Pen Strokes

June 1, 2009

Losing it, Learning from it, Loving it!

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Me, giving my contest speech

My views of the 2009 District 75 Annual Convention

I left for Davao with high hopes of winning the International Speech Competition; but I came back empty-handed… I lost… and had a great time losing! That’s right; I didn’t even “place” in the International Speech Contest, but I had a blast! So how could I have had a great time?

Well, before I give you my thoughts on the contest, I’d, first, like to tip my hat to the DISCON organizers for a job well done! Not only did they come up with a fantastic event, they also helped arrange tours for us to enjoy the wonders of Davao. This was very considerate of them. One of the reasons we hold events in different places is for us to discover the beauty of that place; and our organizers were gracious enough to realize this. Not only that; all the contests were spectacular! They lived up to the hype and much more! The Youth contest, Table Topics, Humorous and the International Speech contest were amazing! This was the best series of speech contests I have ever witnessed. (more…)

April 4, 2009

An Open Letter to Chip Tsao (The War at Home)

Chip Tsao, Author of "The War at Home"

Chip Tsao, Author of "The War at Home"

Dear Mr. Chip Tsao,

I believe that washing Chinese toilets and doing Chinese laundry are decent jobs. Unlike some Filipinos, I am not insulted by the term “nation of servants”.  I believe that being of service to others is a very noteworthy endeavor. Having been an OFW myself, I have nothing but the highest regard for my countrymen who have given up a lot to be able to save their families. However, I do not believe that, just because we serve you, we should just keep our mouths shut when we are wronged! Yes, you read it right… when we are wronged!

You have errantly mixed two issues that are totally separate and should not even be considered in the same light. The issue of our domestic helpers in Hong Kong and the issue of our countries’ claims over Spratly Islands are worlds apart! (more…)

November 7, 2008

Through My Father’s Eyes

My Mom and Dad with my youngest daughter.

My Mom and Dad with my youngest daughter.

I think that I was just 9 years old when I first saw it… A handwritten sign taped to the upper right-hand side of my Dad’s medicine cabinet mirror. I remember just two words from that sign… “Discipline” and “Dream”…

I didn’t really pay that much attention to that sign since, at age 9, you don’t really pay much attention to those stuff. But, for some reason, the words, “Discipline” and “Dream”, stuck to me. It wouldn’t be until I was much older that those words would have a clear meaning to me and help me to understand the man behind the legend… that was my Father…

He was born Nunilon M. San Agustin in the shanties of Ilo-ilo City (Southern Philippines). But his Father, my Grandfather, gave him the name “Nene”, which meant “little girl”, because, as a toddler, he would often cry for even the flimsiest of reasons.

My Dad was also smaller than most boys his age.  The fact that he was small and that he was named “Nene” made all the other boys in his neighborhood pick on him… That would be the biggest mistake of their young lives.  For, you see, though my Dad was viewed as a “little runt”, he was one TOUGH LITTLE RUNT! (more…)

Why I became a Fan of Geneva Cruz…

This will shock most of you…

Those who know me, know that I’ve never been a fan of Actors or Actresses, Foreign or Local.  But recently, I came across a note on Facebook that gave me a different perspective of a certain Singer-Actress. Her name? Geneva Cruz-Miller! The perspective? A very human and humble perspective! It takes a strong yet humble person to write this note. Maybe you should read the note and and judge for yourself (By the way, I got permission from Geneva to post it here)…

Geneva and Family... and don't tell me you don't know her husband!

Geneva and Family... and don't tell me you don't recognize KC!

A letter to my fellow Filipinos

Facebook Note – Friday, October 3, 2008 at 6:53am
by: Geneva Cruz-Miller

“I WANNA LEARN TO BEAR THE ACCIDENTS OF LIFE WITH DIGNITY AND GRACE, MAKING THE BEST OF MY CIRCUMSTANCES, LIKE A SKILLFUL SOLDIER WHO HAS GONE TO WAR AND BACK IN THE ARMS OF HIS LOVED ONES.”

I must admit that I’ve made some wrong choices in life. I’ve forgotten who I really was for a long time- I was confused, distracted by the trials and changes in my personal life, but most importantly, I have forgotten to take good care of my voice.

I would like to apologize for my mistakes, my wrong doings- the foolish words that I might have said on T.V. and radio in the past and how I acted in public at times when I was at my most vulnerable phase in life, and for being confused and for temporarily forgetting who I really was.

I would also like to thank my followers as well as my critics for opening my eyes to what was really going on with me as an artist, the problems were staring right at my face but I was too blind to see. I truly am sorry. (more…)

November 4, 2008

Preparing a Powerhouse Speech…

8c44As Toastmasters, giving speeches is inevitable; which means that learning to prepare your speech is a crucial skill to have. However, I believe that PREPARING SPEECHES is not just a Toastmasters’ skill… it is a Life-skill. It helps us hone other skills like… for instance… WRITING… which is a handy skill to have in everyday life. It also encourages us to READ… especially if our speech is technical in nature or requires research. And… a well prepared speech builds our SELF-CONFIDENCE… and isn’t self-confidence the main ingredient in LEADERSHIP?

In my case, I not only prepare speeches for Toastmasters’ meetings or contests; I also prepare speeches for a living. Allow me to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned when preparing speeches. I certainly hope that what I share will help you in Life… and also in Toastmasters! (more…)

November 3, 2008

Absolutely Nothing to Say…

Ah! The freedom of senseless talk!

Hmmmm… This is harder than I thought! I actually can’t think of anything to say! Not that I’m used to thinking; but there must be something senseless for me to say!

All I can think about is Alvin’s “Old Rubber Shoes”! There I go again! THINKING! I should keep reminding myself that thinking is too dangerous an act for me. SO WHAT DO I SAY??? Why can’t I think of anything to say??? (more…)

November 2, 2008

What I LEARNED as a Contestant in District 75’s MidCon 2008…

Maayong Aga sa inyong tanan!

Let me dive straight into it…

The District 75 Mid-Year Conference was a blast! Sure there were some hiccups (like any event, there will always be hiccups); but, generally, the entire event was a rousing success! It was well prepared and the pomp and pageantry was simply awesome! Congratulations to Division D for an outstanding job!

I’m really glad I got to attend this occasion. Actually, I almost wasn’t able to make it to Bacolod had it not been for your (Toasties) support and the support of the Division B Officers and Area Governors. For this I present my most heart-felt “Thank You”!

Sad to say, however, that the only trophy I was able to take home was the 1st Runner-Up Trophy for the Singing Contest (By the way, the trophies are beautiful). Initially, I was disappointed with this… and because I am a proud person, I would blame the judges for what I viewed as their “incompetence” in judging… but truth be told… I probably won only in my own mind! I forgot the cardinal rule before giving a speech (or a performance)… CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE (or in this case, consider who your judges will be) so that you may be able to prepare the appropriate speech for the event!

(more…)

November 1, 2008

BNT’s Night out at Rocci Café…

Gege at Table Topics... That's me with my back turned.

Gege at Table Topics... That's me with my back turned.

Rocci Café…

The down side? The place was cramped…
The up side? The place was cramped!

Last October 23, Butter n’ Toast decided to hold it’s meeting outside of the usual MSE Building; perhaps to, somehow, break the monotony of always holding it in the same place. We picked a quaint little café on Jupiter Street called Rocci to hold our meeting.

When I arrived at the Café, I had two initial reactions… the first was that I liked the ambiance; the second was that it was cramped! The second worried me. I kept thinking thoughts like; “Where is the stage? How will we fit the guests? Oh no… A Powerpoint Presentation! I hope we don’t break anything!”…  But when they started to serve the crispy, tasty and oh so heavenly sandwiches, I started to calm down.  It just goes to show you that my stomach… which is already infamous amongst BNT’s long-time members… actually dictates the way I feel!

When we started the meeting, however, my initial fears disappeared! As in true BNT Tradition, our meeting was all about fun and learning and learning to have fun… and we had an abundance of it that night! Here’s why… (more…)

Seven Candles

Christmas in a house with NO ELECTRICITY!

December 24, 2006… It was almost Christmas Eve; the cupboard was empty; the table was without food and we had NO ELECTRICITY! In fact, we’ve had no electricity for the past six months! All we had left were just SEVEN CANDLES… Seven Candles to light our house for the rest of the month… How did we get this low?

Our past Christmases were never like this! They were always well celebrated, well attended and well LIGHTED. We had money back then; but it wasn’t because I was successful… My Dad was successful! In fact, he provided for all of us… my family included. Because of this, we could afford to send my children to exclusive schools and we could also afford travel to foreign lands like Europe, Japan and Australia.

And… I did little to try to get out from under my father’s wing… and why should I? Life was easy back then!

But come to think of it, it was this “easy life” that made us complacent! I lived irresponsibly and my family disrespected me for it. My children only obeyed me out of fear and my wife grew very distant from me. I… I was never a father to my children and I was even less of a husband to my wife! Money had made us strangers. I didn’t know my own children and they didn’t know me! (more…)

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