Health versus Economy

The human mind has three states: the reasonable mind, the emotional mind and the wise mind.

The reasonable part of our mind is where we use our logic and opinion.  We focus on what is right and what is wrong.  We use facts and details but it doesn’t consider other human qualities.  I worked many years as a corporate guy and I have met several people who are stuck with a job they don’t like.  The common reason they don’t leave is because their job allows them to put food on the table and meet their other basic needs.  It is logical and it is right.

The emotional part of our mind is the voice of the emotions we are feeling.  Our feelings can be happy, sad, fear, doubts, angry, fatigue, lonely, etc.  People who act based on their emotions are very easy to read because they tend to process less mentally the situation.  We need to veer away from making decisions when we are emotional because emotions are inconsistent and do not consider facts.  Today you can be bubble, tomorrow you can be sad and melancholic.  That is why you will see people who are emotional driven are unreliable and impulsive.  Many of my blunders in life were a result of impulses and pure feelings.

The wise mind is the balance between the reasonable and the emotional mind.  You are wise when you consider the feelings yet you are able to consider also the rational aspect.  The wise mind focuses on truth, understanding and objective.  These are people who are reflective and insightful.

We are in a precarious situation.  Ever since COVID19 hit us, there is this constant debate between health versus economy.  Many look at this issue as Life versus Money.  Some even go to the extent of quoting the most misquoted verse in the Bible which is the ‘money is the root of all evil’.  In this perspective, the issue becomes Good (Life) versus Evil (Money). To tackle this issue using this pattern of thinking is a recipe for disaster.

The wise way of tackling this issue is:

One, you need to get the facts straight.

First, money is not the root of all evil.  The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.

Second, health doesn’t pertain to just physical health. It also include mental, emotional and spiritual.  To be very specific, COVID19 is supposedly just a physical health crisis.

Third, economy is not just about money,  Economy creates jobs, jobs that allow people to put food on the table, to bring their children to schools, to buy things for their loved ones.  Isn’t it that is what life is all about?  We often times equate work or economy with money, which is wrong.  Work or Money is not life, but it is an enabler.

If you consider these facts, it is unwise to even consider looking at this issue as Health versus Economy.

The problem for us now is everyone is looking at the increasing number of cases of COVID19.  No one is keeping tabs on the number of people who are suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional health concerns.

Two, I understand the plea of the doctors and medical frontliners.  What we need to understand also is everyone is exhausted. Everyone is hurting.  Thousands of companies have already closed.  Millions are unemployed and increasing.    Millions of families are or about to be displaced because they don’t have money to pay for rent or pay for their mortgage.  We have to consider also the pain of these people.  To send people into lockdown, prevent them from working and give them nothing to eat is murder.

Three, If we could have defined this problem properly, we could have managed this and isolated this problem as just a Public Physical health Crisis.

We did not use our wise mind and dragged our economy with this issue.

Looking in hindsight, was it even possible to deal and manage this crisis in isolation and not drag our economy with it?  I believe it was possible.  The problem was, we did not even care to consider it as a possibility.  We just acted on impulse and followed other countries.  Countries that are different and have more resources than us.

I believe in the Philippines that someday it will rise as a nation with character.  We just need to elect more wise people to lead us.

(Photo credit:

The Little Things

I just came from an online supporters night with Bro. Bo and Marowe Sanchez and the topic was about the secret of little things that make your marriage great.

Inspired by that conversation, here is my top 5 list of the little things I do to express my love to my wife Weng.

1. I hold my hunger to have breakfast with her

I am an early riser. I normally wake up at around 4:30 in the morning. I would usually go down to my office and start my day. My wife normally wakes up at 7AM. By the time she goes down to have breakfast, it would be around 7:30AM and I would be very hungry. Over the years I have managed my hunger because the pleasure of having breakfast with my lovely wife always outweigh whatever pain I feel in my stomach.

2. I drive her to work

Every Tuesday and Saturday, my wife goes to Manila to see her students at Trails. That is roughly around 20 kilometers from our house in Laguna. My wife is not really fond of driving and neither do I. But knowing that it would be a long day for her, I would always drop whatever I’m doing just to drive her to work. Sometimes it is a big effort on my part, especially during Saturdays. You see every Saturday early morning, it is my time to play basketball with my neighbors. But no matter how enjoyable it is to play basketball, I still choose to serve my wife.

3. I drop her off the entrance of a mall

When we go a mall or watch a movie, I usually drop her off on the mall entrance before driving the car to the parking lot. I do this so that she doesn’t have to walk far. If I know what she needs to do or buy in the mall, I would drop her off on the nearest entrance to where that store is.

4. I say I love you to her when I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep

Saying I love you everyday is like renewing my vow every single day. Words are powerful. There are time that I don’t feel like saying it, but when I do, it changes my perspective and it reminds me that whatever differences we may have, love wins.

5. I take the smaller or lesser part

Every time we eat and there are two pieces left on the serving plate, I take the smaller or lesser part. If there are 2 hard boiled eggs left, I would get the imperfect one (the one whose white flesh was also taken when they removed the shell), if there are 2 fried chickens, I would get the neck or the smaller insignificant piece, Even in gadgets, my wife gets to use the latest gadget first.

My wife and I have been subscribers of a telco for many years and usually we get the new phone that comes along with our lock in contract every 2 years. Mid last year, both of us were using iPhone 6 but I was already due for a new one while her contract would end this year May. My phone had only 16gb of storage so it was already occasionally failing and slow. When we went to the telco store and inquired about my contract, the telco staff told me that I was eligible for an iPhone 8 plus with 64GB capacity. What an upgrade! So I renewed my contract and got the new phone. When we arrived home, I gave it to my wife. She goes first.

So there you go my top 5 little things I do for my wife.

How about you? What are your 5 little things that you do to your spouse, or fiance or partner?

(Follow Bro. Bo Sanchez’s Fulltank and become a supporter. It will only cost you a fraction but the benefit you will get is priceless.)

Simplicity and Happiness

My son likes animals and insects. Among his favorites are horses, elephants, spiders and lizards. Such a wide selection. Whenever we are in a mall, he never misses riding the merry-go-round. He would hug the horse like a long lost friend. Every time we get home from work, the first thing my wife and I do is to play with him. My wife is great at telling stories. Me, I just wrestle the young boy.

Watching my son play reminds me how simple life should be. Advertising everywhere, they all bombard us of things that make our minds think we need those things. It is great to dream big. It is not a sin to buy expensive toys. I have big dreams. I do sometimes buy expensive things. But I believe what we need to ask is, does it contribute to our joy or remove us from what we value most?

After I got married to the woman of my dreams, I knew I have to spend more time with her. I’ve identified my treasure and there is no way I am going to let it go. As a CPA and an IT Professional, I knew I could get a high paying job abroad. But that never became an option for me because that would mean spending less time with my treasure.

After identifying my treasure, I have to be with my treasure because I know that is where happiness is. To be happy – isn’t it that is what we all strive for?

I believe there are two trails – the money trail and the relationship trail. As the head of the family, I know that providing for your family is important. That’s why a lot of parents follow immediately the money trail. They follow it religiously, then they follow and follow until they find themselves too deep into the trail that they cannot turn back and repair a broken relationship trail. To prove a point, how many OFWs have said that they would choose to be with their family than to work abroad?

“Money is important, but it is not everything.” – from the book Raising Heirs by Eleanore Lee Teo

Many people don’t do Cost Benefit Analysis in choosing a career. We normally just see the dollar that we are going to earn, not the time that will be taken away from own family. If it is just a few months, probably that’s ok. But if it means missing a good number of years away from your family, you may want to think about it.

What good does it do if you have all the money you want but have a broken relationship with the ones you love?

I’m an analytical person. I did not follow the money trail. I followed the relationship trail. I just have faith that anywhere I go I can make a living, but there is only one place to have a life and that is with my loving wife.

So the solution is this – I believe it should be you follow the money trail with respect to your relationship trail. What do I mean? You find a way to make money around your treasure. In my case, we started a business, a business that is closest to my wife’s heart – a center for children now known as Trails. In a business, you need to have structure and content to make it viable. At Trails, I take care of the structure, she takes care of the content. In anatomy, I am the bones, she is the flesh. We are yin and yang.

It is not a perfect ride. We have some disagreements. But that is what makes life interesting. Whether we disagree or agree, we are doing it together.

We are at a point we believe we can accomplish anything as long as we are together. With that I’m pretty sure more wealth will follow.

Matthew 6:33 says, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Seek love first and everything will follow.

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.

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?

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.

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.