My Heroes

“Come back when you’re done saving the world.”

This is perhaps the most iconic lyrical phrase I hold on to in the sphere of OPM. And in the spirit of celebrating the Philippine day of Independence and recognizing that this effect was caused fundamentally by the movers and shakers of the times, allow me to share a list of my Filipino modern-day heroes! In order of the timeline of meeting them:

  1. My Parents – I was born and raised in a love story that involved a lot of grit, persistence and sacrifice in the hope of rearing children with better tomorrows. It was only when I graduated college that my aunt (of all people) revealed my mom and dad’s Capulet-and-Montague-esque love story. Up until this day, my mother refuses to make this mushy, whereas my dad leverages on this to shower my mother with compliments. That’s love. 34 years to date! The details deserve a separate blog post of its own!Parents
  2. Ralph Cecilio (see last sentence of this article) – I will never forget how he referred to me as a moron in the other honors’ section of my batch in fourth year high school. He was astounded at how I literally cut my sources, pasted it on my metacards, and then wrote my source. Haha. Of course, I will mostly remember him for making me feel privileged, as I was one of the lucky ones in my city of Cagayan de Oro to have learned the intricacies of Shakespearean literature through a mentor of such fine caliber and passion. It isn’t so bad to end an argument by being equipped with this line:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet (1.5.167-8)
  3. Nicole Curato – Well-celebrated, this woman is. Fundamentally, I will always remember her as the teacher that sparked my notion of  challenging the status quo, gaining courage to ask existential questions and dwell on the pivotal why’s of life. My most memorable elective in my undergraduate life in UP will have to be her Socio 10 class. It’s not everyday that you get opportunities to argue with your professor on the validity of a greater Being, and rationalizing points to debunk/support Nietszchean principles. She gave that opportunity to her students! Doesn’t hurt that she happens to be a renowned debater, a beautiful face, a beautiful brain, a TOYM awardee.
  4. Solita Monsod – This woman probably needs no introduction, but it was being in her class that helped me understand why the universe led me to the path of studying Business Economics. I remember calling my mother freshman year, airing out ugly sobs, asking her why I had to deal with consumer behavior and the elasticity of goods (to which she answered: sige lang, anak). It was through Prof. Winnie’s class that the fundamentals of economic theory were given life and meaning and relevance. I still geek over Lorenz Curves and Gini Coefficients. And it’s not everyday that you get a prof who comes to class, bravely crying because she is in awe of how some students have remained to value honor before excellence i.e. taking low grades and declaring mistakenly overrated grades in the spirit of honor, in the spirit of integrity, amidst examples that exhibit otherwise (proud of you, classmate!). It also ain’t everyday that your prof writes about your class at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, expressing how stimulated she is by the debates and ideas that boomerang within the confines of the classroom. More so, it’s not everyday that you get a threat from one of the greatest Filipinos of today that she will haunt you from her grave once she finds out if any of her students have sold out and contributed to the brain drain problem.
  5. Nancy Siy – My most admired yoga teacher. I am amazed how revolutionized her way of living is. I remember taking my 1st class at Bliss with her as my teacher. It was by being in her classes that I understood the essence of Yoga further beyond asana, where true yoga is hard, where yoga is union – of the mind, of the body, of the heart, of the breath. It was in her Jivamukti classes (literally translated as liberation of the soul) that I encountered the virtue of learning, unlearning and keeping an open mind. It was by being in her classes that I had more focus, as I was assured that yoga was about non-judgment, that it was about 6-billion individual paths to bliss, that it was about opening your heart and following it, that the courage to come up to inversions and have the heart literally higher up the sky was a figurative way of pushing the heart up and forward. It was primarily through her influence that I’ve decided to take on the path of adapting a vegan lifestyle. Loka Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.
  6. IdeaSpace Team – These people justify my self-proclaimed title as groupie of the good. These are the people, the brains, the hearts behind the advocacy. Marrying innovation, entrepreneurship and technology development as the catalysts to nation-building are what these people stand for. I feel greatly privileged to be working with them. The hashtags #Overheard #GottaLovePH and #CharDotComDotPH have been inspired by hearing / eavesdropping on so many wonderful things I tune in to at the incubator. Added bonus? These superstars shun high power distance indices and so are very much open, approachable and generally awesome amidst their greatness. And did I tell you about Dave, Brenda and Miguel? Fortune favors the brave. These IdeaSpace bagets are also paving their unique stories in building the advocacy and cultivating more homegrown stories of technopreneurial excellence.
  7. Prim Paypon – His brainchild called The Dream Project is a story I will never get tired of sharing. I was doing figurative somersaults when I met Prim and basked in his passion of seeing a better Philippines and devoting his energies to make that happen. As a person who walks the talk, he’s keen on wearing Filipino, which I think is one of the simplest, most sensible ways to (1) emanate Filipino pride (2) support the local economy. What made my jaw drop was discovering his personal pain growing up and witnessing him harness from that pain, inspiring people around him to dream better dreams, and more so achieve them. #BoomPaypon!

Being in the thick of inspiring stuff at The Dream Expo Manila, allow me to share my dream: and that is to be a groupie of more pinoy stories of excellence, passion, compassion and awesomeness. The light and love in me honors the light and love and each and everyone of you!

Itaas ang bandera, mga katoto!


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