Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Dreamer's Eyes

Yesterday, Mai surprised me once again when she emailed everyone that it was her last day at work. I was catapulted back to that time when I learned that she was leaving...and made me feel this.

The team hastily arranged for a farewell party for her. Everyone from the team was there, including a few others who have worked with Mai. It was when I saw these people, especially those from outside the team who wished to be part of the surprise that the sadness gradually began to fade and quickly replaced by that warm feeling of pride that stems from knowing a person who has touched so many people's lives.

I was moved by all the farewell messages and fond memories everyone shared, particularly Tom's. He said that the first time he met Mai was when she was 18 years old. He remembered Mai saying she wanted to study in the Philippines, learn the culture, and learn the language. He said he saw the dream in her eyes. And Mai lived that dream. She has done exactly what she said she would do and she did it extremely well.

Ten years after, Tom said she met Mai again. This time they meet as colleagues and they have been working and learning together until last year when Mai decided to leave. Once again, Tom said he sees the dream in Mai's eyes.

It is easy to dwell on the sadness of someone leaving especially following a stream of partings in the team. It is not easy to let go of people who you care about. These are people I have worked with, created memories with, grown with, and explored life with. But behind the sadness is also that pride to have known people who have the courage to follow their heart and embrace their dreams.

Mai will be sorely missed. But at the end of the day, I can sleep better at night knowing that there are people like her out there who quietly makes a difference in this world. I draw strength and courage from the fact that someday, I can be like her.

Monday, February 25, 2008

While on the Lei Tai

Coach Mark to Bibo: Tayo ka lang, kahit pagod na pagod ka na, pilitin mong tumayo. Huwag mong ipapakitang pagod ka na. Isipin mo palagi, sarili mo ang kalaban mo dito. Sarili mo lang.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

aBout not meant to be

Coach Rene told me last night that I am not competing this March 1 because I have no opponent in my weight category. I swear, that was such a happy news for me because I have been mulling for days already how to best tell him that I do not think it is such a good idea for me to compete at this time.

Foremost reason actually was that "wake-up call" (well, the kind that oozes with bluntness and sarcasm) from my brod Nathan who could not have made any clearer why it was pretty stupid of me to agree to fight without first knowing what I was up against. Add that to Coach Mark, Eduard and Mark's skepticism when I told them separately about my decision and I gradually began to doubt my "unwise" decision to just say yes to the invitation to fight.

There were several lessons learned from this experience:

1. Never say yes unless I have all the details.

2. Never assume. When someone says the fight is Kickboxing...never assume that he really means kickboxing...because maybe, he means Muay Thai.

3. Trust what I know. When I know that one month is such a short time to learn a skill and be good at it, then I should trust that nugget of wisdom learned from years of competing. It could be a different sport, but the same principles apply. There is no way I can pick up new skills and be good at them (especially when those skills involved using my knees and elbows to strike an opponent) with only a month to prepare (i.e. a month of thrice a week training).

4. Never go into a fight from a disavantaged position. Oo nga naman...I was about to just go jump on the ring stripped with one of my core skills. As Nathan said, it is no problem if I am competing for Sanshou, which I am not. Instead, I am going into a fight where I cannot, absolutely not, use whatever takedown skills Sanshou people basically have.

I have been hoping to tell Coach Rene that I want out from this fight. However, part of me (argh! that stubborn part of me) was against backing out. I already said yes and I was finding it really hard to renege on that commitment.

The other part of me naman, that sane and reasonable part, was wishing and praying that I would muster the will to tell the coach that I am not doing it. I guess, that wishing and praying hard part really worked. Sabi nga ni Paolo Coelho, “When you want something badly enough, the whole Universe conspires to give it to you." Amen.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The birds that flocked together

Egad! I missed...

the conversations

the vibrant atmosphere of a crowd that breaks the silence of dawn

the magic of sunrise

and the beauty of the sky as it lights up.

What is it exactly that makes people willingly pay for something that is guaranteed to make them suffer for xx number of minutes? It is hard to explain really. But there is that something that draws people to this kind of life. Most times, it is just better to find the answers in the midst of the fun and action. There, the answer will come with such absolute certainty.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Futsal: If it doesn't kill me, kermi!

I am a huge fan of football (a.k.a. soccer). But I am not the type of fan who knows absolutely everything there is to know about the game. I just know that I like it and it is one of the sport that I can actually spend time watching every chance I get.

My feet have never experienced the feel of kicking a soccer/futsal ball in a friendly game. So when Norman invited me to try it, my first and immediate reaction was to decline because I was pretty sure I would look stupid playing it. Typically, being a friend, he told me that I can do it and threw in encouraging comments like "madali lang yon, promise".

I wanted to see if I I finally agreed. I figured, I should at least try doing it, right? It is my chance to see how I would cope with this kind of game given my conviction that I have zero talent in sports that require the use of balls. After all, I did promise myself that this year I will try to explore and do new things and I figured this would be a good start.

Decision made, I tried to ask some of my friends about Futsal (like if it is something that I can actually do, and so on). Ani told me she tried it once and she had a blast. She added that it involves a lot of kicking and running, which she said she has seen me do anyway, so yes, I would probably have fun playing it as well. Now, put that way, my doubts subsided and I began to feel pretty much happy with my decision to try it.

Finally, the day for my first-ever Futsal friendly game arrived. Bixie and Macky joined me (which further increased my confidence since we were all beginners). Tristan, one of the guys from the office, taught us some basics and let us practice while waiting for the others to arrive. The moves he taught us were surprisingly easy and my confidence went a notch higher. I thought, "Oh-kay, I can do this".

It was only when the "game" started that I began to appreciate my level of "Futsal-cluelessness". I can see what was going on, but my brain failed to quickly and fully process it. Everything was so new to me. I totally had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. There was a point that I got so confused, all these people kicking and running for this one ball and I was there in the middle of it trying so hard to be useful. On top of all these craziness, I kept repeating over and over in my mind that I cannot use my hands and that I must, MUST, not accidentaly (horror!) kick someone the way I am used to kicking.

Thankfully, the game ended injury-free and with much goodwill all around. I think Bixie, Macky and I did well as beginners. We tried our best out there and we had so much fun. Futsal is definitely a different ball game. It passed my personal gauge for the required level of challenge and difficulty to be enticing enough for me to play. As the game ended, Futsal had a new convert. I am now inclined to embrace a sport that requires the use of that I can actually, really, play.