Saturday, October 31, 2009

Misery and Joy

Sweet and Sour. Good and Bad. True and False. Right and Wrong. Rise and Fall.

Black and White. Night and Day. Pain and Glory. Misery and Joy.

Something in here struck my curiosity just now. If I look at the pairs of opposite words on the first line the positive words precede the negative one. If I look at the pairs below the negatives precede the positives. The next logical question would probably be…”Why?” We have experienced opposites since the day we were born except one which will come to every living organism like us when it is time: death. Sorry but metaphysics is not what I want to share here.

Did anyone of you watch that movie “Unbreakable”? If you give that movie a little bit of deep thought you will agree with Elijah Prince, the character played by Samuel Jackson suffering from a congenital disease of “glassy” bones, that somewhere in the whole Universe there is someone who possesses the exact opposite of his physical condition. Strong, unbreakable against his own, weak and fragile. In the story, that person was David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis. In real life, sure it happens. But what’s thought-provoking is if it is true that there is a more personal connection just like what the movie suggested. Like Elijah did to David, will you take pains to find out who or what is at the side opposite you?

In the movie, the ending revealed that in his fervent search for his opposite, Elijah on several occasions orchestrated accidents to single out the survivor who would escape unscathed. Finally, the train accident brought David forward to him, providing the conclusion that has eluded him throughout his life. You will probably realize that some of the answers are too painful to accept in real life as well. Although perhaps not in the same context, some parallels happen daily in life, all over the news. Some few examples are:

- Cities destroyed by war or natural calamities; booming construction projects
- Outbreak of a disease; sales of medicine and health protection
- Geese force-fed in farms harvesting their liver; the heavenly delight of eating foie gras in an elegant party
- Homesickness by OFW’s working away from their families; record-breaking billion-dollar worth of remittances to Pinas economy

This is the irony of life and each day we live it is always there. Most of the time we are not conscious of the ugly opposites and if we are, we simply ignore and insist staying on the side we are currently in. Very rarely we give them a thought and in seldom occasions that we do, we brush them off our minds immediately just like moving our eyes away from an unpleasant sight.

Until another roll of the dice and time selects us to be on that ugly side. And a message from the two sets of opposites above unfolds.

Sweet and Sour. Good and Bad. True and False. Right and Wrong. Rise and Fall – I decided that these are the choices we make in our lives. We can behave to make ourselves look sweet or sour to people. We can decide to do good or bad. We can be truthful or lying. We can do something right or something wrong. We can rise or fall. The positives precede the negatives. The positives are always presented first. And reading them in the opposite direction sounds awkward and a bit tongue-twisting, isn’t it? But in life, we are often not aware of the real choices until we rise above the surface. And the moment we are our decisions change:

- Geese force-fed in farms harvesting their liver; the heavenly delight of eating foie gras in an elegant party (or now that you know, will you stop eating this?)

- Homesickness by OFW’s working away from their families; record-breaking billion-dollar worth of remittances to Pinas economy (or now that I know will I still carry on for the sake of my family?)

Black and White. Night and Day. Pain and Glory. Misery and Happiness. – I decided that these are problems and solutions, losses and gains, death and resurrection we experience in our lives. The failures and defeats that require sacrifice until success and triumph. And the bitter lessons that each learns from the experience will make the negative go only in one direction to the positive and never back.

- Booming construction projects learned from cities destroyed by war or natural calamities

- Sales of medicine and health protection learned from outbreaks of diseases

- Our redemption from sin learned from the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross

In misery joy awaits.

And this gives me the reason to see the purpose of every opposite no matter how ugly it is.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Shortest Job Interview Ever

How do you know that a prospective job will be engaged to you?

Before I explain this perhaps we make one step backward first and find out what causes us to look for a job. Answers to this one are always personal but in times like this when the economy is bad the most possible reason is to stop oneself from being unemployed. This happened to me 17 years ago but at the wrong timing and at the wrong place. Wrong timing, I was retrenched due to redundancy the day I came back to work after a blissful two-week wedding honeymoon. Wrong place, our company was one of the very few facing financial crisis that time. That was the moment my wife and I just stared at each other in disbelief.

So for a while I went on a sabbatical. My wife was the interim breadwinner. We moved on, I moved on and kept looking for another means to earn a living. I found one but kept on looking as I needed to prepare for a family that would get bigger soon.

A chain of events ensued. In my desire to bring back the old salary I was receiving from the company that laid me off, I accepted an offer from an overseas appointment. Being a recently married man and soon-to-be father, I knew it was a difficult decision to leave a young family for all its intents and purposes of providing a better life. Yet in a rather bizarre coincidence another door of opportunity swung open. Two weeks before I fly to the Emirates a local headhunter recommended me to a managerial position required by a leading local tile manufacturer. After briefing me up for a job interview schedule, the consultant advised me that, although a local company may not match the salary offered to me abroad, the joy of being together with the family will always remain priceless. So off I went to the interview which was on a weekend. The amusing thing was that same day on my way to the interview I dropped by the office of the overseas job liaison officer earlier and picked up my contract. I was holding the envelope with the contract inside during the interview.

A senior guy came up to the office. We shook hands and exchanged greetings. He offered me a seat and told me to make myself comfortable. He introduced his name and position as the Company Vice President with a resolute countenance of both a seasoned executive and an unrelenting patriarch. After a few light discussions on personal whereabouts, he turned his seat sideways, held my resume arms high and browsed so quickly that I presumed that was his final glance over it. Then he faced me, looked at me in the eyes again and slammed my resume on the desk. I swallowed a lump of saliva whole.

“You know, Angelo, I’m not going to beat around the bush. After reading your resume…I’m impressed!!” he announced, a remark that merges scolding and praising.

Time stood still on me that time, my mouth ajar. This time he ricocheted with a question.

“Ok, how much?”

That was the cue. And with a swift twist of the wrist I declared my worth. The rest is history.

Shortest interview ever.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


This month passed by without a major storm. Thanks for that but no thanks no matter how perfect it is like Ondoy was last September (despite driving our lives back to zero).

October is almost over. Two bermonths are done. In my native country, the Philippines, we call the last four months of the year bermonths and September being the prelude to the Christmas season making every kid aged from one to ninety-two to get early excited. Until Ondoy (alias Ketsana, or rather vice-versa) spoiled it. But that's behind us now. No matter what, nothing and no Grinch can stop Christmas from coming.

October is special to me for some personal reasons. It is the month my mother and my only living parent celebrates her birthday. At her age another year of longevity is a gift from God in which there are no words that can describe one's feeling of blessedness. It is also the month that my wife and I exchanged vows 18 years ago. Again no words to describe my feeling of blessedness from that moment thereafter: kids, family, togetherness in good times or bad times, in sickness and in health, in sunshine and in Ondoys, in prosperity and hardship, in life or something like it.

And right now just before this month ends I decided to add another reason to make it special although in some smaller dive. Blogging. First time. And it feels fun. Perhaps for some time. Like taking a bath in the rain or storm like Ondoy with the whole Marikina as a swimming pool of geographical proportions. Or perhaps not.

Wish me luck as I will on everybody each time I blog.

Hello everyone!