The powers of words have been taught to me early in life. Both my parents are ministers and growing up, they would always speak blessings and declarations: that I will succeed in this life, that I will make it, and that there’s a great future ahead of me. They will share it while praying for me, in conversations, and on the numerous pep talks I’ve had with both of them or with either Papa or Mama.
When I moved out in 2006, living in New York City where I stayed for seven years, I’ve learned how important words are to one’s life. As a kid and teenager, it’s easier to ignore its effects. But as an adult, I’ve discovered that words spoken to you and by you – good or not – can make a difference in your day, your attitude, and in a greater scope of things, your life. It’s so important and powerful that our very words can either limit or expand our possibilities.
When I was a teenager, I’ve had a sense that anything is possible in the Philippines. I believed that change could happen on a broad and massive scale. Transformation, for anything and anywhere, even for a nation is a realistic proposition.
It’s been almost a decade since I’ve read the book From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, whose author- Lee Kuan Yew is considered the Founding Father of modern Singapore. The decades-long prime minister of the country shared how this tiny city state in the pacific with no natural resource, even a source of water, to call its own has become one of the most progressive economies in the world. This book, which I bought during my first trip to Singapore in the early 2000s, inspired me to believe the seemingly impossible for my country. It led me to attempt to do a bit of nation building work when I was in my teens, when I was a young economics student full of hope for the Philippines.
It’s been eight days since the Paris headquarters of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was attacked, claiming 12 lives. Less than a day after the barbaric slaughter, a Kosher supermarket was held by terrorists, killing four hostages and two police officers when the ordeal finally ended with a shootout. The days that followed were filled with funerals and rallies – including one that united world leaders to publicly stand together against Islamic extremists.
French President Francois Hollande has iterated the truth about the perpetrators of the tragic events. “These fanatics have nothing to do with Islam,” he said in a televised statement. The suspects in the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks were promoting a twisted and perverted ideology that has claimed the lives of the very people they claim to defend. Terrorism, in the form of Islamic extremism, has killed more Muslims than anyone from the west. Continue reading
In December 2013, our pastor invited a group of us from church for a Christmas dinner at his family’s place in Harlem. It was an incredible time of fellowship with some of my closest friends, all of whom were God-fearing individuals determined to make a positive impact in the world. While we were at the living room, sharing stories of what God has done in our life, Pastor Kaz asked each of us what one word would best describe the year 2013, based on what we’ve gone through and learned. At that time, the word that summed up the year for me was “restored.”
This year has been anything but easy. It was a transition year for me, as my best friend would describe, filled with many things expected. The biggest would be my moving back to the Philippines after seven years of living abroad.
But though the past 12 months have been challenging, there were tons of people in my life – here in the Philippines – whom I’m eternally grateful to have. My family would definitely be one of them, together with many old friends and new ones – all of whom have been instrumental in being reminded that I am exactly where I need to be (for now) and I’m blessed to be here.
I love to plan and attempt to draw a strategy for my life. A lot of those plans have, thus far, been shattered – only for me to realize and experience a more exciting and in many ways rewarding season in life.
I was ready to walk out of church, not because I wanted to make a scene or hated the message, but because I really needed to pee. Fifteen minutes into the preacher’s message and my urinary bladder was ready to explode. I was unfortunately seated right smack at the middle of the congregation making it look too obvious to the hundreds around me if I make the exit.
A cunning development researcher very subtly got me involved to organizing an event. I didn’t know that when I met him, I was basically enlisting myself to be a key organizer to a very exciting project. Less than a month after getting to know the guy, I saw myself in a room with his friend being interviewed for a TEDx franchise! Truth be told, it was more than a privilege to get involved with this guy and a peer of his in bringing this independently organized TED event in the Ortigas Central Business District.
My sentiment towards not wanting to be in Manila is not exactly a secret. The few friends I have here know that my heart is somewhere else (read here to know where). But despite me not wanting to be where I am, I’m more than conscious that it’s where I need to be. By the grace of God, I’ve learned to understand my life’s seasons and at this point, I know I’m exactly where I need to be.
In many ways, I know I am where I am right now out of need; it’s for a purpose. And I’ve decided to fully embrace what’s ahead of me since day one. Below are three things that have helped me adjust when I moved back.
We all want to express ourselves. We consider it a right and a necessary form of behavior to speak up and verbalize what’s on our mind. And yes, for all of us, to talk for the purpose of venting, informing or simply throwing a joke is a need. The desire to share our thoughts is natural. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But when we speak up, it’s important to consider that the timing of when to speak up and when not to saying anything is essential in making our point effectively and also not looking stupid. We need to learn to incubate our thoughts, allow our minds to process further what we’re about to say and not just irresponsibly exercise the right to express ourselves. Every word we say can have a tangible consequence, good or bad, thus we ought to be more careful. Continue reading