A Birthday Wish and A Birthday Gift

Before we left for Canada, my mother brought me and my sisters to a Joey Ayala concert. His melodies were a part of my childhood music education along with The Phantom of the Opera, the Bukidnon lullabye and assorted children’s songs but I have never been in one of his performances until then. I was excited!

I learned during this event that aside from being an exceptional artist, Joey Ayala is also a super effective facilitator*. Instead of a traditional music session, I found myself participating in a workshop! We were seated around tables, provided papers and coloured pencils. Imagine the audience being asked, What do you love doing? by a man walking around with a guitar and singing Ang Lahat ng Bagay ay Magkaugnay. He continued with more ideas and questions: What are you good at? What are your strengths? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? 

In the course of a few hours, each us had come up with a draft of our Salundiwa or what I can only loosely translate as personal vision. My family still has each of our Salundiwa posted in our rooms. 

At this point, I am going to have to admit that I have just turned a year older this month. While my twenty something years seem to be fraught with uncertainty, disappointment and failure I am grateful for the constant source of inspiration from other people I admire and surprisingly even from myself.

On my birthday, instead of defaulting into my list-making habit, I did not to make one. I always had a list. I make lists and revise them regularly that making one for this year would be redundant. Instead, with the spirit of the Salundiwa workshop, I decided to focus more on discerning, seeking wisdom in my decisions so that I can align my lists with my Salundiwa or personal vision. Besides, doesn’t diwa mean the sense, the meaning, or the soul?

me having fun. yay!


There are many things I want to happen in my life. I want to travel. I want to be independent and not rely on a job. I still think of myself crazy how I can want so much but then again, do I really want to toil away and not get anywhere? Or get somewhere but not where I imagined and would love myself to be? 

In the midst of my country mourning the loss of Sec. Jesse Robredo, seeing how he lived his life has instilled in my mind and heart that nothing is impossible. When he entered public office, he was determined to do what was right and not to be swallowed up by the system. In Philippine politics riddled with corruption, that is an “impossible” feat but he did it and had he lived longer he would continue to do it.

I see how taking the steps to achieve one’s dreams incurs a lot of discomfort. Sec. Robredo has been criticized, sued many times over, challenged by overwhelming pressure but the changes he has put in place, the good that came out of his vision was surely worth the temporary discomfort. 

My mentor says, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to be comfortable. It’s a mouthful but it makes so much sense. Until recently, I used to be so worried about my achievements as they compare to my peers’. I’ve always felt I wasn’t good enough. The fact that I am a self confessed glossy mag reader doesn’t help because those things always seem to require me to be so and so. 

One time at the airport I came up with an imaginary identity just for fun in case someone who had no better things to do would chat me up. Lara Abelardo – well travelled author, non-profit organization program manager, dances and scuba dives in her spare time

Of course my name is not Lara Abelardo. I can’t write a cohesive post. This girl works in customer service, can’t swim and has two left feet. But my birthday wish isn’t to be her or a version of this imaginary woman. My birthday wish is to someday live the life I want to live and be an example so other people know that it’s possible. In the end, my greatest gift this year is that I am happy that I no longer care of what the world expects me to be at the age of 2_ and in knowing that I now have the inner resolve to be who I , and only I, want myself to be.


*This is funny but I just googled him again a few minutes ago and found my realizations backed up by his twitter description: singer, songwriter, facilitator.
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