Steve Jobs, on life

Upon waking this morning, I opened up my iPad. The familiar ding sounded and a push notification from MacWorld popped up on my homepage with the nightmarish news that Steve Jobs had died.

The brilliant, creative genius of Apple products that kept blowing us all away was gone. He was only 56.

Tribute to Steve Jobs on the Apple homepage

Many will remember him for the genius that he was. Colleagues who worked with him probably remember him either at his best or at his worst. Most of us know him by the everyday devices we bring around with us that have become part of our identities.

But what struck me today, listening to the CNN coverage on Steve Jobs, was how he pursued his own version of a meaningful life with such a driven, focused passion.

Steve’s life has been very colorful. But his close encounter with pancreatic cancer in 2004 made him realize how life was too short. This mindset shift was clearly reflected in part of his speech at the 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new…

Such profound words from a man who had a love-hate relationship with so many people who knew him! This must have been why he seemed so driven despite his illness. He wanted to go with a bang. And he has. He has left us with a legacy and many life lessons.

To me, what left a huge impression was Steve’s thoughts on death as a life-changing agent. It truly is. When we realize life is short, then we stop being a sham, a fake if you can call it that. We stop living someone else’s life. We begin focusing on who we really are, what we want to really do, where our passions lie, what counts in life, WHO count in our life. We realize that walls that we erect to ‘protect’ ourselves from hurt are actually walls that shut out people who love us. We begin to see people and things around us that, in many busy seasons of life, usually go by unnoticed. We learn detachment and see material things from a functional point of view rather than from an obsessed, never-ending acquisition binge.

To get a better sense of Steve’s mindset, watch this video of that 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for how you changed our lives in a dramatic way. How the world will communicate and connect will never be the same again. You will be truly missed.

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2010: New Decade, New Self


To whoever designed this 2010 wallpaper: I owe a debt of gratitude to you. This is going to be my 2010 wallpaper and avatar in most of my social network sites.

A little flashback…

Those who know me from about 2 decades back know that I came from a different mold altogether.

Dad was an accountant. He had no chance to take the CPA exams so that dream must have been something I absorbed in my growing up years so much so that I followed his footsteps, albeit blindly. Along the way, I did have a chance to discover my creative side. Mom made sure I took piano, ballet and jazz lessons. Yes, I even did Tahitian dancing at one point.

I was not a nerd in school but studying hard was a habit that paid off as I graduated at the top of my class both in high school and college. Getting a job with the premier accounting firm then was not so difficult with grades like mine and I must say that staying with that firm for the next 16 years taught me even more about discipline, hard work, teamwork and many others. My determination to make it big in the corporate world got me a firm scholarship to an Ivy League school in Pennsylvania. Even when I left the firm to join a universal bank as head of its Corporate Planning Division, I carried those very same work ethics. Because of the intensity with which I worked, I almost lost my youngest son in a really bloody incident in Baclaran during a meeting. At one time, I spent Christmas Eve in the bank till past 6pm – practically the only one left on my floor.

So it was a great surprise to everyone who knew the workaholic ME when I submitted my resignation letter. Which company are you joining? How much more will they pay you? We will match whatever they offer you. You can be Chairwoman of this affiliate company, said the Chairman of the bank. To all these questions, I simply answered that I wanted to just become a homemaker for once and serve my family.

Friends made side bets i would not last 2 years. I should have made a hefty bet because I beat them by a decade.

Fast forward to the present…

3 years ago, I discovered blogging. I sort of dawdled the first 2 years, simply writing for its pure joy and creative outlet. But now, I am exploring that long inert, creative side of my self. I want to reinvent myself into a right-brained woman.

Let me ask you something: Have you ever wondered if your past life was a mistake or has hit a no-growth stage? Are you nursing a deep desire to change course, paddle elsewhere, find out if you still have it in you to do something different? Have you ever wanted to put more meaning into your life?

I have wondered. And I have nurtured a deep yearning to put more meaning into my life.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

I’m taking life as it comes now and I am amazed at the different opportunities that lie out there for people willing to give it a try. Just in 2009, I got myself into the following;

And more opportunities appear to be opening up in 2010 that will put to bear more writing assignments, among others. In the works also are plans to get more training in internet marketing/SEO and a not-to-be-missed creative workshop with Jim Paredes.

Pursuing it at this stage of life is easier, I guess, now that my kids are teens and adults. They are growing independent of me after years I spent with them, being active in their school activities. But I believe that pursuing the deepest passions in you have no right or wrong age. The time to start is always NOW.

Who knows where else this journey is taking me? I still can’t see the big picture.

But that picture above of the fluttering butterflies and flowers growing delightfully under a bright sun say it all. That’s how I want to reinvent my life –

New, exciting, sunshine-y, positive, growing, free-spirited, love-filled, and God-centered.

Are you also in the process of altering the direction of your life? In what way? I’d love to hear from you as well.

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Reasons and Seasons


This is an old email making its rounds up to now. I decided to post this here because its words hold a lot of meaning for me these days. I have had the chance to reflect on how people come into your life, make an impact, then go. Many times, you see the blessings in the presence of these people. At other times, the experience is painful and unexplainable. This Lent, I have been reminded of one thing — to trust in God’s Divine Wisdom. Everything in our lives happens for a reason.

I want this poem to constantly remind me of this so that when I lose people who come into my life, I would be reminded to turn to Him who will never leave me.

A Reason, A Season, a Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are.

They are there for the reason, you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people any way; and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

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A Tribute to Amiel Alcantara — Ateneo’s Angel

A statue in the Ateneo Grade School grounds that aptly represented Amiel

A statue in the Ateneo Grade School grounds that aptly represents Amiel

Today, Amiel Alcantara was laid to rest. I was unable to attend. Last night, my sore throat came back for the second time and my nose was congested. But I am glad that I was able to visit — yesterday.

I was not feeling that well yesterday either. My energy felt sapped. But there was an inner compulsion in me to go and visit Amiel Alcantara’s wake in Ateneo before he was laid to rest and to finally meet the little boy that occupied my thoughts ever since I heard about his accidental death in Ateneo.

Dine and one of my 2 girls who study in Ateneo, were with me. We were actually wondering where Amiel died because I only had the GMA News simulation to imagine where it was. As we approached the entrance to the grade school, just off the gym and Henry Lee Irwin Theatre, we saw a spot blocked off by metal barriers, filled with flowers and surrounded by candles. It was right smack where the kids were being picked up, very close to the gate that led to the Grade School. I began imagining just how many yayas, drivers and kids saw everything happen. It must have been so traumatic, so terrible, especially for the young ones!

The spot where Amiel was hit

The spot where Amiel was hit

As soon as we entered the GS chapel, we knew just how well-loved Amiel was. The place was packed to overflowing. His teachers were there and so were his classmates and school friends. Most of the adults were in black (a sign of deep mourning and regret for a young life lost) while his batchmates were still in their PE uniforms.

We prayed briefly before Amiel’s coffin, then met his dad Pepe — a  soft-spoken man. When Dine asked what that day was like for him, he recounted how it was just an ordinary day when he saw his kids off to school. But there was one striking detail about that day, he said. The car bearing his kids had began to move off already when it stopped. The door opened and out came Amiel running back to hug him. He said his thoughts were: What does this kid want from me? You know how kids are — when they want something from you, he told us. But Amiel just wanted to give him a hug since he forgot to do so.

Shortly after, the 6pm Mass began with Fr. Ben Nebres as the main celebrant and 3 other co-celebrant Jesuits. Dine and I were asked to stay in the first pew, just opposite the pew where the Alcantara family was. It was a blessing. We were able to listen intently to Fr. Ben’s homily as well as the sharings of his family and best friend, Vince.

A glimpse of the Alcantara family, including Yaya Tata (in wheelchair) who was injured trying to save the kids

A glimpse of the Alcantara family, including Yaya Tata (in wheelchair) who was injured trying to save the kids

Near us were some of Amiel’s classmates from 4-Manobo. I spoke with them during a lull after Mass and asked them what they remembered doing with Amiel that day that serves as their best memory. Typical of 10-year old boys, one boy chirped up, “RECESS!!!!”


Just some of Amiel's classmates

Amiel's uncle

Amiel's uncle

Amiel's aunt

Amiel's aunt

His best friend Vince

His best friend Vince

Their stories showed just how loving Amiel was. Fr. Ben recounted a time when Amiel spent 3 hours looking for a teacher so he could get back a friend’s soccer ball. His aunt, a dentist, recalls how Amiel (described as more mature than his age) called her the day before to set a dental appointment. She had asked him if he would go out since that Monday was a holiday and he responded no because “I like to BE home!” Was this comment a purview of things to come? I don’t know — but what really gave me goose pimples was his aunt’s comment that whenever she would text and type Amiel’s name using predictive texting, what would come out was “ANGEL”. Yes, Amiel, you are now an angel and you are truly HOME!

I briefly hugged Amiel’s mom, Niann. There were just too many visitors coming to her. Too bad because I found out later that evening that she was a childhood friend of my good friend and kumare, Aly.

I’d like to end with this video lovingly prepared to show the boy who loved and was loved. Amiel’s uncle told us that he had wanted to add another thing a classmate had written: “You are now so popular. Even Boy Abunda sent you flowers!”

My hands were a bit shaky while holding my camera so I will replace this once Amiel’s family posts the original video. Meanwhile, take a look at the life of a blue angel…

Rest in the arms of our Lord, Amiel. You are now a totally whole, healed person in your eternal Home. Watch over your loved ones who will continue to miss you. Ask our Father to grant them peace, comfort and healing knowing you are safe with Him.

UPDATE (March 16, 2009)

Dr. Martin Moreno, Amiel’s uncle, sent me a text today with good news. Yaya Tata will be discharged tomorrow, March 17, before noon, after a successful debridement operation, saving her left leg from amputation. Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful news!

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My Life is a Balance Sheet!

It seems like this whole week, all I did was stare at financial statements, reading them word for word, checking the numbers, cross-checking all references, and all other accounting stuff (yes, I am a CPA by profession; a wife and mother by Divine grace; and a yogini at heart).

After reviewing balance sheets and profit and loss statements (to name a few), it got me thinking of how my life would equate to these financial statements.

By stroke of luck, I came across two sites. One is by Joy Fisher-Sykes, a professional speaker, author and success coach in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress management, customer service and team building: “Take Time to Create a Life Balance Sheet for Success”. The other is Marc Accetta who conducts workshops on living a balanced life.

They both speak of life in terms of debits (those choices we make and actions we take that detract in some way from our overall life balance) and credits (the ways you live your life that you truly value because they support and honor your chosen path and move you towards your desires). Marc breaks these down into 6 areas: financial, social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. Joy writes:

It’s important from time to time that we sit down and honestly assess our lives. Doing so allows us to make an honest determination about where we are now and where we want to be in the future. When we’re assessing our finances, we prepare a financial balance sheet. On it we list our debits and credits so that we can determine our bottom line. What if you wanted to determine the state of the life you lead? How is it, or is it not, serving you? The answer is simple – prepare a Life Balance Sheet.

First, list down some debits like:

  • Procrastinating on things you know you need to get done.
  • Sitting in front of the TV instead of being productive or doing something of value.
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Eating inappropriately and paying the consequences.
  • Being a coach potato when there is so much more you could be doing.
  • Staying involved in a toxic personal relationship.
  • Maintaining relationships that drain you emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually, physically or financially.
  • Being unwilling or refusing to listen effectively to others.
  • Getting into arguments you know you don’t need to be involved in.
  • Passing judgment on others when you know it is inappropriate to do so.
  • Taking family, friends, coworkers and others around you for granted.
  • Taking too little time to yourself, to just sit and contemplate, meditate and relax.
  • Not enough reading or other mental stimulation.
  • Constantly complaining and being negative.
  • Failing to say NO when NO is the right choice right Now.
  • Expecting the worst instead of expecting the best life has to offer.
  • Expecting the worst from others.
  • Being ungrateful when you have so much to be grateful for.
  • Letting things get you down, then using that as an excuse to eat, drink or smoke for immediate gratification.
  • Staying up too late at night and not getting enough rest.

Next, list your credits. Some of these are:

  1. Call someone you know just to say “hello” and to see how they are doing.
  2. Walking barefoot in the grass or on the beach.
  3. Expressing your Higher Self by telling someone “I love you”.
  4. Helping and giving of yourself to others with no expectation of receiving anything in return.
  5. Doing things that are outside of your comfort zone on a reasonably regular basis.
  6. Driving traffic friendly by allowing others to merge into traffic even if they didn’t wait their turn.
  7. Compliment others as you go about your day, whether they are nice to you or not.
  8. Take time out for exercise and play.
  9. Staying clean, sober and smoke free.
  10. Spending time with a child, even if you don’t have one of your own.
  11. Being honest about what you need in order to feel whole and happy
  12. Taking time to read a book to a child.
  13. Taking time to nourish your soul by reading a few lines from a good book.
  14. Playing your favorite music and dancing around the room and singing to it out loud.
  15. Picking up someone else’s litter instead of stepping over it or walking around.
  16. Learning at least one new skill or hobby each week.
  17. Keeping a morning gratitude journal and giving thanks for the things you value on a daily basis.
  18. Spending that little extra on something you really, really like, even if it isn’t on sale.
  19. Smiling to others, and yourself, as you go about your day, especially people you don’t know.
  20. Looking others straight in the eye and saying thank you.

They both suggest this be done at least once a month. Joy further says, “Take a look at your Life Balance Sheet at least once a day. This will empower you, at a glance, to realize how wonderful life can be and allow you to make lifestyle adjustments as necessary. Remember, a great life is yours to create. Go create a fabulous life!”

I glanced at the list above and can immediately add some of my own:

(-) Debits (what I need to minimize or totally eradicate):

1. Forgetting to take care of my health

2. Becoming a slave to my work

3. Being impatient with others, and more so with myself

4. Letting pet peeves get to me

(+) Credits (what I need to do more of):

1. Balance out my life through a regular yoga practice and a healthy lifestyle

2. Unwind with a book that has positive values, success stories, or humor

3. Have more frequent “dates” with my loved one (need not be expensive!)

4. Walk barefoot on sand (I prefer this to grass, actually), watch a full moon, or sit under a starry night sky

5. Pat someone’s back often. It makes people feel special and recognized

6. Hug my kids (and spouse) A LOT!

7. Laugh with family/friends often and have “let-your-hair-down” moments

8. Pray, pray, pray always!

So here I am taking stock of LIFE in general and trying to put them into some kind of equation. Am I balanced?

To be honest, many times I have to catch myself overextending or indulging in some debit aspect. At the moment, my life sometimes seems imbalanced, with work occupying a great part of my waking hours and my once regular yoga practice suffering. But work is also a blessing in itself if looked at from another perspective and while I cannot see the bigger scheme of things in my life, I know that Someone does, and He knows best. What’s important is that I trust in Him, take things as they come, do the best I can with what comes my way, live in the moment, and leave the rest to Him.

What does your life’s balance sheet look like?

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I’m a Sucker for Underdogs!

Yes, I am a sucker for underdogs. It’s just me.

Of course, the underdog has to be one of decent stock and integrity. Someone credible. Someone vulnerable. Someone unable to fight on his/her own. And recently, another such person has caught everyone in the throes of controversy that has gotten incredible media mileage.

Brian Gorrell has captured the hearts and minds of bloggers and web surfers globally, including Pinoys (one of whom he accuses of having allegedly scammed him of his life savings of 70,000 dollars). Brian could not get it back and resorted to blogging in an attempt to force this Pinoy to hand his money back — money he desperately needs for his medicines. Brian has HIV.

I won’t go into detailed comments about what Brian claims he knows or what he blogged about. You can go to Brian’s blog and read all about it there.


But what is really core to all these is his exposure of what we already have a glimpse of — the huge abyss between the rich and the poor of our country and what perks it gives to the high and mighty, to the detriment of those who merely survive from day to day and learn to go without.

If, through Brian’s blog, we Filipinos can see the real view of our country (its good side as well as its sickening ills), maybe we can now be stirred to move towards changing society, help in whatever way we can to make life better for millions of our own, bring back honesty, integrity, good governance at every level of society, and give back the dignity of the Pinoy that has been stripped bare by countless scandals not just in government but also, apparently, in our high society circles.

Kitty Go’s amazingly candid interview was so refreshing. While being herself a socialite now based in HK, she shows the better side of what real high society should be made of — finesse, social concern, clean living, honest profession, etc. There are still many of those in this country. Those who use their money to engage in housing projects, set up foundations for education, for better provincial infrastructure, and so forth. It is the few who live like there was no tomorrow, indulging in wild lifestyles, liquor and drugs, living in their intoxicated world, engaging in corruption to continue building up their empire, who bring a bad image to high society (and government, as well).

Some creative person came up with an image which Brian posted on his blog. It does not look like it is copyrighted as it has “Team Brian” on it. So I am putting it up here as well.

Good luck to you, Brian. Many people are praying you stay healthy. Many are hoping you get back your money. Thank you for exposing what many in this country have known for some time now but never dared talk (or write) about.


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