A Must Read

Taxi driver-lawyer is driven to succeed

POSTED ON 05/01/2013 9:20 AM  | UPDATED 05/02/2013 12:53 PM

It was the summer of 2010 when I decided to quit law school and, with it, my dreams of becoming a lawyer. I couldn’t support myself financially.

My income as a taxi driver was meager. It was difficult just to meet my daily needs, notwithstanding the books that needed to be purchased, the photocopies of cases, the tuition fees, and my outstanding school fees.

Life was hard for me while growing up. I had my share of injustices happen when I was a kid, which was why I decided at an early age that I needed an education, and that I needed to pursue a career in law.

It seemed then I needed to put that pursuit on hold. My only consolation was the hope I could return to law school sometime in the future.


I confided in one of my closest friends, Marlon Bayona. I disclosed to him the reasons behind my ambition to be a lawyer. I also told him why I wasn’t able to find a good job, despite having a bachelor’s degree, and instead had to work as a taxi driver. Without hesitation, he offered his help. He said he would shoulder my school fees.

I didn’t believe him and had to clarify if I heard it right. He told me, “It is not a joke and I am serious in my offer. I see myself in you. Like you, I supported myself in college and I encountered so many struggles before I made it. I also received help from other people so it is now the right time to return the goodwill.”

It was really a miracle! A person whom I wasn’t related to offered to help me fulfill my ambition.

I thanked God with all my heart. I said to Him, “Lord thank you very much for giving me this person. Now I believe that you do exist and watch over me all the time.”

I was not a very religious person. Up until then I believed I was alone in my struggles. A job as a taxi driver was all I could get as I was turned down from other jobs for one reason or another. But because of this, I made a promise to the Lord to serve Him. I got closer to God than ever before.

It made me believe that, in times of trouble, all I need to do is to lift my hands to Him and He will make a way for me. It made me believe that God was testing me all this time, and that I only had to trust in Him in order to achieve my goal.

He has proven this to me in so many instances. I now always see a solution to every obstacle I encounter. If I can’t make it all myself, then He will send somebody to help me.

So many people were sent by Him.

Help from friends

There is Rey Fernandez, an engineer. He helped me by lending me money to pay for my school fees. I can’t remember if I had ever paid him back sufficiently.

There are my fellow taxi drivers who helped me every time I had problems with my vehicle.

There was Nanay Mila and also Ate Gina who always let me eat at their carinderia with credit. My longtime-friend Mikhael Chavez was always there for me.

There were also friends in law school who helped me in my studies; my teachers who served as my second parents and mentors of my knowledge in law; and my landlord who understood it when I had to delay rental payment.

My fraternity brother, Ductus Legis, also helped pay for my tuition for the last semester in Adamson and my bar review tuition.


However, I did not finish my law degree without a hitch. I originally failed my Commercial Law Review subject. My fellow students and I thought we deserved a retest which the dean granted. Thankfully, we passed the retake.

October 2012 came and I was still not ready to take the bar exam.

As the first Sunday approached, I felt that the days were turning faster than usual. I braced myself for the worst although I prepared too much for the first two subjects.

My confidence increased after the first Sunday. The following Sundays, however, were a disaster.

I did not expect to pass the bar, so much so that I began to condition myself to retake it next year. But, at the back of my mind, I held on to the hope that I passed. I still had faith that God would not fail me. After all, He brought me here where I am and all His help would be in vain if the ultimate goal were denied me.

When the bar results were released and I was one of those who made it, I shed tears of joy! I went to church and once again thanked God.

I said to Him, “From now on, I will not ask for more because you know all that I needed and I know you haven’t failed me. Thank you Lord!”

Source: Rappler.com


Rosalio Torrentira is a graduate of the Adamson Law School and recently took his oath as a lawyer.


Young Blood

Standing ovation

 By Felise Marianne Z. San Juan ()

11:04 pm | Saturday, June 29th, 2013

I have to admit I used to be semihomophobic. I say “semi” because though I did not run away at the sight of gay people, I would silently condemn them and pray they would become straight. I studied in a Catholic school and I guess this is primarily why I used to wish people would stop being gay. I thought heaven was not for gays and that straight was less complicated.

I can’t say when I managed to shake it out of my system, but one thing’s for sure: I’m semihomophobic no more. It does help when one puts a face or a name to the label, and I thank my talented and really good-looking gay friends for my change of heart. They made me realize that one’s heart and passions transcend sexual preference and appearance.

I am no diehard fan of the recently out-of-the-closet Charice Pempengco, but yes, she manages to give me goose bumps every time she takes the stage. At a very young age she won the hearts of many, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries through pure talent. She has received countless standing ovations, whether in her own concerts or those of other international stars. She has made the Philippines proud and has made its presence felt in the international entertainment scene. Still, and as though she owes anyone anything, Charice has been bashed in the media countless times—all because she was suspected to be, and has eventually admitted to being, a lesbian.

As a psychology major, I cringed at the nasty comments such as “abnormal” and “may sapi  (possessed).” It made me uncomfortable to see nonpsychology majors attaching the “A” word to someone so easily when in fact that someone has to be meticulously checked against the 3Ds (dysfunctional, distressed, deviant), and subjected to psychological tests, etc. before such a diagnosis can be made.

Of course, there are those who support the former “Glee” star, but sadly they are few. Conclusion? The number of narrow-minded beings is still greater than those who treat people with unconditional positive regard. Carl Rogers would certainly be upset.

In times like this, we tell ourselves: If they can do it to someone like Charice and Rosie O’Donnell and Clay Aiken and Lance Bass and Ricky Martin, all the more can they do it to ordinary people, like you and me. In times like this, we ask: What if it happens to my kid or to a brother, or another loved one? That’s going to be perfectly hard, and emotionally taxing. And in times like this, we reflect: We have become so bound by labels (black, poor, disabled, old, etc.) that we forget the significant things of humanity. As a gay friend put it, there are many things we don’t understand, and most of the time the things we don’t understand cause us to be repulsive. Do we blame the homophobic for who they are? No, we blame them for what they do.

The Charice issue resurrected, and magnified, the great disconnect between how we say we view homosexuals and how we actually treat them. We say we tolerate, if not accept, gays and lesbians, but there is still pervasive discrimination. But why, when we see them literally everywhere?

We get our daily dose of Vice Ganda and his flamboyant costumes on TV. We adore Pepsi Herrera’s designs and we frequent Reyes Haircutters for the latest hairstyles. We are filled with pride and joy every time Ellen Degeneres invites young Filipino talents to sing in her show. And what about that gay office colleague of yours who never fails to entertain everyone as though no deadlines are coming up? Oh, and remember the ever-approachable female guard they call “Lesbo”? Or the gay professor who made you comprehend (finally!) the formulas in calculus?

And still we laugh each time someone is taunted “bakla”?

Being gay or lesbian, regardless of stature, is and should never be an issue. Everyone has the freedom of choice to live life the way he or she wants it to be. Homosexuals should be praised for inspiring others to never be ashamed of themselves.

Charice, sans the international career, powerful voice, and boyish do, is a human being worthy of our respect. For her courage to come out despite the odds and for choosing not to hide her real self because of the ignorance of other people, she has won the world again. With her bravery, she will soar to greater heights. It is but right to give her another standing ovation.

The same goes to all the homosexuals out there. Be proud.

Felisse Marianne Z. San Juan, 21, works at the Lyceum of the Philippines University-Laguna.


Five Lessons My Father Taught That Shape My Decisions!

My father took his role as a parent seriously and frequently reminded my siblings and me that certain values were important to him. He unabashedly told us at different times that if we wanted to make him happy, we too would abide by these five principles: And conversely, if we didn’t, well…he’d be deeply disappointed. Somehow, he pulled this head-trip off in that we all listened to him and have been fairly consistent in following his charge.  Probably because he preached to us 5 percent of the time and he was light hearted and playful with us for the other 95 percent.

Be Honest in all Business Dealings:  My dad treated all of his employees like family.  He endeared his many employees and colleagues as he cared about their personal needs and treated them with respect and equality.  I have one friend who worked for my father who repeatedly tells me how he accommodated her scheduling needs to leave early on Fridays and gave her encouragement that she was doing the right thing for balancing her work and family life. His fairness and empathy actually inspired her to work harder, more efficiently and put in extra time on other days to make up for this lost time at work.  She liked working for my dad, appreciated his genuine concern for her as a person, and that endeared her so in turn she wanted to earn his respect.

Shoot Your Arrows High and Aim Them:  My dad was not saying that we could do absolutely anything but he was trying to communicate that we shouldn’t place arbitrary limits on what we could accomplish if we were driven to pursue something.  He was trying to build our esteem, help us see our capabilities and encourage us so we wouldn’t be sidetracked by naysayers who questioned our goals and/or our abilities. My dad made me feel that obstacles were merely there to overcome; He admired those who took initiative, pursued higher education and acquired practical skills.  He also encouraged us to associate with high quality people who were smart, had good values and were focused on doing good and being resourceful.  This is how he defined success.

Look Out for the Underdog: Despite the fact that he was known to be a tough guy, my dad showed us he had a soft spot for people who couldn’t stand up for themselves.  He did what he could to help people out who couldn’t afford his services.  He stopped bullying wherever he saw it (sometimes risking his own personal safety) as he cared more about justice than anything else.

Make Sure You Protect Your Good Name: My father took this principle to heart.  He told us about many opportunities (business deals) he passed up where he could have made a lot more money but it would have required him to be attached to unsavory people who in his eyes had questionable morals.  His good name, he said, was the only thing that would be eternal and no amount of money would tempt him to give that up.

Anticipate Your Mother’s Needs:  This was the hardest one for us kids to understand.  After all, we couldn’t read our mother’s mind and even if we didn’t anticipate her needs she would still love us all unconditionally.  In retrospect, what my father was trying to teach us was that we should not be strictly focused on our own needs.  He wanted us to think about my mother and her pressures so we would stop for a minute and focus on everything that was being done for us; His goal was to get us to think about everything that was needed to run the house and to find an area where we could make it easier and better for my mom.  This exercise was an essential ingredient for teaching us empathy. It also translates perfectly into a skill needed in today’s competitive workplace.  The most valued employees do more than just what’s required of them, they go above and beyond the call of duty to anticipate the “pain points” of the business and try to lighten their boss’s load. So in short, I have some heavy superego stuff swimming around here in this article but each has helped me ensure that my career (and life) choices were based on more than my immediate needs.  Whether I’m coaching students, speaking or volunteering I have these ideas in mind.  It helps me focus on what’s important and model the lessons I teach clients so they see what it feels like to work with someone who is anticipating and attentive to their needs, ethical, fair and focused on helping them reach their highest potential. Thanks Dad!  Your wisdom was good for mom, good for your marriage, good for your kids and great advice for aspiring young grads who are trying to get ahead (and sleep soundly) in today’s challenging workplace.

Author: Beth is Founder and President of Get Hired, LLC.  She advises students on how to bridge the gap from school to career.  Beth is the co-author of From Diploma to Dream Job: Five Overlooked Steps to a Successful Career. Her coaching assists students and career changers to successfully match their needs, interests, passions, skills, and personal goals with the needs of a sustainable industry in a sustainable location.  She is a resource for print and online media and offers workshops for University Career Service Departments, Executive Recruiters, Outplacement Services, College Guidance Counselors and College Alumni Associations. See website for more details about Beth’s services www.fromdiploma2dreamjob.com. Beth’s Webinar was sponsored by George Washington University’s Career Services Dept. for their worldwide alumni association: Leverage Your College Diploma. You can follow Beth on twitter @BethKuhel


Why English Majors Matter and What We Do

Posted on June 28, 2013
By: @writervsworld
An article posted in the New York times last weekend titled “The Decline and Fall of the English Major,” discusses the waning popularity of English as a college major and the decline of appreciation for the art of writing by the general population. The article claims that people are pursuing degrees in anticipation of careers that bring about more instant gratification in the paycheck department. Of course, I don’t blame someone for making that choice. What makes me happy is not the same as for everyone else. But personally, I am quite proud of my status as an English major as well as my possession of a Master’s degree in the same subject. I wouldn’t change what I studied in school for anything else in the world (least of all, for money) and I find the waning appreciation for English and those of us who choose to study the art of reading, writing and analysis to be very disheartening and I grieve for mankind just a little bit.

As the author of the New York Times article states, it is sad that the world does not seem to appreciate the humanities for what they are, the richness they bring and the importance of the skills they teach. My skills at writing, analyzing and comprehending—which I learned in pursuit of my English degrees—are what have led to my current success. It may not lead to a paycheck with 10 zeroes, but that is not what I want out of life (as previously stated). Instead, I search for beauty, for joy and connections.

People fail to comprehend all of the ways that studying literature and writing come into play in the world. I can tell you that I have edited dozens of papers for individuals pursuing degrees in business. I can also confidently say that if it weren’t for me, my ex-boyfriend would never have been considered a good writer. I edited every single paper he wrote for his BA and his MBA. I have helped people beyond the business school realm too. I have edited for friends pursuing M.S. degrees in Psychology, EDDs, and M.F.As in textiles.

If you are not yet convinced of the importance of English majors, the use of an English major does not end in academia. I know that as an English major who works in the business world I am a bit of a rarity. But if you look, you can find English majors everywhere. They are writing manuals and press releases, they work in business and many other fields. I have written resumes and cover letters for people and drafted content for entire websites. I have helped friends title art projects and shows, written slogans for their business pursuits, and even drafted contracts. The possibilities are endless, although at times you have to be a little creative.

I don’t say all of this to brag about my willingness to help others or to express the versatility of my skill set. Nor am I trying to suggest that I am superior to others—for certainly, I am not. Studying those fields or pursuing any of the above projects would be very challenging if not impossible for me and if I weren’t writing/editing, I wouldn’t have much else to offer to society. Instead, I remark on my work as an editor and a facilitator of the writing and pursuits of others because of the importance of having good writing skills and of the many ways that I have found for an English major to fit into and contribute to the world at large. I love helping people learn to write, or at least to write better and I love writing for people. And while some people understand the importance of writing well, the majority of people in the world take writing and lucid communication for granted.

I will say that when I was in school, people were always asking me what in the world I was going to do with an English degree. And the most consistent suggestion I received from people who asked this was to be a teacher. I have a huge respect for teachers, but that was not the route that I wanted to go. I think I was the only person in my Master’s program who did not go on to a PHD program or have the desire to go into teaching. When I would express my hopes of doing something different, rarely would people have any other idea of what I could do with myself after I left school.

I’m sure these well-intentioned people were concerned about my potential for finding a job in the future with two English degrees under my belt. And believe me, as I waded through the depressing depths of the recession, jobless and dangling over the edge of hopelessness, I began to doubt myself and my potential too. But in the end, I found where I was supposed to be.

Being an English major is much more than just having a degree, having read tons of books, discussing and analyzing things ad nauseum and learning how to write with a flourish and a style that is my own. Being an English major is ingrained in who I am as a human being. The way I look at the world is influenced heavily by my love of literature, of writing. I am constantly in search of beauty in the written word (in my own writing and in the writing of others) and in life. Because I am an English major, even the concept of beauty has grown to have multiple layers, meanings and manifestations. Beauty goes beyond the physical and is a form of art all its own. These are not things that I would have discovered had it not been for the education and guidance I received while in pursuit of my English degrees. I believe that I would still have felt them, but I would not have known what they were. Nor would I have had the ability to express and give life to them properly.

So, as I watch the procession of fewer and fewer English major colleagues exiting campuses across the country, I will sit here and I will wear my English major-dom with pride and I will hope that someday, others in the world will rediscover the significance of not just English or literary studies, but all of the humanities. For at the heart of humanities (to be a little cliché) is what makes us human. If you have ever studied critical theory, or perhaps taken a philosophy class you may be familiar with one of the first debates of the ancient critics. I believe it was Horace who wrote about the purpose of poetry (and poetry can stand for numerous other artistic entities, pursuits and the humanities). And what was the purpose of poetry, he mused, to teach or to delight? Personally, I think it’s both and so much more.

For more interesting articles of the author visit or follow her blog: http://writervsworld.wordpress.com


Ethical leadership: a legacy for the future

This article is an extract from Performance, Volume 5, Issue 2, May 2013. The full journal is available at


The world continues to be rocked by scandalous activities and unethical behavior among senior people in large corporations. So, it is a good time to ask about the type of leaders that we, as a global society, want and need to lead our countries, institutions and businesses. After all, the consequences of poor decisions can be dramatic and far reaching. At its heart, the term “ethical leadership” presumes that there is a simple basic difference between right and wrong, and that an ethical leader is one who does what is right. It is about balancing the organization’s short-term goals and longer-term aspirations in a way that achieves a positive result for all those who could be affected by the organization and the decisions of its leader. It goes without saying that the more senior the leadership role, the more influence and impact the leader’s decisions will have on a broader group of stakeholders. Therefore, the more senior the leader, the more careful and circumspect they should be in reaching decisions. This is the very essence of establishing sound oversight and governance. Structures should be in place to provide the leader with a sounding board and advisory conscience. This will help to prevent them from taking ill-advised decisions and actions that may ultimately cause harm. In the full article, the authors explore the six levels of ethical behavior from the unethical through to the highly ethical. These include rejection, non-responsiveness and compliance through to proactivity and sustaining. The authors also offer guidance on how to determine the ethical strength of a leader, and strategies that organizations can consider when trying to implement a culture of ethical leadership. A company’s leaders are the embodiment of the organization and, by extension, its collective intellect, soul and conscience. This is a responsibility much greater, and with a much higher purpose, than may initially be apparent. Ethical leaders are those who readily grasp this concept and view their role as stewards of the organization.

Authors Viv Oates Africa Advisory Leader Ernst & Young, Africa Tim Dalmau Management Consultant Dalmau Network Group, Australia

Op-Ed Contributor

My Abortion, at 23 Weeks

KIRKLAND, Wash. — I BELIEVE that parenthood starts before conception, at the moment you decide you want a child, and are ready and able to create a safe and loving home for her or him. I support abortion rights, but I reject the false distinction between the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” Here’s why.
Jordan Awan
A lawyer by training, I was 38 when I completed a term on the Seattle City Council. Two years later, I married my husband, who is five years younger. We wanted children, and started trying right away, but had trouble conceiving. Using in vitro fertilization, we had our son, Matthew, now 4. When he was 2, after another round of I.V.F., we conceived again. I was six weeks pregnant when I learned I was carrying twins, a boy and a girl. We were elated. But in my 20th week, during an ultrasound, the technician looked concerned, and we got the first hint that something might be wrong. The next day, a Friday, my obstetrician called to say that the technician had had a hard time seeing the heart of the male fetus. “It is probably just the position,” she reassured me. I wasn’t reassured. On Monday, I had a second ultrasound and my husband and I spent two hours — it felt like an eternity — with a different doctor and technician. “It looks as if the boy has a herniated diaphragm,” they told us. “All the organs are in his chest and not developing.” I began sobbing. What did that mean? Would the organs move? Was my baby “fixable”? The clinic staff members were reluctant to tell us how bad it was. They said I needed an M.R.I., which would provide more details. My world stopped. I loved being pregnant with twins and trying to figure out which one was where in my uterus. Sometimes it felt like a party in there, with eight limbs moving. The thought of losing one child was unbearable. The M.R.I., at Seattle Children’s Hospital, confirmed our fears: the organs were pushed up into our boy’s chest and not developing properly. We were in the 22nd week. In Washington State, abortion is legal until the 24th week. After 10 more days of tests and meetings, we were in the 23rd week and had to make a decision. My husband is more conservative than I am. He also is a Catholic. I am an old-school liberal, and I am not religious. But from the start, and through this ordeal, we were in complete agreement. We desperately wanted this child and would do whatever we could to save him, if his hernia was fixable and he could have a good quality of life. Once we had all the data, we met with a nurse, a surgeon and a pediatrician at the hospital. The surgeon said our boy had a hole in his diaphragm. Only one lung chamber had formed, and it was only 20 percent complete. If our boy survived birth, he would be on oxygen and other life supports for a long time. The thought of hearing him gasp for air and linger in pain was our nightmare. The surgeon described interventions that would give our son the best chance of surviving birth. But the pediatrician could tell that we were looking for candid guidance. He cautioned that medical ethics constrained what he could say, then added, “Termination is a reasonable option, and a reasonable option that I can support.” The surgeon and nurse nodded in agreement. I burst out sobbing. My husband cried, too. But in a sense, the pediatrician’s words were a source of comfort and kindness. He said what we already knew. But we needed to hear it from professionals, who knew we were good parents who wanted what was best for our children. The next day, at a clinic near my home, I felt my son’s budding life end as a doctor inserted a needle through my belly into his tiny heart. She had trouble finding it because of its abnormal position. As horrible as that moment was — it will live with me forever — I am grateful. We made sure our son was not born only to suffer. He died in a warm and loving place, inside me. In having the abortion, we took a risk that my body would expel both fetuses, and that we would lose our daughter too. In fact, I asked if we could postpone the abortion until the third trimester, by which time my daughter would have been almost fully developed; my doctor pointed out that abortions after 24 weeks were illegal. Thankfully, Kaitlyn was born, healthy and beautiful, on March 2, 2011, and we love her to pieces. My little boy partially dissolved into me, and I like to think his soul is in his sister. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, based on the disputed theory that fetuses at that stage are capable of feeling pain. The measure has no chance of passage in the Senate. But it is part of a trend toward restricting second- and even first-trimester abortions. Ten states have banned most abortions after 20 or 22 weeks; Arkansas, after 12; and North Dakota, after 6. Some of these laws are being challenged in court. While some of these new restrictions allow exceptions for fetal genetic defects, second-trimester abortions must remain legal because, until a child is viable outside the womb, these decisions belong with the mother. I don’t know if Roe v. Wade will be overturned in my lifetime, but the chipping away of abortion rights is occurring at an astounding pace. I share my story in the hope that our leaders will be more responsible and compassionate when they weigh what it means to truly value the lives of women and children.
Judy Nicastro was a member of the Seattle City Council from 2000 through 2003.

2 thoughts on “A Must Read

  1. Hi. This is Felisse, the writer of Standing Ovation. Just passing by to say many thanks for giving the article a space in your wonderful blog. 🙂 God speed!

  2. Hi Ms Felisse! You did a good job in writing Standing Ovation. I think someone posted it via Twitter and i found it very interesting. Thank you so much for this article…an eye opener to some narrow-minded readers…appreciate your work. Hope to read more from you/ 🙂

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