Posts Tagged ‘conversation’

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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LIFETREKKER: Beating The Odds:Another stone for the edifice?

June 21, 2010

I don’t know if I got the title right but what I know for sure is that Ma & I had to suppress a laugh at this unbelievable attempt of ‘pagbubuhat ng bangko,’

I am talking about PGMA’s latest book out, a 380++ page treatise of her ‘many’ accomplishments,all told in excruciating detail.On the set of Anthony Taberna’s Punto per Punto segment at ABSCBN’s UKG is one of the book editors & on the phone was opposition congressman Teddy Casino(?)

This coffeetable book would undoubtedly discuss the accomplishments she’s made in the past 9years;new infrastructures or improvements therein:the SLEX,NLEX,airports etc & the faster processing of pertinent documents:drivers licenses,passports,birth certificates & the automated elections.Im sure you’ve seen the commercials,which has aired amok, sa totoo lang.=p

I think it’s just sad that Arroyo had to spend some more of her ill-gotten wealth just to try & convince the general populace of her good deeds in trying to cover up her misdeeds,which would be The Understatement of the century. Hello,Garci? Hello,ZTE-NBN? Hello,Political Killings? For those in Manila,I’m sure you’ve seen multiple footbridges holding up the very sorry-looking tarps: ‘Salamat Pangulong Arroyo para sa footbridge na ito’ Whatda?! Hahaha.I laugh.I mock.

Dear Arroyo,

Legacies & memoirs should be written for you not by your band of merry thieves,er,men,but by Historians long after you’ve gone.Why do this now?What are you up to?

According to the editor who sat down with Taberna,they only have 500copies of this ‘limited edition’ release.500 people out of the 7107 island inhabitants MAY get a chance to read this mockery.I hope to be one of them.Hey,I got loads of time,and I could use a good laugh.Sa Totoo lang.

LOL

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!=)

the capacity to remake yourself

February 23, 2010

Like any individual who had had a life altering event, I found myself adrift- with all the responsibilities and expectations required of a yuppie but none of the security. When I had a job, I built a certain kind of life and it became my identity. When I lost that job or the career that I thought I was building, I lost that identity and for more than a year, I was dealing with it in the best possible way I knew how, writing- and telling you about it. And that’s scary for the most part because my work-er career defined who I was, and without it, who exactly am I again? It’s like the death of the self. And so I had to go down on my barest self and tried rebuilding and making do with what’s left lest I go out and make the same mistakes again.

It was a hard year, I’m sure you knew especially if you were subscribed to my Life Trekker blog. And I am not all that proud of everything I have said and done at that time. I made really crazy decisions, like whimsically going on that PEFAJ interview out of boredom. I got in, I did well (aced the class actually) and earned lots. But the work doesn’t agree with me. Hell, no one around me agrees with this poor call, to punish the pun. But I’ve no regrets because the two months I spent with them were a cornucopia of rich experiences. I met a wide range of people that I would never have met had I stayed inside my cozy little bubble. It was like taking a vacation from who I really was.

I am now marketing environmental services. Like any other momentous moment of my life, I outline the good things that make it right for me at this time. This responsibility that I have right now is right for me because 1. I get to write, which I have been told I am good at. 2 I get to sell ideas and services and make relevant people sit up and listen, which actually is marketing, if you simplify it. 3. I am saving the earth, which I feel strongly about because duh, it IS where we live and it’s not as if we could get a new one.

Reinventing yourself and appreciating what you have come easy when people around continue being supportive no matter what.  I am at an age when what detractors say no longer matter. But I am kind of affected when people close to me tell me that I am not the right fit for this.

At least three people have told me explicitly that

  1. I am pretending I know what I am doing and I am pretending to like it. They are not so sure.
  2. I am not the right fit for the job because he is smarter than me. (He probably is smarter, it’s okay.)
  3. I am better off working as a call center agent because it fits me more.

Ouch. As much as I tried, I couldn’t come up with any explanation as to why these individuals have the audacity to say these things up front. The optimist in me pleads that they ‘mean well.’ The pessimist in me shrugs it off and says: ‘they are probably insecure’ while the bigger part of me just let it slide because I am more interested in having a Grreat life than being morose and sulky. You’ve read this before in my articles:  My default setting is ‘Happy.’

Once you find your passion, jobs and work no longer define you. You define them; you make it work regardless of what others say.

I wish that you will find your passion the soonest possible time.

the trouble with emo

October 22, 2009

written Aug 13 10:58am

‘listenin to emo, does not make you emo. Learn to comprehend people, learn to comprehend.(zadl suministrado)

One of my friends in facebook posted this moments ago and despite of my oh-so-busy schedule watchin ‘happy feet’ it got me thinkin: What is up with ’emo’ anyway? What is up with dressing in black and walking in the rain looking all morose and sullen with your skull candy (or fake ones) beating ’emo’ tunes in your waterlogged brain?!

WTF?!

And somebody explain to me when it became allowable for high school and college guys to wear black make up all in the guise of bein ‘EMO’ Again, WTF?!

I am left to assume that ’emo’ is a perverted, truncated, molested version of the word ’emotional’ wherein teens of preposterous testosterone levels are following a senseless fad or genre with blind obedience.

WTF IS EMO ANYWAY? Is it then a license for people to walk around in the rain? Sige punyeta ka magkasakit ka.

Is it a license for friends and colleagues to answer you with a blank stare or a withered look when you ask them: ‘kamusta ka?’

PUNYETA KA, sumagot ka, UMAYOS ka, kinakausap ka nang maayos

Is it a license to go out into the rain with your 2thou ++ peso SkullCandy that your parents bought you? O siguro peke yan at binili mo lang sa CDR King kaya okay lang mabasa at mag short circuit sa ulo mong kulang na nang turnilyo kaka-emo mo!!

Susmaryosep naman kasi.

KUNG WALA NAMANG DAHILAN PARA MAGING malungkot ka E WHY THE FUCK DO YOU ACT THAT WAY?! Kasi uso?! Wahahahaha Punyeta!!

Yours is a screwed up generation if the only thing you do is follow this movement/genre or whatever.

Please.

Do everyone a favor and educate these wayward misfits struggling to fit in. Show them a more worthwhile advocacy. Like ‘involvement in the electoral process’ or ‘goin for a green environ’

Hindi yang punyetang emo na yan na ang ginagawa lang ay gawing suicidal ang mga batang umpakadami namang reason na magpakasaya.

And don’t get me started on ’emoPunkz’ With that blood curling spelling replacing ‘s’s with a ‘Z’

Study. Graduate. Make something for yourself. And stop with this emo-crap. Please.

Blog Entry Oiling the lamps with Wisdom in anticipation of Parousia

July 31, 2009

Because my direction in yesterdays LWG is to ‘multiply’ here it is!

(hahaha, im kidding of course. This was my reflection last November 5 2005 at the Youth Ministry worship then led by Marimaj Espinas

breaks in the paragraph (and thought) means I went extempo on some anecdotes which, by now, is lost to me. I hope you will be able to pick up something useful despite the long read.

FIRST READING Wisdom of Solomon 6: 12 -16

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 63: 2-8

SECOND READING 1ST Thessalonians 4: 13-18

GOSPEL Matthew 25: 1-13

Personification. A figure of speech. Truly Communication Arts and English came a long, long way. Even before the term ‘personification’ came into being, those that wrote the first reading had it in good. They know their stuff, they know their syntax.

By using the figure of speech, the author gave us a richer picture of what Wisdom is and how we should seek her. By having an allusion of an actual human being, it is easier for the readers to appreciate its value or her value. For tangible things are always easier to comprehend. Rather than having a loose notion of a concept, it was enriched for us, for our understanding.

But what is wisdom?

The reading says that if you look for her, you will find peace of mind, she is kind and she will be with you in every thought because she will be looking for those who are worthy of her.

The next verse answers it for us: Wisdom begins when you sincerely want to learn. To desire wisdom is to love her, to love her is to keep her laws; to keep her laws is to be certain of immorality. Immorality will bring you closer to God.

The world is full of ‘experts’ there are people everywhere who want to convince you of the wisdom of their opinion. Yet God says it is not the one who declares his viewpoint most loudly or vociferously who is the wisest, but the one who is vindicated over time.

When you seek to obey what God has asked you to do, you will sometimes meet resistance and criticism from others who disagree with the wisdom of your actions. Your immediate response maybe the urge to vindicate yourself, however, if you wait patiently, time will reveal the wisdom of your actions far better than you could through argument.

Through the ages, the wisdom found in God’s word has been tested and proven true. It is critical that you measure everything you hear against the scriptures, trends in Psychology and Philosophy come and go, but the word of the Lord is timeless.

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Have you ever been thirsty? Like really, really, REALLY THIRSTY?

Remember how great it felt that after a long wait, you are finally able to drink. COLD, REFRESHING water that quenches your thirst? Or, right now, we have a ‘better’ substitute after sweating out, it’s GATORADE with all the vitamins and minerals and electrolytes.

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The psalmist uses suggestive images to express his desire of communion with God; he wants to embrace God, to be in the shadow of His wings, to lean on his right hand. This desire is a basic spiritual feeling.

Another thing that the psalmist uses is a lot of imagery ‘my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water’ ‘riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied’

This spectacular Psalm has many spiritual applications.

How pathetic it is for us if we stop searching, always going further, and looking for more! It has been said: True love is limitless and that is precisely why it leaves us unsatisfied. Only He who is the fountain of living water and not ‘broken cisterns’ (Jeremiah 2:13) can satisfy men’s fundamental thirst.

St Augustine expressed it in his famous phrase: ‘You have made us for yourself; O Lord and our hearts will not rest until they rest in you.’

We are certainly blessed if at certain times in our lives, in meditating God’s Word, like in praying or worshipping, in generously responding to divine calls, in loving our neighbor unselfishly, we experience God through the feelings that show God for who he is: peace, joy, security and inner conviction, fullness…And we are even more blessed if, because of our serenity and hope in the midst of the difficulties and trials of life, we give to others the love and desire of God.

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Paul’s formation of a Christian community in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey (Acts 17, 1-9) produced a considerable disturbance in the Jews residing there. To prevent further disorder, he and his companion, Silas, agreed to leave the city (Acts 17, 10). However he revisited the community on his third journey (acts 20 1f)

Indications from 1st Thessalonians itself and Acts permit the almost certain conclusion that the epistle was written only a short time after Paul’s departure from Thessalonica. (1 Thessalonians 2, 17) in that interval, he had been in Athens (3, 1; Acts 17, 16) and from there had sent Timothy to the Thessalonians (3, 2). He now writes to them from Corinth (1, 7 Acts 18: 1-18

Paul writes after receiving Timothy’s report on the Thessalonian community

The Thessalonian community is made up of Christians who are all recent converts with little experience. For years, they had accepted the fate of men who are born to die. Now on the contrary, they awaken each day with the assurance of overcoming death: Christ will come soon and take them to the heavenly kingdom.

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But they are grieved over their dead relatives whom Christ will not be able to save. This is the way they thought because people steeped in Greek culture had difficulties believing in a resurrection of the dead.

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Those who are already asleep Those who have died are not dead, but they are asleep, waiting for the time of the resurrection, the time of rising as new persons transformed by Christ: we will all be transformed. The word ‘cemetery’ comes from a word meaning ‘sleeping place’

We will be brought along with them in the clouds. Paul presupposes that he and his readers will still be alive when Christ come and describes the event in thought patterns of his days: they thought that God was above.

We will be with the Lord forever. Paul goes to the heart of the matter: we will share Christ’s destiny. We will enjoy intimacy with God because the whole person will have been purified and transformed by the power emerging from the risen Christ.

Comfort one another. The way to celebrate funerals in the Church must comfort the dead person’s relatives and strengthen their faith in the resurrection. There is no room for expressions of despair and sadness which Jesus himself scorned (see Mark 5:40); these are peculiar for the people who consider separation to be final.

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The parable is addressed to the members of the Church

The Kingdom of God is compared to a wedding, in which some young girls are chosen to be part of the entourage: Like them, we have also been selected by God to prepare for the wedding of the Lord Jesus with humanity.

The girls were ready for the wedding, but Jesus delays and time passes by. The sleep which takes possession of the girls is not the result of negligence on their part but it simply means that the time when they could have entered without problems was over. We, likewise, when we began our journey in faith, could not foresee that we would meet trials.

The careless ones did not take extra oil. They did not think of building up their lives, or surrendering themselves; nor did they make the commitments that would allow them to endure. The oil for the flame is lacking; so also is the giving of oneself and of everything one has; Faith hope and love are like the fire that fades away when there is nothing left to burn.

I do not know you. Neither a baptism nor periods of fervent devotion are of value to us, if afterwards we are content with a life of routine religious practices.

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The Lord demands faithfulness and perseverance of those he has chosen; this is how we save a world which seeks everywhere for truth, and does not know to which Lord to surrender.

We must realize now that someday it will cost us everything to remain faithful to our commitment. We don’t realize that as time goes by; our attitudes and obedience to the faith will change.

When we know God’s will, when we have our orders and we don’t do it, that’s bad, THAT’S A SIN! (James 4:17)

We can make excuses for our lack of obedience: ‘I’m not just read yet or ‘I’ll do it later’ or ‘I don’t think it will make any difference’ or ‘I can’t afford to.’

We rationalize, we procrastinate, yet in God’s eyes, rationalization and procrastination are nothing more than disobedience. At times we deceive ourselves into thinking that good intentions equal obedient actions. THEY DO NOT. A good intention without any corresponding activity is disobedience. When we encounter God and he gives us a direction, it is not enough to write down the date on our spiritual journal, or even to tell our friends and church of our ‘decision.’ God’s call is not to ‘make a decision’ but to obey! Deciding to obey is not equal to obeying! (Matthew 21:28-31) Loudly affirming the necessity of obedience is not the same as obeying (Luke 6:46) making commitments, even publicly, is not the same as obeying our Lord. Substituting our own good works is not the same as obeying.

God expects you to obey EVERYTHING exactly as he tells you. Only obedience satisfies God’s desire for, well, obedience.

Lord,

In my weakness you are my strength, I acknowledge my weakness, be with me, and meet me in my weakness, so that I may not fail

Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.

Not my will but yours be done, not myself but you be glorified.

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

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?