Life without ideals is like a ship without a rudder.
March 3, 2007 on News On Q, lunch time. Chino TriniDad interviewed Equestrienne Tony Leviste after winning in World Cup Jumping qualifiers in the Kingdom of Bahrain. She said, “Winning gold in Olympics is sometimes impossible. But I love the impossible.” Words blurted out from the lips of a real victor. Impressively, she is the first non-Arab to be invited to the prestigious World Cup Arab League, competing with predominantly male Arab riders!
Who might have thought that she would win despite the ordeal she has now. Imagine a daughter contending in a cup away home, while having her father tried and convicted in her homeland?!
What is the demarcation line between a victor and loser? A “moral compass.”
Yes, a moral compass. Personally I view a moral compass as a life guide. Guide that we bear wherever our feet lead us to. Some acquired it at home and school. Others just obtained it through their experiences.
I am thankful that I obtained it right from the small corners of our home!
I cannot forget in Prep and in grade school when our Mom used to gather us to pray the rosary. The whole family recited every decade, every night. My father, though not religiously devoted and may have had “weird” reasoning about religion, always joined us. I say weird because check out his premise, “Christ was crucified so that he won’t fall down from the cross.” (Somewhat logical anyway huh! Hehe.)
Every 6th hour in the evening, we’re ought to get home from the sweaty street games to recite the Angelus. After the prayer, we blessed our parents’ hands, including those of any elderly around.
Preparation of the meal followed….My brother was 2 years my youth and in our young age, we were already participating in preparing the food. I was usually the boss of the condiments! You know, we did not have condiments by bulk, nor cooking oil, vinegar, and soy sauce by the bottles. So, as the elder brother, I was always the one in charge of running out for every fraction of the spices needed for the menu. You know, 50 cents of coconut vinegar, soy sauce, and cooking oil- each put in a Ginebra gin or Tanduay bottle. A clove of garlic, a very small pack of pepper, a small pack MSG, and 1 piece onion were among the duties I had to accomplish each day! I had in my hands the bottles and the P10 bill. While on my brain, was the calculation of my change. Adding the entire amount and subtracting it from P10, was just like a computer game in my head. I must go home with complete stuff and an exact change! That was a strict rule!!!
My brother then was always at the side of my Dad, while repairing a bamboo-woven craft (bilao), or any broken home tools. Sometimes, they were the ones taking off the grits from two chupas of rice grains, to ready for steaming. From time to time I butted in when question and answer portion came. One plus one, two plus two, or what is “this thing” in English where among the questions. My brother and I competitively would love to have the first answer- impressing our Mom and Dad.
During meal, we were not allowed to eat without a spoon and fork. We ought not to spatter any crumbs from the platter- that is why. We had to cherish every piece of blessing that we had! It was in grade three that we can eat with a bear hand. Note, only the right hand was permitted to use with the notion that the food is a blessing from God and must be handled by a right hand with utmost care. (I remember, I have a childhood friend who is left-handed but used to eat with his right hand until now. Even when using spoon and fork, spoon is always held by the right hand.) Also, we were supposed to finish every crumb on the plate and even the spilled ones around our plate on the table. (So it was better for us to use utensils than spill food and be reprimanded.) We were not permitted to leave the table unless everyone was finished with the banquet. The last but the most, a prayer before and after meal was recited.
After dinner, one was assigned for dish washing and the other for cleaning the table and the floor. Study period and projects making followed. We could not play if home works were not finished! Mom was the professor in English, Filipino, and Science subjects! Dad was the Math wizard! Wham! We had the great professors without masterly degrees in these fields!… Hehe! They were self-proclaimed doctors of the subjects they were best of! Whew!
After which, the main course for kids was served- street games again! Hide and seek, “patentero,” ‘tumbang preso,” etc. were among the many. Came 8:45 pm, we’re home for shower and bed. The next morning, Mom would prepare the best breakfast in the country, or I may say in the world! A hot cup of milk, fried rice, sunny-side up egg, fried dried or smoked fish, salted bread (pandesal), and any fruit from the local. I say the best breakfast, because it was prepared with love and dedication. Just imagine, Mom would wake up in the early morn to prepare the food of her masters- we, the kids!
Following breakfast, showers! Mom always had prepared luke-warm water for our shower. (Water in the province is so cold even during summer, huh!) After shower, she dried us, cleaned our ears, and checked our nails. Then, a ten-minute walk to the school for classes tagged along. No one must be late to school so we had to wake up early too!
On Sundays, together we went to mass.
That was the routine that we had. In it I have drawn my moral compass. The moral compass I have is the basic discipline I acquired from home. With this I say – love, the attitude of prayer, study habit, vigor to work, youthful playfulness, respect for the old, and health consciousness– all compose my moral compass.
In that home, I learned love. Love was evidently shown in the time spared with us during prayer, study period, house chores, and home educational games! (They too, had their jobs!) I never heard our parents say “I love you son,” but we always have had felt it directly on our hearts that not even a word can describe!
In that home, I learned the value of prayer. That not all the things I can make. That not all I can be strong. That not all the time my father would be around for us. (He died when I was in second year high school). That not all the time our parents can be there to teach us. But, that we can always rely from Someone beyond us in times when they are not around.
In that home I learned respect! We were always obliged to use courteous Filipino words such as “po” and “opo,” and use “please” when requesting for something. We were required because my parents themselves practiced these traits to us. They used to say “po,” “opo,” and “please” during their conversations with us. Much, we were compelled to bless the hands of an elderly or someone older than we are.
At home, I learned honesty! They always told us that we can ask anything from them (especially money) as long as they had. We never picked even a 5-centavo coin from the purse of our parents without their knowledge or if they were not around! Stealing was a grave sin, be the smallest value a thing has, they reminded!
At home, I learned the value and enthusiasm to work. That everything is learned, even if it is not our skills. Dad, in repairing the bamboo-woven craft, showed us the value in working for anything new. He was a tailor and that work was distant from his skills!
At home, I learned the merit of playing. “All work without play, makes Jack a dull boy,” as a saying goes. Playfulness eases the stresses of life. It gives a balance to busyness. In it, I also learned the value of interaction with real people. In the street games, no façade is applicable. We cried when hurt; laughed when enjoyed; and suffered in pain when crashed to the ground, but rose up and played again as if nothing happened! In this, I learned the value of healthy competition and determination. It is a reality that there are winners and losers. And we cannot always be winners. We have to accept losing, and playing again!
In that home I learned punctuality and “no absenteeism” attitude even during the times of weak bodies. As long as we could, we should. It was a must!
At home, I learned the fervor to learn new ideas. I learned the value of unceasing studies, to read more and more, to observe things around, and to learn from the experiences of other people! Mom would always say, the only inheritance we can offer you is education.
At home, I learned the value of appreciating every blessing received. I learned the value of giving importance to the treasures that we have- from the biggest to the smallest. I learned to say thank you! I learned to cherish every person.
All these comprise my “moral compass.” It serves as the light on my long journey of life- the guide, which I always value in mind and heart.
My moral compass? A discipline and an integrity. Like Leviste, I may say, I love the impossible!
To my parents, a great honor! To you, I owe everything!