It is finished

Last Good Friday, I had the privilege of delivering the reflection for one of the seven last words. It was my first time to not only speak in a said occasion but also to stand and speak in our local parish. The church organizers provided copies of reflections that we are going to read but we may also deliver our own reflection. However, I didn’t have the luxury of writing my own reflection because it is supposed to be delivered in the Cebuano dialect and I’m not confident with my skills with it. Hence, I just used the reflection given to us.

It was challenging to deliver because of the difficulty in pronouncing some words and I’m not used to reading a speech especially if it’s a reflection. I prefer memorizing a speech so that I can focus on dynamics, actions and eye contact, in other words, the delivery is my priority. Nonetheless, I practiced a few times and ensure that I deliver it as natural as possible without sounding like I’m just reading it.

I delivered the 6th word, “It is finished.” It was helpful that the reflection was something all people can relate to as I didn’t have to struggle on how to emphasize the points. During the delivery, I was adjusting the mic stand as I was saying the first few words. It looked awful but at least I didn’t stutter while I was doing it. I felt like my delivery was smooth though I don’t think that I delivered it the way I imagined it to be. Surprisingly, when all of us were in the car and I was just starting the engine, Mama (my mother-in-law) said that I was so good with the speech. =)

Truly, even when you think that what you give to God isn’t good enough, it is still the best for Him and He will exemplify it so that other people may be inspired through it.

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Speech Titles

I’m planning to write the last 7 speeches, but I’m using this post to remind me of the titles.

Speech #4 – Let’s Dance

Speech #5 – How to Dance

Speech #6 – How to Survive A Long Distance Relationship

Speech #7 – The King’s Rightful Title

Speech #8 – Surprise!

Speech #9 – Girls’ Freedom

Speech #10 – The Greatest Success

Speech Marathon

Three guys.

A combined total of 18 speeches.

5 days.

At the beginning, I was so enthusiastic with the invitation to join the speech marathon. After the first day of the marathon, I realized it was so tough. It’s even tougher than my debating days in college.

I got nerve-wracking headaches, astigmatism and stress beyond imaginable explanation. There’s no doubt that these are also caused by the work that I have to do and a new hire to guide. My brain was crying to the point that I can feel my whole body breaking down. Nonetheless, the difficulty of thinking about a topic to speak about was the main culprit.

I persisted. I struggled. I never wrote a complete speech. I found myself getting lost during my delivery and almost spoke without writing an outline. It felt like a nightmare. I had no practice. The evaluations showed my unpreparedness. No emotions. No vocal variety. More purposeful gestures. It was disheartening.

As the marathon went on, I was able to improve myself without realizing it. Heck, I had no time to think about how I can improve based on the feedbacks. But the evaluators didn’t miss my small improvements. Vocal variety was appreciated. Gestures were purposeful. Three of the six speeches I delivered were commended so well.

After my last speech, I felt so happy and relieved. Happy because of having done something crazy. Relieved because my brain will finally be able to rest.

Right now I am cherishing this triumph. A triumph over my past self, who already gave up on his goal of becoming a Toastmasters Competent Communicator because time was running out.

The feeling of being able to survive like my life was on the line is not something that happens all the time. That’s why I will never ever forget this day. What makes it more special is that I wasn’t alone in the quest. And it is a priviledge to complete such feat with two impressive speakers that I look up to.

Three guys.

18 speeches

Two CCs and one ACB.

Let’s Dance

This is more or less the speech that I’ve delivered for my fourth speech project in toastmasters. Not the exact words because I just made an outline to prepare for the speech. I have basically achieved the objectives of the speech project except for one (use of vivid words), which totally slipped off my mind when I was writing this. Also, I should have followed my instinct to entitle this one as Life is Like Dancing, as what the general evaluator pointed out.

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Let’s Dance

Dancing is movement. Dancing is a journey. It has a purpose. There are a lot of things in dancing that can be related to life. Life is a movement, from birth to death. It is a journey. It has a purpose. For this afternoon, I’m going to share with you three of the things how life is like dancing.

Dancing has variety. You can dance fast or you can dance slow. You can wear tight clothes or baggy ones. You can dance with very small, detailed steps or you can dance with big, wide ones. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. In life, we can aim for so many goals or dream of anything but we can’t do everything. In dancing, dancers have a specialization. A hiphop dancer will most likely fail to perform a ballet dance, but there are some who are very versatile enough to dance more than one genre. Still, I don’t think there’s one dancer that can perform exceptionally well all dance genres. Why do these experts perform really well in their specialization? It’s because their bodies and emotions have the right fit for the dance. Similarly in life, we must find that something we can aim for that fits ourselves.

Dancing is fun. It should be enjoyed. When there’s no enjoyment, it becomes dull and obligatory. Just like in life, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing you’ll get bored and stressed out. And eventually you’ll quit. It’s alright to be serious in achieving your dream like harnessing your craft, having a family or building the next-generation airline applications, but you can’t continue doing it if you’re not enjoying it. You have to be serious in having fun, seriously.

Dancing is not perfect. When a dancer makes a mistake by missing a step or two, the music never stops and the performance still goes on. So what must a dancer do at these moments? He must forget about what happened, for a while at least, and move on to the next steps or redeem himself the next time he performs. Likewise in life, when you make a mistake, the world doesn’t stop rotating or revolving around the sun. Life goes on. One must learn from his mistake and then move on.

All these three things are impossible in dancing without the three things that we also need in life. Faith, hope and love. Without faith, a dancer cannot believe that he has the talent to perform. Without hope, a dancer cannot look past beyond his mistakes and look forward for his next performance. And without love, he won’t be able to keep his pursuit alive, which is to dance exceptionally well. So my fellow toastmasters and guests, I challenge you to keep on dancing, to keep on living because life is a dance and our audience is God.

1st Speech Project: The Precious in Me

The Precious in Me

There’s a Mexican proverb that says, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”. A saying that is quite true but I think is easily misunderstood. Jesus explained it very well through example by hanging out with people regarded as bad ones not for the reason of changing them but because of love. After having thought about it, I’ve recollected that there’s no better way to tell you about myself than to share with you, not about my friends, but about my family.

As you get to know my precious loved ones, you’ll also get to know more about me. In other words, you will know what I am and what I am not.

Let me start with the youngest person, my daughter. Her name is Joannie Melle. She is two years old. She is the sweetest person that I know right now (*ehem* like her father). She hugs, kisses and smiles a lot. She loves to sing and dance. I would carry her in my arms, hold her right hand with my left hand and dance her waltz. She loves it. Whenever I stop, she’d blurt out, “Daddy dancing!” I need to stop because her weight makes it unbearable to make it through one whole song. Apparently, she eats a lot. She’d eat anything even when she just finished a meal.  She loves to mess around with her brother’s toys. While her brother is playing, she’d get one toy from him and laughingly run away like a thief. As sweet as she is, she’s very shy to other people, unlike her father if you may say. She’d cry when other people take notice of her. The most prominent thing about her is that she got the looks from her father: the smile, the eyes, the serious or neutral look and just almost everything.

Now to my next precious loved one, my son. His name is Jamiel Myles. He’s 4 years of age. There’s no denying that he got the looks and skin color from his mother, but it all ends there. He has the naughtiness, the playful antics, an unstoppable mouth and love for dancing as well. It doesn’t take a genius to know where those came from. But beyond those traits that can drive any mother crazy is a kind and giving heart, which is still under development. He knows how to give way for his younger sister especially when I give him “the look.” Kidding aside he’s really kind and you can even ask him to get things for you around the house. He’s very clever, observant and loves to ask questions. One time in Jollibee, we saw the Jollibee mascot entered a room. He asked what Jollibee is doing there. I said he’s going to eat, he then replied but Jollibee can’t open his mouth, he just smiles. Like Jollibee, I just smiled back.

Last and definitely not the least is my dearest wife. Her name is Melanie. We have so many things in common like dancing, love for anime shows and songs and watching movies, but we have more differences than similarities. She likes to sleep often, I prefer being awake even when I’m sleepy. She easily gets mad at me and it takes a while before she talks to me again, while there are only very few instances where my anger lasted for hours. She’s skillful at handicrafts, while I can’t even do basic sewing well. We both love math but she’s the only one  who received the love back. We’re like the earth’s magnetic poles, but it’s because of these differences that we complement each other. She completes me and I complete her.

Well, those are my precious loved ones. I hope you have enjoyed listening and as you get to know me more, you can look back at this speech and compare other things that I share in common with my family. I have this belief that we don’t live to search for life’s meaning; we live because it’s the meaning of life. And the dearest and deepest parts of my life are these people that I have shared with you today. Thank you and have a pleasant day.

2nd Speech Project: When Venus Meets Mars

142 million miles is the distance of Mars from the sun. 67 million miles is the space between the sun and Venus. Subtracting these two values will give us 75 million miles, which is the distance between Venus and Mars. These two planets were used by Dr. John Gray to represent men and women and how the relationship between these two groups works. In reality, the 75-million mile distance is similar to the distance between men and women. It’s a distance that each one must overcome in order to have a good relationship. However, one of them has the disadvantage in terms of finding their partner in life.

This realization came upon me because of a joke I circulated to my group of close friends composed mostly of girls.  They even labeled it as a curse. And the joke, or rather the curse, is that it is because they have me as a friend that they are still single and have no boyfriends yet. They’ve never been in a relationship ever since they met me. Whether it’s a coincidence or not, I do believe it’s just a coincidenceJ, I find it something worth pondering about. I asked myself why it takes so long for that one person meant for them to appear. For how long must a woman wait? Why can’t he come yesterday, last week, last month or last year? I thought and searched for answers. I finally concluded that there’s a disadvantage, that Venus can only do as much to find or have her Mars. More than this conclusion, I found three realizations. First, good looks are not a guarantee that a girl can easily have a boyfriend. You may have friends who are drop dead gorgeous and GF-test passer but are unexpectedly not in a relationship. Second, good personality is not a sure-shot way in securing a relationship. Compatibility covers a lot of aspects and some people don’t just dig into a woman or a man that is goody-goody. And third, that nobody will ever know exactly if a person is the one meant for them. My friends had several prospects they thought to be the one. In the end, the feeling was not mutual or the spark was just not there.

Now, given these reflections, how can Venus meet her Mars then? For the part of Venus, she needs to be patient and ready for the time when Mars will come by to sweep her off her feet. For Mars, who also holds a crucial role, must reach for Venus. From there, they must cooperate to make things work out. And only through that can the disadvantage be solved. There still lies one question for us, where is Mars? Or where is Venus? Both of them may have no knowledge where but they do know they’re just 75 million miles apart. A great distance, yes, but with a Venus willing to wait and a Mars who will make a move as soon as he finds her, it’s just a matter of time for these two worlds to collide.

3rd Speech Project: Keeping The Fire Burning

Michael Jordan, Lea Salonga, Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs. What do these people have in common? You will agree with me that they are considered one of the best in their field. People who have really excelled so much that their accomplishments captivated the hearts and minds of people all over the world. There’s one other thing they have in common and this is the reason why they were able to fulfill larger than life achievements. Do you know what it is? It’s passion. All of them made double efforts, stayed up late to harness their craft, worked like there’s no tomorrow and none of these would have been possible if they were not passionate about what they were doing. Given the exemplary success of prominent figures like them we can conclude that passion is needed to succeed in our endeavors and our endeavors should be something that we are passionate about. I’m not here to talk to you about discovering your passion. You know why we often love to know the stories behind the success of people like those I mentioned? How MJ won 3 championships in a row two times? Or how Lea got the roles in broadway and Disney animated movies? We all know that they practice a lot but that’s not the secret we want to know. We want to know how they consistently did it. How they were able to muster such discipline and passion. And what I’m going to share with you today are three ways I think that can keep that fire within us burning.

First, know everything that you can about your passion. The ups and downs, the ebony and the ivory. Passion can start from being attracted to a basic aspect of the whole and some people quit upon learning the grander scale of it. You can only confirm if it’s really genuine passion when you still have that same enthusiasm after knowing everything about it. How does this help you in keeping your passion alive? One, there’s a big chance that the other aspects can excite you even more and it would be your motivation to keep going and going at it. Two, it would help you know how to face the not-so-beautiful aspects of it, which will lead us to the second way. Accept the fact that passion doesn’t completely ease the difficulty of the work, it just makes all your effort worth it. To quote Steve Jobs, “passion won’t protect you from setbacks, but it will insure that no failure is ever final.” You can’t keep doing something expecting that each step in the journey will make things easier for you. Having this kind of mindset will cause the passion to die a slow death because you will be burnt out due to unmet expectations. Whenever there’s consistent hard work, there’s also consistent difficulty. Now, the third step, share your success with other people and be inspired by their support and success as well. Your success may have a direct or indirect positive impact on other people. You have to share your success so you can have more room to grow and to aspire for. You keep doing it because you make people happy with it. There’s nothing more uplifting than to have people wanting, wishing and praying for you to succeed. The support of other people will serve as the backbone of one’s journey towards success. One may last without the first and second steps but without this third step, everything you have worked on can be gone when you hit rock bottom along the way.

Remember these three steps. Know your passion very well, accept that the difficulty will always be there and have people that you can inspire and support you all the way. Keep your passion alive because this is what keeps us alive and achieve something. As Steve Jobs said, “it’s the fuel that keeps you going when there is no outside validation of your dream.”