Father’s Love

We have a lot of pillows in our bed. We use these pillows as cushion on walls to protect our son. This leaves me and my wife one pillow each for our head. During the course of sleep, these pillows would be rearranged. My son moves a lot. At first, he would sleep beside my wife, cuddling her ears. Next thing you know, he will be upside down with his feet on my face. Earlier this morning while I was half asleep, I found him with his head near the wall with no cushion on. When I saw that, I immediately grabbed my only pillow and placed it against the wall so that if my son turns, he won’t bump his head.

The instinct of a father is to protect his family whatever the cost maybe. A father will do anything to give his family a better life.

My dad is a retired ship captain. A few months ago in one of my rare moments with him, he revealed to me that every time he left home to get onboard for another long voyage, he would cry when he reached his cabin. My dad didn’t show to us that he was having a hard time. He didn’t tell us that life at sea and being away from your family for years is such a heartbreaking experience. Keeping his tears from us was his way of telling us that life goes on and not to worry whether there will be food on the table, I have clothes to wear and a shelter to keep us warm. Our dad gave us this luxury that we never appreciated. All we saw was his mistakes and his absence on times we needed a father. For this, I apologize to my dad for being cruel. Cruel for not understanding what he needed to go through to keep us afloat. He gave his all and I am forever grateful.

For my dad, his version of love was to provide and probably thought that the need for time will be compensated by our mom. Time was something he cannot give.

Now as a father and a husband, being the head of the family is more than just providing for your family’s needs. You’ve got to give your time. My son needs me and I’ve got to be there.

The greatest joy I have right now is whenever I see my wife and my son having a special moment together. I took this picture and incidentally you can see in the background Fuel Express. Indeed, this is what fuels me everyday.

A Free Man or a Slave

The Philippines was under the Spanish rule for 333 years, 45 years under the Americans and 3 years under the Japanese. It has been 72 years since we won our freedom. Now the question is, are you a free man or a slave?

If we are indeed free men, why is it that over 90% of our population live below the poverty line? Why is it that one out of five marriages fail? Is it enough to be recognized as a nation with laws and rules of our own? Does freedom for us Filipinos only mean NOT to be under the rule of someone else?

You only need one thing for you to be a free man. And that one thing is honor.

1. A free man honors his commitments.

If you are married, you would agree with me that marriage is tough because it is a lifetime commitment. As a husband and a father, I am committed to provide for my family, to love and cherish them as long as I live. Those are words spoken during the wedding but many do not realize the huge responsibility behind those words. This is the truth. Best-selling author and world-renowned Catholic lay preacher, Bro. Bo Sanchez once said, the biggest problem of the world today is the lack or absence of parenthood. Most of the crimes today are done by people who came from broken families, who have parents who are drug addicts and drunkards or were beaten, molested, or abandoned by their parents. To be responsible for another life is a big thing. Here in the Philippines, it is our custom for men to ask for the hand of our wife in marriage. What it basically means is that we are telling our future in-laws that we are ready to sacrifice to give their daughter a better future. My brother Rommel once told me that as the head of the family and a provider, you need to provide at least the basics. Basics include food, clothing and shelter. Jewelries are already extra, but never forget the basics.

That is being a provider. But you see, being a husband and a father goes beyond providing for your family. You need to outdo everyone in showing love. You need to lead in the contest of love.

I believe a lot of marriages fail because a lot of fathers still behave like boys. They are not courageous enough to face their responsibility as a husband and as a father. They build barriers made of fear rather than conquering them. They never outgrew their issues.

I used to be ashamed of my failures in the past. Now, I realized that for every failure that I made is a plus to my courage. Every time you try moving out of your comfort zone, whether it results to failure or success, is an attempt to make life better.

Another example of commitment is how you regard your debts. If you have debts, you need to honor them by paying them. Do not hide from your creditors. Be a man and face them. If you don’t have money yet to pay them, think of a plan on how to pay them and show up. Don’t ever think your creditors will forget about them because they never do.

2. A free man honors other people.

We are a nation that is part of the world with many other nations. Each with their own laws, culture and tradition. A free man respects and understands freedom of other people. A free man makes other men free. A free man is a leader not a ruler. A leader guides and paves the way for other people to find their light. A ruler insists his light is the only one. Diversity is what makes life interesting.

3. A free man honors God.

God made us human beings with free will and capable of making rational decisions. If we are made to follow whatever life throws at us, then God should have made us robots. We are made in His image and likeness. I believe God wants us to create, to lead and to live.

God wants us to create, or to make things happen. We need to act on our dreams. God wants us to lead. By letting your light shine, you unconsciously liberate others. God wants us to live, not be lived.

Your life is God’s greatest gift. By letting your light shine is a way of honoring God.

What is it to be a slave?

In computers, a slave hard drive just waits for commands or triggers from another program. It is not capable of creating an event. The computer can function without it. But take note that slave hard drives have the same specifications or features with master hard drives.

Slave people hide from the truth. They hide from their responsibilities. They have no direction in life. It is not that they are incapable, they just don’t seek for the truth. These are people who are enslaved by their own fears.

Last holy week, I was in a retreat at SMX, and the whole message of the retreat was to go Deeper: to go deeper with our relationship with God and with our families. I also believe that the message also meant that being good is no longer enough. We need to step out of our comfort zone and help those in need. If you were blessed to have good education, it is time to rise. There are a lot children that need to be cared for and to be loved. There are over 90% of the population still live in poverty. People who need guidance. People who need to believe that there is light in them waiting to shine.

Step out of your comfort zone and you will be surprised there is so much you can do. If you don’t know where to start, start with your family.

Predict your Future

Albert Einstein once said, ‘Imagination is more important that knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

A lot of people believe that visionaries are only the CEOs, company directors, the presidents, and the people on the executive level.

No. I believe all of us are visionaries. We are not just visionaries, I believe that we are prophets also. I believe this is so because all of us have the gift of imagination. Our imagination is so powerful that it creates our future. The future that we will live is the sum total of all the imagination of the people today.

Let me tell you why you are a visionary and a prophet.

First, let’s do a little exercise. Imagine what will happen in the next hour? Can you predict with such accuracy? Think about it for a minute.

Done? If you can imagine what will happen in the next hour and with great accuracy that means you are a visionary and a prophet.

Let’s break it down. I will take myself as an example. For the next hour, I’m done writing this post and I will be eating my breakfast together with my family. How did I know?

My mind is quick to consider my pattern and the patterns of the people around me. It considers the time and the activity I am currently doing which is writing this post. So my mind is going into my memory bank and takes into account that the last time I wrote in the morning, immediately after, I ate my breakfast. My mind is also getting some signals from my grumbling tummy. And how can I tell that I will be eating together with my family? My mind goes again to my memory bank, normally my wife and my son comes down by 8 in the morning.

So there you go, I just predicted my future and I am sure you can do the same.

When you are done, try imagining later. Then tomorrow. Then next week. Then next month. Then next year. Before you know it, you can imagine what will happen 5 years or 10 years from now.

The elements that you need in imagining the next hour is the same as the elements you need in imagining 5 years from now.

In my example, assuming I don’t like the outcome which is eating breakfast with my family, then I need to do something different like leaving the house and play basketball. What happens is, our minds consider previous patterns and current signals and gives you suggestions. If you don’t like what your mind suggests, you have the power to choose not to react and alter the outcome.

CEOs and presidents of companies are oftentimes regarded as the visionaries. It is true because it is part of their jobs.

But you see, all of us are CEOs. We are the CEOs and presidents of our lives. You are responsible for your future. Don’t blame anyone if your future is not what you wanted. Blaming is for losers. You are a winner. You need to believe in yourself.

I will give you a tip. Look back 5 years of your life, reflect on your schedule, what activities did you put your time into? Who did you hang out most often? What stimuli did you respond most? Now, consider where you are now. If you like where you are now then just continue what you are doing. If you think there are certain areas in your life that needs improvement, then you need to change those patterns. If not, chances are, you will be where you are now, 5 years from now.

Blessings Abound

Yesterday, my family went off to have an overnight staycation in a hotel in Makati. My wife normally does the packing. I just brought a couple of shirts, shorts and that was it for me. It is just an overnight stay. What else would you bring? But lo and behold, when we arrived at the hotel, I unloaded four bags from the car. I asked my wife, why do we have four bags? She answered enthusiastically, “We need to bring Christian’s milk bottles, a whole can of milk, the steamer, his water, his diapers and the hotel has a pool so we need to bring his inflatable penguin, his rubber duckies, whale, shark and dolphin.” Wow! I didn’t know the ducks and the whales are part of the family.

And true enough, when we were finally settled in our room, we went up and there was the pool. So my wife got our son to wear his Batman swimsuit and brought with him his inflatable penguin, his rubber duckies, whale, shark and dolphin to the pool. He was so happy! We are happy!

As I watched my son filled with happiness and joy, I realised, God is like this to us. God prepares everything that we need long before we need them. You can feel God in the air that we breathe, the sunlight that invigorates our skin, the shoes and clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the hotel servants who arranged and made sure we will have a great time, the people around us who are always there for us and love us. Indeed, God is all around. We have an abundant God. The blessings are overflowing.

With all these blessings, God wants us to be happy. That’s His only agenda.

I think we sometimes fail to see the blessings because the blessings do not match what our puny minds defined them to be. If we just allowed our son to pack his own bag, I doubt he would go far in bringing his swimsuit, his steamer, his milk bottles and above all, his sea friends with him.

There is no shortage of blessings. There is only shortage in our readiness in accepting these blessings.

Trust that God knows your desires, your wants, your needs long before you know them.

Love and Money

There is a common practice or notion among Filipino families that they should bear more children so that in the future, their children will save them and pull them out of poverty.  So the more kids you have, the higher chances you have in gaining financial freedom.  When the kids grow up and are strong enough to earn money, their parents require them to remit money. Some parents would even stop working and tell their kids, “Kayo naman kumita ng pera at supportahan ‘tong pamilya” (It’s your turn to earn a living and support this family). Parents with this mindset equate love with money. That’s why when their kids don’t give enough, they are labelled as ‘walang utang na loob‘ (you are ungrateful).

If we want to grow as a nation, this practice has to stop in this generation.  It is a retrogression. As best-selling author Dean Pax Lapid wrote in his book Be Happy, Healthy, and Wealthy Today (co-authored by Bro. Bo Sanchez),  “Children are not investments with a rate of return; they are commitments of our parental love.”

As parents, we need to support our kids until the day we die without expecting anything in return.  We feed them, we send them to best schools possible, we equip them to be better citizens.  When they are ready, they will start their own family and love others.

It is not the obligation of our children to feed us, to shelter us and to provide us with our needs. If your children do these things to you, that is because they love you, not because it is their obligation.

For parents who require their children to remit money, I believe that deep inside, they don’t want that either. I believe nobody wants to feel helpless. They just don’t know of any other way of surviving.

I believe there are two reasons behind the existence of this practice:

1. Lack of financial knowledge.

For me, Financial Management is a life skill. It has to be taught in schools, regardless of the course. Whether you want to go into business, practice your profession or manage a household. A lot of people think that handling money is only for businessmen, accountants and financial advisers. Believe me. Everyone needs to learn this. There are lots of materials on the Internet and seminars offered everywhere.

I am an Accountant and I had this wrong thinking before that I will be able to learn Financial Management naturally. I was proud. I learned it the painful way. I made lots of business failures because I didn’t know anything about money. I am still learning up to this day. Knowledge and skills do not naturally come. You need to deliberately learn and practice them in order to embed them into your life.

If you are starting your career, don’t just learn the technicalities of your profession, learn how to handle money. Your financial wisdom should grow as well.

2. Believing that “Money is the root of all evil”

“Money is the root of all evil” is a crazy religious belief. It is the same reason why poor people hate the rich.

Money is just like any other resource. It is like gas, Internet, food, electricity, and so on. Our purpose defines the effect of these resources. Take for instance the Internet, if you connect to the Internet to research on how to reduce poverty then using the Internet is good. If you use Internet for pornography or sending the details of a drug trade, then using the Internet is bad. Another one is electricity. Electricity powers our appliances and lights up our homes but it can be used to electrocute someone also.

Same thing with money, it all depends on the purpose why you want money. Is it because you want to buy a new car to show off to your neighbor? Is it because you want to buy a condominium unit so that you can have a mistress? Is it because you want to send your kids to school? Is it bacause you want to buy books and share it to the needy? Is it because you want to put up an orphanage so abandoned kids will have a home? Your purpose is what makes money good or bad.

For me, there is only one reason why we need to be wealthy and that is to bless other people. We came into this world naked and we will leave naked as well. We don’t own anything. We are practically borrowing them. All of us are passersby in this world. If you are blessed with resources, ask yourself, are you a good steward?

You become who you worship.

Tough Love

Do you know how eagles teach their young how to fly?

First, Papa Eagle builds a nest made of strong twigs and sharp thorns and covers them with soft grass to make it comfortable.  Not contented, Mama Eagle would pluck her own feathers to add more comfort. Several times, food are just brought to the kids without them lifting a feather.  Whenever there is a storm, Mama Eagle would just spread her enormous wings to cover her young.  What a beautiful life for the eaglets.

But then, when it’s time for the eaglets to learn to fly, life is about to drastically change.  First, Mama Eagle stops bringing food.  The eaglets would cry for hunger, ‘Mommy, Mommy’ and nothing seems to be heard.  Next, Mama Eagle would then remove the soft grass and every comfort in the nest allowing the thorns to be exposed, pricking the sensitive skin of the eaglets. ‘Ouch!’ The young eaglets cry. Then nightmare starts.  Mama Eagle throws the eaglets out of the nest.  The little ones would insist on coming back to the nest but they will be pushed again until they fall off the cliff, ten thousand feet above the ground. Down, down they go.  Before they hit the ground, Papa Eagle swoops down and catches them and brings them back to the nest.  Before the eaglets catch their breath and figure out what had just happened, Mama Eagle would kick them out again until they figure out the message and start flapping their wings.  Soon, the eaglets are confident and soaring along with their proud parents.

Parents who shield their kids too much from the realities of the world are preventing their kids to grow their wings and be able to fly on their own.  As parents, we need to understand that tough love doesn’t mean loving less.  If Mama Eagle listened to the cries of her young when they were struggling to learn how to fly and instead stopped the training and cuddled them, the eaglets will grow up to be like chickens.  If you prevent them from experiencing pain, you are depriving your child’s necessary steps to grow and eventually become dependent all his life.

If you want to eat an egg, regardless if you want it hard-boiled, sunny side up, or omelet, what do you do first?  First, you break the egg.  Why? Because you don’t want to eat the shell.  Nobody eats the egg shell.  Seriously, why? Because the best part is what is inside the shell.

If you want to eat an orange, what do you do?  First, you chop it.  Then you squeeze it in order it’s juice to come out.

Plants need pruning.  Fire shapes metal.  Sculptors chisel and hammer the stone to create their masterpiece.

The pattern of going through pain first in order to grow and be blessed is incredibly embedded in the fabric of life.

I know of some people who came from close-knit families, went to good schools, resources are within reach yet they are failing in life.  Common reason why they are failing, is because they have very protective parents.  They are just so afraid to try.  They don’t want to come out of their shell.  In spite of the blessings they have, all you hear from them are rants why life is so hard.

I am a parent to a two year kid.  I know the instinct to protect and to pamper.  Between my wife and I, I am the more protective one.  Every time our son throws a tantrum and would lie on the floor and cry, I have the tendency to pick him up and cradle.  But knowing that it would not help him in the long run, I would inhibit myself, leave the scene and let my wife handle him.

If you are a parent, allow your kids to fail.  Allow your kids to commit mistakes, to be hurt, to lose.  It is in these moments that their character is tested and shaped.  Just be there with them.  Your presence is all they need.

If you have been too much protected as a child, life is not yet over.  Have the courage to try things out and reach for your dreams.  Fear is an illusion.  Failure is but a step to success.

If you are going through some pain now, if you think you are being squeezed to the point of suffocation, have faith, be patient, be still, because the best part is what is inside the shell.

Platform

When you watch pop stars perform on stage, you become slave to the music. You’re captivated by the moment that would last a lifetime. The last time I watched a concert was when the Corrs performed here in Manila. (I am hopeful for a reunion soon.). That was maybe 15 years ago. I don’t really remember the date but I can vividly recall the experience.

I truly believe all of us were born to be a star. All of us are meant to shine. If this is so, why is it that some people, in spite of working so hard never really found their light to shine. I think one of the problems is in choosing the right platform or stage.

Choosing the right platform is choosing the environment that you think will help you shine. Environment includes the people around you, the nature of business you are in, and the systems that allow you to interact with other people.

A long time ago I was connected to a company that was into rentals. We had several houses and apartments that were for rent. I worked as an Accountant and every month we went out to collect rent. It was paying me handsomely for such an easy job. After a few months, I left the company. It took a hit on my finances. During that time, I was about to get married and hardly had enough savings to pay for the reception so I sold my car and paid the wedding bills just in time.

Looking back, that was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Though the work was paying me good money, the environment did not give me any space for creativity and explore new things.

Five years later, I worked with the largest shipping company in the Philippines at that time. Initially, I worked as an Auditor. I did not shine as an Auditor but the environment gave me the opportunity to explore new things. After two years, they transferred me to IT then as Innovation Manager. The thing was, there was no existing Innovation Manager position. They just created it for me. I was on a roll but unfortunately, the owners had to sell the company after 100 years for a good reason. So I left too.

You can be in the same situation that I was in before. You can be in a job that is not harnessing your true potential. I suggest that you evaluate your environment, know the values of the owners and know the mission of the company by heart. If these things do not agree with your internal compass, it is time to move on. Do not hang on to your monthly income. Money will follow if you are doing what you do best.

My Dad is a retired ship captain. For years, he commanded very large container ships, carriers and others. He is very well respected by his peers. He became an examiner in a professional regulating body in the Philippines. He became a superintendent of a Maritime Academy. He is a best selling author also. In the picture are the books he wrote. The books have been distributed worldwide and have been read by thousands of sailors around the world.

At a very young age, my Dad already knew what he wanted to do. He was fascinated with ships as a youngster and adored the sailors every time a ship docks on the port in his hometown in Iloilo. My Dad knew what his platform was, stuck with it and became a star.

Ask yourself this question. Are you on the right platform?

Why Change

Change is a constant thing. Our environment is changing. The people around us are changing. If you have kids, they grow, they develop new habits and learn new things. In other words, change is inevitable. Change is something we all need to deal with.

We all know this. But why is it that coping with change is difficult? The normal reaction is to resist, not to embrace. People would rather stay in their comfort zone.

I believe that to resist change is a rebellion against the forces of nature. Let me explain.

Everything around us are systems. The earth we live in is full of systems. The atmospheric circulation process, photosynthesis, and so on. Our human body is composed of several systems. We have the digestive system, respiratory system, nervous system, and others. Throughout history, man also made a lot of systems to put order to the way we live. You and me, we all have our own personal systems. In my household, we don’t wake up simultaneously. I have my own daily routine, my wife has her own daily routine. Etan has his own. It is when these systems interact that we experience – Change.

We need to look at change on a different perspective. Here are a few:

Change is about respect. In our household, i believe the reason why we live in harmony is because we respect each others’ routine. I’m an early riser. How I wish my wife is too, but she’s not. My wife works all day and she deserves all the sleep that she can get. Instead of insisting for her to wake up early, I make these early morning hours as my me-time. When she wakes up, I draw my me-time to a close and open our-time.

Sometimes I am not done with my me-time but I am happy to close it because it validates my belief that US is more important than I.

Change is about thinking of other people. I am the leader in our household. As the head of my family, I need to lead them to a better future. If I go with my instincts I would probably go to the mall, watch movies and eat popcorn the whole day because it’s fun. But I cannot do that. I need to forget my instincts and focus on something more productive because I need to change for the better for my family and for the people around me. The key is to forget what you need to undergo or what you need to give up but to focus on what other people can become because of what you will do.

Change is about anticipating the future. My two year old son loves buses. He has a collection of buses. But everytime we buy him a new one, he would be amazed as if it is his first time to see a bus. Then he would play with it the whole day, pouring out all his emotions. He surely enjoys what is happening in the present.

This scene is so precious to us because we are reminded to just cherish the joy and pleasure of the present. We seldom allow these precious moments to drift by and rather than focus on the regrets of the past and worry about the future. Life is about tiny successes. When we appreciate the joy and happiness happening in the present, it gives us hope and anticipate a better future.

If you think back a few days ago and all your interactions with your family, your friends, your colleagues at the office, the waiter in the restaurant that served your food, the security guard that opened the door for you, if you believe that even a tiny interaction could have changed a person’s life, what could you have done differently?

Be a Role Model

My son, Etan, is a hyperactive and intelligent young boy.  He never seizes to amaze us.  He has a new antic everyday. One day, he said he is a tiger.  So everytime he comes up to me and he makes this roaring sound, I react as if I was afraid.  The next day, he said he is the Dragon Warrior so he would climb up the bed and beat me up.

Obviously, my son got this from YouTube and Nickelodeon.  He absorbs everything like a sponge, even the words that we speak and our mannerisms.  Knowing this is how it works, we are very careful with our words and actions in the house.

My wife and I, whether we like it or not, are role models to our son.  Probably, more so on me because he is a boy.  Having said that, I need to be a good role model to my son.

I dream for my son to grow up and live to be a true Christian. True to his name, I wish for him to become a loving, compassionate, and caring person.  He can pursue whatever dream he wants.  I will support him. But for now, I have to exhibit these qualities because I will model them for him.

If you are a parent, a teacher, a leader in a company, or there are people reporting to you, you are always on stage. You have influence on people. By thinking that you need to be a role model is a way of accepting the responsibility of giving the right influence to these people. If you have vices like smoking or drinking, have the courage to kick those habits if you don’t want your kids to acquire those habits.

Be a good influence on people. Be a role model.