A question to an answer

What’s on your mind? Facebook asks me that every single time! How are you? How’s it going? These are questions that aim to start a conversation. Why are you here? How did you do that? These questions are geared towards hearing more explanation and understanding. Are you going? Do you like that? These questions require a specific and direct response. We ask questions because we want to know; we want to understand. We ask questions because we want answers and every answer is important. From answers, we draw conclusions, we decide based on it. But sometimes questions are more important than answers.


All my life I have tried to challenge the statement, there are no stupid questions. It was only in January of this year that I finally succeeded! In January, I went back to the Philippines to get married. And to make the most out of my very short stay, I have arranged for a private pool resort out of town to get together with my friends and have a little party. So I asked my cousin who owns the resort how to get there. She sent me a text message of the directions. She mentioned what exit to take on the highway, turn left after the exit and gave me 711 and a water district as the landmarks then we can turn right and the resort would be to our left. So we drove early in the morning to a 3 hour drive to the resort. After the highway exit, we turned left. Following my cousin’s direction we should pass by a 711 store and turn right after the water district. We’ve been on the road for 20 minutes and no sign of the landmarks we’re looking for and by the looks of it, we are obviously lost. I don’t have my cousin’s mobile number so I tried her on facebook but she’s not responding. My friend tried to Google map the address and all it showed was a green dot, which is where we were and a massive white all around it. Clearly there are not a lot of people who use maps in the Philippines. I’m not sure if that’s why the maps are not updated or the other way around. For the first time, the map offered no answer at all so we figured we can ask around. My other friend volunteered and got off the car and asked a man standing by the street while we pulled over to the side and wait quietly in the car. When he came back, he said the man told him we missed a turn. So we turned around and took a turn, soon enough we passed by the 711 store so we all thought we’re finally on the right track. But then 15minutes of driving and yet no water district on sight, not even a street where we could turn right. So my friend decided we need to ask again so we pulled over and he got off the car. When he came back he said we’re on the right path it’s just going to be a few kilometers more. So we were relieved and went on. 5 kilometers after, it looked like the road is winding down and soon enough there we were headed to a dead end. We’ve been going around the town for 45 minutes and I it’s starting to upset me. So I asked my friend, “what did the first and the second guy told you?” My friend said, “well I asked where the 711 store is that’s close to the water district and he said we missed a turn so I told you we need to turn around. And then I asked the second guy where the water district is and he said it’s at the end of this road closer to the river.” Dead silent inside the car but my brain shouted wow! We are heading to the right direction after all – that is if we want to go to the water district! I decided to just call my aunt’s home, because that’s the only landline number I can recall after being gone for a year, so I can get my other aunt’s office number to get their home phone number to try to get my cousin’s mobile number so I can call her. Half an hour later, I was able to reach my cousin and we finally got to the resort exhausted.


Asking the right questions take as much skill as giving the right answer. As odd as it sounds, we need to first identify what answers we want so we know what kind of questions to ask. Formulating questions is like using a computer – garbage in, garbage out. Whatever quality of data you put in is the same quality of data you can expect to get. Even Google search is all about formulating a good question. If you formulate a bad keyword to search – vague and unclear, it’s not going to give you a useful answer.


To conclude my speech I wanted to leave you with a quote and so I googled it and found an African proverb that says “the one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way”. Uhm, not really. I clicked the next button and found this:


“There are no right answers to wrong questions” – by Ursula Le Guin.



I wrote this speech for the 6th speech project on the Competent Communication manual Vocal Variety. The objectives of this speech are:

  • Use voice volume, pitch, rate, and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message
  • Use pauses to enhance your message
  • Use vocal variety smoothly and naturally

My precious

What do you consider your most prized possession? Could be your new jeep Cherokee – red with shiny wheels; could be your Iwatch that you got from your birthday; could be a medal when you won a speech contest or sports tournament. Now, if we try to take a moment and dig deeper into ourselves, beyond the material possessions that we consider important, beyond the dreams we’ve achieved, we realize that our most prized possession is our life. It is that one thing that we cannot replace; that one thing that once we lose it, everything else we own or have or known would not matter.

Life is really as simple as breathing in and breathing out but we insist on making it complicated. In our dire efforts to live life to the fullest, we create an endless list of goals and wants, a bucketful list of adventures we’d like to experience in our lifetime and the desire to find the love that we are meant to be with.

I’m going to share with you 2 poems that I strongly relate to how we need to value our real most prized possession, life. The first poem talks about love and the second is all about struggle and will to survive.

Here goes the first poem, Died for Love

In the park where I did dwell
I met a boy I loved like hell
There he took my heart from me
And now he wants me to set him free
He let a strange girl sat on his knee
Told her things he never told me
For I know the reason why
The girl was much prettier than I
I went home and cried in bed
Not a word to mother I said
My dad came home late at night
And searched for me from left to right
On my door he surely broke
For there I was hanging on a rope
He got a knife and cut me down
And on my bed a note was found
Dig my grave and dig it deep
Put marble stones from head to feet
And on my head put a dove
To show the world I died for love

The poem is plain and very straightforward and it talks about how something pure and wonderful as love could bring about darkness and pain into a person’s life that it has the power to make you think that losing your life, which is your most prized possession is worth nothing. We need to look beyond our broken hearts and emotional struggles and realize that no amount of pain should ever let us look at life any less. Ultimately, it tells us that life is worth living for whatever it trials we go through.

The second poem I’d like to share is, Invictus meaning invincible:

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head I bloody but unbowed
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid
It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

The poem talks about struggles in general that we go through in life and how these struggles should never make us feel that life is worthless. The poem explains that however troubled our past was it prepares us for the future and that we should not be afraid. We are in charge of our life with the choices that we make, the master of our destiny and the captain of our being. Ultimately, it tells us that life is worth living for whatever it trials we go through.

2 strong poems that speaks about love, struggle and the will to survive; factors that affect how we spend our most prized possession. Shows us 2 routes that we can take – either we give up, give up our life or fight and overcome whatever’s thrown our way. Ultimately, it tells us that life is worth living for whatever it trials we go through.

In conclusion, let me leave you with a quote from Emily Dickinson:

“That it will never come again is what makes life sweet”.

I wrote this speech for the 5th speech project on the Competent Communication manual Your body speaks. The objectives of this speech are:

• Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s purpose.
• Make your body language smooth and natural.

games of yesterday

It’s quarter to 4 in the afternoon; the sun is a golden ball on a warm Saturday. I was by the window intently looking at the children busy as a bee out in the streets. They were laughing and shouting, running back and forth from the corner of the street to the other. I check the time and watch the minute hand move as slow as a snail as the time winds up to 4. I just can’t wait to join the kids playing on the streets. My dad won’t let me play not until it’s 4 and the reason behind that – I never found out. As the clock struck 4 I stepped out of the house, so excited my pulse was a race car. In the next hour I am a ball of fire, blazing, scorching and flaming.

Growing up in a tropical country, I spent a fair enough of time on the streets playing various outdoor games. Those games involve a lot of running, jumping around and concluded with so much sweating. There’s this game called pick-jump.
My playmates and I would divide ourselves into 2 teams. 2 players would stand at the starting line with their fists closed looking intently at each other, squinting their eyes a bit before the game begins. You’d thought they’d have a fist fight or something. But no, pick jump is a very peaceful street game. At the count of three, they would draw rock paper scissors and whoever wins gets a number of sprints to the finish line. If you draw a rock and win over a scissor, you get 10 sprints. If you draw paper and win over a rock, you get 5 sprints. If you draw scissors over a paper, you get 2 sprints. The next player goes next after each one gets to the finish line until all the players had their turn and whichever team gets all its players finish first wins. This does not involve a lot skill really except for having the advantage if you have really long legs. But I enjoy that game a lot.

When we get tired of pick jump, we would usually move to a more athletic game we call monkey-monkey.
I have no idea who and how that game was named as such. The mechanics of the game is simple. One player would be the it and he would chase each player and touch them saying monkey. When you get caught and monkey-ed, you will have to stop like a statue and not move until one of the other players frees you by touching you and saying Annabelle. The game would go on until the it have made all the players statues and whoever was the first to become a statue will be the next it. What keeps it exciting is that even when you’re touched to be a statue, you can move and inch closer to any of the other players so they can touch you and say Annabelle but if the it catches you, he would shout boom at you and you automatically become the it. I’m quite a sneaky player back in the days and I move as light as a feather I don’t remember being an it at all. There’s a similar game called shake-shake shampoo which is technically the same. This time, the it would touch you and say shake and to free you up, another player would have to touch you and say shampoo. And instead of being still, you would sway your hips like this until you’re freed by the magic word – shampoo. It must have been a shampoo commercial where they got the name of the game. I never really cared to find out.

Another game that I really liked to play then is called Dr. Quack Quack.
This game is all about creativity, flexibility and involves puzzle-solving skills. We would divide ourselves into 2 teams. A person from each team will be chosen while the rest of the team hold hands and form a circle. The chosen team member tangles and intertwines her team mates into a human twist puzzle. A delegate from the opposing team will have to untangle the puzzle to score. If he is unsuccessful, the score goes to the other team. It is then the other team’s turn to tangle themselves and a delegate from the opposing team tries to untangle them to score. It could be a race to 3 or a race to 5 depending on what was agreed.

These games are the pillars of my childhood and I am a bit saddened that in this year and age, kids even back in the Philippines, barely know about these street games. They know more about Clash of Clans, Candy crash, Farmville and a thousand more online games. Their afternoons consumed sitting in front of the computer or holding on to their IPods. I had a dynamic childhood and it remains fresh in my memory as if it was yesterday. On some Saturdays, I find myself staring out my window, thinking about yesterday that was my childhood. I check the time and watch the minute hand move as slow as a snail as the time winds up to 4.

I wrote this speech for the 4th speech project on the Competent Communication manual How to say it. The objectives of this speech are:

• Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly, accurately and vividly
• Use rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasize ideas
• Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words. Use correct grammar

photo credit:

The bigger picture

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. It is the first step into achieving a set goal. It is a road map designed to get you closer into the realization of a future that you would want to become, a future that you would want to be living in; the future that you imagine. I am quite a peculiar planner – I plan for almost anything and in all my life-long years of experience about planning I learned 2 things:

Bad plans are those that do not accept modifications

Good plans are when you plan for actions instead of planning for results

I remember when I was about 9, I planned my whole day, every hour of it – from waking up, eating, when to take shower, when to brush my teeth and the littlest thing. I ended up so frustrated with myself because I couldn’t keep up with my day’s plan; which was insane to say the least. Another time, I planned my wardrobe for a month and actually writing it down on the calendar. I planned for a matching shoes, bag and accessories to go with it. I stuck to that plan even if I didn’t feel like wearing those clothes I’ve written on some days or even if it doesn’t exactly match the weather; which was totally stupid. I realized that bad plans are those that do not accept modifications. Tweaking parts of your plan does not mean cheating nor was your plan a failure. It’s simply change.

As I matured, so did my planning prowess, well, that’s what I’d like to think anyway. At that time, my plan was to finish school by age 21 – a very specific planned result. That was by far the most life-changing plan I’ve had so far compared to planning my day’s activity by the hour or planning for a month-long wardrobe. So then I carefully thought about what could stop me from finishing school at age 21 – financial problem would be top reason, failing the course would be another reason and may be early pregnancy could be a factor too. To ensure my plan becomes reality, I took a scholarship to fix the financial problem. I decided not to entertain any suitor until after college so I can concentrate on my study. Well, a year before I finished, I was kicked out of school for failing a subject. My dreams were shattered because the plan was to be done school by age 21. I realized then that good plans are when you plan for actions instead of planning for results. I could’ve simply created an effective study plan which would’ve made more sense right, rather than over thinking possibilities and negativity and trying to prevent them from happening.

And so after college, my ultimate plan was to work in audit firm and work my way up to being a partner on that firm. For 6 years as an auditor, I was happy. I was able to accomplish some remarkable achievements; I was able to effect change for a more effective business operations; I grew professionally and socially as I gained so many good friends. I did feel happy but at one spot in my whole being, it felt like I’m missing something.

Finding out, from some silly childhood experience that bad plans are those that do not accept modifications, I decided to quit my job and redesigned my road map to a new venture for success. Finding out that good plans are when you plan for actions instead of planning for results, I thought more about the things that I need to do to achieve that professional contentment that I’m searching for. My new job was much more exciting. I was able to acquire new knowledge being in a different industry; there were more opportunities to showcase your expertise and is not limited to just the usual debits and credits of accounting; there were avenues that cater to employees’ interests outside of work so I was able to participate in event planning committees, public speaking clubs and project publications.

When we think about planning we need to consider that plans aren’t written in stone. And even if we are on track in terms of our original plan, it does not mean we ought to stay on that track. Plans are guide and never a written destiny – it can be altered. When we think about planning we need to consider planning the ways to achieve something because having a goal is not tantamount to planning. Planning the course of action is your actual climb towards your purpose.

I wrote this speech for the third Competent Communications project – Get to the Point for the Toastmasters. The objectives of this speech project are:

• Select a speech topic and determine its general and specific purposes
• Organize the speech in a manner that best achieves those purposes
• Ensure the beginning, body and conclusion reinforce the purposes
• Project sincerity and conviction and control any nervousness you may feel

Photo credit: http://www.freshtracks.co.uk