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6th-Aug-2009 11:47 am - My Run with Cory

Yesterday was and will always be a historic day for all Filipinos.  It was the day that marked the final chapter of an icon of democracy and change.  In my opinion, I don't think it was Obama who first campaigned and truly embodied the spirit of change, it was Cory.  She was the first woman president of our country; she ended a dictatorship of about 2 decades, and probably the first very ordinary person to do so.  One would easily agree that she's a true national hero, but I feel she simply did what most of us couldn't do... which is the right thing.  All of us are given opportunities to do the right thing in everyday ordinary situations, but how many of us do?  On her part though, her situation wasn't ordinary since it called upon leading an entire nation, but she still did what was right.  She even capped it off with one of the arguably most sincere last state of the nation address, acknowledging she's done what she was called to do and selflessly stepped down.  (Unlike some people we know!)

Ok, now back to the run...  It was about 1pm, i was supposed to join the runners of Takbo.ph in their Makati run.  With the rain pouring, plus that nagging feeling that we should go home already to avoid traffic, we decided to go home and just show our support by watching the live coverage on TV.  On the way home, we passed the Sales Bridge, down the Villamor ramp to the SLEX.   And during this ride home, we saw a lot of people showing their support, standing in the rain, with or without umbrellas!  The bridge was starting to get filled, initially by media, then by onlookers and supporters.  The highway and service road was starting to get lined with cars parked on the side in anticipation of the convoy to pass there.  This is when I decided to push through with my run.  Even without being able to run with the Takbo.ph runners, I could still show my support and run to Villamor to get a last glimpse of the Mother of Philippine Democracy.

As soon as I got home, I looked for my cousin and told him what I planned to do and asked him if he wanted to join me.  He was initially reluctant (since he's not sure if he'll be able to do the distance) but eventually gave in.  We change into our running gear (unfortunately I didn't have a yellow singlet), and put on our running shoes and began our run.  For him to keep up (and since I was unsure of the distance) we decided on a pretty easy pace.  We exited the back entrance of Merville then made our way at the back route to the Merville Access Road (not the new one since no pedestrians were allowed there). 

We then arrived at the service road where we saw supporters starting to build up.  More cars were now parked along the highway and access road.  They even opened the barrier between the access road and highway to allow people to pass through.  The bridge coming form C5 also started to gather people.  We decided to run a bit further until we reached the break in the barrier, where the Merville exit was.  This is where we crossed to the highway to take a look around.  People started gathering, and what was magical about it is that there were people from all walks of life!  There were the lower classes, without shirts, in slippers, shorts.  There were the upper class people in their wind breakers, Lacoste shirts, Havaiana slippers, and Golf Umbrellas.  Even with these obvious differences, there were a lot of striking similarities... everyone was soaking wet, everyone didn't mind standing and waiting in the rain, everyone was willing to sacrifice their entire afternoon just to pay their last respects to Cory.

At that point we decided to run further up, we got back on the service road and started to continue the run to Villamor.  On the way back, I saw some friends from the village also waiting in the rain.  Since I was pacing and urging my cousin to complete the distance, I agreed to walk whenever he needed to catch his breath.  One thing I noticed on the way from the Merville Access Rd to Villamor was that cars were starting to become less frequent, and more were parked on the Service Road.

When we reached the Nichols interchange, we looked down and saw that the ramp we passed earlier on was now filled with people, and from 4 lanes, it was down to... well, 3/4 of a lane.  Cars had to slow down for people to inch away. 

Now the waiting begins.... the rains continued, and even pouring at some point, but this did not deter anyone, people stood their ground (with or without umbrellas!)  As for me and my cousin, obviously without an umbrella, we stood a few feet away from the up ramp of the interchange, on the SLEX.  Now this was one of those rare occasions where one gets to stand on a highway without fear of speeding vehicles.  While waiting, we made a few friends, some bikers, a photographer, and bystanders.  Everyone was in a pleasant mood.  People just started chatting with each other randomly!  People telling jokes, sharing stories of how their day went from covering the services at the cathedral and circumnavigating the metro to get a head of the convoy to get good shots, biking from the cathedral, what the atmosphere was like there, and sharing experiences during the Ninoy funeral, EDSA revolution, etc...

The entire time while waiting, whenever bikers or those on motorcycles would pass by, people would ask the convoy was near.  This is how we got our regular updates on the location of the convoy.  While waiting, there were also a lot of sights and things going on to keep people entertained.  A group of children from Kalayaan village and Sityo Wella came out, walked from Merville to Villamor on the Highway!  There were at least 60-70 of them, some shirtless, some without slippers, all with yellow ribbons.  Oh, and those yellow ribbons were tied by the highway officers on the highway barriers, but no one seemed to care.  The children started chanting "Cory! Cory!" and eventually got the approval and cheer of the crowd gathered in that area.  Some gay kids also being loud, cracking jokes left and right.  It was a very shallow, but entertaining scene that helped us pass the time. 

2 hours into waiting... The rains still continued pouring, the convoy supposedly just passed Pasay road area (near Don Bosco).  People started cheering, wasn't sure why, then we saw an SUV with a... well, "presidentiable" with his window down, waving the "Laban" sign.  Mar Roxas was smiling, and really "visible"!  People started joking that it would've been cool if he actually drove a pedicab the entire route... but then again, we all know better that his Campaign Ad was exactly what it was, an ad for the purpose of his campaign.

Another hour passed by, the rain still continued and poured, and we were starting to feel a bit of the fatigue.  We did, after all, run there.  A guy selling "chicharon" passed by and from a full bag, after only about a hundred meters, his stock was immediately sold out.  At the back of my head, I wished i also sold water, since I was sure it was going to be a hit, walking right behind the guys selling chicharon.  So my cousin and I bought and ate.  It was the only source of sustenance in the area at the time, and who was counting calories, I was pretty sure we were burning more than we were taking in!

We then saw a group of bikers, a runner, a motorcycle convoy, and another set of runners (who look very old, but very able at the same time to do the run from the Cathedral all the way to Sucat).  And after 4 long hours of waiting, the convoy finally arrived!  The truck carrying the casket and yellow flowers and the 4 honor guards passed by.  We were just a few feet away.  I was speechless, and was at awe.  I couldn't do anything but smile and say a silent "farewell".  After the casket, the buses with the VIP's came, with Kris and her family, some members of the press, and other well know personalities like Mayor Lim.  After the 4th bus, we started to walk with the crowd back to Merville.  Upon reaching Merville, we did our final run from the Merville exit, back home.  There's just so many things to talk about to be able to take in the full experience, but I guess it's just one of those things you would have to experience for yourself to be able to truly appreciate.  Everyone had their own personal experiences; this is a brief account of mine. 

It may have been a very brief moment with the former president, but it was all worth it.  It wasn't just being able to be so close to the convoy, not even to be part of it, it was the experience of seeing a nation united after so many years, a unity that crossed all boundaries.

What a day!  I'm glad I got to be a part (in my own little way) of such a monumental event.  All that, just to get a glimpse of an icon, who may have passed away, but shall leave a legacy that will be forever part of our nations history.   

11th-Apr-2009 05:43 pm - MOVIE REVIEW: Knowing

A movie that I would give 5 stars for the first 90%, and half a star for the other 10%. A movie that teaches a good lesson on appreciating life, not taking the world for granted, and not trying to be a hero and stop the inevitable. A movie that will make you think and string the clues with the facts.

Awesome way to reveal the last clue to the puzzle! Well, up until you realize that instead of divine intervention, it's a typical "US Based" phenomenon. Once you see it, you'll catch my drift.

Overall, it's an exciting film with a not so exciting ending revealed. Check it out and tell me what you think

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

3rd-Apr-2009 03:43 pm - On Leadership
I just saw a quote that made quite an impression on me lately:

"If you are too big to follow then you are too small to lead. - Every leader must learn to follow in some areas to build a team."

In my past work experience, I hate to admit it, but I always saw myself above the duties and responsibilities of my team.  I never really took the time to fully understand their job, their worklfows, and processes.  I usually just focused on coming in, finding out what the goals are, what's the current performance, and close the gap if any... TOTALLY WRONG!!!

When I became a frontline manager, I knew the workflows inside and out, and I brought this with me as I scaled the corporate ladder of that account.  It was easy to relate to my team members, my relationship with my entire team (even my -2's by the time I left) was great!  I knew their challenges, I had a better appreciation of their complaints. 

After that, I moved to a different company (which is the one prior to where I work now).  I made no effort at all to learn (well, of course, except through the man datory classroom on boarding training) what the team I would soon handle REALLY did.  I never even tried to do what they were doing at all.  Compared to my first leadership experience, where I could sit side by side with my team and tell them: "ok, I'm rolling up my sleeves, let's do this together".

A friend once told me that it didn't really matter, that I'm not expected to know that much about what the frontlines did, just a general overview.  I now see that he totally got it wrong.  That was the "conductor's" leadership, what worked well for me was the "band lead " type.  So instead of waving my baton and telling the team what to do, I should've been right there in the thick of things, performing with them.

This is a very late realization, which I learned the hard way.  The lack of willingness to be immersed has gravely affected my relationship with my team.  It has also affected my ability to speak intelligently about change, about accomplishments, performance gaps, etc... Most of all, this has isolated me from the team.  They say that it's always lonely at the top, I say it doesn't have to be.  All you need to do is bring everyone else there by being with them the whole time.

The mess I got myself into is now irreparable.  I can no longer immerse myself for a number of reasons: 1.) I'm too lazy at this point to do so; 2.)  I'm too busy now with a lot of other stuff which prohibits me from dedicating time to learning; 3.) I'm now seen as the dumb guy who can't answer a question to save his life.

A difficult leason, but it was learned nonetheless.  To all future leaders, it is not too late for you, get in there, get in the thick of things.  Before you even do that, create a clear picture of where you want to be, so that you know exactly what you should get yourself into.  Do not make the same mistake I made, be the leader of the band, not the conductor of the orchestra.
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