Unexpected Escape

In 2003, a teenage girl who was extremely shy (to the point that when at a fast food chain she would ask her sister to order for her) was trying to escape half a day’s worth of classes. She signed up for her first Impromptu Speaking Competition to be exempted that day. 


It was her first time in a speaking contest. After couple of contestants, the winners were announced and she took second place. She was surprised to have won and that was when she found out that she probably had a skill in speaking specially in coming up with reasons and stories. She never really took notice of it until 4 years later. 

After her first heartbreak, she would force herself to belong to the world of extroverts. She signed up for her first beauty competition in her hometown, Ormoc. There she got a feel of how it was to have spotlights and a huge crowd listening to what she had to say. Naturally while answering the final question, her introvert side kicked in and she started to lose focus on her speech. This mistake cost her the title and she settled for second best.

In 2009, coaxed by her gay friends, she joined Miss Cebu. Unprepared but curious she managed to be part of the finalists. It was during this stint that she found out about Toastmasters International. After two days of sessions, she felt a bit more confident about her speaking skills and considered joining the organization. This thought was buried overtime.

Fast forward to 2016, after a string of misadventures in Makati, she moved back to Cebu. Through Facebook, the thought of improving her speaking skills was once again ignited. This time around, she finally decided to commit to it. 

Yesterday, she joined their speech competition for impromptu. The fourth person to speak, she entered a tense room with all eyes on her. The toastmaster of the evening Nizz then said a quote by John F. Kennedy, ” The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. ” Caught off guard by the figure of speech she started to compose her speech. As she was delivering it, she noticed the crowd looked a bit discombobulated. A bit distracted she continued until she looked to her right and the warning light was already red. She quickly tried to wrap everything up. After the speech, she already set in her mind that she was already disqualified as the rule was strict about going beyond the allotted 30 seconds. After the scores were tallied the pronouncement came. Dranz was called for second place and she just cheered on for either Tin or Peter Paul then something unexpected happened. Her name was called. She shruggingly went on stage and accepted the recognition.

14 years ago, this girl would never imagine that she would be competing to speak in a prestigious organization and yet her she is, bravely walking into uncertain. Now at 30, others might think it is too late for her, she is not worried. She is confident enough to walk in her own pace. 

Do not get her wrong, she is still an introvert right down to the core but she knows words are powerful enough to help change the world. A world where her thoughts and words are put out for the world to hear and think of and have the potential to influence minds. 

In her attempt to escape, she found a new world where she can be good.

Monday Musings: I am a Filipino

Are you a Filipino?

What does it mean to be a Filipino? What is our role in our society? Who are we?

The Philippines has always been a melting pot of various nationalities which have blurred some lines on how we look and those that have conquered us before have managed to kill a significant part of our culture. Whenever I am disappointed by the masses, I remind myself of this literary work by Carlos P. Romulo.

I am a Filipino – inheritor of a glorious past, hostage to the uncertain future. As such I must prove equal to a two-fold task- the task of meeting my responsibility to the past, and the task of performing my obligation to the future.

I sprung from a hardy race – child of many generations removed of ancient Malayan pioneers. Across the centuries, the memory comes rushing back to me: of brown-skinned men putting out to sea in ships that were as frail as their hearts were stout. Over the sea I see them come, borne upon the billowing wave and the whistling wind, carried upon the mighty swell of hope- hope in the free abundance of new land that was to be their home and their children’s forever.
This is the land they sought and found. Every inch of shore that their eyes first set upon, every hill and mountain that beckoned to them with a green and purple invitation, every mile of rolling plain that their view encompassed, every river and lake that promise a plentiful living and the fruitfulness of commerce, is a hollowed spot to me.
By the strength of their hearts and hands, by every right of law, human and divine, this land and all the appurtenances thereof – the black and fertile soil, the seas and lakes and rivers teeming with fish, the forests with their inexhaustible wealth in wild life and timber, the mountains with their bowels swollen with minerals – the whole of this rich and happy land has been, for centuries without number, the land of my fathers. This land I received in trust from them and in trust will pass it to my children, and so on until the world no more.
I am a Filipino. In my blood runs the immortal seed of heroes – seed that flowered down the centuries in deeds of courage and defiance. In my veins yet pulses the same hot blood that sent Lapulapu to battle against the alien foe that drove Diego Silang and Dagohoy into rebellion against the foreign oppressor.
That seed is immortal. It is the self-same seed that flowered in the heart of Jose Rizal that morning in Bagumbayan when a volley of shots put an end to all that was mortal of him and made his spirit deathless forever; the same that flowered in the hearts of Bonifacio in Balintawak, of Gergorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass, of Antonio Luna at Calumpit; that bloomed in flowers of frustration in the sad heart of Emilio Aguinaldo at Palanan, and yet burst fourth royally again in the proud heart of Manuel L. Quezon when he stood at last on the threshold of ancient Malacañang Palace, in the symbolic act of possession and racial vindication.
The seed I bear within me is an immortal seed. It is the mark of my manhood, the symbol of dignity as a human being. Like the seeds that were once buried in the tomb of Tutankhamen many thousand years ago, it shall grow and flower and bear fruit again. It is the insigne of my race, and my generation is but a stage in the unending search of my people for freedom and happiness.
I am a Filipino, child of the marriage of the East and the West. The East, with its languor and mysticism, its passivity and endurance, was my mother, and my sire was the West that came thundering across the seas with the Cross and Sword and the Machine. I am of the East, an eager participant in its struggles for liberation from the imperialist yoke. But I also know that the East must awake from its centuried sleep, shape of the lethargy that has bound his limbs, and start moving where destiny awaits.
For, I, too, am of the West, and the vigorous peoples of the West have destroyed forever the peace and quiet that once were ours. I can no longer live, being apart from those world now trembles to the roar of bomb and cannon shot. For no man and no nation is an island, but a part of the main, there is no longer any East and West – only individuals and nations making those momentous choices that are hinges upon which history resolves.
At the vanguard of progress in this part of the world I stand – a forlorn figure in the eyes of some, but not one defeated and lost. For through the thick, interlacing branches of habit and custom above me I have seen the light of the sun, and I know that it is good. I have seen the light of justice and equality and freedom and my heart has been lifted by the vision of democracy, and I shall not rest until my land and my people shall have been blessed by these, beyond the power of any man or nation to subvert or destroy.
I am a Filipino, and this is my inheritance. What pledge shall I give that I may prove worthy of my inheritance? I shall give the pledge that has come ringing down the corridors of the centuries, and it shall be compounded of the joyous cries of my Malayan forebears when they first saw the contours of this land loom before their eyes, of the battle cries that have resounded in every field of combat from Mactan to Tirad pass, of the voices of my people when they sing:
Land of the Morning,Child of the sun returning…Ne’er shall invadersTrample thy sacred shore.
Out of the lush green of these seven thousand isles, out of the heartstrings of sixteen million people all vibrating to one song, I shall weave the mighty fabric of my pledge. Out of the songs of the farmers at sunrise when they go to labor in the fields; out of the sweat of the hard-bitten pioneers in Mal-ig and Koronadal; out of the silent endurance of stevedores at the piers and the ominous grumbling of peasants Pampanga; out of the first cries of babies newly born and the lullabies that mothers sing; out of the crashing of gears and the whine of turbines in the factories; out of the crunch of ploughs upturning the earth; out of the limitless patience of teachers in the classrooms and doctors in the clinics; out of the tramp of soldiers marching, I shall make the pattern of my pledge:

“I am a Filipino born of freedom and I shall not rest until freedom shall have been added unto my inheritance – for myself and my children’s children – forever.”

Monday Musings: Float, Trust, Enjoy

Sometimes all you need is to float, trust and enjoy!

I stare out of the window each morning and I cannot help but be fascinated at the sight of people passing by rushing through the day. 

As humans, we constantly have a need to control things, from the contours of our face to how others live their lives. 

We always crave for power over situations and yet we can never stop some things from happening. We want to constantly be captain of our ships but we know we will never fully be in the captain’s seat.

Most of the time I feel like the Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, I worry a lot! Time, however, has taught me a good lesson on the importance of trust. 

Here is a good write-up, I’ve come across while doing my usual obsessive compulsive habit of reading random things online.

Muhammad said no one looks back and regrets leaving this world. What’s regretted is how real we thought it was!

How much we worried about phenomena and how little we considered what moves through form. “Why did I spend my life denying death? 

“Death is the key to truth!” When you hear lamenting like that, say, not out loud, but ainwardly, “What moved you then still moves you, the same energy. But you understand perfectly now that you are not essentially a body, tissue, bone, brain, and muscle. 

Dissolve in the clear vision. Instead of looking down at the six feet of road immediately ahead, look up: see both worlds, the face of the king, the ocean shaping and carrying you along. 

You’ve heard descriptions of that sea. Now float, trust, enjoy the motion.

Monday Musings : Accidental Shifts

How a series of accidents led me to finding my voice and confidence.

Most people who worry, hide from the world. They are often too scared about a lot of things. Instead of opening their arms to welcome life, they hide in caves filled with doubt. I too worried a lot, from reliability of the mall to other mundane stuff. As I child, I knew one thing well and that was to run. Run away from people, experiences and opportunities. It wasn’t until I stumbled several times that I realized that I should stop.

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Survived swimsuit + Q&A with the help of chocolate

I was quite an insecure child who had little passion for anything school related except for English and Science. It was in my last year when I grew tired of attending classes (Hi Mom!). I was a bit of a smart ass (or that is what I thought then). I figured if I joined most of our school competitions, I would not be questioned for my absence in classes. I joined a lot of school competitions, from slogan making to a Bible quiz (where I surprisingly won first place and made my mother extra proud) but there is one incident that changed me.

One morning, I noticed the poster for extemporaneous speaking competition so I signed up thinking it would be another valid reason to not go into my classes. I remember the question was about Overseas Filipino Workers. I didn’t think through it but I just spoke my mind. It was a first for me to speak up my mind in front of judges. With my friends I go all out but I rarely spoke in a crowd ( only when my teacher called me to answer) so when they announced that I won a place, I was in shock. This incident, made me think about my speaking skills. I pushed it aside after that and went back to my introversion.

2009, I was already 22 years old and going through my first heartbreak. Despite my sensitive feelings, I did not want to be the loser. This thought led me to go on what I thought was a suicide mission. Perhaps you thing what an exaggeration but for an introvert it really felt like that! I told my mother that I wanted to join a beauty pageant. I figured winning a crown would be an ultimate slap to the ex boyfriend’s face. My mother was supportive specially because she had already been asked by her friends way back when I was in high school to let me join one. She asked her friends to do a major makeover!

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Survived swimsuit + Q&A with the help of chocolate

I was so keen on having the best revenge that I worked hard to train in heels. Unfortunately, the first pair of heels broke because I was so stiff! I traded rice for oatmeal and did 200 crunches in the morning and another set in the evening. From boyish, I went through a major transformation (think Princess Diaries levels except I don’t have a queen for a grandmother and was surrounded by gay guys).It was the first time I wore two piece swimwear and performed a talent in front of a huge crowd. June came and it was already the finals night, I ended up winning first place and it was after that I realized that in the process of getting revenge, I have recreated a bit of myself. From super awkward girl to somewhat a more confident one. This led to my career in the beauty pageant industry and gave me the chance to compete and win a place internationally.

Accidents happen around us on a daily basis. We usually try to avoid them but life just brings it to us. I am not talking about car accidents but those life experiences that we do not usually plan out. If I closed off from unfamiliar experiences, I doubt that I would be as happy with myself as I am now. Let us not close out our selves from these because these unplanned moments usually turn us into someone better.

Monday Musings: Light and Darkness

Overwhelming information, useless noise and complicated lives, this is what we face daily. Bombarded by social media that creates a false reality and sense of connectivity. We are more at a disconnect that we ever were before. More than ever, we feel strongly that the world is all black or all white, that there are no grey areas. Nature, however, reminds us that this is not true. If we go back to the basic, we will realize that everything is connected.

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As much as we want to escape one side, we should not completely close off from it. Imagine if we live in a world that has no darkness, will you be able to appreciate the beauty of the constellation? If there were no defeat, how can you truly savor triumph?

The movie “Inside Out” also reminded us of this last year. What is joy without sadness? This is life and understanding the significance of duality reminds us that we are part of a bigger picture. The world is not just about us. We are part of an intricate phenomena, essentially one with the universe.

In all of these examples, I think, we should start making the light out of darkness, and use the darkness as a canvas — like the visual artists do, like Edward Hopper in this painting. I think that there is a lot of suspense in this painting. I think, when I see it, I start to think, who are those people? Where have they come from? Where are they going? What just happened? What will be happening in the next five minutes? And it only embodies all these stories and all this suspense because of the darkness and the light.

Rogier van der Heide

Watch the full Ted talk to understand the idea in a visual manner.

 

 

Monday Musing: Fighting Thoughts of Uncertainty.

How often do you doubt yourself?

Today is World Poetry Day! Back in the days, I would spend time writing on my diary and trying to be a poet. I love words and enjoy sulking in their meaning. To celebrate this day, I went through my old blog site to search for past entries. I used to write a lot of free verse on my frustrations in life. To be honest, most of it made people depressed so I decided to shift.

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Here is a free verse I wrote on August 4, 2012:

Standing in front of two eternities, sadness and happiness accompany me.

Trying to hold on to the dusts of yesterday, losing grip of what used to be.

Confused with the now as future is pounding at my door.

A bleak promise of tomorrow awaiting outside.

Fears and worries prevent me from moving further, for thoughts of you still linger. Time why do you change things?

Weak and weary but I will trudge on.

Now is my only possession, for the past is dead and tomorrow is unborn.

I sometimes I end up worrying too much about things that it temporarily freezes up my life. As humans the idea of not knowing everything always bothered us. The fear of not being totally in control of our life is an ongoing disease. Sometimes I resort to emotional eating or running. Oftentimes, I run away from uncertainty. After accepting the fact that the unknown will never stop bothering me , I confronted it and welcomed reality.

Having peace within one’s self is never easy. As social beings, we tend to use others or things to solve problems. It takes a lot of strength to fight our own demons and as you might all know, there is nothing more debilitating than self-doubt.

Fear is one of man’s formidable enemies. We do a lot of things that tend to be destructive to ourselves, to others and to relationships. You should not let a shadow consume your entire life. Decide to be positive and pro-active. I chose to do the same. We are all given the opportunity and time to make the best out of our lives.

The most freeing thing you can do for yourself is to hold on to your own abilitie. Believe in your capabilities and know that things happen for the better if you will it.

Do you have these moments too? How do you get over them?

Monday Musings: The Lie We Live

Sadly, the world today is more concerned on quantity than quality. We are growing greedier by the minute. The more technology advances, the more we fool ourselves that we have become more intelligent. We are living on a lie. It is time to wake up and see what life really is about. It is not about what you wear and how much you own, it is about what you can give without these things and who you have when you have nothing.

Monday Musings: 10 Quotes of Optimism

Pessimistic? Here’s your Monday dose of sunshine from the bright side.

Barely two weeks into 2016, how is January going for you? I would not say mine is smooth sailing but so far things have generally been going my way although there have been bumps along the way.

There are times when you feel tired of your inner battles, whether or not you should embrace pessimism all at once. Regardless of your current situation, choose optimism.

Here are some of my all time favorite quotes to get me back in the bright side:

  1. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
    ― Anne Frank, Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex
  2. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
    ― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
  3. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill
  4. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
    ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
  5. “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
  6. “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down”
    ― Charles Chaplin
  7. “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”
    ― Helen Keller
  8. “So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
    — Viktor E. Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)
  9. “Write it on your heart
    that every day is the best day in the year.
    He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
    who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations

The Optimist : Animated Short Film from John Mervin on Vimeo.

10. Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
― Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

The last one pretty much sums everything up. Hang on to the remaining light no matter what happens. As long as you think things can change it definitely will.

Now enough about me, how about you? What is your favorite quote on optimism?

Monday Musings: Choose Life

Surviving or thriving? Choose life.

Excitement from the new year is still around but how long will it last before you find yourself in the same situation as 2015?

How often do you envy other people for living their dreams?

You and them might have different situations but one thing you and them both have is choice.

Each day you make a choice, from the time you wake up to the jobs you take. Do not blame others for your situations. You are in full control. It is time to take the responsibility. Quit surviving and start thriving. Let your adventures begin. Choose life!

Choose Life from Rando on Vimeo.

Move 2016

Make 2016 your year to move.

How many has it been since you told yourself this year is going to be different? How many times have you failed at it?

I admit that as the years add up, we start to doubt and lose hope on ourselves, whether or not we will be able to achieve our dreams. I also failed more than once but I call it a failure because I never did anything. Yes, I told myself but I barely pushed myself. So instead of putting you long posts in Facebook on how you will be a better version of you. I dare you to move! When you move, that is when things start to happen.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

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I have not moved much in the last weeks of 2015 and I apologise for that, I too have to still fight over my procastination demons.

Thank you for being part of my 2015. To the ones who take time to read my posts, supporting my futile endeavors into becoming a better storyteller. I am grateful for boosting my morale.

Happy New Year to All! Wish you a great year ahead.