The Political is Personal

It was like my life was flashing before my eyes. Those outfits! Why were our shirts always tucked in? No way to hide “pusons” ( swell of the tummy) and wide hips ; and we were not even “obsessed “about our bodies like many young people these days are about being thin. Jeans that were so flared they could sweep the floor clean! All those feelings coming back.. the bittersweet angst of young love , long distance relationships , at a time when there was no SMS, FaceTime , Viber etc.. Feeling rebellious and angry because your parents were so strict ; and now, you miss those days when your parents were young and strong. Is that why the audience is said to have an emo reaction to the song Batang bata Ka Pa? ” ( A parent telling a child: You are young and have so much to learn.)

Martial law… yes, martial law. You look back and shudder at what we have been through. My friends who were active in the Communist Movement corrected me when i said that Marcos had to declare martial law because Communism was on the rise. No , they said. They had gone underground and their ranks quickly and then steadily grew BECAUSE of the declaration of martial law. The killings and the tortures, specially by the infamous Col. Abadilla ( mentioned in the play) just kept the numbers increasing.

And then there is that “ What if..” question, be it Love❤️😉 or the Economy. What if the Marcoses who were in power for 20 years had not mismanaged the economy ? The play referenced the open secret in those days: the Marcoses would get a share in your company , without giving any equity. I have a close friend who belongs to a family known to be a Marcos crony. I asked her , “Why did your family become a Marcos crony?” She became emotional . She said that a member of the Marcos family ( guess who?) went to their office and told them that the company should prepare to close shop if they did not agree to “partner” with the Marcoses. Exactly the script of the play🙄. I remember the same rumour about the company where I had my first job. In the 70’s , it was making vehicles and appliances- television sets, stereos etc.. Yes, with Filipino technology. Rumor had it that the Marcoses wanted a share and that the Filipino industrialist refused. The company no longer exists. What if the government had encouraged Philippine industries then? What was Samsung back in the 70’s after all?

As the all -true cliche goes; it was the best of times , it was the worst of times. Perhaps the disquiet and torment of that period brought forth the creativity of the golden age of Filipino cinema and Original Filipino Music. In an irony some people might find hard to accept but in fairness to Imee and Imelda, the two women played vital roles in providing incentives for these art forms to flourish. The Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, or APO for short needed no such incentives of course. We were lucky to catch Jim Paredes last night. I had the privilege of working with him for a PMAP production. A truly upstanding fellow. I didn’t like his yellow politics though. But I was ugly-crying when Jim Paredes went up the stage to congratulate the young performers. What were the tears about, you have to wonder? The past, maybe. My youth. All the good and bad. The lost loves and the ones that got away😉. My country. All the young and idealistic people of my generation who gave up their lives for the Philippines. Crying for what could have been. And yet, proud about how we managed to climb out of that hellhole and rebuild our country’s economy. Sad that the more things change , the more they remain the same. The drug killings of poor people. The Marcoses back in power. That’s life. And the Political is always Personal.

10 Unconventional Ways to Manage your Time in 2018

TimeYou cannot manage time; whatever you do, there will always be only 24 hours.

But, supposing you had to do an important task for the day.  If you had to drag yourself out of bed just thinking about it, how much time do you think would you need to complete the dreaded work ? It is very possible you may not even get around to starting and instead procrastinate! But if you found the task stimulating and had a lot of excitement for it, wouldn’t you need much, much less time to finish it?

 What we actually manage are our energies and not time.

Here  are some tips I wish to share with you:

  1. Start with your physical energy. Don’t sleep with your phone. And stop binge-watching Netflix! I am not exaggerating; your Smartphone can destroy your life. Not only does binge-watching affect the quantity of my sleep; if I watch just 2 episodes of The Crown (or 4 of The Big Bang Theory) before sleeping, I keep waking up just after I have fallen asleep. And then I hate myself in the morning.  I leave my phone downstairs now and I am sleeping like a teenager. Just having my phone around me keeps my mind awake. It makes me feel like I have to keep updated minute by minute about what is happening in the world.
  2. Exercise. Not only is it crucial for your health; the good people who are studying The Science of Happiness at the UC Berkely point to it as one of the factors that  increases feelings of well-being. You do not need to go the gym. Get some routines from the internet, buy weights and then exercise while watching tv. Just do it.
  3. Help yourself to get motivated about parts of your job you do not like doing. You have heard the advice “ Find yourself a job you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life.” The reality is that for most of us, there will always be aspects of a job that are truly not enjoyable.  Very few managers actually enjoy calling out dysfunctional behavior or “have time” to mentor members of the team who are falling behind. We might not want to do boring, administrative tasks that however are crucial for compliance or risk management. Develop the self-awareness to understand why you put off doing some tasks. Do you need to develop managerial courage? Do you need to strengthen  the skills to talk to your people? Can you delegate some parts of administrative work so that you don’t need to do too much of it?  Find a solution.
  4. Trick your mind into making difficult or large projects seem easy. If I were writing an article for instance, I might make a deal with myself to write everyday for just 15 minutes. And of course, what happens is that I will write more than 15 minutes . If I get into the flow, I might just finish the article. But you see, I started writing because 15 minutes sounded easy!
  5. Focus on the reward and not on the task. I will tell myself “ By 9:00, you have to be in bed to read your delicious  new book , so you better finish writing that report.” What happens is that sometimes, I need to negotiate with myself “ Just 15 minutes more to finish my report and then I will go to bed!” It is silly, but tricking my mind works. Sometimes ,we just need to help ourselves break the inertia. I realize that we make the work too difficult or unpleasant in our minds , but we could actually enjoy it once we get started. Focusing on the reward after completing the task is another way to get you started.
  6. Do not make a “To Do “ list for the day and schedule your every hour. If you are doing this, you know why. The day will not happen as you planned it, specially if you are a manager. People will come to your room with issues to resolve; a client or your boss will email or call and you have to attend to something else other what you had planned. Instead, the productivity guru David Allen suggests doing two lists : 1) A list that you need to complete TODAY and 2) a list of Next Action Steps, things you need to complete within the week but are not as urgent and important as tasks that have a “today” deadline.
  7. Create your list of “Important but not Urgent” projects ( the leadership quadrant in Covey’s time management continuum). My friend Penny Bongato has inspired me with her post about putting up a Vision Board and I will try that this year.  These plans  are the biggies you need to break down into daily, weekly or monthly manageable activities  so they  do not seem overwhelming and remain a dream.
  8. Create a system so things do not fall into the cracks, specially if you are responsible for getting things done through other people. You can use the features in Outlook to monitor tasks that need to be completed. Or, if like me you feel more comfortable having a hard copy of things you need to oversee, have a notebook of “Things people owe me and I need to follow up.” Then, ask your assistant to remind people what they need to be submitting or completing and to track that everything has been accomplished.
  9. When you wake up in the morning, think of the things you are grateful for. It will give you tremendous energy for the day. The Science of Happiness team however suggests you do this only about 3 times a week. Doing such everyday apparently will make us desensitized to the good things in our lives.
  10. Pray and be aware of God’s amazing presence in your life. If you do not believe in God, just think about what a great gift life is. I told my 6 year old apo, Gab “You could have been a stone and yet , you are a smart, loveable little boy!” and his face lit up. I don’t think we could ever be inured to the miracle of life. Work gives us a chance to make this gift called life .