Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Man

The first time I met him, I was instantly drawn to him and I didn't know why.

He was far from the man of my dreams. In fact he was just the exact opposite. He was also everything that I was not. I was extrovert, he was shy and quiet. I was opinionated, he had tempered judgment. I was assertive, he was laid back. I was transparent, he was cool and under composure.

Do opposites really attract? Psychologists explain this as arising from one’s innermost desires (probably rooted in the unconscious) to find traits and characteristics lacking in him in another person so he would feel complete.

After having been married to him for about fifteen years now, would I say that I am a complete person because of him?

He does complement my weaknesses. The opposite traits that I saw in him turned out to be that natural strengths that I depended on when times were hard. He was very much like the rudder that kept the boat afloat. When I was filled with doubts and fears and was on the edge, he was the steady hand that guided me through.

But such realization did not happen overnight. Over time, his natural strengths became sources of friction or even feelings of alienation. How I wished he would be more open with his feelings. How I wished he would feel the same way I do. How I wished he would be more sensitive and more caring. How I wished… How I wished…

So I tried to change his personality to suit mine. And that started my misery. It was like digging a hole for myself. The more I wanted him to be just like me, the more that his natural traits were being magnified.

I decided that, for my own peace, I better accepted him for what he is. After all, if I couldn’t change my personality to suit his either, isn’t that unfair to him? Funny how we want to change another person and yet we wouldn't take the first step to change ourselves.

Accepting him for what he is - strengths and weaknesses and all - was the most liberating decision I have ever made for myself.

Today, our marriage is stronger than ever. We have learned to live side by side with our imperfections, always highlighting our positives and downplaying our negatives. We have found that underneath our personality differences lie common and enduring values that we both believe in: love, responsibility, integrity and faith. Come to think of it, when you have lots of these, no marriage will ever crumble even with personality differences.

Happy birthday, ‘theart. I am glad I married you. I couldn’t imagine myself living with any other man.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Four Seasons

Would you like to experience the four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter – within one day?

Yes, you’ve read it right. Within ONE day. Right here in Winnipeg where we live. We just had one last Saturday.

We woke up to a fine sunny morning that day. Except for a slightly breezy wind, everything was summery perfect. Since the weather was good, the children geared up for some impromptu outdoor activities. While waiting for their breakfast, they hastily ran off to the playground nearby to enjoy the morning sun with only light sweaters on. SUMMER.

About two hours later while I was doing the laundry at the wash room, I was pleasantly surprised by the soft rhythmic sounds of raindrops hitting the roof, or so I thought. I was surprised because it was the first time since the day we arrived here that I am hearing raindrops fall. I went out to see only to find out that the sun was gone and the sky was dark with clouds. The soft rhythm that I heard earlier was actually the sound of flurries (snow) hitting the roof. I spent the next minute dusting off the tiny snow crystals scattered all over our porch. WINTER

The flurries were then followed by non-stop heavy rains. Outside, the trees were swaying and dancing as the strong winds hit them. The wind was howling like crazy. Yellow-green and purple leaves fell to the ground in torrents. Our pavement was slushy with mud and rain water. FALL and SPRING.


Welcome to Winnipeg, Melinda.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I thank God that He has given me a limited intellect. For if I were so intelligent, I would not have to search for answers to my questions elsewhere and this would have made me self-righteous.

I thank God that He has given me a limited self-confidence. For if I were so confident of myself, I would have overshadowed others with my bloated self-image and this would have made me highly arrogant.

I thank God that He has endowed with less than desirable physical attributes. For if I were so beautiful outside, I would have failed to realize that what is inside of me is much more enduring and this would have made me highly vain and worldly.

I thank God that He has created me with weaknesses and fragilities. For if I were super strong and resilient, there would have been no room for me to overcome my defects and I would not have prospered from glory to glory.

I thank God that He has created me as an imperfect human being. For if I were perfect, I would have relied on my own capabilities and declared that I didn’t need God. In fact, I would have even attempted to equal or surpass God for then I would have been as perfect as He is.

I thank God that I am who I am because of Him. I thank God that because of His goodness, mercy and abiding grace, I will be who He has designed me to be.

Friday, October 17, 2008


In the workplace where I am training, I find a lot of fellow Filipinos - young and old, new immigrants, old timers - everywhere and around me. Not that I don’t like to associate with other nationalities but it is such a relief to be able to work with somebody who shares your language, your sentiments, your culture.

But alas, character flaw recognizes no race.

Sadly, there is one Filipino Assistant Manager there who is giving her fellow Filipinos a hard time than they already deserve. She barks instructions arrogantly, embarrasses her direct reports in front of others, and tends to look down on others. (Thank God she is not my trainer!)

One time that I talked to her, I could feel the wall that so distinctly divides us. She obviously doesn’t like me as she would not even acknowledge me even when it’s only the two of us present in one room. She is the subject of complaints and tirades from her co-workers, branding her as “mayabang, akala mo kung sino, parang langaw na nakatuntong sa kalabaw”.

Curiously though, she is the exact opposite when talking to the big bosses and fellow managers. She is very polite and respectful, as if “di makabasag pinggan”.

(I have read somewhere that the true test of character is not so much on how we deal with the people above us, but how we deal with the people below us, those who are helpless, defenseless and are not in a position to repay us for our kindness.)

It happened that a very unhappy Filipino customer came to the store with a complaint one day and was attended to by this Assistant Manager. To cut the story short, their conversations did not end well, with the former feeling unhappier than he first came to the store.

“Can I have your complete name?”, said the angry customer just when he was leaving.

“My name is ____________ _____________ and I am the MANAGER here!” she responded, emphasizing the word manager.

“You know what? I am surprised that you are a Manager. You certainly don’t act like one!” he quipped.

Then he turned to the associates and said - "You unlucky guys, I can just imagine what you're going through with her as your boss".

When the customer left, the Assistant Manager predictably went into a rampage, swearing and cursing “ang yabang-yabang, porke duktor siya, akala mo kung sino. Parang langaw na nakatuntong sa kalabaw

Within my viewing distance, I saw a lot of her direct reports smiling triumphantly. And within earshot, I heard somebody muttering “nakahanap ng katapat”.

Life does have a way of evening things out. What you reap is what you sow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Teaching Obedience

My husband and I consider it extremely important that our children obey us or those in authority.  One technique that we use to exact obedience is setting out negative consequences when they intentionally violate the rules of discipline that we have all set together. 

So as not to foster resentment (which would eventually lead to rebellion) we have taken pains to explain that we discipline them for their own sake and not for our own convenience.  That we want them to grow into mature and responsible adults and that  as Christians, they ought to obey their parents as the bible says. We have always been careful to differentiate consequence from punishment, to condemn the offense but never the offender.

For three days in a row last week, my two girls have failed to do their share of household chores as per our agreement.  They have been procrastinating and have been a little negligent of their responsibilities at home and in school. So I decided it was time for consequence. They could not watch television and use the computer for one week.

It was amazing how the word “consequence” sent them scampering to their feet. But it was too late.  The die was cast.  No amount of sweet-talking or apologies can undo my decision. As a parent, I have long since learned that it pays to be firm to command obedience from the children.

Last Saturday was the 7th day of their consequence. I needed to do a lot of errands so I left them under the care of my close friend.  I had no idea that I would be up for a most pleasant surprise later that day.

When I left, my friend sent my children down the basement to join her kids (who are also close friends of my kids) to do some kids’ stuffs. She checked them out an hour later and was a bit worried to see my own kids staying by themselves at the living room while her own kids were inside the computer room browsing the internet, playing Wii and watching television.

Feeling sorry for my kids, she asked them to join her kids at the computer room but my children politely declined.  Here is how their conversation went on:

Friend:     Hey, guys, why don’t you join your friends at the computer room?

Kids: We're grounded. Can't watch tv or play with the computer.

Friend: Oh-I'm giving you permission. I'll just explain to your mom later.

Kids: But we haven't completed the seven days yet.

Friend: That's why I'm giving you permission.

Other Kids: Come on guys. Nobody's telling anybody!

Kids:       Sorry, Tita. We can’t do that to our mom.  It just isn’t right.

It just isn’t right.  These words kept ringing in my ears. My children know how to behave even when I’m not around, ESPECIALLY when I’m not around.

What a wonderful joy to realize that my children obey not out of compliance, nor out of duty.  They do because they feel it’s the right thing to do.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


With office ID and the thick and heavy management-in-training folder in my hands, it’s official – I have started my first day of training yesterday as an employee of a company that owns a chain of fast-food restaurants in Canada and across the globe.

I am back to retail operations or customer service, my "cup of tea”, as I am wont to describe it. I will be on training on theoretical and practical aspects for the next four weeks or so to expose me to all areas of retail operations. After that, I would be pretty much on my own, running a retail outlet in Winnipeg the “company” way.

So what happened to my passion for human resources management work? It’s still very much alive and burning within me, but for now, it has to take a backseat. At least until December 4 when the results of the National Knowledge test would be out, and I would be able to find out if I am really cut for HR work in Canada.

Life indeed is a series of choices and decisions we make everyday. When I made the decision to pursue HR three months ago, that was just the first step. When I enrolled in an on-line crash course to prepare me for the exams, I was taking a step further in my original decision. When I finally wrote the exams last October 4, that closed the deal. Whether I fail or pass would be another story.

Waiting for the exam results between now and December 4 is like walking in eternity. I have high hopes that I will make it. But if I don’t, I will not allow it to rob me of my joy. Life goes on, anyway.

For the meantime, I have decided that I will have to enjoy my cup of tea.