Life Comes Full Circle: A Serendipitous Lunch

Many summers ago, I spent 10 years of my childhood in Davao City.

We were moved from Iloilo City, where I was born, to Davao as my Dad was made General Manager of a stevedoring company. As the transfer was midway through a school year, my Mom had no option but to homeschool me till the next school year came round. I was 5 years old then so the school (Stella Maris Academy) gave me the Nursery entrance exams. I passed with flying colors. Maybe it was fate but they decided to let me take the Grade One entrance test. I passed it too. At the age of 5, I was enrolled in the first grade — the youngest of the batch.

There is something about being the youngest in your batch forever and ever. You have this insecurity about not being old enough to “know” things that your classmates know, or not being in on secrets because you were still “too young”. When a school year came to an end, I’d secretly hope that when I enter the next school year, I’d find somebody younger than me.  But every time I moved up one grade level, I’d find myself still being the youngest. The only thing that held up for me, who was then quite shy as a child, was my being nerdy and brainy. I found myself being elected to key officer positions in class and holding leadership positions even if I was, at times, reluctant to be the head when everyone else was older than me and, in height, towered over me.

More

Advertisements

Maguindanao Massacre: Life Gone Cheap

Last Monday, November 23, the entire Philippines then the entire world learned of the heinous massacre of some members of the Mangudadatu clan and accompanying media and friends who were simply on their way to the local Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Maguindanao.

To-date, the body count is 57 people. Horrific by all standards. We have suddenly been thrust in the global news as being the first country where so many media people (who should, in all wars, be given protection as neutral and unarmed citizens) were slain at the same time and in the same place. Even more horrific was how the women were treated: they were allegedly humiliated via raping and shot or speared in different parts of the face and body.

Even now, I shudder at thoughts of how they all died. For many days after, while I tried to go about my normal business, a very heavy cloud hung over me and I would get teary-eyed while watching the news and seeing shots of the killing fields. I cannot even bear to put a single picture of the dead on this page. Now, I just want to write and let this be an outlet for all the negativity it has generated.

I am outraged, angry, and frustrated. No one deserves to die this way specially when they were not even in battle but were merely exercising their electoral right as Filipino citizens. I value life very much and when life is snuffed out like this under what was an obviously premeditated act (a backhoe belonging to the Province of Maguindanao was found near dugouts which were created even before the party of Mangudadatu set out for the Comelec), there is no other action than to find the mastermind and the doers of these dastardly deeds speedily.

The campaigning for elections has not even began and already we have the blood of innocents spilled for it. How safe will our brothers and sisters in Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines be in the run-up to May 2010? Are we here in Manila even safe?

I join in the call for the Philippine government to act swiftly, transparently and justly to bring the guilty before the courts of law with no special treatment whatsoever. This is not a time for any political favors to be granted. The outrage over the death of so many innocent people has now escalated to an international one and the whole world is watching and waiting to see how this government will deal with the Ampatuans, a clear ally of the present administration, who have been tagged as allegedly being behind the massacre.

We all need to be clearly satisfied that this government will run after all those involved in the massacre and put the full force of the law on them. Nothing less…

Kids: Teach Them Well Then Learn to Let Go

Our 4 kids are now either in their teens or in their early 20s. Our oldest boy is spending 6 weeks in Beijing with his schoolmates and teachers. Our oldest girl is on her last year in college and will soon be part of the workforce, either in the Philippines or abroad.

As I ponder on the years that have passed and the prospect of experiencing the “Empty Nest Syndrome” in a decade or even sooner, mixed emotions well up in me. I am happy that they are finding their own place in society and learning to reach deep down in themselves in order to cope with different situations. Another part of me is sad that the babies who were totally dependent on me in their early years are all now growing wings and learning to fly away.

About 4 years ago, this son of ours who is now in Beijing, left on a similar overseas program to Xiamen. First time abroad, first time in China. And he was only in the seventh grade. I remember feeling all anxious about how he would cope being away from us for 6 weeks. He had traveled in the past to the province to be with my in-laws, sometimes spending entire summers there. But he was always with family. That first trip abroad meant no family support. On his return, I saw changes, albeit slight, in our son’s persona. Yes, he had to cope with homesickness, and with weekly laundry chores, and with cultural adjustments. But in the end, he exuded more confidence in himself. When this Beijing program came along this year, he volunteered for it even without any word from us. It was totally his own decision. And he’s now there having a blast.

More

Join Blog Action Day 2009

Blog Action Day 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 will happen on October 15, 2009.

What is Blog Action Day?

It is an annual event that unites all bloggers around the world on a central theme that makes all participants blog about on their own blogs. This action is meant to generate awareness about the issue at hand of global importance.

For 2009, the theme is CLIMATE CHANGE.

I urge you to join now and register your blog. There are several ways to do this:

1. Register your blog as a participant for Blog Action Day.

2. Promote Blog Action Day 2009 to other bloggers. You can do so on Twitter and Facebook.

3. Get a badge for your blog/s.

You can also follow recent developments leading up to Blog Action Day 2009 by visiting the BAD Blog.

Here’s a short YouTube clip about Blog Action Day:

My Journey towards Creativity and Self-Actualization

I am experiencing a rebirth of sorts.

In my 20s and 30s, I was too preoccupied with getting good grades, working on an MBA degree, and balancing a flourishing career with the duties of child-rearing. These activities were not bad in themselves. In fact, if we believe that there is a time and place for everything, then those years were years meant to instill certain values in me like discipline, focus, drive, hard work, teambuilding, passion, and the like.

But midlife brings with it certain realizations about what truly matter in life and my yoga encounters heightened my sensitivity to making the rest of my own life meaningful in a way that takes me on a different path altogether. Many people talk about freeing up the spirit, living in the moment, following one’s heart, and the like. That used to be mumbo-jumbo to me. But now, the achievements of the past are just that — factual achievements. For some reason, these are no longer that important for me. My family and friends are now more important — and I want to appreciate what they are to me and for me to be more to them than I ever was before.

Blogging and internet-based work have also become my daily fare. Nowhere in my formal education have I learned this and the truth is, most bloggers half my age know more than twice as much about these things as I do. But I know that for as long as I still have the willingness to learn, not be afraid to stumble along the way, and simply enjoy the experiences as they happen, I will be OK.

A book that I recently read by John Izzo, “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” listed down 5 secrets (they are not really secrets because many of us know this already but do not live it):

1. Be true to your self

2. Leave no regrets

3. Become love

4. Live in the moment

5. Give more than you take

This book is my ongoing inspiration. It makes me more keenly aware of each and every encounter, each day that passes, every person I meet, every event that crosses my path, every place I visit. One of my future plans is to attend a workshop being conducted by none other than Jim Paredes (of APO Hiking Society), Tapping the Creative Universe, in hopes that his creativity in many realms (music, writing, singing, etc) rubs off on me and opens up whatever creativity is still dormant.

I am on an adventure — a journey of sorts — to find everything that I am and everything I am capable of doing.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the highest level is self-actualization.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Jim Paredes posted the item below on his Facebook and it came in the nick of time. I looked at the list and realized that I’m actually experiencing some of these already. It’s also a good reminder to keep working on the rest.

Here, very briefly, are the 19 Characteristics of Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizer:

1. Perception of Reality: These individuals tend to have a “superior relationship with reality” and are “generally unthreatened and unfrightened by the unknown.” In fact, “They accept it, are comfortable with it, and, often are even more attracted by it than by the known. They not only tolerate the ambiguous and unstructured–they like it.”

2. Acceptance: “Even the normal member of our culture feels unnecessarily guilty or ashamed about too many things and has anxiety in too many situations. Our healthy individuals find it possible to accept themselves and their own nature without chagrin or complaint or, for that matter, without even thinking about the matter that much.”

3. Spontaneity: The behavior of the self-actualizing individual is “marked by simplicity and naturalness, and by lack of artificiality or straining for effect.”

4. Problem Centering: Self-actualizers customarily have some “mission in life.”

5. Solitude: Self-actualizing individuals “positively like solitude and privacy to a definitely greater degree than the average person.”

6. Autonomy: “They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth.”

7. Fresh Appreciation: “Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.”

8. Peak Experiences: It’s been called “flow” or “being in the zone.” Whatever you want to call it, self-actualizers tend to experience it more often than average.

9. Human Kinship: “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.” “Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.”

10. Humility and Respect: All of Maslow’s subjects “may be said to be democratic people in the deepest sense…they can be friendly with anyone of suitable character, regardless of class, education, political belief, race or color. As a matter of fact it often seems as if they are not aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and so important.”

11. Interpersonal Relationships: “Self-actualizing people have these especially deep ties with rather few individuals. Their circle of friends is rather small. The ones that they love profoundly are few in number.”

12. Ethics: “They do right and do not do wrong. Needless to say, their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not the conventional ones.”

13. Means and Ends: “They are fixed on ends rather than on means, and means are quite definitely subordinated to these ends.”

14. Humor: “They do not consider funny what the average person considers to be funny. Thus they do not laugh at hostile humor (making people laugh by hurting someone) or superiority humor (laughing at someone else’s inferiority) or authority-rebellion humor (the unfunny, Oedipal, or smutty joke).”

15. Creativity: “This is a universal characteristic of all the people studied or observed. There is no exception.”

16. Resistance to Enculturation: “Of all of them it may be said that in a certain profound and meaningful sense they resist enculturation and maintain a certain inner detachment from the culture in which they are immersed.”

17. Imperfections: Actualizers “show many of the lesser human failings. They too are equipped with silly, wasteful, or thoughtless habits. They can be boring, stubborn, irritating. They are by no means free from a rather superficial vanity, pride, partiality to their own productions, family, friends, and children. Temper outbursts are not rare.”

18. Values: “A firm foundation for a value system is automatically furnished to self-actualizers by their philosophic acceptance of the nature of self, of human nature, of much of social life, and of nature and physical reality.”

19. Resolution of Dichotomies: “The dichotomy between selfishness and unselfishness disappears altogether in healthy people because in principle every act is both selfish and unselfish.”

My corporate friends may never understand why I am choosing to start anew on things that are so different from what I was brought up and trained for. Maybe someday, they will.


Celebrate International Left-Handers’ Day 2009 Today (August 13)!

Lefthanders in their Right Minds

Left-handers (popularly called Lefties) comprise only about 7-10% of the world’s population.

Up until the last generation, left-handed children were forced to switch to the right hand by most parents. It’s only now that lefties are acknowledged for their uniqueness and creativity.

Based on studies, here are some interesting trivia about left-handed people:

– Some famous Lefty personalities are US President Barack H. Obama, Henry L. Ford, Mark Twain, Jimi Hendrix, Michelangelo, and our very own Rafael “Paeng’’ Nepomucen and Emmanuel “Manny’’ Pacquiao.

– Men are slightly more likely to be left-handed than women.

– When NASA began searching for imaginative, reliable, multi-talented people for the moon, 1 in 4 Apollo astronauts turned out to be left-handed (a figure 250% greater than statistical probability).

– Left-handers reach puberty 4-5 months later than right-handed people.

– Lefties tend to draw figures that face the RIGHT.

– Probably because they use the right side of the brain more, lefties appear to be better in the music and arts scene.

– According to neurologists, lefties adjust more readily to seeing underwater.

– Left-handers seem to excel in sports such as tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing.

– The probabilities of producing a lefty are as follows: 1 in 10 if both parents are right-handed; 2 in 10 if one parent is left-handed; 1 in 4 if both parents are left-handed.

– 4 of the 5 original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed.

– Lefties account for a large percentage of those in remedial reading classes.

In my family, three of my kids were born Lefties. Our second daughter, C2, was born left-handed but since I did not know any better then, I taught her to use her right hand so she would not have difficulty in a right-handed world. However, our 2 succeeding children, both boys, also turned out to be Lefties. And to this day, I wonder about this because while we have other lefties in the family (my sister and some in-laws), both me and my hubby are right-handed.

We are fortunate that in the boys’ school, they took pains to accommodate lefties by providing desks with left-sided arm rests. It’s not so bad anymore now that they are in high school because the desks are tables with ample room for you whether you are right- or left-handed. But at home, I still have to contend with bumping elbows with M2 at the dinner table.

In 1990, the Left-Handers Club was established and on Aug. 13, 1992, they launched International Left-Handers’ Day. According to their website:

This event is now celebrated worldwide, and in the U.K. alone there were over 20 regional events to mark the day in 2001- including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide “Lefty Zones” where left-handers creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, whilst right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment!

These events have contributed more than anything else to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of our needs by the right-handed majority – although there is still a long way to go!!

Today, I greet all Left-Handers, including my lefty kids and blog readers. You are unique and in a class all your own. You have your own place in this world and can make a great contribution with your creativity and artistic talents.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL LEFT-HANDERS’ DAY!!!

Previous Older Entries

kreativ_blogger_award_copy.jpg