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Be a champion in everything you do

Be a champion in everything you do

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

You plan for your dreams. You plan to take the right course in college that will lead you to your dreams.

That was your plan…

But life circumstances didn’t allow you to enroll your preferred course. You finished college with the course — which is not your first choice. Or you don’t even like. You became less motivated. You think you’ve been diverted from the plan. You think, you failed.

But my friend, this is your plan. God may have a different plan. HE had a different path to your dream, which HE wanted you to follow. All you have to do is to be the CHAMP of what you are now. And you will ultimately live your dream.

As a boxing fan (check my boxing blog here), of course I know the literal meaning of the word “CHAMP”, which is short for “champion”. But reading the powerful and inspiring message of  Mr. Tom Alcancia during the 23rd General Alumni Homecoming of STA. MAGDALENA NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL as guest speaker adds another meaning of what really a word “champ” means.

In this post I will be sharing to you an inspiring story from a fellow expatriate in Kuwait.

Here’s a full excerpt of Tom Alcancia’s message:

“Good Evening, Everyone!

Thank you Inspector Jack (Rogelio Caballo – Class 1992) for acknowledging me earlier. And, thank you Chief Engr. Dennis Frivaldo (Class 1992) for the introduction. Ang daming adjectives nung introduction ha! I hope our fellow alumni and friends are still fully awake to listen to me talking in person on stage. (Mag roll-call daw muna tayo by group para marinig natin kung nandito na ang bawat batch at kung sino ang may pinakamalakas ang Cheers!  Pioneer batch 1959 up to 1960s, dekadas 1970s, 1980’s, 1990’s & 2000 onwards, & newly graduates, and of course the hosts & co-sponsors of this event!)

Kanina nakita ko ang excitement ng lahat habang nagpa-parade ang bawat batch kaya nag-abang ako sa may gate to take pictures of all batch who joined the parade para may souvenir tayo na makikita natin sa FB account – Solido Kami. I’m sure lahat tayo ay masaya dahil nagkita-kita ulit ang magkakabatch, ang former teachers o happy dahil nakita ulit ang dating ‘crush’ nung high school, tama? Ako din bilang napili na maging Guest Speaker this evening, I want to tell you how excited I am and it is a big privilege for me to be standing before you all tonight…

Sa ating iginagalang na Mayor, Mayor Dong Gamos, Vice Mayor Eddie Lozano at lahat ng opisyales sa LGU na nandito ngayon; an gating napakasipag na Pari, Rev. Fr. Elmer Hagos; Kuya Toots whom I considered as one of  my mentors, to all Sta. Magdalena National High School (SMNHS) management sa pangunguna ng kanilang beauty and brain na principal, Ms. Salve Ferreras, and of course all members of the faculty; some of them mga naging teachers ko pa, some ka-batch ko, ang iba halos kilala ko din, Alumni Association officers, to all alumni of this institution na nandito ngayon pati na ang kanilang mga adopted batch, sa TMKK friends, sa lahat ng mga barkada, mga kakilala ko na nandito ngayon sa ating pagtitipon to celebrate the 23rd SMNHS Alumni Homecoming… Magandang Gabi po sainyong lahat!

From the moment I received Marjubel Gaon De Vera (Class 1987) letter thru my sister Rodelyn (Class 1987), inviting me to be your Guest Speaker, I knew straight away that I wanted to say ‘yes’, but hesitant to confirm, but with the added encouragement from people whose opinion is of great value to me, I was able to focus on what I will discuss and so I accepted the invitation. So, tonight, I feel like all my experiences in life was made to happen, that is why I am here standing in front of you and what an honor it is…!

Ang theme natin ngayon ay: “Pagkasarayo nan Pagdaranunan Para sa Kauswagan.” (“Pagkaka-isa at Pagtutulungan Para sa Progreso”). Napakaganda ng mensahe ng ating tema, tamang-tama sa ating pagtitipon ngayon at kailangan maramdaman o maisa-puso ng bawat isa lalo na sa isang grupo o batch na naghahangad ng magandang resulta. Pero para sa akin ang bawat grupo ay kailangang may mag-initiate to lead the group, pareho ng ginagawa ko sa aming batch, Solid Batch 1982, dahil sa pag-initiate ko, kami ay nagkaka-isa at sa suporta at pagtutulungan ng bawat isa, we were able to construct and initiated to donate a simple structure here in our alma mater (SMNHS) which is the “Educational Drop-In Center” na very useful place sa mga estudyante.  Kaya, I would like to remind each and every alumna of SMNHS to always stay in touch and never forget the bond we have built through the years, especially those who are blessed in life, never forget to tap your batchmates, and we may always be reminded to look back from where we are, because from there, we’ll never be what and who we are now.  I would like also to address this theme most especially sa lahat dito sa ating community, politicians o private individual, kun gusto natin ang progresibong bayan magka-isa tayo, magtulungan kahit na sa anong paraan basta sa ikakabuti ng ating bayan.

Being your Guest Speaker tonight, I decided not to talk further related to our theme dahil very clear naman ang message sa ating lahat so I just choose a topic which I have read recently in one of my Facebook friends who graduated last week as Cum Laude, and she said: “The most rewarding part of all is not a scholarship grant, or a Cum Laude award, or standing in stage to be recognized, but being able to inspire and touched other people’s lives.” I am sure many of you here can also relate with this saying.

I understand that I only have a few minutes to deliver my message but I hope that my message will help and delight the young ones (and all of course!) to contemplate on the path we individually choose to take.  Now, allow me to start from my childhood days…

My childhood had a lot of bad and good memories.  Some were exciting but some were not, mostly not but I did not take this as a hindrance to dream of a successful future.  Growing-up with my grandparents in a barrio (Alig-igan, where the only means of living was farming) wasn’t always easy. In order to attend school in the central town’s elementary and high school, I had to walk 5km every morning and afternoon and often times went to school with an empty stomach.  Pero kahit ganito ang naging routine ko before, naka-graduate din naman ako during elementary and high school with honors.

When I was in 4th year high school, I did not expect that I can attend a formal college education pero nag-dream pa rin ako that one day I can go to college and I can travel to the other side of the world, kaya ang ambition ko noon ay maging Seaman… but how?  Who will send me to college?

An unexpected opportunity came when I heard the announcement in a radio station that DECS Division of Sorsogon was offering a Study Now Pay Later Plan (SNPLP) scholarship to honor students from a poor family and because of the guidance and encouragement noon ng SMCS Supervisor, Mr. Gabad and with my Mamay Medying Robillos, I was able to submit my application form, take the screening exam and passed. I was selected as one of the 10 lucky SNPLP scholars in the province of Sorsogon.  I also passed the BU entrance exam and took up Civil Engineering instead of the Seaman Course.

When I was in college, I received an allowance of P2,500 from Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) every semester until I graduated.  This allowance was only released upon submission of every semester’s grades na dapat hindi bababa sa 2.0 ang general average ko, kaya every end of semester palagi akong kabado dahil kung bumaba o di ko ma-meet ang requirement discontinued din allowance ko at sigurado stop na ako sa aking pag-aaral.  Mabuti naman at palagi din pasado kaya everytime I received my P2,500 allowance, I made sure that this money was enough for the whole semester to pay for my full tuition fees (mababa lang dahil state university ang BU), for my food, lodging and books. I also had to save a small amount for my family on top of everything.

My very first job was in SM Cubao as a Sales Clerk but I was assigned in the Bldg. Maintenance Dept. due to my engineering profession. Hindi ako namimili ng job noon at kahit saan ako i-assign dahil ang priority ko was to earn dahil stop na ang allowance from SNPLP dahil siyempre, graduate na ako.  I stayed in SM for 8 months and left when I was offered a job at Republic Chemicals as a Sales Engineer but worked only for 4 months.

I persevered in looking for a better career opportunity until I passed and got selected to work at the Board of Investments or BOI in Makati, an attached agency of the Dept of Trade & Industry.  In that office, I met two of our fellow alumni, Ms Emma Lim and Ms Minying Gamit.  I would like to thank them for making it easy for me at the BOI Office.  My first assignment was in Administration Dept. as Admin Assistant, then I got promoted as a Technical Assistant to the Office of the Board of Governors of BOI.  It was a privilege to have worked with one of their Governors, Dr. Ricardo Gloria.  Dr. Gloria gave me all the guidance that I needed in order to choose the right career path.  He was my inspiration!  Si Dr. Gloria ay isa sa naging instrument ko sa kinalalagyan ko ngayon.  When Dr. Gloria was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), he gave me options to either join him at his new office or stay in BOI. I chose to stay in BOI and assumed the duty of a Planning Officer I in the Planning Department.

Sa naging exposure ko sa BOI nagdecide ako mag-apply abroad dahil gusto ko maging more responsible person because of my goal to help my family and to support my siblings’ college education and be able to start hunting for my dream.  So, right after the Gulf War, BOI granted me for a one-year leave and left the Philippines for Kuwait. My first job abroad was with Bechtel’s project for the restoration of Kuwait’s destruction during the gulf war. I worked for 10-12 hours per day in the Operations Dept as one of the technical staff. Since I was only on-leave at BOI, I returned to BOI after my one-year contract with Bechtel.  But, while working again at BOI parang hinahanap ko na ang buhay OFW, sabi nga ng kasabihan na narinig ko “if you become an OFW, you will always look for the life of an OFW”, so I applied again to Kuwait and fortunately, I was hired as a Technical Assistant to the General Manager of Raith Engineering, a private contracting company with a British management, where I am still working for the same company, although I held several positions before I became a Planning Manager.

Minsan may dumarating na mga trials sa ating buhay and many times I experienced this. But I will share the recent one na nangyari in 2005 dahil etong experience and challenge ang nagbigay ng paraan upang marating ko ang pinapangarap ko noong bata pa ako. Eto ang kuwento… When I joined our company, nag-ooccupy lang ang office namin ng parang villa or a private house. In year 2005, dahil sa company’s expansion, our management decided to move to a proper office building. We found a building and occupied a 2 floors of a 22-storey building with 750sqm each floor. I was the Planning Engineer that time so I was responsible of doing the task. Ako ang incharge ng planning at layout of offices, interior and all space requirements up to project execution.  Natapos ko very smoothly ang project within the expected completion date. Na-excite ako to inform the management that we are ready to move in a week time kaya halos lahat ng staff ay excited at gusto na nila masilip nag magiging office nila. There were two arab managers na di ko alam kung nagulat or na-impress sila sa quick progress ng new office. When they visited our new office andami nilang pinuna which are not technically correct as per the layout. Hindi nila ako nakaya dahil pinanindigan ko na ako ang may hawak ng project so when they returned to office, they met the owner of the company and reported my insubordination o dahil di ko daw sinunod ang suggestions nila. Binigyan nila ng issue ang location ng door of owner’s office and suggested to shift to other location in which I disagree. Pinanindigan ko na approved ng management ang layout ko kaya sinunod ko. Ayun na, pagbalik ko sa office tawag ako ng owner – we discussed a bit then I was surprised when he called the Admin Manager to prepare a termination letter for me, effective immediately. At sinabi sa akin na kahit di na daw ako magreport the next day. Yes, ganyan magdecision ang arabs at dahil daw ang kaharap ko ay owner ng company so he did not want to listen further explanation. I left the owner’s office ‘na parang binuhusan ako ng nagyeyelong tubig.’ The next day I managed to talk with the General Manager and after our long discussion he consoled me and even told me to relax as owner’s decision is still “not written on the stone”. He gave me an assurance and hope that soon there will be a good outcome. After 2 days of being silent, the Admin Manager had called me to inform that the company decided to rehire me due to “injustice reasons of my termination”….

Yes, I am sharing this story to you for one main reason, that despite of this bad experience, I want to tell you that my morale and spirits were still high and I just considered that incident as a challenge, because, I know that if you believe in yourself and you are honest about yourself, you will know that you are in the right track and that all the good things are in your favour. The owner of the company became very kind to me since then and even apologized for what happened and would like me to put it all behind. The owner and management had now trusted me and I am more confident now in my job. I was very grateful then that after that incident, the company gave me a better chance to work for the logistics management which had given me the opportunity to travel!

My dream to travel had turned-up… finally! The company had sent me to attend overseas trainings, conferences, symposium and exhibitions. Yes, I have travelled to many major cities of USA, UK & other European and Gulf countries, with luxury business flights and 5-star hotel accommodations – all at company’s expense. At eto ang hindi ko makakalimutan dahil habang nasa business flight cabin ako or alone in my hotel, doon ko naalala na eto na nga ang “dream ko before”, now became a reality! My travel experiences gave me the opportunity to see the different parts of the world na dati nakikita ko lang sa libro, sa kalendaryo at sa TV, but most of all, it gives me an opportunity to meet and visit our fellow Magdalenians or Kababayans and some long time friends from any part of the world… At maniwala kayo na kahit di ako kakilala ng ating kababayan basta nagpakilala ako na taga-Magdalena, makikita mmo din sa mukha nila ang saya dahil may bisita sila na isang kababayan at estranghero pa… haha. This is probably one of my achievements in my travel, to meet our fellow Magdalenians and old friends. Kaya Facebook… thank you… you are also part in achieving my travel dream!

My fellow alumni and friends… I have just shared to you my story, although I was unsure whether my storytelling gave you an inspiration and motivation… but honestly, it gave me a deeper understanding of life and that dreaming is not only for the young ones. As long as we are alive, we should retain the habit of dreaming. It doesn’t matter if it sounds unreasonable or that we might laugh at ourselves for conceiving such thinking… but tandaan natin, dreaming is free after all.

Now, I encourage the younger ones to dream and have a defined vision, think of the things you want and you love to have, as a starter, write it in your hearts so you’ll never forget what you’re working for, and as you walk through life, always look around for a spot where you can think clearly and assess yourselves.

Parehas ng pinag-daanan ko, kung may isang tao noon na nag-observed sa akin, baka ang tanong ‘ano kaya ang palaging nasa isip nitong barrio boy na madalas nakatutok sa mga sceneries sa magazines sa iba’t-ibang lugar ng mundo’.  I, being that boy knew the answer to it. Many years ago I was that boy, and now, I am grateful of all the childhood experiences and the trials that came my way, it all prepared me just for my future. Everything in my childhood becomes the light that made me reach my goals! Totoo, reminiscing the good old days always brings smile to my face. Parati ko nga naaalala na kung naglalakad ako noon at dumadaan sa dalampasigan papasok sa eskuwela at pauwi sa barrio Aligigan – I always wondered as a child, ‘ano kaya ang mayroon doon sa kabila ng Isla Samar na palagi ko natatanaw?… My dreams of travelling was born that time… I began to dream…  I became what I dreamt!

Again, the message of my speech is about my past and my present life, which I considered as ‘My Fulfilled Dream’. I believe these are all God’s plan in my life and I want to thank most especially our Almighty God for what I have and have been through.

Let me now ask you this, ‘What is your dream?’ Whatever it is and whatever you are now, just ‘keep on dreaming and work hard for it’ until you reach your goal.  I remember a talk of a motivational speaker in one of the symposium I attended, who once shared a simple guide on how to be successful. And he gave it in a single word… ‘CHAMP’ with each letter having one meaning… C for Commitment, H for Hardwork, A for Attitude, M for Motivation and P for …. Prayer. I hope CHAMP will also guide you.

So, before I end my message, I want to leave this saying: “IF YOU WALK WITH GOD, YOU WILL REACH YOUR DESTINATION”. And also, remember this phrase, “ALWAYS DO WHAT IS BEST”…

Thank you and Good Evening once again! Happy Easter to all…”



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