[ Note : one distinct birthday greeting-related memory, an inspiring personal glimpse, and congrats to someone who finally found his first J-O-B in a brave new world ! Sorry for the longish anecdotes. Advance happy birthdays to Dennis Tee Ten (5th March) and Jaime Chan (6th March). Woo-hoo! ]
I HAVEN‘T SEEN an uncle, Mr George Apostol, for more than a couple of years but everytime we meet, it’s like we resume a lifelong conversation about being the man you’re supposed to be, fulfilling your destiny, and about Life in general. So I’m expecting that the next time we meet, it will be like picking up where we left off.
He wasn’t always that philosophical about life. The way he told me about the early part, he picked fights almost every day with stevedores he encountered near the pier where he went to school. Because he had such a chip on his shoulder, he didn’t wait for any of the toughies to stare at him and challenge him, he actually started these fights as he was so insecure about his probinsyano (hick) origins. He emerged from these scuffles battered and bruised, but his ego intact.
He discovered that beyond those fisticuffs he had something going for him, and that was a head on his shoulders. He passed his accountancy licensure exams easily enough, but found that working as entrepreneur was far more interesting (and rewarding) than bookkeeping for those very same businessmen. He was a canny and shrewd dealer in industrial commodities and nothing could stop him in his quest for wealth.
But contrary to his calculated risk-taking, aggressive wealth-building and sometimes swashbuckle machismo , he allowed a rock-solid commitment to family and his kids’ education to eventually coerce him to pursue a steely discipline in conducting both his livelihood and lifestyle.
Adhering to the timeless proposition that economics was nothing more than assigning limited resources among unlimited wants, he gave unsolicited but friendly advice to a father-in-waiting, Your Loyal Blogger, a quarter of a century ago. Did you know that the term family fortune is practically an oxymoron Noel, he asked me almost as a challenge to debate. Yes it is, it takes a lifetime of hard work for the previous generation to amass great wealth, and only a wink of an eye for the next generation to squander it.
His point was that because of the cyclical nature of wealth accumulation, one generation would usually produce lean and hungry overachievers that gave way to the lackadaisical underachievement of the next. In so many words, he wanted to tell me that it took a lot for children of more-or-less fortunate circumstances (like me) to overcome the inertia of comfort and do something with their lives. Years later, I still haven’t done much with my life, but at least I haven’t lost the lesson. Thanks for your frankness and prescience Tito George. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember your exact birthday, but I do remember it was on Feb. Happy birthday, and may you continue to enjoy great wisdom and a healthy long life!
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The next birthday greeting-related memory, Ms Peggy Yu can’t deny, because she recounted it herself, jogging my unreliable memory from so many years ago. Tall for her age, our pre-school teacher sometimes put her in charge of leading the class, organized in a line, to general assembly. Because I was either the smallest or the most restless (I don’t remember anymore, probably both), I was in front and one time she held my hand to restrain me from potential self-destructive behavior like running towards cars or something. I must’ve been terribly grateful for her gratuitous watchfulness, because she clearly recalled me, all of six years old (like her) kissing her hand afterwards.
Cheeky and sneaky of me, but looking back on my checkered career with girls, I can’t say I was too surprised to hear that little tale from her, nearly 40 years later ! Happy birthday Ms Peggy Patches, you are always fondly remembered, and as you very well know, you will always stand head-and-shoulders (literally) over me.
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The last concerns someone who has labored (pun intended) long and hard for a job in a strange land and finally got it in an unlikely field of endeavor. Prudence and a promise against literal disclosure prevent me from telling anything in exact detail, but Panganay was one of almost 3000 who applied for the gig, around half that number were considered after pruning away the unqualifed ones (height, weight and race-related requirements), and at the end of the day his bleak record with job-hunting prevented him from assuming he would have any luck with any degree of confidence.
A week later the email came asking him to report for costume fittings, briefings on the work to be done (not really work, when you think about it) and the paperwork to be signed.
If you need a little more enlightenment on how lucky he was and is, at the cafeteria on his first week, he saw Orlando Bloom chugging coffee, Martin Freeman exchanging smiles with the pretty girls, and an Evangeline Lily among the notables. 🙂
Hours are long, costumes are heavy and complicated, and you have to do the tasks exactly as instructed, but guess what? Nobody seems to mind, the catering is great (no limit to what you can eat and understandably first class) and there are per diems for taxi transport and nighttime work.
A great first gig, if you ask me. Congrats Panganay, and please ask Mr Bloom when Miranda is dropping by? 🙂
Thanks for reading !
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