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…)

November 11, 2008

A Hundred Thousand Swans

Cancer could not rob Jette of Life!

Cancer could not rob Jette of Life!

September of 1988… It must have been around 5:00am when we heard it; loud thumps and banging coming from my sister, Jette’s room! Noise loud enough to wake up everybody in the household! Naturally, we all rushed to Jette’s room to see what was happening; and what we saw would send a chill down my spine…

Jette was banging her head against the concrete wall of her room! Blood was oozing out of her ears and nose! Blood was everywhere! She had been complaining about migraines and headaches for the past several months but the doctors we consulted with found nothing wrong with her. But if there was nothing wrong with her, why was she banging her head against the wall?

Without wasting anytime, we carried Jette, screaming and kicking, to Dad’s car and took her to the hospital.

At the hospital, doctors ran several tests and procedures on her but found nothing. Finally, the MRI Result came out and indicated that Jette had a tumor the size of a one-peso coin wedged between her skull and her spine! She had Cancer! She had cancer? What? I started to worry about a lot of things! I worried about Jette! She was so afraid of pain! She would cry at the slightest hint of pain. And what about Mom? How would she cope with this? She worries about everything! And me? I didn’t want to lose my only sister! But in the midst of all my fears, one thing worried me the most… My Dad! (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…)

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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