Hannah Turns 13 — She Is Now A Teenager

“Find and treasure opportunities to spend quality time with your daughter. Right now she hangs a lot with you but when she becomes a teenager, you will find difficulty tagging her along.”

I heard those lines from several parents who already have grownup kids. And a lot of them would give that advice repeatedly.

Last December 11, my daughter officially became a teenager. And that advice came to mind.

I’ll be honest with all of you. One of the considerations why I left my previous employer (more than two years ago) was because I had business trips several times a year. A lot of these would stretch to several weeks per engagement. So when a job opportunity was offered to me where I don’t need to jet-set, I immediately accepted. Well it was not the sole reason but included as a major consideration.

I did it because of one particular conversation with my daughter.

Several years back, while watching television with her, she just looked at me and asked if I was bound out of the country again in the next couple of days. I said, “Yes”. She probably overheard me talking with her mom about my business trip to Ecuador. Then, she just blurted, with teary eyes, that she would like to go with me whether I was bound for Poland or China – wherever it was she would like to tag with me.

Hearing her broken voice while saying those words seared my heart.

I immediately recalled one advice from her pre-elementary school teacher — Teacher Beth of JILL Station. She told us to take really good care of our daughter as she is our only princess and a treasure that no amount can be levied on. And hearing those from her triggered me to actively look for a job that was based in Manila.

Now I am based in Manila minus the jet-setting, which I don’t regret. Because I am now part of a really good organization that stretches me a lot, and providing me with learning that I think I would never get if I have decided to remain where I was. And the best part is that I get to spend more quality time with my daughter.

Going back to my daughter…

She just turned 13 this year.

Seeing her grow into how she is now makes me really happy with how things are turning out. She is athletic – actively plays soccer, climbs mountains with me and hangs out with her mom (Wanna) as she plays basketball. (Maybe when she turns 18 I’ll bring her to dragon boat, and let her paddle with me.) I see her also every night working really hard on her school work without the need for me to push her. And she is active in her school’s theater arts club.

And on her birthday, she was part of the main cast in all the transitory acts in-between presentations during the Don Bosco School of Manila’s gratitude day celebration. Seeing her performed well and enjoying in the process reminded me of how lucky we are as parents of this teenager. Also, I was so happy seeing her having fun with theater as I used to enjoy participating in so many school plays way back in high school. Especially that I had unforgettable memories (bloopers) with school plays in which my classmates would always find time to remind me during gatherings.

By the way, I am proud of her not just because of her achievements. More than her laurels, she is also a caring and a loving daughter that we all would hope to see in our kids. She would always go the extra mile just to make us – her parents – feel okay that a therapist mentioned that she actually sounds more mature than us.


Our Yuni is now a teenager!

I am actually excited with what life has stored for her. Now, as I took a cue from Wanna, I let Yuni be as she pursues what will make her happy. It does not mean, of course, absolute freedom. I would chide her (or give reminders) if needed. But for now, I am letting her take her own path as we, too, try to pursue what (probably) was set aside when she came early in our lives (as young parents).

I am also not afraid that she would prefer tagging with her friends instead of me, as long as she goes mountain climbing and hiking with me. =)

Now, I have not regretted making the decision to just work here in Manila, especially with how things are working out. I would say that I am excited for the things that would come to all of us. Each of us taking our paths separately and Yuni reaching a new milestone (a teenager). There are plenty of road bumps along the way. However, these are just really minuscule compared to what is waiting in our own destinations.

These thoughts excite me a lot.

Friends, I am sharing this to you not because I would like to brag about my teenager. It is because I would like to remind all of you that a lot is in store for us – and the people around us. Let the people you love grow on their own pace and in their own terms (with your REASONABLE GUIDANCE). Remember that at the end of the day that is their lives, not yours.

As a better alternative, you should just focus on your lives. Reflect on how you can reduce the gap with how far you are from where you want to be.

That is a more productive use of your time.


PS: I am strongly suggesting for you to read these blog entries:

Lessons from Cris Gardner’s Greatest Influencer

I will admit. I am a mother’s boy.

My mom is my greatest influence in my life.

All that I am now and all that I have is largely due to her influence. From the time that I wake up down to my habit before going to bed, all of these are largely influenced by my mom. I remember when we were young, she would pepper us with lessons she got from reading “Lakbay-Diwa” or the Bible during meal times. And as if meal time lessons were not enough, she would enthralled us with her family’s stories — how my grandmother bounced back despite all that hounded her. To cap our days, she would always encourage us to pray.

Listening to Cris Gardner in the NACPH 2016 reminded me of my mom’s influence. It appeared that Gardner’s greatest influence as he shared during his talk was his mom. Several times in an hour, he spoke to us about what his mom said that he would never forget. And how these fueled his passion to go beyond his challenges.

Let me cite some of the lessons he mentioned (based on what I have captured on my notes). I’m sure that we can also learn from these.

  • You can be anything you wanted.
  • There is no limit to what you can do.
  • Even if you are in a dire situation that foresees a dark future for you, you can always choose to go the other way.

These are just some of the few lessons I got from what Gardner mentioned. And, I believe, these were part of the core lessons that made him to where he is now.

Gardner also spoke about the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness”. This was based on his life journey. He said that the movie was never about money. It was according to him a love story — to give his boy a father he (himself) never had. He shared though that, yes, a big chunk of the movie was based on what happened in his life. However, his actual story is far more difficult than what was documented in the movie.

He cited several examples. Let me share one.

One that I can recall was that in the movie his son was 5 years old. In reality though his son was around 2 years old at the time. He said that it was harder because you leave a baby to be cared for by someone you didn’t know. He shared that he would almost daily walk away to his baby’s screams almost every day just to provide for their needs. And all you can assure to the screaming baby was you will be “back for him”. He, nonetheless, was screaming and crying inside. But he shared that kept on pursuing all. For him having to deny your child anything is much painful.

Gardner shared that he did what he could to provide to his child what he was not able to get in his lifetime. The problem was, some people may say, that he did not have any university degrees such as MBAs. But Gardner said that he has PSD. He was “Poor, Smart and who has a Desire to become wealthy”. That, according to him, was the reason why he acquired a different MBA — Many Bank Accounts.

He assured himself that he was going to be world-class in what he will do in his life. And, we all know how his actions fueled by his desire made him today.

As we usually say, the rest is history.

One of the key lesson that I would never forget from Gardner that according to him helped realize where he is now is this:

“Commit to PLAN A. You need to get it NOT PLAN B. PLAN B sucks!!!”

He said that when something happens, you do what you got to do. Never look for fallback but always aim to get what you plan to get. Again, Plan B sucks!

He capped his talk by saying that at his age he is still learning. Also, he likened himself to Michelangelo that at age 87, the world great claimed that he was still a student and learning. He said he feels that way all the time.

Before he ended his talk he went back again to honor his mother. He attributed his milestones to the foundation instilled by his mother. And, I think that is what we should all do.

Like Gardener, we should never forget the lessons we got from our good “influencer” or mentors. Let all the lessons fuel our actions.

This will help us in our journey.


Note: NATIONAL ACHIEVERS CONGRESS PHILIPPINES (NACPH) 2016, “The Pursuit of Wealth and Happyness” with Mr. Chris Gardner as Keynote Speaker was held at SMX Convention Center in SM Mall of Asia. The event was brought to us by Laurus Enterprises (LAURUS) and Success Resources Pte. Ltd. (SRPL) with Light Network Channel 33 as the official media partner.


PS: I would highly encourage you to read his memoir “The Pursuit of Happyness


Learn from the Palm-Full of Sand — Lessons Learned By A Young Father

“Make sure that your daughter will do well in school.”

As a young father, one of the advice that I took seriously was the one coming from my aunt. She told me that because we, the parents, did well academically in high school and college, we need to do our best to make our child take the same path.

One good (or bad) thing about me is that I always take my elders’ advice seriously. My problem with the insights that I absorbed is the execution. I, most of the time, exaggerate what I do that it sometimes does not sit well with the people involved.

As a young father, I went out of my way and researched the best path for my daughter. I felt that it was a means for us to redeem ourselves for having Yuni (my daughter) early. Let me share some of these…

  • I came across an article that suggested that classical music triggers Science and Math. So since she was a baby, every opportunity that I could get, I would let her listen to Beethoven or Mozart. Or sometimes I would sing to her — forgetting that my voice was far from being classical.
  • With my interpretation of Francisco Sionil Jose’s parental advice (mentioned in one of his novels), I gave her mostly puzzles and other intellect-enhancing toys growing up.
  • Every chance I had, I would read stories to her and would surround her with workbooks. Oh how she loves listening to the stories! Most of the time, she mimicked the way I interpreted the characters.

I believe that what I did (mostly) resulted to something good.

I saw her growing up amusing herself with whatever she could gather around her.

…Assembling a made-up dinosaur or airplane out of discarded boxes, tattered blankets or used plastic spoons.

…Pretending to be an actress, at the age of 5. Acting as being strangled behind the door by an unknown bloodied hand using discarded red ribbons. (I really thought someone was strangling her. It was actually her own hand disguised in red ribbons.)

…Memorizing “All Things Bright and Beautiful” at 5 when I was able to memorize that at twice that age.

…Earning her own money, at an early age, by offering face-painting to the neighbors (PhP5 for small designs and PhP10 for bigger designs) using merely water color. Sometimes she would came up with discount schemes to entice the other kids to get what she was selling.

And other amazing things I didn’t know where she get them from. Those were the good things.

The problem was I sometimes got too carried away (that I often get a scolding from my OWN mother). And I saw the not-so-good effect on her.

  • How she would cringe at the sight of coloring books because I, one time, chided her when the colors went outside the line or the pictures. I forgot that she was not even two years old!
  • How sadness filled her eyes while I forbade her to play with regular dolls. And how she would long to have those toys where there was no need for her to assemble any parts of it together.
  • Or, how she would ignore, and sometimes, would loathe at the sight of flip charts or Math flash cards.

Her mom would always remind me that I needed to let her enjoy childhood. Deep inside I knew it! But I was hounded by my aunt’s advice. Also, I wanted to prove to all that even if we have our daughter at a young age (2 years shy from graduating in College), we could raise her well.

And this went on…

Then I realized that my reasons revolved mostly with I.

All along I was trying to raise her the way I wanted her to become — based on my ideal mold (academics) and not considering her gifts in arts. It was because it would made me feel good. She was my redemption. It was a selfish reason.

I realized this after several arguments with her mom and seeing the negative effects on my daughter. I guess mothers do really know better what is best for their children.

Also, it brought to mind a story I’ve read from a local Comics (Pilipino Komiks, I think) when I was young. The story of a palm-full of sand, which was compared to raising children. I always wondered what it meant. And at that point, I appreciated what it was about.

The story went like this:

“An old man explained to his son (who was a young father) how a sand in a palm of your hand was comparable to raising kids.

The old man took a palm-full of sand from the beach and loosen his palm. The sand got out of his palm through the opening between his fingers. He explained that if you are too lax in raising your kids, you will lose them similar to the sand in your palm.

He then took another palm-full of sand, then tightened his fist. The sand escaped through the crevices of the clinched fist until nothing remained. He explained that if you are too strict with them, you will also lose your grip on them. They will run away from you for every opportunity they find.

He then took another palm-full of sand, and this time relaxed his hold. The sand remained in his palm. He explained that if you strike a balance in raising them — not too strict and not too slack. Like sand in your relaxed palm, they will stay with you and you can raise them well.”

So that was when I started to relax on my daughter. We let her be. We allowed her to explore depending on what we observed she liked doing.

When we noticed that she loves playing soccer (which many say is for boys only), we gladly supported her. Now, she is really a good defender. When she requested for music and guitar lessons, we gladly obliged. When she told us that she will join theater arts club at school, we let her be. I realized that she is really good with what she is doing. And she usually leads her school group activities, which I think way better than the academic track.

My mind would sometimes tell me though to push the academic track to her. I tried several times subtly but her mom would always come to her side — positioning to pounce. Ready to remind me in case I forget and get carried away again.

At the start of this school year, however, I got a shock of my life. She told me that she would like to pursue the academic track. And, I saw her working really hard. 🙂

Now, I cannot say that I don’t push her. I still do when I feel it is needed. But I try to do it considering whatever makes her happy. I cannot claim that I don’t discipline her, I am still strict when I feel it is necessary. What I can say now is that from what I observe, she looks way better (and happier) than when I was too controlling of her activities.

Friends, here is what I want you to take from reading this.

We all have good intentions (well most of us) in raising our kids. We want to do our best to prepare them for what we think life will offer them. We just need to regularly check our actions if what we are doing are actually helping them realize their true potentials. Note that each kid have different gifts, which may, most likely, differ from what the parents have. We need to learn to respect and nurture their own gifts.

After all, at the end of everything. They will lead their own lives.


PS1: The featured photo was taken at the summit of Mt. Batulao. She is now turning 13 this December 2016.

PS2: Try these great selection of self-help books. Unless you look for good tools to help you and just simply rely on yourself, then you might find it hard to work on your dreams.

How My Daughter Can Remember Me

Two weeks ago, I had this crazy issue about sharing my thoughts in this blog. I felt that there is no real reason why I should continue writing. The feeling stirred my emotions, and I was so demotivated to write anything. So I made that decision to take a temporary respite in writing.

Last weekend, I went to Davao to attend the 2016 Toastmasters Mid-year Convention. I extended my stay until Monday to tag along with my toastmaster friends who made plans to enjoy another day in Davao and Samal Island. It was my first, for the longest time, to actually spend a “vacation leave” on an actual vacation. I had a blast on that one extra day. It was unforgettable — the food, the beach and the time spent with friends.

In all the events that transpired during that weekend, one thing that struck me most, while basking under the sun, was the conversation with a friend. She asked me about my inspiration to come up with two to three articles every week in my blog. I took a long look at what I was doing — the motivational articles I conjure weekly. I wanted to answer in a pageant-like way, and say that “I would like to make a dent in the world with the things that I write”. But it felt unreal.

That question made me think. I recalled that for about a week, I stopped writing. That time I was so down that I couldn’t motivate myself — much more write something to motivate others. I decided to go back to the original reason why I started and sustained the blog.

Not so long ago, I once came to this realization that we can never say for how long we are staying in this world. How many years we will be around to hug and enjoy the company of the people we care most. How the years can be uncertain when I will be able to accompany my daughter when she needs it.

So I made that decision to immortalize my thoughts in the articles that I write… This was the reason why I keep on writing after my experiment in understanding a website for an audit engagement.

And that particular realization is the reason why I told myself that I need to go back to writing again, and so I did this week.

In the future, I want Yuni (my daughter) to go back to my blog entries every time she wonders how her Papa (Handy Manny to her when she was much younger) would solve a problem. I want her to go back to my written words every time she feels lost on what decisions to make. To feel my presence even if I am long-time gone. I want a part of me available and ready to give insights on things that might confront her as she leads her life.

It would be impossible for me to cover all areas in her life. And I know that there would be changes between how things are today and how things will be in the future. I know that she will meet so many people who will certainly influence the way she thinks and acts. But I also know that with the thoughts that I am immortalizing in these words, I’ll be with her in all that she will do.

Friends, a lot of you reading this blog are parents, soon-to-be-parents, or like-parents (or friends) to people you care most. This is what I want all of you to ask yourself:

“How do you want your children (or people you care) to remember you? Or, how do you want yourself to be part of their lives?”

We all have our ways of showing our love for them — raising them well, spending quality time or providing their material needs. Mine includes immortalizing my thoughts in these words.

I know that I am not a perfect father or friend (which is true for many of us).

As one recent Facebook post that appeared in my news feed emphasized — we make mistakes, we are not perfect, and we don’t always give them (the people we care) their way. However, we should always do our best to show them that we love them. Be that in a simple act of preparing their meals, writing them love notes, or supporting them in whatever they want to pursue.

We can never know what will happen to us tomorrow or in the years to come. Remember, each day is just a borrowed time. Spend it with the people you care making sure that you prepare them for whatever life will unfold.

Another thing that I want you all to take from this entry is this:

As you pursue your personal projects or life-goals, challenges would beset you. These could actually hurt you and make you hesitate. I want you to always go back to why you are doing that project in the first place. Always go back to that. I’m sure that it will help you see clearer beyond what you’re going through.

It will help keep you moving forward.


PS: Try these great selection of self-help books. Unless you look for good tools to help you and just simply rely on yourself, then you might find it hard to work on your dreams.

Material Things Don’t Really Matter

“In the eyes of a child, LOVE is spelled as T-I-M-E.”

This is part of my usual spiel every time I was assigned as a timer in a toastmaster’s club meeting. But in all those years where I was mentioning this, I failed to realize the true meaning behind these words. And, I learned my lesson the hard way.

As part of my daddy duties, I see to it that when my daughter wakes up, she would feel my presence before she fixes herself for school. I would prepare her breakfast, her lunch and her snacks. I would also ready her vitamins so that she won’t forget taking these.

My problem is when I have dragon boat training.

In a week, I target to attend three dragon boat and three boxing training sessions (alternately). I don’t have problems with boxing because the gym opens at 6 o’clock in the morning. My problem was dragon boat because the call time is at 4:30 am. I need to be there before then, while my daughter usually wakes up at 4:30 am!

To prepare my daughter’s meals, I would wake up at around 2 o’clock. Leave my condo at 3:45. And be at the dock site by 4:30 am. It is never in my nature to be late, so I need to be there before the call time. And that brought me back to my dilemma — I want my daughter to feel my presence when she wakes up.

Then, Sarah Geronimo’s movie came to my mind — You Changed My Life. I realized that I could use love notes. I could use this to let my daughter feel my love and presence.

So every morning, after cooking, doing the laundry and cleaning the kitchen, I would write love notes to my daughter. I would insert the note in her lunch box for her to read. Then, once I arrived at the dock site, I would call her by 4:30 am to make sure that she is awake. And I would give her instructions and pep talk to keep her day going.

I always do this on days when I need to leave the condo before she wakes up.

Also, on weekends, I make sure that I make time to bring her to her soccer training. I cheer her during tournaments. I find time every night to talk with her about her day.

And this is what I realized…

These simple routines make her happier than receiving material things from me — which she often doesn’t like wearing/using.

Friends, here is what I would like all of you to take from this.

We all have relationships — parent/child, romantic, or what-have-you. And sometimes, we would feel that time is not that important compared to providing material things. We would sometimes feel that providing merely material things is more than enough to make people we love happy. Actually, it is not. More than the money, it is the time and quality of our relationship (and many more) with the people we care that matter most.

One thing also that we need to realize is that time is valuable, NOT JUST TO YOUR KIDS. Time is also LOVE to your other relationships — friends and family. Spend quality time with them.

As one person emphasized to me — there are areas/factors that are more important than material things.

Let us take care of our relationships. Make the people we care feel important — whether in doing small things like love notes, watching Internet movies with them or taking them on a date.

Let me end this with these words from Mary Kay Ash:

“No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important.”

Pickup the Pieces and Just Bounce Back

If you can get a message across to a large group of people, what would you say?

That was a question thrown to me by a friend about a week ago. I actually had a hard time answering the question. I reflected on my life and tried to think of something worth-sharing. My mind zeroed-in at the time when I broke to my Mom that I was about to become a young father.

That year was really hard for my family. I was about two years shy from graduating in college. My father died several months before that. As the eldest, I was expected to help my Mom raise my six younger siblings. I was also expected to help pay the debts incurred by my family when the city government implemented some projects affecting my Mom’s business (where the promises failed to materialize). My Mom also got hospitalized and operated on from the stress of providing to a brood of seven alone (where we lost almost all of our properties).

I didn’t know how to break the news to her. The burden that I was about to give to her was really heavy — not to mention that what she was carrying was more than enough to put her down. It dawned on me, however, that it would not be fair to her if I kept what happened a secret. More so if I let her discover this from others. So I mustered what I could and broke the news to her.

I was expecting hurtful words from her. She, however, just smiled at me, kissed me and hugged me tightly. She looked at my eyes and said,

“Jake, you know that I love you and your siblings so much. We have to be thankful for what happened. Your father just died, and God provided us with this angel to ease our pain.

This is what I want you to do. Never forget that you are really brilliant. You have a lot of potential in you. I want you to bounce back. People will be talking about what happened. But don’t mind them. What is important is that you bounce back. Prove them wrong.”

Those words made a lot of difference. It was etched in my mind and my heart. I took my Mom’s advice seriously. I fought against all life challenges thrown at me — financially, emotionally and mentally. My Mom’s words was my inspiration and it served as a constant reminder every time I wanted to give up on something — I have to bounce back and prove them wrong.

Where am I now?

I cannot say that I lead a lavish life. But I am leading a life with reasonable comfort.

I was able to help my Mom pay for the college education of my siblings — including their allowances and miscellaneous expenses. Helping my mom now pay our debts. I have not only finished my undergraduate degree but I was able to pursue my Masters. Residing now in a resort-type condominium. Driving my own car. Holding management position in my employer company. I also thrive and hold respectable positions in various professional and volunteer organizations. Conducting training and seminars. I trotted the globe.

And, a lot more…

Now, if I can get a message across a large group of people, I will share my story and this lesson with them…

We often times will be confronted with challenges as we try to pursue our life goals. Some of these challenges can hurt us physically, emotionally and mentally. What is important is that we bounce back, and constantly hold on to your inspiration. Go back to your DEEPEST WHY every time you hit a wall. Constantly remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

Believe me! You will soon be able to pickup all pieces of the puzzle, and create a wonderful picture of life. These challenges are just part of God’s way of getting the best out of you.

And to our parents, LEARN FROM MY SUPERMOM. Your kids will encounter challenges that could hurt them. Yes, they sometimes need scolding. Don’t forget, however, to share to them that at the end of their life journey what is important is that they able to bounce back. Don’t add to their injuries. Show them your love and support. Lovingly remind them that life doors are not closing on them with every challenge they face. Remind and inspire them to gather the broken pieces and just bounce back. 


PS1: I learned when my daughter turned four-years old that my Mom actually went to my father’s grave after I broke the news to her. She shared that she broke down in front of my father’s grave and asked him why my Dad left her with so much burden. But she never showed this to me. She is always the positive, motivating and loving Mom to my brood.

PS2: I am encouraging you to read this self-help book on bouncing back. This may help you gather the broken pieces and start your life anew.

The Bounce Back Book: How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses

“Salmansohn’s writing is bold, playful, insightful—with powerful metaphors that provoke and inspire. Her kinetic images amplify her message and take the book to a new level of literary experience.” – Deepak Chopra, author of Seven Laws of Spiritual Success

A bad breakup. A serious illness. The loss of a job. Life has a habit of throwing people curveballs. To which Karen Salmansohn says: “When life throws you curveballs, hit them out of the park.”

In The Bounce Back Book the dynamic author whose quirky self-help books—including How to Make Your Man Behave . . . and How to Be Happy, Dammit—mixes from-the-gut wisdom, humor, feistiness, and sophistication to create a hip, inspiring resource that will brighten the darkest mood. The book is grounded in happiness research, psychological studies, Greek philosophy. And it delivers: Here are 70 easily digestible, potentially life-changing tips on how to bounce back from adversity, each on a spread that’s as punchy in look as it is powerful in message.

“Shrink negativity into nuggetivity.” “Think of yourself as the type of person the world says yes to.” With its attitude, techniques, and advice on everything from exercise to staying connected, it is a full-on guide to moving forward with great positive energy.