Sunday, June 29, 2008


‘Twas a bright Saturday morning when I wake up with a never-before had combined feelings of anticipation and enthusiasm. Firsts are always memorable and in fact on that particular day, as the ferocity of the sun’s rays became unbearable, the excitement that enveloped me was also far escalating. I have always loved to witness and discover new things probably because they make the pages of my life fonder to look back and reminisce.

Finally, the long time of waiting was over. At the age of 22, I witnessed the much-talked about, world-renowned Masskara Festival in the city of smiles, Bacolod City. It has been five months since the time that I first set foot in the city but I was like counting days and its Masskara time.

MASSKARA Festival! The excitement in the air was rising. People from all walks of life filled the sides and corners of every street. There were children and grown-ups, white skinned and brown-skinned, oval and round faces, people of all sorts. The scorching sun’s heat never deterred people from walking all around the corners brushing elbows with unknown acquaintances. Happy and eager faces met everywhere. Group of friends laughed their way kiosks after kiosks in search of something. People’s voices mixed up as they belt out their all-time favorite pieces in innumerable “videoki machines” spread all over the city park. Festive sounds reverberated in every highway. Colors varying in hues were a common picture. Festival dancers graced their way on the tortuous streets who still managed to say hi’s and hello’s to their parents and friends along the way. ‘Twas indeed a perfect time to celebrate!

Masks of the World. This is what the 27th Masskara Festival was all about. Feathery masks. Elongated masks. Name it and it’s there! All with vibrant colors crafted skillfully in various sizes and designs. They were all captivating and pulsating which proves the ingenuity of Filipinos. It was a conglomeration of all faces in the world. Asian. European. American. Australian. It was a time to unite the world using the symbol of the mask. When defined, a mask is a covering for the eyes, mouth, or whole face. It conceals or disguises true feelings as manifested by our face. Indeed the Festival is merrymaking! It is a time to forget life’s complexities. It’s a time to forget that we are a country in poverty amidst wide and abundant natural resources, a country with public servants becoming public masters, a country lagging behind in science and technology amidst our intellectual manpower. It is a time to celebrate that we are Filipinos able to excel with other races in the world and a time to foster our friendship with other nationals.

So the next time you plan for a place visit, Bacolod is for you! Enjoy! I just did!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Life's Instructions From a Marathon Race

Could one still claim victory in a race without finishing it? Does giving up always mean defeat?

We often heard that when we dream, we dream high and dream big, because they cost nothing at all. Indeed in dreaming, it only takes an optimistic mind, a hopeful heart, and a positive outlook, not limited in our comfort zones, but goes beyond the corners of our inner thoughts and deepest desires.

“The greatest struggles are not fought in the world’s battlefields; they are fought in human hearts as men and women war with the pressures within which often defeat them. The real enemies are forces such as fear, worry, inadequacy, inferiority, anger, frustration, and the inability to cope.”

One early morning of August 19, couple of weeks ago, I dreamed. And that dream was big enough to cover the whole area of Negros. I embarked on a challenge I did not know I am capable of withstanding. I joined the 31st Milo marathon held in Dumaguete City under the 21-kilometer category.

I must admit that I am happy to be out in the fields. I always love to hear the wrestling sounds of withered leaves in the fields, marvel the swaying branches to the music of the wind and witness the dancing of the blooming flowers under the glaring sun. However, during that time, I had to let go of the beautiful sceneries around. The thing that lingered at the back of my mind was the ultimate goal of finishing the race. Although that was my first time to join a marathon, loosing in the race never crossed my mind. I always consider myself a fighter. I don’t just give up without exhausting everything that I have. However the way to get there proved to be a long and winding road. My endurance faded, and I know that I had to give up the fight.

Looking back, I realized that life is like a marathon race.

When the race started, all of the runners were all equipped with the spirit and dynamism to run ahead of the others. All of us had a good start. Life is like that! We always want a good start. A good start will build our endurance and confidence to continue and finish what we have started.

After a kilometer in the race, I noticed that the whole group of runners was already in smaller factions. There were two’s, three’s, and some were running alone. Life is like that! We want to be people that have the same personality and character like us. We want to talk to people that think like us, share the same passion with us, and have convictions and ideals similar to our own. We try to sort out people and make labels on them. We sometimes avoid people that do not meet our personal standards.

After the tenth kilometer of the race, the distinction of the best, better, and good runners were already manifested. Life is like that! The picture of the world today depicts a playing field where every person tries to outdo another person. Competition is an everyday reality. Inescapable. Inevitable. We have to develop our own cutting edge distinct from the rest to spell our character and worth.

After reaching the mid-way of the race, I noticed that the person I am running with changes. Life is like that! People come and go in our lives. At some point in our life, friends laugh with us, share lonely moments with us, and make us feel valued and loved. However, there are also times when our friends are out of coverage area, cannot be reached, or left unattended. These are the moments in life that we need to row our own boat to reach our own destination.

It is also at this point of the race that I cross paths with strangers who will give unsolicited remarks, judgments, and opinions. Example of a remark that I heard was, “It’s better for me to go back my way because the finish line is still a long way to go”. Life is like that! Everyday we brush elbows with strangers, not so perfect, that will ruin our day, if we allow them. Nowadays people have become so opinionated, wordy, and judgmental. However, we should realize the fact that people’s opinions are born out of their own judgment. Their opinion therefore goes through our filtering medium to check their verity and validity. Words therefore should not break us. After all, we know ourselves better than them.

Finally, after the 21 kilometers of marathon race, I realized that victory is not just pronounced as to who finished first, second, and third. It is not just about who finished within the allotted time. More than winning, loosing, and finishing on time, it is more about, conquering our own fear, worry, inadequacy, inferiority, anger, frustration, and our inability to cope. Because if at all, at the end of the race, there are only winners and losers, to which category do the strangers, water boys, and organizers belong? Isn’t it that they are part of the race?


“Jay, you are out of tune”. This was the comment that I received from my music teacher in Grade 5. I still carry that until now, struggling to prove, her hearing was abnormal!
I am a frustrated singer. I wanted to be like Martin Nievera. Yes. I wanted to record an album and do concerts. I wanted to become a singer.
When I was in grade five, our music teacher called us to sing, It’s a Small world, one by one, in front of the class. It was like an audition in the American Idol where aspiring singers line up in queues singing their best. Some get into the top 100 while others are rejected. I could sympathize with those who are rejected because I was also rejected by my teacher. Being a child, I could never forget that part of my life, where I was deprived of the thing that I really would want to do.
The first OPM song that I knew how to sing was a personal favourite of my mother. There’s never a day that she won’t sing this Imelda song while preparing breakfast for us. She would always belt the song with the lines, “At kung liligaya ka, Sa piling ng iba, At kung ang langit mo ay ang pag-ibig nya, Tututol ba ako, Kung kagustuhan mo, Sapat na ang minsan, Minahal mo ako.” Being repeatedly sung by her every morning I was able to sing and memorize the lyrics of the whole song.
Since I was a child, I have always been a lover of music. The thing that is uncertain though is whether music loves me too. I have quite a broad knowledge in music. I know some technicalities of music like sharps-when you hit the note higher than required in the piece, flats-the opposite of sharps, vibrato-the resonating sound, and voice classifications like baritone which is in between bass and tenor. I also know a lot of music trivias. Jed Madela, is the first Filipino to win the grand prize in the World Championships of the Performing Arts. Vina Morales is the first Filipino and the first Champion in the Asian Aikon Music Festival. I have been a follower of local music contests. Sarah Geronimo won in the Star for a Night, of which her runner up is Mark Bautista. Rachel Ann Go won in Search for a Star. Eric Santos was grand Champion in Star in a Million beating the petite Cebuana Sheryn Regis. Coming from that show is balladeer Christian Bautista.
Poetically, music is defined as the language of the soul. Yes it is. I have a wide selection of songs in my heart and fellow toastmasters will you allow me to sing some of them? Just kidding. Songs tell a lot of stories. I have always been fascinated of Broadway songs like Somewhere form the musical West Side Story and On my Own from Les Miserables. There are songs that will inspire us and lift our morale called Gospel Songs. Gary Valenciano is know for his gospel songs like “Take me out of the dark, Warrior is a Child, and Natutulog ba and Diyos. The all time favourite genre of all ages, the ballads or commonly called love songs. Songs that come from the heart. Songs of lovers in love. Songs that will hold our breath. Songs that will palpitate our hearts. Songs of the heartbroken. Songs of the inspired. Top of my song list is Martin Nievera’s Each day with you and Brian Mcnight’s One last cry.
Putting my frustration into action, last year, I enrolled in a voice lesson class. However I will not tell you the name of the music studio and my voice teacher. I believe, it will do justice for the both of us. The lessons went on for 2 months. Sure did learn a lot from her but it came to a point where everything is routinely done. I stopped and tried to enrol in another voice lesson class. Sadly, we only had one singing session since her rate was double than my previous studio. I just sighed telling myself, I am not in perfect timing.
In the course of living this life, I have had received comments, destructive and constructive, but one thing remains for sure. I would still live this life surrounded with good music, singing my heart out when I’m in euphoria or depressed. I would still be singing, this is the moment, this is the day, when I send all my doubts and demons on their way, every endeavour, I have made ever, is coming into play, is here and now today.

Fellow toastmasters I still dream that one day I will be able to sing to all of you. Will you?


Today life has become very busy. Indeed very busy. Market research revealed that people are tired of their lives running them instead of the other way around.

That's what happened to Miraval's tennis instructor, Eric Hinchman. After playing competitively for most of his life, he had enough.

He said. "It was becoming not a whole lot of fun for me, so I think at that point you have to re-evaluate it and see, 'Why am I playing, why am I teaching, why am I doing this? Just to make some money, or am I doing it because I enjoy it?'"
In one of my solitary walks, I have observed that people have become so weary of surviving life. They have become very focused on their own destinations, which way to go and what pathway to trudge on to. People have become so engrossed with making money, making money, and making money. Thus they forget a lot of things.

Let me ask you these questions. What was the first thing you bought with your first salary? Where did you buy your first pair of shoes? How much is your graduation fee in college? Anyone?

Allow me to ask you another set of questions. Who helped you make your assignments in grade school? Who was your high school best friend? Where do you usually hangout in college?

Comparing the two sets of questions, which set is easier to answer?

Trying to answer the two sets of questions myself, I realized, that all the glamour and glitters contained in this world are not the things that define us, but rather the simple things that we enjoy and the people that we care about.

In the book of M.Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled, he started his writing by saying that life is difficult. Because of this harsh reality, people get into the spell of working more than 8 hours a day to live what he called a “comfortable life”. Getting into the rush of surviving life, people fell into the dungeon of a weary and stressed life.

A close friend of mine invited me for a cup of coffee. We talked about our experience. We talked about life. Our conversation went on until we hit on the topic managing life’s stressors. And I tell u she is an authority.
She told me to Change What You Can Change. Which of your stressors can you change? For instance, you may often get stuck in traffic when commuting. Ask yourself how you can change the situation. Can you start work later to avoid heavy traffic? Can you take public transportation? Would listening to music or to books that are taped help you relax when driving? Think of a few ways to change these stressful situations. You can then decide what will best help reduce your stress.

Second. Let Go of What You Can't Control. Which of your stressors are beyond your control? For instance, you may have to deal routinely with a difficult person. Know that if you can't change a stressor, your best choice may be is to let it go.

Third. Put a Positive Spin on Stress. Seeing things in a positive way can help you deal with stress better. Think of your stressors as challenges you can handle. If you have negative thoughts, learn to change them to positive ones.

Lastly. Make Time for Yourself. In today's world, there is often too much to do in too little time. It may seem hard to make time for yourself. But try to spend just a few minutes each day doing something you enjoy. This can improve the quality of your life and your mental outlook. Also, you'll be more productive when handling your day-to-day duties. And you'll be in a better frame of mind to cope with stress.

So, the next time you’re stressed, have a coffee break and remember the CLPM formula, change that stressor that you can, Let go of what can’t control, Put a positive spin on stress, and Make Time for Yourself. Once your stress free, do not forget to pay your bill.