Archive for May, 2011

Pennies Envy

Posted in psychology on May 26, 2011 by gohelpyourself

For some, money is a great motivator. (This picture, taken from http://www.sxc.hu, is not originally in my editorial.)

(This is my last “From the Editor” piece in PLDT ACC:ESS magazine. I think it’s a fitting farewell after my nine-year stint in PLDT. Instead of writing about my memorable experiences in PLDT and thereby put you to sleep, I decided to stick to our theme, which is motivation. So I hope you get motivated somehow. Anyway, to my three loyal readers, including my wife, don’t worry. I’ll still be writing here. Happy reading.)

Some people are envious of other people’s pennies, or money, that is. That’s what motivates them. While Sigmund Freud has a theory of envy involving a certain body part, the rest of us are envious of or motivated by many different things.

One of my favorite accounts of motivation is a scene from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Some of you may have forgotten about it, whereas some may not have had the chance to read the book.

Anyway, here is that particular scene.

Tom Sawyer’s aunt asked him to whitewash a fence. It was 30 yards of board fence nine feet high. The task seemed to be as interesting as brushing your teeth.

As Tom was working, a boy named Ben Rogers sauntered by, ready to ridicule.

Excerpt from the version from iBooks:

“Hello, old  chap, you got to work, hey?”

Tom wheeled suddenly and said: “Why, it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”

“Say – I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther WORK – wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t THAT work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well,  maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know is it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now,  you don’t mean to let on that you LIKE it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling at his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back  and forth – stepped back to note the effect – added a touch here and there – criticized the effect again – Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let ME whitewash a little.”

Tom considered, was about to consent, but he altered his mind:

“No – no – I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence – right here on the street, you know – but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and SHE wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very cafeful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”

Soon Ben gave his apple to Tom just so he can whitewash the fence. Other boys traded a kite, marbles, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin solider, and other gimcracks just to be given the chance to whitewash the fence.

Motivation can be strange indeed. We all have different triggers. And this “From the Editor” piece is my trigger for saying goodbye. I’m moving on to a PLDT affiliate company. I do have a lot of people to thank.

Mr. Manny Pangilinan, Mr. Butch Jimenez, Mr. Mon Isberto, and Mr. Horace Lavides have taught me valuable lessons in my nine-year stay in PLDT. Of course, I’m forever indebted to my colleagues in PLDT Media and other friends: Jun Sambalilo, Sennen Lacsamana, Annie Salazar, Olive Barrozo, Adrian Elumba, Raymond Co, Rochelle Hilario, Paeng Kalaw, Dan Mortalla, Jay Garcia, Jude Galford, Arnel Samson, Wang Salonga, Jenny Salonga, Maricar Cabador, Leng Casas, Ma’am Evelyn del Rosario, Alice Tuazon, Annie Ferrer. I’ve risked not mentioning other names but please know that I’m grateful.

And you, my readers, at least most of you, have been kind and supportive. Thanks a lot.

Let’s hope we find an eternal fount of motivation that will guide us each day, and prevent us from envying other people’s pennies.

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Anthony O. Alcantara

P.S. If you miss me, you can check my blog www.gohelpyourself.wordpress.com and say hi.

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10 ways to cheer up a breast-feeding wife

Posted in parenting on May 7, 2011 by gohelpyourself
“Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (May).  This carnival is dedicated to all moms, celebrating Mother’s Day today.  Participants will share various topics covering A Breastfeeding Mother’s Top Ten List.  Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.”

Babies look for this at night. (Photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu.)

By Anthony O. Alcantara

Breast-feeding can be exhausting. Well, at least with my eight-month-old daughter, it is. She can be restless, especially since she likes to explore her surroundings, often trying to eat our puzzle rubber mat.

I’ve seen how taxing it is for my wife. Wishing to be of help to her, I attempted pumping milk from my breast and even suckle my baby. Disappointing results.

So I thought of other options. I’m sure there are a lot of others depending on a couple’s means and situation. Husbands may consider these tips:

1. Give your wife a massage. Massaging yourself doesn’t feel as good as being massaged by somebody else. And it requires energy from the massager. That’s where you come in. Even though work at the office is exhausting too, giving your wife a massage will be greatly appreciated.

2. Prepare her favorite drink. Sometimes it takes just simple gestures of thoughtfulness to make your wife happy. This one is easy to do. But no alcoholic drinks please.

3. Help with the house chores. If you have house help, good for you. But if you don’t, please consider that breast-feeding is a major “house chore.” So it may be a good idea for you to do some of the other chores. Your wife will be grateful.

4. Do her a favor. There are times when your wife still has work or must do some errands for other people. You can offer to do them. Just trying to be helpful will help ease the burden on your wife.

5. Bring her out on a date. This won’t be exactly like the dates you’ve had before. If you can have the in-laws or the yaya look after baby for a few hours, you can have dinner or perhaps watch a movie. Of course you can also take baby with you.

6. Compliment her on doing a good job. Your wife needs this. She needs to feel that she’s doing something important. You can show your appreciation with a few words and little effort on your part.

7. Put baby to sleep. This depends on the baby. Some babies only like their moms to put them to sleep. But still, you can try. Some babies take a long time to sleep and you may have to sing a lot of lullabies and perhaps do some dancing. Be prepared.

8. Have time for baby. It’s important for you to have time for baby. Play with her, read to her or sing to her. As the Bible says, there’s a time to reap, a time to sow, and a time to bond with baby.

9. Help your wife with breast-feeding at night. Babies wake up at night when they’re thirsty. If they could, they would just walk to the fridge and get a refreshing drink. But for babies, the fridge is mommy. The breast milk is their refreshing drink. Since your baby will just cry as she tries to locate mommy’s breast, you can help baby locate her fridge. The good thing about this is that mommy can breast-feed while lying on her side.

10. Give your wife a kiss and a hug. This doesn’t cost a centavo and it probably takes just a few joules of energy. Just remember that formula feeding costs thousands of pesos a month, which means you have to work harder to make money. And you have to do a lot of cleaning bottles too.

If you have other useful tips, you can share them here.

Below are the links to the articles written by those who joined the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival: 

Em’s Aria’s Habits While Breastfeeding (my wife’s entry)

Mec’s Top Ten Breastfeeding Partners
Ichel’s Ten Things a Handy Mommy Can Do While Breastfeeding
Espie’s Ten Life Altering Moments of a New Breastfeeding Mom
Dinna’s Nurturing Rafael: A Breastfeeding Mother’s Top 10 List
Frances’ Ten Things I Now Know About Breastfeeding Because I Breastfed
Cai’s Top Ten Tips for Pumping and Working Moms
Jenny’s Our Breastfeeding Library
Nat’s My Top 10 Favorite Foods for the Breastfeeding Mom
Tina’s Tips on How to Breastfeed Your Baby in Public (1st of three parts)
Nyssa’s Ten Reasons I still Breastfeed (Even as a Low Supply Mom)
Joey’s Nursing Must haves and cheaper alternatives
Martine’s 10 Things You Don’t Say to a Breastfeeding Mom

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Manny Pacquiao: Delivering solid punches for sports development

Posted in health and fitness, optimal performance on May 7, 2011 by gohelpyourself

(I wrote this story seven years ago for the April 2004 issue of PLDT’s ACC:ESS Magazine. Manny Pacquiao fans may be interested. Too bad I couldn’t find my picture with him.)

By Anthony O. Alcantara

Being a champ has its rewards. Money, popularity, respect, admiration and fulfillment may be all a person could ever want. No doubt Manny Pacquiao has all of these. For him, however, there is a different kind of fulfillment he continues to seek.

Through his Emmanuel Pacquiao Foundation, Manny is not only helping the country develop its new breed of champions and excellent sportsmen but also recognize and support retired athletes as well.

Nakakalimutan na sila,” lamented Manny. “Minsan sinisiraan pa.

The two-year-old foundation, which is based in Barangay Dadiangas in South General Santos City, aims to promote boxing as a professional sport. It supports programs that seek to develop boxers, giving them opportunities to hone their skills and achieve their dreams. It awards scholarships to promising athletes and grants security benefits to retired athletes who once brought honor to the country but are now neglected.

Boxing, unlike other sports, is a high-risk sport. There is a chance that a boxer could get killed in the ring or develop internal injuries that are not easily detected and which could kill without warning some days, months or years later.

The families of many boxers are usually left with nothing when the boxers retire or when something unfortunate happens to them.

Not all boxers make it big like Manny Pacquiao. Not all manage to rake in millions and not all who earn the millions know how to invest them wisely to provide them with a decent living when they retire.

The scenario is the same for many other athletes in different fields.

Hindi lang boxing sinusuportahan ko. Sumusuporta ako sa billiards, sa basketball, basta kahit anong sports kasi yan lang ang solusyon para maiwasan ng kabataan ang masasamang bisyo,” Manny explained.

He does not believe in just giving enough of the right advice to the youth about avoiding drugs and vices.

Bukas, makalawa wala na yan,” he said. “Ganon tayong mga Pilipino eh. Yung mga bata, pag may sports, sila na mismo ang iiwas sa bisyo.”

With the new special edition call cards featuring Manny Pacquiao, the boxing champ is giving hope to his fellow athletes. Under the agreement with PLDT, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the cards goes to his foundation and its projects.

With so much given to this talented sportsman, the call to give back to society some of the blessings he continues to receive has become hard to ignore.

Manny Pacquaio is the 2nd exemplary Filipino to be featured on the PLDT Touch Card.  Exemplary Filipinos are those who have brought honor and glory to the Philippines in their fields of expertise.  They continue to inspire the nation and make a difference in the lives of Filipinos.  The 1st exemplary Filipino to appear in the Touch Card was former Senator and hero, Ninoy Aquino.

PLDT, being the leading telecommunications company and having the most innovative products and services the country, has decided to have Manny, a world champion in boxing, as one of its endorsers for its call cards.

Like Manny, PLDT has transformed itself into a very aggressive and quick player in the telecommunications business. From ordinary fixed line phone services to cellular phones, satellite communications, Internet, data networking, and call centers, PLDT has pursued opportunities and continues to remain the country’s No. 1 telecommunications company.

The perfect fit between Manny Pacquiao and PLDT can also be seen with how the two became the No. 1 in the their respective fields through years of experience and preparation. Manny with his very demanding physical regimen since starting out with boxing at 12-years-old, and PLDT with its challenging and yet illustrious 75 years of service to the Filipino people.

Manny, through his foundation, is also doing his part in helping fellow Filipinos and the country in realizing the dream of economic prosperity and commitment to excellence. As for PLDT, it has been supporting many worthwhile causes that help the less fortunate in society. The Company, for example, continues to support the livelihood projects of Philippine Business for Social Progress by contributing a certain part of its income every year to the organization.

Aside from Manny, PLDT has also tied up with other celebrities for the call cards where other foundations and socially-oriented non-profit organizations received portions of the proceeds from the sales of call cards. They include singer-actress Jolina Magdangal for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Philippines and singer Gary Valenciano for the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund or UNICEF.

With Manny, PLDT is sure to score another victory with its call cards and the foundation that will benefit from the sales. And, speaking of victory, it is surprising to note that a world champ like Manny considers his most memorable fight not one of victory but of defeat.

Nung natalo ako nung 1999. Ang kalaban ko si Majern Matire from Thailand. Hindi ko pati nakuha yung timbang ko kaya tinanggal sa akin yung korona,” rued Manny.

However, as his win-loss-draw record of 38-2-1 and his collection of championship belts would show, Manny believes that there can be glory after defeat. In the same way, as Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan would say, PLDT, with its own setbacks and difficulties throughout its 75-year history, believes that “the best is yet to come.”

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An imaginary graduation speech

Posted in philosophy, psychology on May 5, 2011 by gohelpyourself
By Anthony O. Alcantara

Since it’s graduation season again and I suddenly imagined myself giving a graduation speech, I decided to have a writing exercise.
It’s just a draft so please be forgiving.
Good morning, my dear graduates.

I really don’t know what I’m going to tell you. It’s so damn hard to be original these days. Truly original ideas are rare. So I went out into the wilderness, meditated and soon a prophet with a white beard appeared to me and handed me this speech.

He said it’s a nice hodgepodge of ideas that may be useful. As you know, we all have defining moments in our lives. There are signals and triggers that inspire us to be great. Who would have thought that an encounter with a world-class pianist can inspire a young person to become a great musician? Who would have thought that a single word from an admired person can inspire another to become a billionaire businessman?

Signals and triggers can come from odd sources indeed. So I’m hoping this speech could trigger something great somehow.

Anyway, here’s my first piece of advice as handed down to me by the wise prophet:

Please do what you love.

Many others have said this. It’s nothing new. And yet a few weeks ago when I was watching news on TV, a reporter was interviewing new high school graduates about what they wish to take up in college. All of the young graduates said they wanted something that would guarantee them a job, something that would guarantee them income.

And you college graduates are about to embark on the world of work. Will you be saying the same thing?

I ask you to be different. We are at a time when there are really no guarantees. Jobs are being created and abolished at the same time. Unlike before, job security is not much in vogue. It’s much like politics too. If the people don’t like you anymore, they vote for somebody else.

So you must be prepared for change. The saddest thing that could happen is if you choose your careers because you want a secure job that will give you money. Just like Steve Jobs of Apple, you can choose a career that you love and be successful.

It’s the most sensible thing to do. Why? Because when you do the thing that you love, there is a great possibility that you will excel in it. And when you excel and become remarkable in what you do, people will look for you. And when that happens, you’ll have a job that is relatively stable. You’ll have a job that will bring you money for the long haul.

So there. Don’t listen to people who tell you otherwise. Find something you love and do it, excel in it.

But you may ask, “What if I’m not particularly good at this thing that I love? What if nothing I do will really make me excel in this job?”

My next advice is this:

Please find something that you can excel in.

The questions I  asked earlier are valid questions. The sensible thing to do is really to  find something that you love and something that you can excel in at the same time.

There must be an overlap. Sir Ken Robinshon said in his book The Element that one must find that sweet spot of what you love to do and what you’re good at. It may take time. It may take some reflection. It may take a little experimentation. But nobody is going to do all that for you.

So after this graduation ceremony and after your celebration, you can look for  that sweet spot if you haven’t found it yet.

The next piece of unsolicited advice is:

Please find a way to make good money out of the thing that you love to do.

As I said, when you find that sweet spot, the next thing to do is to figure out how you can make money.

That’s where your creativity comes in. If you love to bake cookies that your friends like, can you can make a living out of it? If you love to paint, can you can earn enough to support yourself?

There must be something you can do to make that possible. You can look around for people who have done it. You can interview them and ask how they did it. You can research. The internet is a rich resource. Then see what works and what doesn’t.

If you love playing with computers, you can ask yourself how you can make money out of it? Some have gone on to make their own games. Some have become elite players who win contests.

You can work on your passions one by one until you find something marvelous that will suit you.

My next piece of advice is:

Please find something that is meaningful to you.

A lot of books have been written on this topic. The Purpose Driven Life is a good one, and so is Rick Warren’s The Leap.

When you find meaning in what you do, you put your whole being into it. You give more of yourself. Everything makes sense. That’s when you begin to be excellent.

In a study by psychologist Adam M. Grant, it was found out that employees who know the “why” of what they are doing outperformed those who only have a vague idea. So it may be a good idea to regularly remind yourself why you are doing the things that you do. Only you can give meaning to your own life. If you think the meaning of your life lies in cheating people, then you get the fruits of your decision.

If you think the meaning of your life is to educate the youth better, then that’s the meaning you assign to your life.

So ask yourself why you are studying, why you are working, why you’re here. Bakit nga ba nandito kayo?

My next advice is this:

Please dedicate your life to something big and noble.

Dedicate your efforts to doing what you love and direct them toward something big and noble.

For example, if you love baking, you can perhaps form a group in your own circle of friends and dedicate yourselves to helping each other. Perhaps you can exchange tips or provide resources. Who knows what may come out of it? Then you can go further and have even bigger and nobler goals.

Let me clarify that “big and noble” are relative terms. You determine what is big and noble. But please be a little ambitious.

So after you leave this place, find something that you can dedicate your lives to. It’s going to be a long journey so please be patient and please be ever discerning and aware.

Perhaps you can even begin the process right now. Dedicate your graduation to somebody. Now everybody say this,  with conviction please: “I, (mention your name), dedicate my graduation / to ___./”

Now how do you feel? Is there somehow a sense of pride and a sense of pressure to do well.  Manny Pacquiao has dedicated each and every fight to some cause, particularly the Filipino people. Maybe that helped him win his fights somehow.

So please become a great dedicator. Dedicate  everything you do to something big and noble. It could be the cause against animal cruelty, health and wellness, or even the plight of the cute tarsiers.

Find something big and noble that means something to you. When you find it, dedicate yourself to it and do your best. Don’t support causes that other people think is right for you. It must emanate from  you. It is the only way to make a real difference in the lives of many.

The government is dedicated to something big and noble. I don’t see why you can’t be the same. Whatever your career, there must be something big and noble that you can dedicate yourselves to.

Here’s my last piece of advice:

Please be a failure. (Pause.)

I hope I got your attention. Let me explain what I mean. Be a failure. Be a failure and learn from it. Most of you are probably afraid to fail. I can’t blame you. But failure is a part of life. Collect your failures early and learn from them. Be smart and curious enough to find out what made you a failure.

That will pave your way to success. Thomas Edison had a lot of failures with the light bulb. But guess what? He learned from them. He continually improved himself so he can come up with his huge successes.

This is my message to you: don’t work for labels. Don’t work to be called smart or successful. These are all fleeting things. You will not always be smart. You will not always be successful. There is one sure thing though: you can always work to be smart. You can always work to be successful. You are a work in progress.

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, said the mindset of growth separates the achievers from the perpetual losers. If you can manage to live a life of growth, a life of continual improvement, then you will be more likely to achieve your full potential.

Be humble enough to acknowledge that you are not perfect and that you need to continually work on improving yourselves so that you grow as a person.

Please do what you love.

Please find something that you can excel in.

Please find a way to make good money out of the thing that you love to do.

Please find something that is meaningful to you.

Please dedicate your life to something big and noble.

Please be a failure.

Now don’t accept what I’m saying to you at face value. What I’m telling you are just some things for you to think about. Our country needs people who will make a difference. I know that right now, I’m looking at young people who have the potential to do so.

Have a good morning everyone.

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