Dragon Boat Is Teaching Me “Humility” — A Key To Learning

“Reach forward!”

“Twist your body!”

“Look straight ahead!”

I am a newbie in our dragon boat team.

My movements during dragon boat training (a lot of times) appeared lousy and improper. Especially that I took a hiatus of almost one year. And during those times, the captains and the more senior members would always call my attention.

<Not just me though. They do it to all who needs correcting.>

I remember that in my first few training sessions where I get corrected, I sometimes felt slighted. It was because I am not used to people telling me what to do. I am the one who usually does that. Mind you, I am good at bossing people around. Especially that in calling your attention, they will not whisper at you. They will shout at the top of their lungs for the the whole team and the other teams to hear.

My mind used to harbor arrogant thoughts like…

I live in a resort-type condo!

I hold good positions at reputable organizations!

I earn more!

Sometimes, I would answer back and made excuses. As if that changed anything.

Then, every time these thoughts popped in my mind, I felt that my performance would degrade. I would not listen anymore. I would insist on doing things the way I wanted it done. And every time this happened, I know that the rest of the team would feel the impact. It would somehow degrade the performance of the team.

One important learning that our team captains would always instill in our mind during training is that dragon boat is a synchronization sports. We need our actions to be in sync for us to make our goals. When a command is asking for “Power Longs”, then you need to do it — at the right pace, at the right time. You need to follow the command to the very letter, otherwise you would be dragging your whole team’s performance with you.

This was what I would remind myself when those thoughts chanced upon my mind. I would always tell myself that I was new in this area. If I want to do good in this sports, then I need to listen to those people who were guiding me — the captains, the signal and the coach. They always and only have the best interest of the team in their minds. Besides with the number of years in the team, they have earned all the rights to guide a newbie like me. Also I keep on telling myself that if I refuse to listen, then I would not realize the benefits of this sport.

So now every time the captain would call my attention, I would just say, “Yes Captain!”. Also during breaks I would sometimes demonstrate and asked those who corrected me to check if I was doing it properly (if the instructions were unclear to me).

Now, I hear less corrections from my teammates. And every time I hear one, I would always do a quick check to what I was doing. Then I would distract my mind and would stretch myself just to get synchronized with the rest of the team. I would always remind myself that I am not the only one who is getting tired so I need to do what I could to sync back. 🙂

PDRT Fireblades

Photo: Owned by Atty. Kap George Ventayen

This is what I would like you to take from reading this.

We need to realize that in all that we do in life, a lot of these involve team work. It could be a project at a non-profit organization or your regular work. Always remember that you need to synchronize yourself with the rest for all of you to realize your objectives. You can’t be in a parade marching to a different beat. You won’t only be endangering yourself (in the process) but also those who depend on you.

Also, a lot of us believe that we are good at something. In venturing, however, to a new project — say stock investing — you need to remember that for you to do well, you need to reach out to those who are excelling in these areas. Learn from them. Study how they do things. Ask them to check on you.

Remember that for you to learn in a new field, you need to empty your cup. Fill your cup after with the knowledge that you need. Listen to those who came ahead of you, and strongly consider their suggestions.

Another thing, do not be too sensitive. Learn to appreciate suggestions for improvements. The only way for you to grow is to get feedback. <One of my important learning as a toastmaster.>

Let me simplify my message.

What I need you to appreciate is “humility”. You need to humble yourself and learn to listen. Be open to suggestions, and strongly consider these.

Believe me.

Humility and your ability to listen will take you far to reaching your desired destination.



PS: Featured image was taken from https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2014/04/17/17/45/dragon-boat-326661_960_720.jpg.




Your Mountain Is Different From Mine

“This is the hardest climb among all that I have conquered.”

“No, this is easier than the last one.”

Last January 21, I climbed Mt. Daraitan with my daughter, sister and office colleagues. I wasn’t expecting the challenges I encountered along the trail. It was after all not my first. I was thinking that because some trail tour providers ranked the difficulty slightly lower than those that I have conquered previously, I would find this easier. However, I found this more challenging than my other climbs.

I was discussing the difficulty of the climb with my daughter. And since she was with me in all my climbs (except one) I thought that she would agree with my observations. But she did not. She found the trek to Mt. Nagsasa much harder than that of Mt. Daraitan.

I insisted that the trail which was peppered with sharp rocks made the Mt. Daraitan climb really hard. I even gave a morbid example of one of us tripping along the trail where our face might accidentally hit a sharp rock. She insisted though that it was not that hard. She recollected to me the hot, long and sandy trail of Mt. Nagsasa. In that trek, the absence of trees that could offer its foliage as natural shed aggravated (for her) the challenges — the heat and scalding sand under your feet.

Taken at the summit with the whole group

By the way, I find that a bit weird since she is a soccer player who spent so many hours in all her soccer practice sessions and tournaments since she was 4-years old. I assumed that she is used to be under the heat of the sun.

It dawned on me then that we have different take on how things are. Or, precisely, how we defined our challenges. Mine was the dangers brought by sharp rocks along the trail. She, nonetheless, focused on the inconvenience brought by the long, hot trek. That made me better understand why, before the climb, she kept asking if the trail along Mt. Daraitan is similar to that of Mt. Nagsasa.

And relating this to how we lead our lives, it is actually comparable to how we see our own challenges (and life, in general).

We most of the time had conflicts with the people around us.

The conflicts arise because we often times fail to realize that we all have different take on things. How you see what comes along your way will most likely be different using the eyes of another person right beside you. This is brought by our differing “social context”.

Our “social context” varies because of certain factors, which includes upbringing, experience and education — to name few of these. And these differences most of the time lead to conflicts and (major) disagreements.

One of the highlights of our trek — the Tinapak River

Friends, this is what I would hope you take from this article.

I believe that in our society the better alternative is to be mindful of these differences. We should always aim to never compare ourselves with others. We have to accept who we are, and we just have to accept who everybody else is.

One more thing…

Despite the differences on how we see our mountains, we need to recognize that every mountain top is within your reach. You just have to keep on climbing despite the difficulties you encounter along the trail.

Don’t stop. Keep on pressing forward.

The author at the summit

PS: Featured image was taken from https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2014/01/14/23/51/trekking-245311_960_720.jpg

Conquering Your Mountains — A Realization in Mt. Ulap Trek


“Are we there yet? How many more minutes?”


Last December 29 to 30, I conquered Mt. Ulap with my daughter and some friends. It was an around 4-hour trek to the camp site, and around 3-hour trek down to where our transport back to Manila was waiting.

It was an experience that I would treasure.

…breath-taking view of the sea of clouds that surrounded the summit of the mountain

…the laughter that was shared among the trekkers

…it was my first camping experience with my daughter

First photo taken during the trek

As a whole all went fine, except for one thing.

The tent that was claimed to be good for six persons (which I bought online for 10 USD) was not able to put up with the wind and rain at the campsite. We had to squeeze ourselves at 4 o’clock in the morning in the other smaller tent that could accommodate only two people — all six of us — until the rain stopped at 6 o’clock. I was told that I bought a “beach” tent, and not an “all-weather” tent.

How would I know? It was my first time to go camping, and I really thought that I got a bargain buying that for just 10 USD — compared to the 200 USD-tent available in the camping supplies store. And the online seller told me that it was an “all-weather” tent.

I know what runs in your minds now — “gullible alert”.

But that petty glitch did not shroud the fun in the experience.

While chatting with other trekkers at the campsite

Jump shot at the summit with the group

After setting the tent

On our way down the mountain, a mind-struggle came to me. It was actually an easy and a shorter climb down from the camping site. However, in my mind, it felt harder than the climb up to the camping site. Especially after the guide said that we will reach our destination within 30 minutes. I would always ask the guide if we were almost there. I would always ask about the time, as if I had an emergency meeting waiting for me back home. Also I kept on glancing at my watch, as if it that would hasten our progress.

That last 30 minutes was the hardest part of the trek down. Every minute felt like dragging. I was straining my head all the time trying to look for indications of paved road. I kept on asking the guide about the time until our destination. And when the time stretched to beyond 30 minutes, I felt that my feet would like to stop moving and do nothing. I was tempted to say, “Let’s just stop” (which made no sense at all). I even got slipped because I was distracted.

Then, when we reached the place where the transport service was waiting for us, my issues went away. As if my mind-struggle faded in oblivion.

Friends this is what I want you to take from these words.

We all have our aspirations — becoming a well-loved CEO, a famous public servant, getting ourselves published internationally or what-have-you. One thing that we all know is that the journey to get to our destination is never easy.


Challenges will beset us — especially in our minds. We are all aware of this.

One thing though that you also need to realize is that the challenges will intensify several times harder as you come nearer your destination. Also the temptation to quit will (for certain) hound you as you push forward.

As you take steps nearer, it is important that you brazen yourselves against the urge to rest, stop or quit. Just push yourselves to keep moving forward come what may. Resist and never indulge to the temptations to veer away from your destinations. Just keep on pressing forward.

Believe me that when you get there, everything will be worth all that you’ve been through.

Jump shot at the summit

Just a word of caution…

Do this without forgetting the other important aspects of your lives — like relationships and family.

Taken near the summit with the camp site as background

Enjoying strawberry-flavored Taho at Burnham Park while waiting for our transport back to Manila

PS: Featured image was taken from “https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2013/07/13/01/07/rock-climbing-155134_960_720.png”.

Be Hungry! And Stay Hungry!

What runs in your mind when you think of your favorite food, and you’re hungry?

I’m sure that you sometimes imagine your favorite cuisine. The mouth-watering flavors rolling on your taste buds… The ambrosial aroma tickling your nostrils… Or, that just-right, brackish taste lingering in your mouth.


I’m sure that you would do what you can just to satisfy your food cravings.

For me, I’m crazy about anything with “seafood” — especially seafood pasta, spiked with Tabasco. (Just typing this article, makes my mouth water…) And, every time Wanna prepares one, expect me to linger a little bit longer in the kitchen (not even in the table).


Before, however, we get there, it usually takes a lot of strategic prodding to get Wanna to prepare her special pasta. I would also drive early in the morning just to get to the wet market to buy fresh seafood. I would also push myself to drive to the opposite side of the city to get scallops and clams from S&R. And, that is a horrible experience considering the traffic in my city and the number of shoppers at S&R. But of course, when you’re hungry and you want to be satisfied, YOU WOULD DO ALL.

This is actually akin to our journey in life. For us to succeed and realize our dreams — say become a successful IT Manager,  famous author or highly-paid event host — we need to keep ourselves hungry.

Some of you are probably thinking, what do I mean by this and how to do it.

What I mean is you need to have A STRONG DESIRE TO PURSUE YOUR PLANS. Unless you keep yourself REALLY motivated, then your plans would never materialize. Believe me.

Now, how to do it? I would suggest that you create a DREAM or a VISION BOARD.

Plan your journey, create your vision and collate pictures of your expected milestones — trips to US and Europe, the new Range Rover, or zero-debt status. Place your vision board in a location where you can easily be reminded of what you need to accomplish and what is waiting at each milestone stop.

This will keep you hungry!

Friends, we all plan great things. The problem, however, is that we don’t act because there is no (or little) motivation to go after these plans. If you intend, however, to wait for the motivation to arrive, then you are waiting for nothing. Create one! And, look at it everyday. It can make a difference in your journey.

Again, be hungry and (most important) stay hungry!

Let me end this with these words from Zig Ziglar:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

PS: I am highly encouraging you to read Zig Ziglar. Try his book on how to stay motivated.