take-aways, 2013

during a recent meeting, a fellow Water Rat expressed reluctance at accepting a leadership role this coming year, because it’s going to be the Year of the Horse. any Rat–me, included–knows that Rats and Horses go together like Coca-Cola and indian mangoes. But I also know—and I speak from experience—that the proud Horse can be tamed by the wily Rat, and if not tamed, then ignored until he/she buckles (or pretends to buckle, and by that time we’d have gotten our way and ladidah).

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That said, I’m raring to face what 2014 has in store (as if any of us had a choice).

I turned 40 in 2013; if it’s true what they say, that life begins at 40, then I awoke to it with a jolt and a cold splash in the face. It would be a disservice and insult to the Universe if I didn’t take the lessons it gave me in 2013 and use them to my advantage in 2014.

Among them, for you to consider or chuck, here:

1. Some people or situations just aren’t meant to get “GET IT”. Let go, or be prepared for a protracted period of agony. Just because someone said “I love my job” doesn’t mean they said “I value my good name and reputation and will do all in my power to make sure I deliver impeccably, every time.” To her, it can mean: “I like it that I sit around and pretend to work and actually get paid!” You can’t “teach” culture; you can’t expect people to immediately and fully grasp your context. Having people GET IT is hard work, and takes a lot of self-awareness (“is it really that important, or am i just being stubborn?”), modeling, and patience. It also takes a lot of ‘getting them’, and that’s hard work as well.  

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2. People are more generous than they seem, because when presented with a genuine opportunity to help, they will be moved by a force stronger than self-interests. Our Center for Blended Learning‘s AMP Fest 2013 was put together in a mere five weeks. one morning, we just thought of gathering 1,000 bags with school supplies for Yolanda survivors. For a small school with a huge deficit, no financial investors, and a very lean team of nine (including teachers and non-teaching staff), that is a feat. Mr. Dick Penson, Michelle Lim of Sterling Group of Companies, Nice Travel, Enclavesmarts, Extraordinary Maritime Publishing, Inc., JSU-Amosup Museo Marino, a donor from Palawan, Daddy Mitch, Helena Alegre, Tita Pea, Gin-gin Maronilla-Peters, Joseph Garcia,  Mr and Mrs Armonio, Mr and Mrs de Guzman, Teacher Tessa, Em-em Guevara, Irene Fernando, Valerie Floro, Stratworks Company, Moist Communications, Alethea Abuyuan-Monge (whose sons broke open their piggy banks for donations), Kevin Endaya and Nicole Kanapi, Ralph Jaramillo, Rose Sugatan, Sabroso Lechon immediately sent in their donations in cash and kind. Ukulele Philippines Ensemble, Tricia Garcia, and all the bazaristas we asked immediately said yes. The children gave resounding performances on and off stage; their parents, especially those of our new students, were so very proud. Everyone went home beaming and happy.

But before the event, I texted Derek, who was in Tacloban at that time, and told him how tired I was. He reassured me that everything was going to be okay; as a photojournalist, he’s seen all sorts of devastation, he said. Pinatubo. The Baguio Earthquake. The Aceh Tsunami. But nothing came close to the devastation in Leyte. “What you’re doing is beyond you and the school,” he texted back. “Draw your strength from that.” i guess we did, and we hope to start shipping out those bags third week of January.

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[special mention: SDP Batch ’89’s astounding support for Rhea ’89, who is suffering from ovarian cancer. via WhatsApp and Facebook, ka-batches from New York and Manila coordinated a garage sale and fundraiser that has raised PhP200k+ to pay for Rhea’s medical bills. All this, even during our crazy-hectic skeds and personal fundraisers for Yolanda victims. Now that’s sisterhood. Cor Unum Via Una!) 

3. A tightly-edited piece/product with a clear, sound message is better than all the intelligent-sounding—however well-meaning—gobbledygook in the world. Thank you to Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and OXFAM Philippines for the opportunities to practice this in my craft and reminding me to apply it in the sundry other stuff I do. The campaign for streamlined messages, efforts, and working smartly and effectively, continues on all points!

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4. Sometimes, when people seem lost or disinterested, it’s not because they are—they just need to be reassured that someone is in charge. this goes for all my endeavors–the school, the magazine, the newspaper section, or Fred’s Revolucion.

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(this poster is dedicated to t. monette. hehe)

5. One can only give—and take—so much advice. Everyone likes to view him/herself an expert. To a certain extent, sure, make them believe so—heck, you might even pick up something valuable. But if the advice makes your eyes glaze over and wonder about the motive behind this outpour of concern, this litany of why your life sucks and why his/hers is so much better, then you have a right NOT to take it. So if you like to give advice, watch yourself. If you’re on the receiving end, harbor no guilt in pressing the mute button.

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6. Give yourself the space and time to continue knowing yourself, getting more comfortable in your own skin, and discovering for what you stand and believe in. Give people the same chance. Know the difference between conceit and narcissism and self-worth.

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(image from http://nicedeb.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/obama-narcissus.jpg)

7. “Sometimes, all your food needs is a little salt.” – Chef Kevin Endaya of Lemuria, the only fine dining restaurant in Quezon City. No need for fancy flavorings. Same thing with life. If it seems lacking, go back to the basics. Walk barefoot on the grass. Read a book. Buy your food at the wet market. Get off Facebook and talk to someone face-to-face.

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8. Anger and Love stem from the same element: Fire (well, at least that’s how I feel). Whether you use it to destroy or set someone ablaze with hope and inspiration, and light up his/her memory bank forever with good memories is in your power. I have a great temper, but I also sizzle down easily, and then I get all guilty; in the same vein, when I love, I love overwhelmingly, sometimes foolishly. It is a challenge to find the right temperature that will not put me to ruin on both ends. But I’ve found the switch, and that’s a profound development for me. I’m hoping this year, I will be able to master that flame. 

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…and so I end another imperfect year with the imperfections of a new one. No matter. Towards the end of 2013, we closed our Gratitude issue at Seafarer Asia magazine, and indeed, that’s all I am: Grateful. Grateful of the cards I’ve been dealt and that I still have the chance to play them, eyes wide open, at any table, with any set of players the Supreme Dealer deems wise to pair me with. 

here’s a screenshot of my ed’s note for that issue. Mabbalo, and may radiance be yours in 2014.

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