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A Phone Call From Singapore

 

Ken Q Column
Other Columns

2007-Beginning of the Year.....(01/01/07)

Hala, Naa Diha si Capt. Hook! (08/28/06)

Peanut Butter and ......
(07/03/06)


Meandering Thoughts
(06/09/06)


The Night of the Champions
(04/23/6)

In Retrospect
(03/24/06)

  March 10 , 2007
by Ken Q

March Break
(03/19/06)

Welcome to Counterpoint (03/08/06)

also read
Wazzup by M. P. Sios-e

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi All,

I received a call late last night from Corazon. She was calling from Singapore. True to a Ken-Corazon conversation, it carried on like a guessing game.

"Hello, Ken!"
"Hi Cor, kumusta ka na man, uy?"
"Maayo, guapa lang guihapon. Naa ko'y kauban nga dugay na mo nga wa magkita."
"Kinsa man?"
"Secret, guess who...Istorya usa mo..."
"Hello Ken, kumusta ka na man?"
Pause.
"Hoy....Manji? Kumusta ka na man, bai?"

Corazon was in Singapore calling me with her cousin Manuel Bernas visiting! So, our conversation continued. I was so happy to hear from Manji, someone I have not spoken with for a long, long time. What was also strange was that I recognized Manji's voice immediately. We talked briefly about our kids, his health, his
future plans, etc. We just had to cut our conversation off because they had to eat, na, and the phone was cutting. But before doing so, I tried convincing Manji to get a computer so he could join us. I encouraged him further that most of us are coached by our kids anyway, so there should be no problem.

There you go...I spoke with the respected CAT-1 Corps Commander of our batch. He was a very good friend in elementary and high school. We had this informal "Family Club" in Grade 5. He was our "Buddha", no offense meant to the Buddhists. That little club ate whatever Annette brought from her house, like pork tapa, etc.

Despite our good vibes, Manji "punished" me a couple of times and made me do some push ups before, mind you, and I obliged him. I just had to. One day, after CAT-1, he took me to their chicharon factory. We then had this big fish for because we were hungry. "Ken, kaon lang, wa'y uwaw-uwaw". What surprised me was
that Manji and I ate the fish like there was no one else at home. Then again I realized that Manji was the other boss of the house, so he can eat what he wanted. The help will just cook again for the others. That meal was very much appreciated.

Fast forward, I am in Toronto and Cora and Manji are in Singapore - thousands of miles away. So far but yet so near!


Please contact the author at eugaul2006@yahoo.com for your comments.

 

 

2007
Beginning-of-the-Year Address

 

Ken Q Column

 

  January 1, 2007
by Ken Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi batchmates,

It is already three days into the New Year and I am still sending
greetings to all those whom I have missed, partly because I was sick
and partly because I was busy with our end-of-the-year extended (as
in big) family extended (as in long) gathering. Right now, we still
have Beth's Long Island-based sister and her family over at our
house. They will be driving home tonight. The Christmas tree and
other decorations are still up and there are still unopened gifts and
undelivered presents. Why? As I have said, I have been sick and
believe me, I am only human, too...

Much has happened during the year to our SPCian 1983 Yahoo group. We
have seen an increase in membership and the number of posted
messages. We have openned doors and reestablished linkages between
our batchmates. We have seen pictures of our classmates and their
respective families; this has helped us to stop wondering how our
long-lost classmates look at present. We have also engaged in mostly-
constructive discussions on different areas, foremost of which was on
the upcoming 2008 Grand Reunion. Of course, we also had the endless
birthday greetings.

As for our batch website, we have seen it go through positive
evolution, thanks to the efforts of Mauro and Rigel. What was then a
decidedly simple website created with the intention of catering to
the broadest base and the least technical capabilities is now
metamorphosing into something more state-of-the- art. The format and
content is changing. The latest and most welcome addition is the
Video-on-Demand segment showcasing the editing talents of Mauro. Of
course, we have to mention the radio interview segment as well as the
three columns penned by Mauro, Chingbee, and myself. There are other
notable achievements, too, such as the compilation of historical
pictures about ourselves taken when most were still desperately
trying to gain weight or when we might have been forced-fed by our
parents.

We would like to mention, too, that our pictorial documentation was
only possible because of the submissions from everyone involved.
However, I would like to make special mention of Maila, who is our de
facto ambassadress of goodwill. Wherever she goes, she never fails
to reunite old classmates and document the process! I guess it is
fitting that she got a pair of boots for Christmas for she needs
these to complement her impeccable fashion sense while carrying on
her duties. I thus propose that Maila, hence, should be referred to
as "Her Excellency, The Ambassador". I personally would fondly call
her "Kamahalan BFF".

I also like to request everyone not to light firecrackers anymore.
This probably will not sit well with others but it has been proven
time and again that people tend to be careless around them. Why
don't we just go back to the lantaka and the binggala of yesteryears?
I may be going against cultural strains but after everything, what is
really the economic benefit of lighting firecrackers?

Lastly, let us continue with the camaraderie. Look before you leap.
Think before you speak. Harmony is key to another fruitful
relationship in 2007 and beyond.

Thank you everyone and Happy New Year!

Regards,
Ken Q.

Please contact the author at eugaul2006@yahoo.com for your comments

 

Hala, naa diha si Captain Hook!

 

Ken Q Column
  August 28, 2006
by Ken Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As a child I have been known for my stubbornness.  I was scared of a few things.  Bugs never fazed me.  In short, gamay ra akong gikahadlukan.  However, my mother had a very effective way of countering my hardheadedness.  “Hala naa diha si Captain Hook!”, was my mother’s favourite and very potent line and at three years old, I would be scampering towards her or my yayas.  The mere image of his hooked hand worked like magic on me.  I cannot explain it but I was so scared of him and his hand.

disney1I also remember my parents taking me to the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I must have watched it three times but not the full length of the show.  You see, I would start getting scared and crying as soon as the magic mirror showed the image of the wicked witch.  To me, it was so real.  Yet, I liked to see the dwarfs and of course, the comforting presence of Snow White.

Back to Captain Hook…he was my first imaginary enemy.  My first imaginary friends were Peter Pan and Tinker Bell.  I had no concept of boredom then.  Being the first born, Peter Pan was there to play with and the flying Tinker Bell.  I used to talk to them and see them although they weren’t really there.  I used to envy Tinker Bell for her ability to fly and later on, I wished I were Peter Pan because he started learning to fly.  I could actually say with a straight face that I lived in Neverland instead of in Lahug. 

disney2
Then came Mary Poppins.  I thought of her as some aunt.  To me, she was just so real and a bit more special than my own aunts.  Like which aunt has the ability to fly?  Mickey Mouse was also considered a friend.  Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck and his nephews, and the rest of the Disney gang were all my friends.  I lived in their world as I read the thick comic books I used to get as presents.  I could remember they were everywhere at that time.  You opened a bottle of pop and under the crown you will see Disney characters.  To me, they were just part of my everyday make-believe world.  And if I were to digress, who would not remember that our Grade 6 graduation song was “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” a song used in Cinderella.

Fast forward to the future…I vowed I didn’t dig Disney anymore.  I thought I was way beyond it.  After spending 28 years in the world, I thought I was just overgrown.  Seven years ago, I could still tolerate watching cartoons.  Lately, I just didn’t have time for them.  So when I finally got the opportunity to visit Disney World in Orlando, I thought I would be bored.  Oh well, “Para ni sa mga bata, dili para nako.”, was my mantra.  So upon entering the grounds and beholding Cinderella’s Castle, I said, “Big deal.  So what if it were a castle?”  I admit though that I couldn’t help acknowledge how imposing and beautiful the structure is.

disney3We walked along and got to Mickey’s House.  Fantastic!  “My, oh my”, I thought I should have one built for myself not to show off, but to live in.  His house can not only be magical, but also, functional.  I need to save up on that, after saving up for a real dream home!  So we kept going and savouring the sights and little by little, the magic came back.  My daughter, Kathleen, was busy having her autograph book signed by Disney characters and my wife and I were just like kids, chasing after these characters wherever they were.  Was it really for their autograph and for our daughter to get their signatures?  Maybe, but more so, it was probably because we really wanted to meet them “in person”.

disney4The day was tiring and in the end our feet were aching but the parade and the fireworks just took us back to those days when we just imagined and believed.  That was a sweet feeling.  Even sweeter was the consolation that I had realized two dreams at once:  that of  being at Disney World, and the other, of taking my family there.  It was nice and very therapeutic to be a child again!

Children, to listen to the melody of our Grade 6 graduation song, press the key CTRL (Control) and together, click on the link:  http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/dreamwish.htm.  Let the magic take you back in time!

Please contact the author at eugaul2006@yahoo.com for your comments.


 

Peanut Butter and Superheroes

Ken Q Column
  July 3 , 2006
by Ken Q

News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mauro and I were on the phone last night informally planning our next moves.  During our discussion, I could clearly hear over the phone some chewing and lip-smacking sounds.  Intrigued, I proceeded to ask what he had for dinner because as the sounds were so audibile, I was curious about what he was eating.  Perhaps he was eating an apple.  “Naglanlan ko ug peanut butter”, was his definite reply.  I bowled over with laughter as I pictured a grown-up man enjoying peanut butter sans bread.  I then suggested that peanut butter is very good with saging.  He told me, “Oy, naa ko’y duha ka sipi.”  And then I laughed again.  I have not heard this term in a long time.  “Duha ka sipi,” sounded very Bisaya and very amusing.

This morning, I thought about our conversation as I was in the shower.  While other people sing, I think in the shower.  Sometimes, I daydream that I am a famous singer.  In my reverie, I remembered that last night, my family and our relatives and family friends and their kids went to see Superman.  We did not meet him per se but we watched him in the movie theatre.  My wife and I chose to get nachos with cheese for snacks.  Then we got some jalapeños to eat with the nachos.  Well, as it turned out, I ended up lanlaning the plastic-packed melted cheese.  “Sige ka, sasakit ang tiyan mo riyan,’ admonished my wife.  Her warnings fell on deaf ears as I continued until none was left.  Really, while I like the taste of melted cheese, I also hate throwing away food.  So much for laughing with Mawing and his peanut butter…

Now back to Superman and superheroes.  I realize that Mawing’s new article is about our own superheroes and boy did I have fun reading it.  I look forward to his articles because I admire Mawing’s talent and writing style.  To me, he is an excellent writer.  As I read along, it turned out that Nicky Boy and Chingbee were chosen to be our current Superman and Superwoman.  Indeed, they deserve these appellations because their achievements are truly phenomenal.  But ever greedy of the limelight and not wishing to be upstaged, I proceeded to test Mawing what supertitle he was giving me.  Unable to elicit an answer, I offered, “O unsa ma’y imo ihatag nako?  Batman?”  And we ended up laughing again.

Now, on a serious note, we know that a number of our batchmates have maximized their potential and some have literally gone unreachable heights.  It is good to talk about them to keep us inspired.  However, what about those batch mates who did not make it as big?  Are they less successful than the others?  The question then becomes what really defines success.  Are we successful because of our achievements?  And what achievements make us successful?  Is success defined in terms of what we have become?  Or of what we have accumulated?  It becomes clear that defining success seems to be simple at first but, in reality, it is very eluding.  Surely, someone’s definition depends on his or her life experiences and value system.

It may be argued that professional standing and material wealth are good indicators of success.  Then why do we find “highly successful” professionals and “materially-rich” personalities to be unhappy?  If they are truly successful, then why are they unhappy?  On the flipside, how come some of the “less successful” or “unsuccessful” people are truly happy?  Are they then truly unsuccessful?  Or can we postulate that since they are happy, then they are “somewhat”, if not, “truly” successful?  Does this mean that perhaps happiness is also a measure of success?

At this stage in my life, I am now more inclined to think that success is better defined in terms of one’s spiritual well-being and one’s relationship with people.  You may be a poor farmer, a lowly-paid government worker, or a single mother with three kids, but if you try your best to get by in life, keep your relationships with your family, relatives and friends meaningful, and maintain a bond between the One above, most likely you will be happy.  And most probably, you will be successful in navigating the sea of life.

As one of my co-workers has pointed out, “Towards the end of our lives, we do not regret about not becoming the president of our country, or of not buying that big house we desperately wanted, or not getting the many TV sets we wanted for each room.  Rather, we regret about how little time we spent with our family, friends, and relatives, and how we have forgotten to keep a relationship with God.”  This has since become my wake-upper whenever I gripe about what I have not become and what I have not acquired because, truly, I still fall in this trap. 

On a happier note, our batch is now blessed with another achievement.  We have amidst us all, a new superheroine.  We have a new Superlola.  Just check her out!

(Please send all comments about this article to eugaul2006@yahoo.com)

 

 

Meandering Thoughts

Ken Q Column
  June 9, 2006
by Ken Q

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It has been some time since I wrote an article for our website.  I have been scrambling high and low for breathing space.  Work, family, and other pertinent concerns have taken up most of my time.  I felt that if I had to write something it should be done this Friday night.  Tomorrow I am working and on Sunday, my family will be attending the birthday party of the latest of my inaanaks.  So there is really no other time to write but now.

So, as my story goes, we went to New Jersey the last week of May to attend Katrina’s graduation party.  This very young graduate happens to be my wife’s first cousin who just got her degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University.  Although this party was a very important family event, I had second thoughts about making the trip because of personal and work commitments.  But we had already promised our New Jersey relatives that we were attending a full year back.  This and the fact that the celebration was to be held at the Sheraton and paid for on a per-head basis, left my wife and me no choice but to go to save face. 

We planned to leave at 9 pm Thursday but my passengers ended up sleeping in the couch waiting for me.  I woke everyone up at 3 am after finishing my reports.  As we were leaving, I decided to call Albert, my brother-in-law, that we were on our way.  Albert was leaving separately with his family and was also delayed because of work concerns.  We finally decided to travel as a convoy of two vehicles with five passengers in each car.  This proved to be a good decision as it made the 10-hour trip less boring to me.  Our two-way radios came in handy and the guidance of my car’s automated navigation system proved indispensable.

Since we decided to travel cheap, we tried avoiding the major toll highways.  This was a welcome idea to me because I do not like boring highways.  I like the twists and turns and the adventure of unfamiliar terrain.  They keep my mind focused.  So we drove along under the voice command of the navigation system that automatically mapped the way for us.  “In point five mile, turn left,” the prompt would say.  Oh, that was so easy!  I just had to follow the voice direction and we would never get lost.  If I took a wrong turn, another route was recalculated for me. 

To my pleasure, the route laid out for us was one of rolling hills and deep valleys.  The rural roads also meandered left and right.  The idyllic sight of cows pasturing in the fields as daylight shone greeted my eyes with wistful reminiscence of my daily childhood trips between Albuera and Ormoc.  But to my passengers, these cows did not evoke the same kind of excitement nor trigger similar memories.   “What’s with a cow anyway?,” I’d be reminded dismissively. 

In fact, my passengers’ senses were drawn more to the not-so-pleasant smell associated with barns.  The ups and downs, twists and turns, and funny smell during this countryside trip caused my passengers’ stomachs to lurch.  Windows had to be rolled down which, in turn, invited more cow smell to waft inside the already saturated indoor car atmosphere.  This totally amused me and kept me more alert.  This was a reaction to my rather stilted notion that my passengers and perhaps those in the other car deserved their misery for not enjoying the scenery with me.  Thus, upon arriving in Long Island, New York at about 1 pm Friday, the others disembarked dazed but I got out tired but very much awake, and yes, very blissfully amused and internally tickled.

From Long Island we drove to New Jersey to attend the party the following day.  The party was a success and definitely a show of family solidarity.  My wife’s family had a reason to celebrate another success.  Two years ago, Leo, another first cousin graduated summa cum laude from a New York university.  They, we, never seem to run out of reasons to celebrate. 

Amidst the din and racket of our jubilation, I could not help but relate this event to my own kids.  Kyle is entering high school in September while Kathleen will be in Grade 4.  I wondered if they would be as successful as their cousins.  I pray they will be.  But I couldn’t help relating their future to the ups and downs and the meanderings of the road travelled that took us to this celebration.  Would my kids go through a similar route in their life’s journey?  Most probably they will. 

Rhetorical questions and idealistic answers popped up one by one.  What would I do to make their journey manageable?  Definitely, I will support Kyle whether or not he becomes class valedictorian, surgeon, or what not.  I will support Kathleen if she wants to be a cashier, teacher, or fashion model.  Should I be influencing their decisions throughout?  I might steer them away from obviously wrong choices but I will try not to be like the automated navigation system that babysat us throughout the trip.  I will try to give them choices and allow them to make decisions on which hills to climb and which turns to take.  What about challenging them?  I will definitely be around to push them to utilize their potential and achieve their goals.  And what to do during difficult times?  When the going gets tough, I will be there to remind them that what may matter more is not so much the path but rather how one views and appreciates the journey itself – in this one we call life.

Oh yeah, take that.

 

 

 

The Night of the Champions

Ken Q Column
  April 23, 2006
by Ken Q

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I think I know talent when I see one.  And I have always known that Filipinos are a very talented people.  But I just cannot understand why my wife is so hooked on most of the shows in the The Filipino Channel.  She is even a member of a discussion group on Juday, whose main contributors still believe it is Juday and Piolo and not Juday and the bansot guy.  She is always running out of VHS tapes to record all the variety shows as well as the soap operas in this channel.  And she never misses the noontime Sunday variety shows.  After work and after another soap, a phone call is always expected.  And that would be from my wife’s best friend and workmate.  They would discuss the same show they just watched, titillate over their favourites, and vilify those they dislike.  I just could not get it.

Therefore, I really had no choice when she asked me a month ago if I were interested to watch a concert featuring young Filipino artists, here in Toronto.  That would be today in the evening.  Then she told me that there was piano concert featuring a Filipino pianist and the proceeds would benefit the Leyte landslide victims.  My inclination was to go to the piano concert.  Afterall, it was Raul Sunico playing and when I was still in the Philippines, he was already a big name.  However, I knew my wife would have preferred going to this big concert featuring no other than Sarah Geronimo, Mark Bautista, Rachel Ann Go, and Richard Manalo.  I ended buying a Raul Sunico ticket, giving the ticket to someone else, and attending the other concert instead.  Thus, eight members of my family went, led by my wife, our troop leader.

There was some irritation before the doors were opened.  The line was long and it wound around the lobby of the concert venue.  Older people and one person with a disability were forced to line up.  Some were there already for two hours.  Some late comers found it convenient to butt in.  I could not really blame them a hundred percent because the organizers did not have enough people to supervise the queue.  I would not have been miffed if the seats were numbered.  However, the organizers used the first-come-first-served system.  So, what was the point of coming early when others could just butt in the line?  As the crowd swelled and the single file became quadruple, visions of Wowowee came to mind and I thought it best to instruct members of my party where to proceed should there be pushing and shoving, just in case.

I complained to one usher who told me that it was ok for people who came later to get ahead in the line as there were enough seats.  I retorted that they should have let us in a long time ago as the concert was scheduled to start in five minutes.  I was told that they could not let us in yet because they were still doing a sound check and that some performers were still rehearsing.  Oh well, I told him that one does not enter the door as the concert starts.  I have been to many concerts and many stage productions and the gates were always opened at least thirty minutes before show time.  And really, sound checks and rehearsals are not done five minutes before show time.  I then heard someone apologizing to me for all the technical glitches they were having.  He promised us a very good show and that we would not regret coming.  I turned and realized it was Patrick de Guzman.  He is now a Toronto resident and one of the promoters of the concert.  I told him they better make good of their crowd control and pointed out that I had three paying kids with me.  I also realized he had some thinning gray under some brownish hair.  I thought, wow, time does change some people physically. 

When we finally got in, I was happy to find out that we were lucky we did not obtain VIP tickets selling for $100 a piece.  We settled for $75 tickets and our seats were even better than some VIP seats.  We waited some more until everyone was seated. The show started an hour late.  I just bit my lip for I could not ask for more perfection since I did not want to ruin my night even more.  After all, I deserved a break for I worked at the hospital yesterday, had eight new patients, three old patients, and four more to supervise, all in eight hours.  I usually spend no more than four hours as weekend therapist.  Yesterday was especially stressful.  Of these patients, I had four with total knee replacements, one with a hip replacement, one with a post-myocardial infarct, one with a post-bowel resection, one with a post-coronary bypass, three with pneumonia, and one post-extubated patient in the ICU.  The rest I could not remember.  We weekend therapists always detest going to the ICU.  The bells and alarms do make us nervous.  One good thing though is that I came across a new bed in the ICU.  It automatically turns the patient side to side and it can even provide percussion therapy to anyone lying in it.  And it must have cost a stupendous amount.

My reverie was shifted back to the concert.  It soon began with a medley from all four champions.  I already knew from before that they were talented.  I even sang my own version while watching TV as they sang their songs.  But in this concert, I never expected to be captured by their sheer talent and showmanship.  I started to understand why my wife’s adulation for them was not misplaced.  When at the start, I was decidedly reserved to show my enthusiasm, I found myself later swaying more and more to the rhythm of their songs and clapping with less inhibition.

Another bonus during this concert is that my daughter Kathleen and her cousins Gemea and Allysa found themselves repeatedly on stage, participating in the concert!  The audience was wowed especially by Allysa who was unabashed and performed like a child professional.  It was not her fault if the child stole a segment of that show.  Her performance on stage was a result of years of watching TFC.  And at seven years old, Allysa has mastered the art of mimicry.  This, coupled byher genuine talent in voice and dance, has made her a real stand out. 

SarahThe night went by so fast and I noticed other things.  One of them was that I found myself taller in height compared with the male performers.  Hmmm…they look tall on TV.  Well then, I am not that short!  Another is that my choice of clothes is not that unique.  Mark Bautista shopped locally and wore an exact clone of one that I own.  I decided maybe I have a bit of show biz taste. The last thing that struck me was that my wife looked very beautiful that night.  She does manage to look good all the time but tonight was an exception.  She could have been one of the performers, if she could only sing.

Kathleen

We left the concert hungry but happy and content.  I was truly glad I went.  It was all worth my money.  Filipinos are really good.  They do shine.  As we drove for some Chinese take out, I decided that I would watch them again live.  I would hate going through lining up again but I guess another concert by the same performers would all be worth it…for as long as there is no stampede.

 

 

 

In Retrospect

Ken Q Column
  March 24, 2006
by Ken Q
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In retrospect, I remember poverty as a powerful theme in my childhood years.  I remember vividly growing up dirt poor.  I remember my mother’s constant musing since elementary that the bigger problems were the expenses of daily schooling and not the tuition fees.  I remember subsisting on mungos almost daily for the last three years in high school because it was the cheapest but the most nutritious food my very limited baon could buy.  In fourth year, I remember being left to my own devices in securing a tertiary education because there was absolutely no reassurance from my family to send me to university.   

Looking back, it was not an easy existence.  I saw myself at the bottom end of the money continuum.  Adding to the injury was the sometimes demeaning circumstance that I could not avoid being amongst well-healed relatives and classmates.  I remember my relatives and classmates chauffeured back and forth.  I also remember accounts of their vacations in Cebu or Manila.  I was excited when they brought in the newest Nintendo Game and Watch video game to school, or their BMX’s, or their skateboards, or their skates.  And for those who had hired help, I was in awe of how easy it was to have things done for them at the snap of their fingers.  And their birthday parties are worth mentioning, too.  I had none of these, ever. 

However, there were mitigating factors despite my financial inadequacies.  One reason I do have fond memories of my childhood is that my relatives and classmates were mostly generous to me.  Seldom was I made to feel inadequate by them.  They allowed me to hitch a ride in their chauffeured cars.  They shared with me stories of their vacations, thus allowing me to visualize their trips as if I were also in them.  They let me play their video games, ride their bikes, try their skateboards, and borrow their skates.  They invited me to their birthday parties.  They even let their hired help serve me up refreshments. 

Despite my relatives and classmates’ sharing with me their perks, I admit to having some degree of envy for them.  My envy was not about wanting their resources for myself but for the inequity of my situation.  While I enjoyed sharing their resources and getting a chance to try their experiences, I knew that it was not my reality.  I was genuinely happy for my relatives and classmates but I was sad for myself.  While everyone was excited about where to study and what courses to take in the fourth and final year of high school, I was busy scrambling to secure scholarships hoping to ensure that I did not end up nowhere.  There was just no support nor any reassurances from my own home front.

On the flip side, it was not all that bad despite the trials marring my childhood.  Aside from my supportive relatives and classmates, I knew I was blessed with several gifts money cannot buy.  First, I had some talents I could exploit to my advantage.  Second, I was a full scholar at SPC all throughout my high school years.  Third, I was given the ability to be able to analyze my situation and accept that which I was not.  Fourth, I had this extraordinary gift of hope.  I sincerely believed that with God’s guidance, there was hope for as long as I tried my best.  My ticket to escape poverty was the proper utilization of these gifts.  Daydreaming and wishing alone would not cut it.  This I knew from the start and it was part of the game plan all along.  I decided early on that I could not let myself down.  I owed it to myself and my future.  Hence, I had this burning desire to succeed.

So where did this all take me?  Because of my experiences from the get go, I learned to work hard and excel in most things I do.  I became a stronger person.  Had conditions been different, there may not have been the same stimulus to make me try my best.  Perhaps my work ethic would not have been like as it is now.  Perhaps, I would not have been part of this group.  And perhaps I would not have been writing this article at all. 

I now consider myself fortunate despite my experiences.  I may not have achieved what I really wanted to be but I am very content with what I have become.  Most importantly, I am happy to have a family that gives meaning to my life.  There are still challenges along the way but not in the same magnitude they were before.  Rest assured I will continue to cope and hope today and in the future.  This  is my only alternative.

(Please send all comments to eugaul2006@yahoo.com)

 

 

March Break

Ken Q Column
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  March 19, 2006
by Ken Q
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It is Sunday and the day is almost over. So is my kids’ March break, this North American phenomenon when schools shut down and kids are gone for a week. At first, I was not entirely convinced that my week went well. It did not go according to my initial plans. Ideally, this should have been the week when all four members of my family would have been together through its entirety. After all, this is when parents are supposed to take time off to be with their kids when the latter are off school. This is supposed to be a good time for taking a much-needed vacation. And a vacation we did not have. Oh how I hated it.

Amidst the guilt and ill feeling I had about this whole turn of events, some positive points were reinforced. First is that my family has a mother figure who could spare time off with the children. My wife was her ever-dependable self, taking the kids everywhere in my stead.

Second is that I was not entirely alienated from them. In fact, I came home everyday earlier than usual. Perhaps I was a little irrational for berating myself for being at work when I thought I should have been having fun with them. 

Third is that I really had no control over the whole matter. It is just unfortunate that March break has to occur in March when everything is crazy at work because it is the fiscal year end at my work place. And really, I am quite aware of the resulting work pressures should I have taken time off during this crucial month.

Fourth, we did go places and engaged in meaningful activities. We went to the movies to see “Beowulf and Grendel”. I took my son to watch the performance of the Blue Man Group. Then, I took him to a basketball game. Thank God, the Toronto Raptors won over the Milwaukee Bucks. The latter two events were good bonding times for both father and son. My wife and daughter also had their bonding event in the shopping kind of way. Last night, we visited relatives and we all played a musical video game where one beats a drum according to music and then get scored. Today, we went to the Pacific Mall, arguably one of the largest Asian shopping malls in North America. We had Chinese food and some bubble tea. In all, I can say that the kids did have some fun this week. And I did, too. 

I have learned a few lessons. Next year, I am going to condition myself that I will most likely be at work come March break. That way, I will not feel the same way as I initially did this year. I also should not beat myself up for things beyond my control. Then I should be thankful and count my blessings for having a job. And lastly, I should be thankful for having a wonderful family, March break or not.

 

 

 

Welcome To Counterpoint

Ken Q Column
  March 8, 2006
by Ken Q
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I visit this website many times, perhaps skewing its log of visitors. I feel compelled to visit it over and over. It is probably because something concrete is happening once again involving our classmates. I believe this website will be a good starting point to share ideas and experiences, to jubilate in our successes, and to find support amidst our challenges. My compulsion is also borne out of a usually unspoken gratitude to my alma mater. Thank you St. Peter’s College, for being an instrumental part of my life. Without you, I would not have made it through. Period.

We are very fortunate to have capable and well-meaning classmates amongst us. Without Mauro and Rigel, our efforts at setting up shop would have been more difficult. Their technical expertise and sentimentalism have been instrumental in making this undertaking possible. I also would like to make special mention of the efforts of Rhoel who, through the years, has tirelessly campaigned towards getting everyone involved in our annual reunions. His efforts and good convincing power have reached even those who are now internationally based. I also thank those who regularly communicate with the group, in whatever medium, as a symbolic gesture of our camaraderie. You guys know who you are. You are an inspiration to the rest of us.

I realize that I have been given a column to write in this website. I accept this offer because I believe it will be a good venue to express my views on matters that are hopefully pertinent to all of us. Since I relish taking the opposite and sometimes unpopular approach to a specific subject matter, I would like to call this column "Counterpoint."

Brainstorming for topics will hopefully be an easy task. There are many things in life that we can talk about. Perhaps, I will seek inspiration from the questions and discussions that we usually get through SPCian1983, our Yahoo Group. For a start, Mauro has opened up and talked about the transitions we are going through and the challenges that come with them. There is so much to talk about. And now is probably the best time to start this undertaking, at this level of involvement. And why now? It’s probably because, as they say, life gets better at 40! With this, I say that I’m looking around…please ask it to them, not me!

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