Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Makahiya Plant, Not the Legend!

Mom…! Mom…! Oh, good afternoon!

If there’s one thing I’m proud of, that is to tell all of you, “I am a Mama’s boy”. From May 10, 1984 until Grade 6, I sleep, eat, and go to church, with my mother at my side. I am such a Mama’s boy! She would always tell me children stories before we kiss goodnight and one of which is the legend of the Makahiya plant.

I grew up in a rural, small barrio where there are plenty of Makahiya plants. They usually grow along the sides of the path walk. And when I see them, I make it a point to strike my foot on them one by one and look at them fold their leaves with awe and astonishment. They never fail to amaze me. Until today, the Makahiya plant continues to amaze me, not so much because they never failed to fold their leaves when I disturb them but more because I consider them the epitome of humility – a human value that seems buried 6 feet below the ground.

When toastmaster Lillian Go slaps me on my left cheek, I should offer my right cheek. Maybe to even out the rosiness on my face? If toastmaster Jaclyn throws a stone on me, I should throw her back with a piece of pandesal with butter but… inside a glass jar. I am just kidding!

In 2008, I joined my first marathon run. Because I have such a high regard of myself, I joined the 21k category. Yes, you heard that right! I will run 21 kilometres to finish the race! I already run halfway when a traffic enforcer in his huge motorcycle went closer to my side. He said in his radio phone, “I am with the last runner of the race, over! I am with the last runner of the race, over”. I felt like an instant celebrity! But, when I checked my clock, it’s already eight o’clock. I felt my bones are on the verge of breaking and my breathing out of normalcy. So I took the courage of hitching a ride and make the enforcer my driver and told him that I be dropped at Worldview Pension Plaza. A week after, the news spread that I was carried in an ambulance back to the hotel. Never mind, the exaggeration of the story, the important lesson is that I have humbly acknowledged my limitation. I know my battle and know when to stop. Knowing and acknowledging our weakness is …humility.

We should constantly remind ourselves that we should be like a seedling. Day by day, we grow. Everyday is a learning process. We acknowledge that we do not know everything. We shouldn’t be self-glorifying and say I am a ripe fruit and I know everything. If you do, there’s no other way for you but to rot and decay! Now, you make your choice, a growing a seedling or a rotting fruit? I bet, you want to be glamorous. So am I! Humility makes us more teachable and glamorous too.

The leaders of this generation are the antithesis of what a good leader should be. A good leader in good times goes to the window and says, “I am so lucky to have my team. Without my people, we wouldn’t be successful”. And in bad times, he goes to the mirror and says, “what did I miss? Why did I not see this coming?” But the leaders of today do the opposite. In good times, they go to the mirror and say “What a great leader I am”. “These people are so lucky to have me as their leader”. “Without me, we wouldn’t be successful”. And in bad times, they go to the window and say, “Who messed up, Who should I fire?” Humility does not point fingers. It makes us more objective and more accountable!

PGMA and most of our leaders are far from the makahiya plant. When someone hits them, they retaliate! An eye for an eye! A tooth for a tooth! But when you hit the makahiya plants, they humble themselves. But that does not mean passivity! Or being an underdog! Why? Because the moment they fold their leaves, it is when you will see that they have thorns in them to protect them. Thus, it is in humbling themselves that they have shown their real strength!

Today, I think the greatest battle every man can have is to remain humble even when everyone tries to become great.

Can you traverse the road less travelled? Can you remain humble when everyone takes pride of what they have and who they become? Can you be like the Makahiya Plant?

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