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Becoming the monster I abhor

Plato quoteA friend introduced me to her colleagues who were visiting Bangkok over the weekend. One of my joys being away from home is to meet old and new friends visiting Bangkok. Touring them around is also my way of getting to know Thailand better.

All of them –my friend’s colleagues—were nice and fun to be with. But one of them is just extra warm, it’s like her heart is full of kindness which radiates from her sweet smile and soft voice. She’s the oldest among the group, much like our mother. But really, I felt so at ease around her that I couldn’t help but mention it to my friend. That’s when I heard an interesting story.

My friend said that she has never really spoken to that lady except for work-related matters. “People say her personality used to be like that, kind and loving. But she suddenly changed about two years ago. They say she suddenly became aloof. She doesn’t talk to people anymore except for work. Even after meetings, she doesn’t join her colleagues for a cup of coffee. She became strict and unfriendly, very opposite to what she used to be. Even people who have been so close to her, who have worked with her for over 10 years couldn’t understand what has gone wrong with her. She was like that for two years and now she is back to how she used to be, kind and friendly.

I got curious. I told my friend; maybe that lady has gone through very challenging trials in her life. And tough times always bring out the worst in us. And I smiled at the thought that I had my own share of unleashing the monster in me.

I hate confrontations. Whenever I encounter misunderstandings with people, I would opt to stay quiet and not defend myself even if that means I have to take the blame. I could not speak out for myself because sometimes it would mean revealing the other person’s mistake and I could not stand that a person is humiliated or hurt because of me.

My colleague once told me, “nobody can stand up for you except yourself. You can’t just let people abuse you.” I also read somewhere that staying silent and suppressing your emotions is not good. It will eventually take its toll on your health. But I was stubborn. Until one day, I just lose it.


I was overly stressed at work and was facing a lot of problems in my personal life too. I had been suffering from insomnia and I couldn’t eat well. I just don’t have the appetite for any food. I knew something was wrong with me. I was aware that I was not being myself. I just don’t know how to stop the negativities. I cannot decide whether I have obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder (see, I have already made my own psychological diagnosis hahaha). Kidding aside, I knew now that I could have been better if I had enough sleep then.

But anyway, in that not-so-good episode of my life, I turned into the monster I abhor. I made this stupid argument with someone and ended up saying words I could not imagine coming out from me. Now that I’m over those dark hours of my life, whenever I think about it, I would regret why I had not dealt with the negative situation positively. But regrets don’t come first and feeling it would not help either.

I believe that the first step to move on is to forgive ourselves and accept that we are just humans; we are not perfect and we are bound to commit mistakes. Like what Rahim Khan said in the book The Kite Runner, “there’s a way to be good again”.

People who we see as bad, people who are cruel and unkind are people who are hurting inside. They need our understanding and love, not our hatred and scrutiny. And when this happens to us, let us not forget to appreciate those people who stayed by our side, the people who never gave up believing in us when the rest of the world slummed its doors.

People of my year 2012

It feels so surreal that a year had already passed since I wrote the ‘People of my year 2011’. Actually it’s still almost a year if I base it on the date the entry was published. Even so, it reminds me how fast time flies and before I knew it, here I am again going down memory lane; reminiscing what had transpired this year.

It had been a busy year for me with so much traveling and more responsibilities at work. The saddest part is having to bid farewell to friends I hold very dear as they embark on a new journey. But the best part is being home twice, seeing friends I have not seen for ages, and my –what they call Youtubic — engagement.

To continue the tradition I started last year (inspired by Bianca Gonzales’ blog), now is the time to pay tribute to the people who have made significant difference in my life in 2012.

Petiks
They are a group of different individuals bound by their love for mountain climbing. They showed me that true friendship can also develop in the workplace where office politics normally thrives. I have always admired their friendship even if I only hear their stories from Omar. I finally met them in June when they surprised me with a well-choreographed proposal. I was embarrassed at the thought that they all did it –spent their time practicing, preparing the props , making sure the event is well-documented, editing the video – but I was more in awe at how far they can go for a friend. It’s amazing how they organize activities not just recreational but also to help those in need such as cleaning and arranging the house of a friend who just moved in. I just love them all to bits.

Olesya Kochkina
She is my Russian colleague who joined our organization in July. The silly bit is that she’s the only one who had me eat a bowl of vegetable salad which I liked. I hardly eat vegetables but the one she made was really delicious I keep craving for it everytime I want to eat something healthy. What I admire about her is her strong fighting spirit and optimism in overcoming challenges. She taught me not to dwell too much on a certain situation but rather look at the bigger picture and see what really matters in the grand scheme of things.


Clara Capala and Jonah Lyn Soliva
They are among my best college buddies. I have many close friends but the three of us developed this special bond that stayed strong through the years. We had our petty quarrels but at the end of the day our love for each other prevailed. They taught me how to be a true friend; through forgiveness and acceptance of each other’s weaknesses. No matter what happens and where life takes us, we will always be a part of each one’s life. Early this year I had a heart to heart talk with Jytjyt where I saw the beauty of her heart and the inner strength she possesses in facing life’s trials. I was able to see Clara after 3 years when she came to visit me in Bohol. Clara is the one who taught me how to be a friend not just in words but more in action. One of the best part of my vacation was being with her. And these cute little pugs represent the happy trio who endured the test of friendship 🙂

Cute pugs

Charivic Abello
She is my younger sister. I remember she once told me she got too much pressure from being compared to us, her elder siblings in terms of academic achievements. She got it from either family members telling her to do well in school like us or my former professors telling her “ask your sister how she did it”. I worried that she would carry this pressure with her and negatively affect her studies and morale. She wanted to become a policewoman but we did not allow her. Instead, we asked her to take Agribusiness. She did not want to let go of her passion so she took the ROTC training to become an officer and went up to convincing us to let her join the firing camp where she was able to use an M16 rifle and hit the target. Now she ranked third in command of the Corp group. This little sissy taught me not to lose sight of my passion and to never let other people’s expectations hinder me from doing what I really love to do. Proud of you always CLTC Charivic H. Abello 1CL.

Chamika Angeles
She is the daughter of a very dear friend Ate Weng. Mika had been bedridden even before I knew them. She left us this month to be with our Creator in heaven. Her death is our biggest lose this year. We’ve lost the angel who had been a great part of our journey because despite being ill most of her life, we can still feel that she’s there praying for us. May you rest in peace in heaven little angel. We love you very much.

My former boss
I have worked with him for 2 years and in those years he has molded me to become a strong woman. He may not be that famous among his staff as evinced by the high turnover rate but I did not give up on him. Many staff didn’t like him because he was tough but I tried to show him compassion because I didn’t know what he has gone through in life and what painful experiences he has to endure in his past. I do not have the right to judge him of what he has become. I cannot do anything about his past but I believe that simple acts of kindness would remind him of the goodness in his heart. Through him, I was able to test myself on how far I can show love to the most unlovable person. Through him I learned how not to dwell on the bad side of a person but rather see the wounded heart inside. Through him I learned not to give up on love and believe that love and compassion can change even the stone hearted.

Avash K.C.
As early as the start of the year, I already knew Avash will make it to this list. But little did I know he will take up this place; the one who has made the most impact in me this year. It is rather strange because our only verbal conversation was when he asked me for a copy of the audio file I was recording. He added me on Facebook so we got to talk once in a while. This year had been challenging for me because work was very hectic and there were many changes in both my work and personal life I had to cope up with. But his mails to me, although seldom but long, sustained me with inspiration to get going. While many youth parrot about how they want to make a difference, Avash was out there making the real difference that others can only utter in the wind. He is a very smart and talented young man and has all the chances to go abroad. But he chose to stay and serve his country, worked with the youth sector and reached out to the poor children and marginalized groups. While other youth brag about the little things they did, Avash remained silent and humble in his accomplishments. Instead of lurking online or resorting to vices, he spends his time and energy in far-flung communities –talking to deviant youth who had been rebels but are in the process of starting a new life, celebrating his birthday with poor children – or in school doing his MBA or producing TV shows that discuss various societal issues particularly those affecting the youth. He showed me that making a difference just takes a spark that will be illuminated by our actions. But above all, he taught me that genuine service must come from the heart.

Withering plants and relationships taken for granted

 

My weekend was spent mostly cleaning my room, doing the laundry and reorganizing some stuff. Little did I know it will lead me to a more profound lesson.

While mopping my veranda, I noticed that one of my potted plants died. The other three were wilting. It must be because they don’t have enough soil and the weather is too hot these days. To keep the rest from dying, I uprooted the dead one and put its soil unto the other pots then watered the plants.

This is not the first time I had a plant die because I did not have time to nurture them. I always forget to water them even if I can see them every time I go out of my room. Whenever I remember, I just pour water on them without really giving it extra care like sprinkling the water and cultivating the soil.

While I was filling the other plants with soil, I realized that it is actually a good analogy of how we sometimes treat our relationships be it with a lover, family or friends.

Sometimes, we take people and relationships for granted because we know they are just there. Sometimes we don’t make that extra effort to reach out to them because we are too busy with other things. And when we do, we do it just for the sake of doing it — talk for the sake of talking — without really giving our all. And we may not be aware but they do notice it. They know when we are not paying attention or we are distracted.

Like plants, relationships should be nurtured and cared for it to thrive. If we continue to take it for granted, it will gradually wither and eventually die. If you see it withering you are lucky, you still have the chance to save it. But what if it’s already dead?