Serving others so that they may succeed
My fellow alumni, if I were asked what type of life have I lived so far? I would like the answer to be “a life of service.” I hope there are enough examples so far of volunteering and of making myself available (to country and to others) for me to make that claim truthful and rightful. If there are not enough examples of it, I think there are still a few good years ahead of me to make that aspiration a reality.
Several years ago I met a most admirable and accomplished person and leader; he later turned out to become an endeared friend. He changed my life for the better and I have adapted his motto as my own – servus servorum, a Latin phrase meaning “servant of servants.” [He influenced me so much that during my seven-year stint as Namfrel executive director (1996 to 2003), he made it apparent to me and trained me to serve particularly all chairpersons of each of the provinces. These key individuals collectively took care of hundreds of thousands that made up the entire Namfrel volunteer corps. To make the provincial chairs succeed was vital to the success of the organization; to serve them so that they will succeed, was my task. (I took that task to heart to the point of keeping my mobile phone open 24/7 for seven years just in case any of them would call or needed something in which I could help.)]
In 2004 when I was in Kabul for the first time helping to set up a Namfrel-like organization there, I needed an answer to the question why I was there instead of being in the Philippines. The answer came in my prayer, “serve the people of God.” Of course not only the Filipinos, but also the Afghans, the Timorese, and the Bangladeshis, are people of God. Since then I have never hesitated to be in any place. I have learned to welcome and not to be afraid to serve.
In my Leadership class (yes, am back in school for my masters degree at AIM) my (younger) classmates view leadership as them being at the helm. I defined it differently as the ability to serve others so that they may succeed in the good that they are supposed to do. Perhaps that difference in perspective is because of the age gap? Or it is because there are different expectations from us that we turn our focus on responding to those expectations. Perhaps my younger classmates feel that they still need to prove themselves and make their mark. And the older ones like me who think that they have received so much, the measure that they apply is how much they have given back.
We respond and measure ourselves up to those who are important to us, like our parents, other members of the family, and our relatives and friends. This is human nature. Sometimes their expectations are not exactly the same as the ones that we set for ourselves. The measure of others on your success could be different from your own measure of your success. This, too, is a reality. At your tender teen age and about to enter college, your parents could have a different set of measures for you. I am sure that different for some of you as it might, be your parents only intend for you to realize your full potential. They want you to succeed and want nothing but the best for you.
To realize “fullness of being”; to do one’s best to be the person he or she can be is a beautiful life-long quest. But one must not stop there. She or he must share his or her skills, talents, motivations and aspirations to others so that they may realize their own potentials, too. One should also dedicate and offer her or his aspirations to country and to even to mankind. I sincerely hope for both my fellow alumni and their parents that they will share that (which is to aspire to be the best that one can be) as a bonding aspiration.
I have discovered that to serve is my way of achieving fullness of being. In doing so, I see the need to constantly improve myself so that I can serve more competently. To continue to learn, to engage in a sport or a hobby, to do something worthwhile but outside of my comfort zone, to test my limits but not against others’ but against myself, are ways of continuously improving my own self. As I go through these phases, I realize how exciting it is and how wonderful life is.
As I go through this journey of servus servorum and self-improvement towards fullness of being, I have realized how blessed I, and the life with my loved ones have been. At each turn there is always a pleasant discovery; at each time I have conquered myself, as this is what you do each time you improve yourself, there is always something to be thankful for.
I would like to believe that in being a servant of servants, I am also finding my heart, my true north, and my home. For all these I would like to live a life of gratitude as well.
Thank you very much for giving me the privilege to be a part of your celebration of accomplishment today. Thanks most especially for bringing be back home to this campus - a place where I grew up.
You are on your way to becoming the best you can be. Keep on and Godspeed, my fellow alumni.