning – and so we never break the cycle, they will be like us, part of a changeless land.

So, this is my reflection on this second year of “Deepening Spirituality”. We are invited to become part of change – and that change begins by our own facing responsibility. Heifetz in “Leadership on the Line” says, “Accept responsibility for your piece of the mess.” And we should teach the next generation to do the same. Painful, maybe. But it leaves a somatic marker that gives hope that we and they will not repeat the past – and we can become part of change.

Is this just wishful thinking? I am an optimist and so let me tell you about a younger generation that is accepting the responsibility for bringing about change – ready to face their mistakes, growing from them, and actually making a difference and building the nation.

Every year at the beginning of the schoolyear, we read about the mess in the public schools: no or few toilets, overcrowded classrooms, poor performance, etc. And, of course, our solution is to find someone to blame: the DepEd or the government in general. But we have young Ateneans, who have transformed poor public elementary schools in Payatas – first four schools with about 3,000 to 5,000 pupils each, now 8 schools. Better buildings, more books, better trained teachers, better performance. This is the work of young Ateneans, like Anne Candelaria in 2000, continued now by former High School principal, Mrs. Mel Oracion and her young team. We were delighted to learn recently that these schools have significantly improved in their performance in the national achievement tests. They are now moving to work with all the public schools in Quezon City and in the fourth district of Nueva Ecija.

We bemoan that so many poor, bright public school graduates cannot get into college. Ateneo’s Alay ni Ignacio and Pathways to Higher Education were started by young Ateneans, Harvey Keh, Trissa Manalastas, Solvie Nubla and others several years ago. This program has placed about 300 poor students in Ateneo, UP and other colleges in Metro-Manila, another 200 or so in other parts of the country. Several hundred are being tutored in high schools. They show that if we but put our hearts and hands to it, we can actually get it done.

A group of young people, among them Ateneans Bam Aquino, Reese Fernandez, Maan Lim, Mark Ruiz, TJ Agulto, have developed a social entrepreneurship program, Rags2Riches, for poor women of Payatas. These women were making rugs from ukay-ukay and rags from the dumpsites, originally earning just about 60 pesos a week. In partnership with fashion designers, they have transformed the products into designer bags, etc., and the women now earn about P1,500 a week. They have also a program, Hapinoy, to improve the economics, quality and service of the omni-present sari-sari stores.

A 2007 graduate, Melissa Yeung, has set up a foundation, Got Heart, introducing entrepreneurial projects among Aetas in Zambales, creating job opportunities in GK villages and showing that heart and business savvy can truly make a difference. The last time I talked with her she was working on livelihood projects for communities in Verde Island.

I could go on. This for me is what it means to “Build the Nation”. Look at the problem and find a way to solve it. Don’t waste your time looking for someone to blame. Just solve it.

Which brings me to my second reflection for our Sesqui. The first was that becoming part of change begins by accepting responsibility and helping the next generation accept responsibility. The second is, look at the problem of poverty, of poor education, of poor health, of injustice, of access to justice, and go in there and begin to solve it. As a Shell ad puts it, “Say No to No.” “Isn’t it time to be Negative about Negativity.” Or as Nike puts it, “Just do it.”

To end where we began. Timberman asks: “Is there a mechanism to enable positive and peaceful change in the future.” Our Sesqui themes of “Deepening Spirituality” and “Building the Nation” say that there can be: If we become part of change by facing the pain of accepting responsibility and facing our problems and actually moving forward to solve them.

person (re)building

July 31, 2009

(i posted this on my multiply account last december 8,2008, exactly 2months before i got hit by a car. i am specifically disturbed by this line: ‘i am on the verge of something very real and life altering’


how far have you gone?
hi. im alfred and i am on the verge of something very real and life altering, one that certainly speaks my kind of language.one that i always profess wanting. thunder and lightning.

i woke up really late today. because of the eye opening discussions and experiences. here was or is a person, younger than me who certainly has it made (according to me and my circles)
his own house. his own car. a wife and a cute kid. and business savvy to boot.

i’ve been talking by and large to a lot <select?!> people about life mapping and business and marketing and product distribution and target marketing and people management and idea engineering but right now, THEY DONT MEAN SHIT.

i am waiting for tangible products, of the promise of these ‘goodwill and feelings’

am i in for a huge dissapointment? i certainly hope not.
God,are you listening?

where have i gone really?
how far and how have i really lived?

so i realized that i would really want to be a backpacker and a globe trekker. How, no, what preparations am i taking to ensure this? is my life a series of calculated moves or happy go lucky hits and missess? Am i all that i profess and cut out to be?

how is it, that i find myself enamored with ‘mould building?’ to whom do i bequeath this challenge to?how far and how long do i have to wait for my IT to come?

is that even the plan?

i hafta know. i would like to put an end to the days that i answer ‘i dont know’ because i am 28 and and i have to know. because 35 is coming as sure as tomorrow is coming.

7 years to go mayt.

how do you go about living it?
for someone who professes ‘cest la vie’
how far have you really gone?
how far have i really gone?

how much have i exerted and invested in my person building?
how much of a person, am i, really?

please dont answer me.and please dont ask irrelevant questions.
you have your own issues, deal with them on your own.
if you follow other people, thats your thing. i dont want any part of it.

this is my person
this is me

meeting a style icon+entrepreneur

July 31, 2009
tell your readers that i told em not to wear winter boots here!

tell your readers that i told em not to wear winter boots here!

I am looking at a very frail lady who looks like a grade school student except that she’s wearing a very revealing spaghetti strapped blouse with a green skirt, which I came to know later, was today’s fashion must-have. I’ve known her for quite some time now because like me, she is also a small-town-person with dreams bigger than you and me. She is an alumnus of UPLB with a degree Major in Cell and Molecular Biology. It is hard to imagine someone with her firecracker personality peering through microscopes looking at God-knows-what. Apparently, she agrees with me. A year ago, she stopped pursuing her Master’s degree in Marine Science in UP Diliman and decided to put up shop and pursued her true passion: fashion. ‘I don’t think I can carry those huge scuba tanks anyway’ Mini Campos muses. Mini Campos is the CEO of ‘yourfashionpolice’ a company that sells trendy clothes for women. We agreed to meet today at Café Antonio to talk about her business, women empowerment and winter boots. Small Town Boy (STB): Why fashion police? Mini Campos (MC): The name was inspired by a segment in Fox TV’s entertainment news: E! The segment simply separates the ones who look ‘fine’ from the ones who ought to be ‘fined.’ It was my dream to be a correspondent in that segment. STB: I see, so have there been many warrant of arrests served in Los Banos? MC: Just don’t wear winter boots in LB. I keep on seeing some students wearing these. Ugh. STB: I suppose I should ask, what’s IN today? Or what’s HOT? MC: I am seeing a lot of High Waist Skirts, pompom skirts, pero namimili kasi yun ng figure. For me, it’s always safe to go for ‘Boho chic’ STB: wait, what’s ‘Boho chic?’ MC: Think Nicole Richie and the Olsen twins. That’s a classic that will never get boring. STB: okay. So what’s not HOT? MC: just get updates from the weatherman. If it’s going to be sunny, then don’t wear winter boots! LOL. I have an issue with winter boots but let’s not get to that now. STB: Okay.hahaha. So, do you have a particular sense of style? MC: I am particularly inclined to the Boho Chic look pero syempre I don’t do it all the time. I don’t know how my style evolves, depende sa inspiration. You wouldn’t believe it but when I was young, I really looked up to Jolina and the spice girls but I learned my lesson! Sometimes it’s better to look at the art rather than the icon behind the style. STB: I understand that you’re only carrying ladies clothes only? Is that accurate? MC: Honestly? I am not a fan of stylish men. Ugh. I learned my lesson na.hahaha. but again, let’s not talk about that now. I’d rather see men in jeans and shirts. STB: hahaha. Okay, but answer this: Do you consider yourself a style icon? MC: I am a work in progress (smiles) STB: Who’s your, how should I put it, style/model icon? MC: Imelda should be every Pinay’s style icon STB: Really? I heard from my clan that we’re related. My dad’s middle name is Marcos. Anyway, what fashion tip would you give our readers? MC: Don’t wear winter boots in LB! (laughs aloud) kidding! Before getting out of the house you should: 1. Check the weather 2. Think of the place/occasion you are headed to 3.look at the mirror again and see if you jive with the first 2 conditions. STB: Do you have any messages to people who want to be like you? MC: It’s always better to start when you are young. There are A LOT of opportunities around. Especially online. If you are still a student and you don’t have the cash for capital, there are a lot of sellers offering commission for reselling their goods. That’s a nice addition to your allowance and you get a head start with the early training. If you do have the savings to start a business, take a small portion of it and try your luck on something that you are really passionate about. If you are a ‘techie’, then focus on gadgets. Don’t venture on something that you are not willing to learn more about. And SAVE! For me, that The Most important thing you should be doing if you are an entrepreneur. It won’t matter how much you are making if your cash flow is negative. To date, yourfashionpolice has clients all over the Philippines and regularly ships merchandise in Singapore, Dubai, USA and Germany. Mini recalls that she started out small by selling retail but quickly realized that she’d be better off doing wholesale AND retail. Within only 3 months of starting her online business, she was able to achieve her ROI (return of investment) and gave the money that she loaned from her mom who teaches Economics in DLSU-Manila. She invites students, stay-at-home moms and career women (and men) who wants to earn extra by partnering with her as distributors. With good marketing schemes such as offering re-seller prices, a pre-order system, package tracking, easy and various paying schemes and modes, yourfashionpolice has achieved a lot in its 2nd year. Online shopping is now very convenient and it saves her shoppers a lot of trouble (parking, effort etc) although she warns her public to be very wary of scammers since she has been victimized before. Thankfully, her ‘comments’ box in her multiply site is filled with honest reactions affirming her trade. Mini regularly hangs out at the local bar, IC’s, travels a lot in and out of the country for inspiration and trends. You can view, purchase or partner with her by checking out http://www.yourfashionpolice.multiply.com