Sunday, May 31, 2009

Another Journey

Two average-sized suitcases and one smaller one for handcarry, those are the stuff my friend and her daughter will carry with them as they begin a new life in Brisbane. I spent the day with them, mostly to hang out and help them pack. There were so many things that will be left behind. All of which would soon go to other boxes and suitcases that will be brought back to their home province a week before they leave.

I'm used to packing and leaving but only when I'm the one doing it. It becomes another matter when it involves people I care about. I found the entire exercise a bittersweet affair. It all sank in to me while we were putting her daughter's things in the suitcase. I knew that this time would come eversince my friend started making plans. Until now I'm still amazed that she pulled it through this quickly. And knowing what she went through to get at this point, I believe with all my heart that they are meant to embark on this new journey.
(Image courtesy of the Internet)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Where Idealism Meets Pragmatism

Day 3 of MOSO class

Food and parking were main topics of conversation before class started. There were chocolate cookies that Karen (Sepak Takraw) baked and Calasiao puto that Raymond (Karatedo) brought from Pangasinan. The early birds started enjoying the treats over coffee while waiting for the others to arrive.

Gen. Tanchanco, the ASMC-MOSO program director, offered the newcomers some of Karen's "biscuits". Her daughter jokingly quipped to her dad that she feels insulted as those are not "biscuits" but cookies. Everyone shared a good laugh at the easy banter between father and daughter. The good general and his contemporaries argued that biscuits and cookies are essentially the same for them citing generation gap as possibly the reason why the two are now considered different.

The others began arriving and one look at each newcomer clued us in that they shared the same issues with the guard over parking. Apparently the guards would not allow them to park near the building, which they have been doing in the past Saturdays that we were there. It was funny how all of each one of them entered the room looking bewildered and a bit irritated. The newcomers were offered coffee and food and things quickly settled to the usual banters. They all didn't seem to mind the rain and losing one day of yet another precious weekend to a course that would take six months to finish.

We were assigned to different groups today and I found myself grouped with Karen, Atty. Saliva (Dance Sport), Gina (POC), Jen (Basketball) and Andy (Muay). Once again, us women outnumbered the single man in the group but that certainly did not hindered what ended up to be a very vibrant, interesting and exhilirating series of discussions.

I felt a mix of pride and humility the whole time I was with them. I was proud to be among such strong and accomplished people who exude strength of character and conviction. Volunteerism is a strong part of their lives. They inspire me to strive to be better.

It was also a humbling experience for me to hear shared experiences of facing a lot of roadblocks in our respective roles in sports because we are women. However, knowing that does not stop us from doing our jobs.

Perhaps my key takeaways from today's sessions are our discussions on volunteerism as a noble act, acceptance of how the changes we wish to see in Philippine sports would take a lot of years to happen, the passion to continue to serve anyway and the resolve to explore ways on how we could focus our thirst for changes on things that we can influence.

There was too much to learn in what feels like too little time. I am soaking up everything, just like everyone was doing. Sometimes I feel like I'm bleeding information out of my ears because of information overload. But it was a good feeling. Maybe, just maybe, ten years from now I would see the changes that the people in our class hope to see.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day By Day

Change is excruciating especially when it involves major decisions. I'll be jobless by choice one month from now. It was definitely a tough decision and the past weeks have really been difficult. I don't have a job prospect yet since, admittedly, I haven't been making much of an effort in that department. I think it's partly because I've considered going home for good. After nineteen years, I'm finally going home.

Ironically, a lot of really good things happened since the decision was made. I've been given a slot in that six-month international course and was selected to be part of this training at work, which incidentally is programmed for six months as well.

Now the end for these two opportunities is something that I don't think much about. I'm taking everything one day at a time. I don't think about how I'd regret not being able finish the international course, which is one of those rare opportunities that come only a few times in a lifetime. Neither do I dwell on that pang of sadness for not being able to complete the modules in that training at work. Somehow, by not thinking about those, I just enjoy every minute that I'm in class.

I feel that I'm recovering slowly. I'm now seeing a glimmer of the old me. A more balanced individual, a person who celebrates life and doesn't throw away opportunities to grow in body, mind and soul (or will).

I'd say I have a lot on my plate right now. My finances are low at best and I'm looking at major expenses since I'll be relocating (nineteen years worth of stuff wouldn't be easy to pack in a few boxes). Then there's that issue with overhead. I'd soon be out of job but I'll still have bills to pay. Clearly, I'm not on solid ground here. It's been said that "beginnings are always messy" and right now, I couldn't agree more.

I've mulled about the logic of my decision and I honestly couldn't explain it in ways logical people would understand. In difficult moments, I've even challenged myself to see if there's even a tinge of doubt that would save me from this inexplicable (that word sounds nicer than crazy) move. But truth be told, no matter how hard I argue with myself, I still feel that I'm doing the right thing. I believe that I may not be able to change things but I can definitely change my circumstances.

It's in times like this, in the midst of the storm, that I find that part of me again that's capable of living in the here and now. And I find that by appreciating everything that comes to me day by day, I'm able to perform much better especially once stripped of that incessant effort to conform. I'm beginning to believe in myself again. I'll never forget again that my mind alone doesn't drive me. I need to find that balance to give my body and soul some room to grow. Stripped of that opportunity, I wither and die everyday. And that's simply unacceptable.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Somewhere between my ears

I was finally able to take the Clifton Strengths Finder 2.0 test and was a bit surprised with the results. Suffice to say, three out of my five themes are mostly what I'd call "mind-based". This makes me think that historically, all my personality tests (whether it's those diagnostic and assessment tests they gave us in high school and college or those fun quizzes at or Facebook) churn out results that strongly suggest that my mind, or whatever it's in there between my ears, is hogging the spotlight.

This begs the question, if I don't think too much, would I be able to find a boyfriend? Just a thought.

(Image from the Internet)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Behind the scenes

We were divided into three groups in our second day into the IOC-Olympic Solidarity and Philippine Olympic Committee sponsored Advanced Sports Management Course-Managing Olympic Sports Organization. I was grouped with Len (Canoe Kayak), Meds (Sailing), Karen (Sepak Takraw), Raymond (Karatedo) and the guy from Wrestling.

One of the facilitator remarked that ours was the youngest group and remarkably idealistic. Surprisingly, what he said after noting that was something I do not often hear. I have come to accept and understand that there are times idealism is equated with impractical and unrealistic. I sensed a different perspective from this facilitator especially when he summed up that there was something common to all those ideas we shared, and that was passion.

This made me think that perhaps sportsmen, in their own way, are idealists. Olympism is grounded on ideals that help promote a way of life anchored on the following:

The balanced development of the body, will and mind
The joy found in effort
The educational value of being a good role model
Respect for universal ethics including tolerance, generosity, unity, friendship, non-discrimination and respect for others.

In the few hours I spent with my groupmates I have come to celebrate my idealism knowing that it is something we share. But it is not the kind of idealism blind to the realities of the environment and situations we deal with. It was solidly based on common experiences each of us share as part and parcel of serving our national sports associations only with our idealism, passion and commitment to drive us.

Philippine sports may have its share of problems but I believe that for as long as there are people who remain passionate and committed to the ideals of Olympism there is hope still.

Let it be

This circus-like attention to the circulating (and multiplying) copies of sex videotapes makes me think that just when I thought I live in a high tech era, I'm jolted back to the reality that there are times I might as well be in the dark ages when it comes to how women are perceived or treated. The irony of this is that this thought sneaks in my head while I'm here sitting and waiting for my classmates in the IOC-Olympic Solidarity advanced sports management course where 70% of attendees are women. Women who all play critical roles, management roles even, in their respective national sports associations.

As I wait for the others, I couldn't help but hear how these two guys talk about DVD copies of those videotapes that are currently circulating on the web. It seems there are unscrupulous people who are making huge profits out of it. Never mind that by selling copies of those videos they're dehumanizing the women involved over and over again.

I guess it would be easy for others to justify that by blaming the women. One common theme I hear is that it's the women's fault for being part of it in the first place. But lest anyone forget, sex is a normal thing. What's NOT normal is for someone to take videos of the act without the knowledge and consent of the people involved.

I'm sorry for those women. It seems that even how amidst continuing progress and little wins to emancipate women, time and time again I get to see acts where I begin to think that the world may not yet be ready for us women after all.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Fear, doubt and despair are probably the easiest emotions to access once major decisions are made. Since that moment I've made the decision to go, I sometimes couldn't help but think that what I've opted to do is beyond logic. Maybe this is why I choose to keep a lot of things to myself. I may be someone who thrives on communicating my thoughts and lives my life like an open book but most times, the things that matter most sit quietly in the many layers very few realize exist.

It's a difficult time filled with sad, bittersweet moments. Truth be told, I'm sad to go. I'm generally happy with what I do. I feel most alive with thoughts of possibilities, with that quiet conviction that there's so much more waiting to be explored. I'm happy to believe. But sadly, time has taken its toll.

The signs have been there early on but I refused to see them thinking I'm wrong. And that thought, being wrong, may have been the beginning of my steady descent to who I've become now. Perhaps it was easier to blame myself for everything. Not that anyone would believe that I do that. Appearances and perspectives are harsh. Sometimes I'm not sure if it's a gift or a curse to be strong.

There are moments that I think I'm defying reason and prudence for choosing this path. No one leaps empty-handed from a comfortable ship sailing steadily in the middle of the ocean. More importantly, no one jumps out especially when there's no island in sight. But that's exactly what I'm doing.

Today is like one of those many days since the decision was formed. I think what concerns me most is not my current lack of options but rather the wobbly state of my financial safety net. This leap is hurting me even now, too much.

As I take stock and reach deep within me, I'm surprised that despite the swirling grief, fear and uncertainty, my heart doesn't waver. Things are bad and they may even get worse but I'm certain that these too shall pass.

I thank God even for this difficult time. I think it's a blessing to get to draw some strength from within. It's nice to remember that I have that in me. This negates what I've come to believe in the past months. I'm now in this journey to rediscover that I have value, which I bring with me in every path I choose to take.

(Image from here.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lessons Learned from Star Trek

I've never been a Star Trek fan. My limited exposure to it growing up were the seconds-long glimpses when I was a kid while someone in the family was channel surfing. The only reason I wanted to watch it was because I wanted to see more of Chris Pine after I saw the movie's trailer for the first time. Other than that, I didn't really care much if the movie sucks since I have no expectations anyway.

I don't know if it was my lack of expectations that made me appreciate the movie but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. Seeing Zachary Quinto (Sylar of Heroes) play Spock was one of the highlights there and it didn't hurt either that there was just so much physics in it. It was like being a kid again and dreaming about being a quantum physicist. Somehow, regardless of the absurdity of that dream for me, it was one that's always there - what I call my happy thought, the eternal what-if.

I found this interesting piece that made me think that one way or another, there are some lessons we can glean from the movie. The following are some of mine and though they are far from scientific and extraordinary, they're equally interesting for me:
  • Lesson #1: Believing can be a powerful catalyst. ~ Captain Pike made his pitch to James T. Kirk to enlist in Starfleet by encouraging him to follow his father's footsteps. The captain did this despite what information he already have about the younger man. The simple and straightforward challenge was spoken with sincerity. He saw the potential, perhaps because of what he knew of the father, and tried to give someone who appears irresponsible and bereft of direction that choice to make something of his life. I think that it's a gift to meet someone who has that kind of faith in the potential of others. Captain Pike believed there was something more in James Kirk. That one act of faith helped changed the path of a man who ended up becoming leader and hero.
  • Lesson #2: "What is necessary is never unwise." (Sarek) It made me think how sometimes we agonize about the wisdom of decisions we make. I'd like to believe in what Sarek said. At the end of the day, we do what we need to do. To follow our heart's desire may be the wisest thing we could do for ourselves.
  • Lesson #3: "Put aside logic and do what feels right." (Spock) Similar to lesson number two, I think. Logic is often the safest route to everything. It's easier to explain logic. Logical is responsible. But sometimes there are things that are better understood by the heart. Not all things that we see or feel can be explained by pure logic alone. What separates us from machines is our ability to feel. I doubt if it's even humanly possible to function in pure logic alone. I try to imagine myself not feeling anything and sometimes I think that would be sheer bliss. But then again, if I'm incapable of tapping on to that ability to feel, I'd guess I couldn't really say if it's bliss or not
  • Lesson #4: There is a lot to discover if we listen with an open heart and an open mind. Captain Pike's leadership skills revealed itself again when he listened to what a frantic James Kirk was trying his best to convey. They were headed for trouble and only the young man seemed to have realized this at that point. There may have been too little they could have done by then seeing that they were seconds away from Vulcan but those precious seconds afforded them some time to be more prepared for the unknown dangers that were waiting for them. I think that perhaps sometimes it would be good to listen no matter how unpleasant both the messenger and the message are. I couldn't help but think how sad it would be to struck a messenger, especially if he's on our side. The thing is, if we do that, it's possible we could either break a messenger enough not to trust us or we could silence it to apathy. And if either of that happens, it would be a sorry day if we get blindsided by things that we failed to anticipate just because we're in short supply of brave messengers willing to risk life and limb to bring messages that not a lot of people would care to deliver.

This Star Trek movie has definitely awakened my curiousity to see more of what I've seen. I can't wait to see and read more Star Trek stories.

Nature-deficit disorder

"Ikaw ba si Jercyl?!? Gumanda ka! Dati ang itim-itim mo at mahaba ang buhok mo!", says Ms. Corina Mojica of Bodybuilding. Her remark has drawn some chuckles from me and some of our classmates whom we both have known for some time now.

It's our first meeting for the ASMC-MOSO course. I'm pleased to see that I know most of the people in class. With a few exceptions, most of the participants were the same people who volunteer their time and efforts to their respective national sports associations (NSAs).

I have not been very active outside of ARAP. I have not seen most of them for some time. And yet, it's nice to see them all again. I feel like I've not been gone that long. It feels natural to be here. I'm glad to be part of this.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Experiencing Sagada

It rained almost everyday the week of our trip to Sagada. The trip’s been planned months back and in retrospect, I made a token attempt to organize it. I did the motion of creating an itinerary mostly based on research and from suggestions from friends who’ve already been there.

Surprisingly though, despite all the time I had and my fondness for organizing things, everything ended up being left to chance. It all began to sink in to me after Badette and I discovered the day before our trip that the next day’s Manila-Bontoc bus was already fully-booked. It was then that it dawned on me that I haven’t prepared for it in my usual no-stone-left-unturned approach.

But what surprised me most at that point was the feeling that I really didn’t seem to mind at all. I seemed to have firmly planted myself already on that “I don’t care” zone that I find myself becoming more and more resigned most of the time. I guess that made it much easier to shift to Plan B, a plan I never seriously considered since I started “planning” the trip.

I realized that if the buses were fully-booked then the inns would definitely be our next challenge. True enough, as Badette and I began calling inns to try book rooms, we were informed that the inns were likewise fully-booked. Less than 24 hours before we left, we had no bus and room reservations. The weather wasn’t cooperating either, it kept raining and I seriously began to think if I was crazy not to postpone the trip.

It didn’t’ come as a surprise to me when some of the people who previously confirmed decided not to go. I was determined to go and that was it. I needed the time to be away, to be somewhere I can reconnect with myself, far from a reality that I fear has reshaped me into something I hardly understand.

The rain stopped a few hours before we left. I took it as a good omen. The afternoon sun broke through the clouds, not as bright and sunny as I wanted, but it made its reassuring presence felt. I knew in my heart I was meant to make that trip. This was when things began picking up. Ate Dora of George’s Guest House texted me that there’s an available cottage and that she can reserve it for me if I want. It has two bedrooms, each with its own comfort room; a kitchen, a dining area, a sala with cable TV, and a fireplace. I would have settled for a bare room but instead something much much better came. The universe was already conspiring to make the trip possible.

Smooth and easy wouldn’t be an apt description for that serendipitous experience. It was adventure at its best. It was like being thrown a line that lead to rediscovering that the happiest things occur in the most simple and ordinary experiences. I was lucky to be joined by friends who were open souls, people who welcome different experiences with open arms.

All the adventure, fun, and challenges began at that bus station where we stood in line for hours only to find out when we were at the end that they don’t have buses leaving until early morning the following day. Having resourceful friends helped because after splitting up, the other two found us a bus and after some fast running we made it inside just as it was pulling out of the station.

From that moment on, it was all a series of fortunate happenstance. Even the changes in the itinerary made the experience more of a beautiful learning experience. I think if we knew better, we wouldn’t have scheduled the hiking to Bomod-ok Falls and spelunking in Cave Connection at the same day. Instead, that lack of knowledge made me ponder a lot of things and appreciate how environment and culture can help solidly shape admirable character in people.

That brief visit up north was something I'll always remember. I'm thinking, Sagada is one of those places you don’t experience it.