Posts Tagged ‘bld youth’

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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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.

big concepts

July 31, 2009

I realize that for some, sharing could get a tad bit cumbersome. But not for me, especially when I’m pensive or happy or elated or angst ridden or frustrated, and to which I need to ask, does that mean I’m a frustrated writer?

But leave us not quibble over such small things, instead let us quibble over big things, or in my sphere of experience, I consider to be ponderous things worthy to ponder over. Sometimes I can have a tendency to repeat myself. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Which brings me to my next point, would it suffice for me to say sorry? For me to apologize whenever somebody of enough confidence comments squarely on how incorrect my opinion is, but then again, that’s why it’s called an ‘opinion.’ It’s supposed to be personal. But then there’s a shared opinion hiding under the name of consensus. Meaning an agreement shared upon by a given number of people who are relevant to each other or who share a relevant cause.

So I came upon this book before while perusing through a book sale, ‘it’s entitled ‘The World According to Garp.’ Garp, if I remember correctly is a green alien who always had something to say about everything. So, if you may, may I proceed then to discuss things under these presumptions?

‘The personal spherical experience according to Alf.’ Not good eh?

I figured as much, but lemme continue anyway. Let’s talk about Big Concepts. These definitions came from my convoluted mind. No link, online dictionary, thesaurus or encyclopedia was savaged in the writing of this tirade.

Reality.Reality is force fed, eat this.’ Is what one of my favorite shirts says. Although I won’t pretend to know what it means, it’s always a good conversation starter. Reality has a tendency to get warped especially when your circles share strong opinions on how things ought. It can get downright dirty and even borders on the ridiculous when other Big Concepts such as Love gets dragged in.

Love. Aah, that ‘many splendored thing.’ Is again one of the things that I abhor hearing because I do not fully understand what the hell that haphazardly thrown about cliché means. What I do know is Love has been defined, redefined, molested, elevated and convoluted to varied levels and states that we are all left asking: ‘What is it?” and ‘How will I know it’s there?’

My fact is, you won’t. And I suspect a whole lot of other people think this way too and that’s the reason why they meddle into other people’s business all in the guise of ‘helping’

Helping. Why do we help other people? Is it because we feel the need to? Is it because we feel good about ourselves after? Do we want that good fuzzy feeling that we get? Is it because we feel responsible? How do we choose who to help and how long and how far?

On second thought, I’d rather not have any clear cut definition of ‘helping’ because clearly, I am as clueless as you are. So let us move on.

Moving on is a very easy concept for me. I profess that it is ingrained in my ‘relevant now’ and was an integral part of my ‘person building.’ The circumstances in my personal sphere of experience made me selectively emotional; one attribute that I am pretty happy with until the arrival of the “Meddling Helpers” They said I had a convoluted sense of emotions and they feel the need to enlighten the people around me as regards to my state. So here’s what I say: ‘What else is new? I know that I have a convoluted sense of emotion, and that is okay with me,’ you, on the other hand are a conniving miserable press releasing control freak disguising as a meddling helper wannabe!!! Die!! Die!!

Whoops.

So I let the cat out of the bag. And consequently, it reminds me, there are many ways to skin a cat. Not that I am in the business of skinning cats. I have now entered into a quasi-placid state when it comes to pussycat conversations, all things considered (see my previous post)

If there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to teach a lesson. There’s didactic, there’s experiential, there’s step by step, there’s spoon feeding, there’s learner centeredness, there’s academic freedom, there’s transformative learning. There’s a whole lot. But those who can really teach are those who know what they teach, they know just the way to do it and they know how to change tactics when the time is ripe. Think about it.

A lot more people can be happier in this earth if they only realize the preponderance of good things that they are surrounded with. If you only exert that much effort into finding something to be thankful for as you do dwelling on yours and other people’s issues, you could really perfect that grin and that skip in yer step.

So there you have it, ministry, openness, relationships, commitment, service and teaching all in one gallop.

It’s a grrrreat life. Believe me, I know. Isn’t it high time you live yours?

missionary position

July 31, 2009

para ito sa mga taong may kagalit, hindi pa nakakapagpatawad, naguguluhan at kailagan ng kaunting pagaayos ng buhay


The Correlation of Mission Building and Community Relations

‘That they all be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.’ John 17:21

By perfect timing or lucky coincidences or divine intervention, I have found myself being sent to far flung places to tell stories of olde and of new. ‘Of olde’ pertaining to Biblical teachings and community constructs and ‘Of New’ being the new ‘person’ I have become. But Metanoia, it is not, for I am always the first to declare that I am a work in progress, slowly but surely.

All paranoia, mundane thoughts and guilt feelings aside, I find extreme joy and pleasure in being sent anywhere and everywhere. Being put in a position where you can experience and tell others of your love and freedom and it being your responsibility draws a natural high.

It was also very fortunate for me to have experienced being a guest speaker by default, it being my job as a marketing man. But more than me getting the required targets, it’s me telling my story of how difficult it is to choose a career path and how they, [students] should start early.

I always tell my story, like an old captain who braved storms and cyclones in the high seas. And in many capacities and mission types I have been sent with many different kinds of people all with different relationships and stories to tell.

We have learned that God speaks of human relationships as part of His mission to redeem a lost world (John 13:20, Matt 25:40) One reason He gives for husband and wife to live in unity is so they can produce ‘godly seed’, that is, children who love and obey God or Youth who can be used to bring redemption to a lost world. (Mal 2:14-15) Does this mean that children of broken families are relegated to a lesser position just because they were raised by imperfect parents? I think not, for I am one of those who turned out ok even if my family life is in shambles. And by ‘ok’ I mean that I am far from being The perfect example but as I have posited, I am a work in progress.

Most of us have heard of ‘the body of Christ.’ In the same manner, the youth ministry which is inside the BLD Los Baños, which in turn is part of a union of community’s world wide, is a ‘body of Christ.’ If God speaks of human relationships as part his body in His mission to save a lost world, how then can a church be on Mission with the Father in our world if its members are waging war with one another? (1Cor 12:12) I think that there is a crucial connection between our relationships with others and the salvation of those around us. Time and again, we have been dismissing comments of people that we are inviting to join us who says stuff like: ‘Ay BLD sya? E bakit sila magka-away sa blah lah ni blah blah?’ with equally valid retaliations like: ‘He is not serving faithfully if he keeps on looking at others and not to God’

Think about it: if we continue on dismissing people’s comments about us as insignificant on the grounds that ‘they should focus on God more and not on men’ aren’t we also saying that ‘stop looking at us, we are just humans and we don’t want to be held accountable for what’s happening?’

And before you get a heart attack and go on your reaction stream engine: lemme remind you of my thesis statement: The Correlation of Mission Building and Community Relations
These are specific arguments (but not pertaining to specific situations) and not hastily generalized truths.

Remember Jesus’ prayer before His crucifixion? It’s normal to assume that He would have been praying that His disciples have more courage or that they remain faithful or that they would remember what they were taught. But that wasn’t what He prayed for: He asked that His followers would remain united in their love for one another. Jesus understood that it would be spiritually impossible to love God but not love others.

When the whole Gawad Kalinga-Meloto-CFC story broke out, I was saddened that such a vibrant community as the Couples for Christ be put in a bad light just because our not-so-respected journalists and opportunists had a field day out of it. Part of my prayers then was to have this resolved the soonest possible because the engines of Mission and Evangelization should be restored. We can all relate to this, as young people, our orgs and ministry and communities and churches have been tried and tested with less than perfect leaders at war with each other.

A test of your love for God is to examine your love for others. Our tendency is to say: ‘Yo, God, I love you with all my heart, seriously! So we’re good! But the thing is: I just don’t love my brother/ sister, in fact, if its okay, puhleease send him/her as far away from me/us as possible. And this is what God says: ‘That is impossibility. You cannot love Me without loving the ones for whom My son dies’ (John 13:34-35)

Ouch.

Going on missions with nothing but your cloak and walking stick is hard; we are instructed to leave all our expectations behind. There was a time that we were sent on an island that necessitated us having to ride with the same boats that catch fish. There was another time that we were sent to facilitate a 3 day event and we were asked to sleep on a hallway leading to a CR. And there was also a time what we were sent to a place to share to a bunch of people who had no interest but to shriek and have fun and run around and smoke and party. Being a Leader/Missionary/Servant is hard because people look at and depend on you for all things; For some it’s harder because you have to contend with yourself and what you really believe in. For some its easy, if they continue on dismissing and not recognizing the need for reconciliation. Your life will not convince those around you of the reality of Jesus if you cannot live in unity with your fellow Christians. Think about it.