Saturday, May 12, 2018

THE GREAT VIBRATION OF LIFE




Do you know why dolphins toss themselves up in the air during a storm? When their bodies hit back into the water, they create vibrations to help their fellow dolphins find their way out of the storm. 

Contest Chair, fellow human dolphins, we also create vibrations to help our fellow beings weather the storms of life. When we share our life stories, we create waves of hope where there is doubt, courage where there is fear & inspiration where there is despair.
Sharing our stories means sharing a piece of our heart, our truth and yes, vulnerability. The problem is many of us are afraid to share our stories, perhaps due to so social evaluation, having low level of self-confidence or we simply don't believe in it. What if we could find the courage and confidence to share our stories? What if our stories could inspire our family, friends and the people around us? What if our stories could change the world? Well, we & our stories can!

As Author Lisa Nichols reminds us: Sharing our stories helps us realize that we are not alone in this journey. It was year 2000. Manila High School Extemporaneous Speaking Contest. The topic given to me was “What is the meaning of life?” At 15, all I knew about life was school, food & Power Rangers. Still, I grabbed the microphone. “The meaning of life is… uhm…to.” I panicked. My knees trembled & beads of tears surfaced my eyes. “Sorry”, then I left the stage crying& frustrated. As I was being buffeted by the billowing waves of embarrassment, a strong vibration suddenly pushed me away from the storm. The vibration was brought forth by my English teacher, Ms. Kaye, as she recounted her story: "It's okay, Joseph. It could be worse. Once I fainted in front of an audience. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from that experience, it is this: “Champions fall, but when they fall, they fall forward." 

Stories create vibrations that guide us in this ocean of life. FALL FORWARD gave me the courage to face my fears. I participated in various speech contests, from the Philippines to Qatar. I lost & fell in almost half of this journey, but I fell forward. I rose beyond boundaries (theme of DTAC20). I studied hard, graduated and joined a Public Speaking club called Toastmasters International. In 2016, I stood up on this stage for the same contest and lo and behold emerged as a Finalist! But the most precious prize I received then was when someone from the audience approached & hugged me for inspiring her on how I’ve pursued my passion. Her name is Kynah. She became a good friend and my mentee in Public Speaking. Kynah had a lot of inspiring stories, but didn't have the courage to share them. Last year, inspired by my story, she joined at a club level speaking contest. She did share her story and she did win & did she ever win in the Regional Level in Bahrain. Kynah inspired many people on how she overcame the pain of her stillborn baby named Amaranth. Seeing how Kynah turned into a confident speaker that she is now, I know I have found my life’s meaning.

All of us yearn for meaning. We desire to make our lives count. Social Science points out that sharing our stories is the simplest but greatest way to connect and contribute to something beyond ourselves. I know of a man. He was a dreamer, just like all of us. One day, his friend was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. With passion for equality inspired by his father who was a preacher, this noble man led a protest. It was so intense that resulted in his house being bombed. But this didn’t stop him. He helped organize a march and it was on this march where he shared his famous story that created an impactful vibration, so strong that it changed the world forever. The march was a success & equality prevailed but soon the hero was assassinated. Martin Luther King Jr. may be gone, but his story "I have a dream" remains with us even today.

Ladies and gentlemen, each one of you has a story that matters. And your story belongs to others, more than to you. Just like how I fell forward that inspired Kynah, how Martin Luther King's I have a dream changed the world, (how previous contestants' stories) touched our hearts, you too have stories that can create waves of hope, courage and inspiration. You may have ordinary day jobs but it doesn’t mean your story won’t matter. An accountant can have a hidden adventure story that can excite others. A stay at home mom may have stories of struggle out of her seemingly nonchalant life as well. Each one of you, toastmaster or non-toastmaster, is a story waiting to unfold, each with the opportunity to touch other people's lives. Share your story, have a meaning and together, like dolphins, let’s create the great vibration of life. 

Contest Chair.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ICC One Communication Championships 2017 (Qatar), Elimination Round

 
THE KEY TO HAPPINESS IS…
 
Do you have a key in your pockets? Bring it out or imagine holding one. Notice the intricate cuts or grooves. These grooves allow us to open a door, a car or any item where we keep our belonging or treasure. Now, that's exactly like life. The patterned door lock with its ups and downs is the reality of life and & each of us is the key. When we resist these grooves or cuts, we cannot fit and open the door to our treasure or own definition of happiness. These grooves can be achieved only through ACCEPTANCE.
 
Contest chair, ladies and gentlemen, ACCEPTANCE is the key to happiness. When we accept the reality of life, it teaches us 3 important virtues: faith, gratitude and humility which act as grooves to open the door to your lasting happiness. 
 
Acceptance gives us the groove of faith. Have you ever felt empty despite having it all? That's because you can’t be truly happy unless you know the source of happiness. I was in 1st year High School when dad lost his job. Thinking that wealth and career were the sources of happiness, dad went into depression but mom stayed calm and accepting like a clear, blue sky behind thunderstorms. Curious, I asked my mother: “Where does your happiness come from?” She looked at me in the eye and her words opened the door to lasting happiness: “From accepting God. When you resist the reality of life, you put yourself on a pedestal higher than God. That is pride. You must let go of that. When you accept, you believe everything has a purpose, you accept God, you accept the source of happiness. In no time, I saw how my father became happy as he accepted the real source of happiness. 

 
Last June, when the crisis in Qatar broke out, I, too, had to face my own crisis. I lost my job. At first, I resisted. Accepting is not easy. It hurts our ego. But when things get worse from resisting, we ask ourselves: what is ego for? Ego is not the reality. The reality is jobs are not permanent just like everything else in this world. And when something is lost, acceptance is there to shift our focus on the positive things, on our blessings & on the present. Acceptance gives us the groove of gratitude. Gratitude kept my spirit alive. And guess what, 2 weeks later, I landed a better job. 
 
In life, there are things that are beyond our control and understanding like loss of job, natural disasters, circumstances, illness and death. Acceptance gives us not only faith & gratitude but humility to carry on with our lives. Arjay, a fellow public speaker at Filcom, was the most passionate member I know. He would willingly accept any meeting roles when nobody would volunteer. In my conversation with him, he said: “When life presents you opportunities and challenges, accept it. You may not live to see the fruit of it, but you can live every moment if your life in joy and happiness." Those were his words. Those were his last words. 3 days after our meeting, Arjay suffered from heart attack. My heart bled from immense sadness, but who am I complain? Who are we to question this reality of life? Elizabeth Lesser once said, “humility helps us accept death and accepting death allows us to choose life, to choose happiness.
 
 
What's in it for you, ladies and gentlemen? I want you to look into your own life. What are you resisting? How long have you been resisting the reality of life? Our realities and challenges may be different, but the feelings of depression, pride and loss are also but our realities. Will you let it control your happiness? Think about it. We all deserve to be happy and the good news is we hold the key. Acceptance is the key. When we accept, faith, gratitude and humility open the door to lasting happiness.
 
 
Contest Chair.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

We Are Not Alone



WE ARE NOT ALONE (A Humorous Speech)

What lifts or raises your spirit when life knocks you down?

Life is how you see it. Right Kynah? So, I dance, dance, dance in the storm. (Dance like Grace)

Or you know what? I dance in a bar!

Contest chair, toastmasters, ladies & gentlemen, it’s party time!

Research proves that some of the best ways to feel good when feeling knocked down in life are:

1. Listening to music

2. Exercising

3. Hanging out with friends

Do you agree? I therefore conclude, the bar is the place to be. Professional DJ for music, dancing for exercise & if your friends are not available, the bar is the place where being single is not a problem, and making a friend is the solution. However, many of you (even the Distinguished Toastmasters) find it difficult to make friends in a bar. So as a distinguished party-goer, let me share my 3 tips on HOW to make a friend in a bar:  Single ladies, (watch me guesture). Bachelors, enjoy! And to the married ones, uhm, follow my tips at ur own risk (Correct Mrs. Pavithra?)

TIP 1: The Scene

Make a scene to grab attention. How?

a. Go to the counter doing the catwalk, then trip. Make sure people are watching and then slowly move your head & hands as you stand back up. Now, they think you’re dancing or drunk. But at least you caught their attention.

b. Once you reach the target successfully, it’s time to order your drink. Girls, for the love of femininity, please don’t go and say, “hi can I have a beer?” You’re a fine lady. Instead, order… Whiskey. Double. You need that extra confidence!

c. Then, always flash your Miss Universe Smile (Show how to do the MU Smile).

Note: If he smiles back, well and good. If not, follow my tip #2.

TIP 2:  Be A CC

Not Competent Communicator, but a Competent Chaser. Remember all the elements of a good speech from your CC Manual. And the purpose is for the person to like you.

How to be a CC?

1. Have a great opening. Don’t just say hi. It’s boring. There’s a new way to say it.  Haieeee! Repeat after me. Haiieee! If the guy says haiieee too, beware! That guy can walk in heels better than you do! Believe me.

2. If the guy says hi, like a normal hi (manly voice), proceed with the body.  Not the body, body. (I know it’s tempting), but the body of your speech. In your body, don’t talk about sex, religion & politics. Those are taboo subjects!

Instead, pretend you’ve met the guy before. Here, correct intonation, facial expression & body language will come into play.

-          Abdullah? Intonation (rising), facial expression (questioning) & body language (inviting)

Now, there will only be 2 reactions: either, he will say his real name or give you a blank stare. If blank stare, as toastmasters, we know where the fire exit is. Walk. Slowly. Then run!

TIP 3: Evaluate

Supposing, the person continued talking to you, this will give you the chance to evaluate if the guy is a potential friend. 

1. Look for 3 strengths: Strong opening (action), organ…nized ideas), and lastly, orgasmic humor.

2. Look for weaknesses:

Are there too much fillers, like ahhhss, uhhmmmss, errrs? And repetitions? Yes, yes?  Did he maintain an eye contact? Is the body language purposeful?

3. You’re old enough to decide, but remember, be responsible and use… the sandwich technique!

Life is how you see it.  You can see it like rat race or a walk in the park. For me, I see it as a party! When life knocks me down, I go to a bar, enjoy the music, & dance the night away.  And if there’s one very important lesson I learned from being a distinguished party-goer, it is that WE ARE NOT ALONE. The people whom I caught the attention, chased and evaluated are people who also have their own fair share of difficulties & challenges in life. But what is inspiring about all of us, is no matter how many times life knocks us down, we rise up, dress up and show up in this party of life!

Cheers & see you in the bar!

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Family Is Everything





People say that family is the most important thing in the world.  disagree.   It is not an important thing, it is everything.
Contest chair, ladies and gentlemen, I hold here a photo of my family. You cannot clearly see it from where you are seated, I know. Every member wears a smile, and by the number of heads you can tell I have a large family. What you cannot see or even suspect is that behind those smiles is the story of the aches of abandonment, the bitter wounds of rejection, and the deep holes of depression.
 
Being different and, in my father’s eyes, an un-acceptable unique person, I became the target of his manly ego and the apple of his furious temper. I felt I was his favorite son to do the chores of my sisters, to run to the store and buy him his pack of cigarettes and his favorite brand of whiskey. I tried to please him in every way. I was a model student. But for my smallest mistake, his impulsive fist tore my fragile body, his dehumanizing words shredded my innocent mind, until my smoldering rebellion could no longer be kept imprisoned in the cage of silence.

I found new friends in school among the behaviorally-challenged students. They taught me how to release my anger with cigarettes and drown all my sorrows in alcohol. I became fearless. I no longer cared about my studies. From being a consistent honor model student, I became a consistent visitor in the Guidance Office.

My mother decided to deport me away from the hustle and bustle of the city to the staid serenity of the province. I became my grandmother’s worrisome ward in the deafening silence of a rural town, helpless, lifeless, spending each night staring at the moon asking why my family abandoned me.
For a long time I wallowed in self-pity, bitterness & depression. Then on one of my favorite moonless nights my eyes caught the brightness of a star. As I reveled at its serene beauty I heard myself saying: “No! I cannot be like this forever! I am going to finish my studies, get a job, make a life for myself & they will never hear from me again!"

With renewed ambition and vigor, I finished high school with honors, attended university as a scholar, passed my licensure exam as a teacher and landed a job in the state university.  I lived my life indulging in satisfying my wants, buying everything I fancied, ate in my favorite restaurants & travelled whenever and wherever I wanted. I was living the life I dreamt of.  Yet at the end of the day, I felt an emptiness in my heart.

One day, as I was walking home from work I met a young boy seemingly lost and distraught. "Is anything wrong and can I be of help?" I ventured to say. The boy looked at me and there in his teary eyes was a reflection of myself, young, innocent & with so much love to give.  He reminded me of my family: the laughter we shared at the dining table, the opening of gifts on Christmas & the tender loving care of my mother. The boy answered with the saddest voice I ever heard: “My father just passed away,” and went his way leaving me transfixed on the ground.

His words opened a long forgotten garden in my heart.  I suddenly thought of my own father. How was he?  How was my mother? Did my siblings finish their studies?

I decided to dial the phone and called home.  After long 7 years, I heard the familiar voice of my mother, still soft but frailty. “Joseph, Joseph, my son, is that you?” I could not to utter a word. The tears did the talking that words could not explain. The tears washed away the bitterness & pain in my heart. Like an epiphany everything seemed to make sense to me again. My father hurt me only to become stronger.  I rebelled against them only to become better. They abandoned me only to love them deeper. “At the end of the day, a loving family should find everything forgivable,” so I remember Mark Olsen said.

If there is anything I learned from that experience is that there is no such thing as a perfect family. To borrow the words of Frederick Buechner we might put miles between you and your family “but you carry them always with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world, but a world lives in you.” In the ultimate analysis of life, family is indeed important because the family is everything.

(My winning speech in DTAC 2016, Abu Dhabi)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

ICC One Communication Championship 2015 (Qatar) GRAND FINALE

 
LESS IS MORE 
 
Please close your eyes and imagine holding a magic basket. This magic basket doesn’t get full even after putting everything  & anything you want into it. Now take this basket to your bedroom which I’m sure is full of stuff. Remove those things that you don’t need or have not used in 2 years like those old clothes, shoes & accessories & put it in the magic basket.
 
Can you see the space created from removing those stuff? Can you feel the fresh air circulating in your room? Can you feel a sense of calm, clarity and order?
 

 
 
Now, please open your eyes ladies & gentlemen. What we have done is just the first step on how I’ve found my happiness & purpose in life through the concept of less is more.
 
Many of us seem to have been born with a keen desire to gather “stuff” and aspire to have more: more followers on instagram, more gadgets, more money, more clothes & scads of all these superfluous things. Yet, with all these stuff, we aren’t satisfied with our lives. What’s worse, with all these stuff, we don’t have control of our time and thus don’t have control of our lives. This made me question things and discovered the concept of less is more or otherwise known as minimalism.
 
At first glance, people might think that minimalism is only to get rid of material possessions. But that’s a mistake. If we’re concerned solely with the stuff, then we’re missing the larger point. As what my idols in minimalism, Joshua & Ryan Nicodemus, said: "minimalists don’t focus on having less. Rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more contribution, more freedom. It just so happens that clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room."
 
I remember the day while I was packing my things to exit from Riyadh to Doha in 2012, I realized that none of my signature clothes, branded shoes & bags really mattered. Aside from the fact that even the most expensive clothes get damaged, I was utterly “broke”. So, I promised myself that when I get back on my feet in Qatar, I would focus on experience rather than material things. Thus, last September, I went backpacking in Europe alone for 1 month which is one of the best times in my life because  I learned many valuable life lessons that material things cannot offer.
 
Another example how minimalism helped me was when I got to the point of failing in my commitment with my family and friends. I used to be a member of different organizations here in Qatar: Volleyball team, Online TV channel, Bloggers Society, among others. At first, it was fun because I met a lot of "friends", but at the same time, I started to lose my family & true friends. So, I quit from those organizations and re-ignited my relationship with the people I love and focus on an organization that’s greatly contributing to my growth like the Filcom International Toastmasters Club. A toastmaster is a club where you can develop your leadership & public speaking skills.
 
Moreover, in Toastmasters, the concept of minimalism helped me discover my happiness and who I really am as a person – I am a motivational speaker. Public Speaking is my passion and to inspire people is my mission. Last year,  I was invited to speak to a group of distressed Overseas Filipino Workers who are victims of workplace harassment. I spoke about my Formula for Living, a topic on how I dealt with my depression. I inspired them, but they inspired me more with their strength, faith & hope to carry on this journey called LIFE. And through this, I know that I’m living a meaningful life.
 
Ladies & gentlemen, minimalism cannot be done overnight. It’s a lifestyle. And while we may have different lifestyles or minimalist life, our paths lead to the same place: a life with more time, more passion & more freedom to get a more meaningful life.
 
Getting started is as simple as choosing which one should you put in the magic basket?
  • Material things or experiences?
  • More time for your so-called friends or with the people you truly love?
  • More interests or a solid commitment to your passion that gives you genuine happiness and meaning in life?
The choice is yours, but remember: LESS IS MORE.
 
Good evening!
 
(Winning Piece in the 12th ICC-One Communication Championship 2015, Radisson Blu, Doha, Qatar)


 
As shown in Gulf Times dated Nov. 30, 2015
 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

ICC One Communication Championships 2015 (Qatar), Elimination Round


Grab A Share or Share A Grab: An Equation of Love

Who wants pizza? What’s your favorite flavor? Margarita?  Pepperoni with mushrooms, olives & melting cheese on top? Do you want it thin or thick crust? Now imagine there’s just one slice of your favorite pizza left on the table and it so happened that you & the person beside you reached for that very pizza at the same time.  Will you grab a share or share a grab?

Ladies & gentlemen, many of us will say “share a grab” because sharing a grab, may it be material or non-material things, is an act of kindness. And an act of kindness goes a long way not only to the person who gives it, but moreso to the person who receives it. 

As a teacher, I share my grab of knowledge with my students. Sharing a grab by teaching is my act of kindness. And nothing can remunerate the happiness I feel when I see my students turn into responsible, mature and better individuals.

Grabbing a share or getting help from other people, on the other hand, is the other side of the coin that people usually frown upon. We feel that when we grab a share or get help from other people, we’re weak, inferior, and less of a man. If sharing a grab is an act of kindness, grabbing a share is an act of humility. Accepting help from other people also shows an important reality of life, a life full of challenges & trials. And these same challenges and trials provoke us to go back to our natural, innate capacity to love.

3 weeks ago, I was in Barcelona for my 2nd backpacking trip in Europe. One day, after 6 hours of non-stop walking, I suddenly felt the pang of hunger & thirst heightened by the teasing smell of paella and tapas spilling into the streets of the famous La Ramblas. I desperately reached for my pocket and to my horror, I found nothing but my map. I was a victim of pickpocketing. Walking back to the hostel  for another 6 hours just to get food and water was not an option. I was close to fainting. I looked at the people around me and I heard a small voice saying, “Joseph, my son, you are not alone. Go ahead. Ask for help.”

La Ramblas
 

Not far from me, I saw a gentle-face lady speaking on her phone. I walked up to her and greeted, “Como esta usted, senora!” which means "How are you, madam?",  and before she could respond to me in straight Spanish, I explained that I was a tourist, was pickpocketed and even just a bottle of water from her would be greatly appreciated. She stared at me blankly. I felt embarrassed. But slowly, I saw a smile on her face. “Perfect! I’m going to a restaurant now & I’d love you to join me", she said. At the restaurant, we talked about the 333-year colonization of Spain in the Philippines. She offered me tips on what to see and do in Barcelona. And when we parted ways, she didn’t only fill up my stomach, but she filled my heart with a realization that asking for help is an act of humility that allows the other person to show an act of kindness.

Ladies & gentlemen, ultimately, a person is two-faced: a face of a giver, and a face of a receiver. It is important that one knows how it is to be a receiver as much as a giver because each face provides a meaningful outlook or realization in order to understand the equation of love: act of kindness through sharing a grab + act of humility through grabbing a share equals to act of humanity which is to love and be loved.

So, to all of you all my dear audience, I know that you have so much to share about this topic, maybe even better ideas, but we have to learn how to grab a share. In the end, it doesn’t matter who gives & receives something right now, what matters most is we take part in the fulfillment of the greatest equation in life – the equation of love.

Before I leave the stage, did you like the pizza?


 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Speech Project 10: Inspire Your Audience

Speech Title: Red Stiletto, Heel to Heal


The spotlight’s on. A sea of people gathers around the stage. Four stern-looking judges listen to the host while he unrolls a piece of paper.

“What is the essence of life?” asks the host for the second time.

 I take the microphone & force a smile.

“The essence of… life…is…uhmmmm….to…”


The crowd howls. My feet -- cold, knees tremble, butterflies fill up my stomach and beads of tears surface my eyes.  “Thank you!”, then I walk backstage crying and frustrated.
 

Fellow toastmasters & guests, that was the most embarrassing moment in my life. Yes, I lost in the Extemporaneous Contest in high school, but I did not lose the hope.  Paulo Coelho once said,
when you want something, the universe conspires to make it happen.

 
I've always wanted to be a public speaker. I remember the time my childhood friends wouldn’t play with me because I insisted to be the teacher sharing with them the stories of Moses & Noah and well, Moses & Noah time and again.


In college, I took up Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Major in English. I know that this degree would be my foundation as a speaker. After graduation, I’d teach English in the morning & talk to Americans over the phone in a call center at night which really helped me improve my gift of gab.


But then, as with the economic situation in the Philippines, I was forced to give up my passion and work abroad for a greener pasture. I went to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2010 as an airline ticketing agent. I was able to help my family with my salary, but every night, I was nursing my bleeding heart for not doing what I love to do and in my melancholy, the words of Paulo Coelho reminded me: when you want something, the universe conspires to make it happen. So I left Riyadh and came here to Qatar to seek my passion. With a business visa in my hand, I braved the scorching heat of this Arabian desert & walked into each & every school and company that I passed by. Schools wouldn’t accept me as an English teacher because obviously I’m not a native speaker, while some companies offered me a secretarial or assistant job with a good salary package, but I declined the offer and opted to walk further until the universe picked up my energy and conspired with Nissan Qatar for me to be a Soft-Skills Trainer. Today, I go to work with so much energy and always look forward to training our new staff in customer service, communication & call handling skills, among others.

When you’re passionate about what you are doing, you always find ways to improve your craft. That’s when I learned about Filcom International Toastmasters Club. I take pride for being able to compete in the Division Level and placed 3rd in the Evaluation & International Speech Contests. And that's because of the continuous support from my Toastmasters family.

Moreover, through Toastmasters, doors of opportunities have opened up for me. Recently, an international 5–star hotel here in Doha approached me to promote their events by writing articles on their social networking sites. Apart from the perks & remuneration that they offer me, I accepted it for the growth it offers me as a public speaker. 

After 15 years since that humiliating Extemporaneous Contest in high school, I’m back standing on a stage, this time for public speakers & with my red stiletto. Red means bold. And stiletto is a symbol of empowerment. Combine both & you’ve got the perfect platform to be a bolder, brighter & better you. Don’t worry; I will not wear a red stiletto. It is the title of my website where I promote events here in Qatar and the most interesting part of this website is this: Heel to Heal, a scholarship program that I offer for the less fortunate children from my hometown who are victims of the strongest typhoon ever-recorded, Haiyan. As a teacher, I know that education is the most powerful weapon we can have in life & the best legacy we can ever give.


Finally, if I were to answer the question again in the Extemporaneous Contest, what is the essence of life, this is my answer:

Paulo Coelho is right that when you want something, the universe conspires to make it happen. I want to be a public speaker. From being a loser in the Extemporaneous Speaking Contest in high school, then studying English as my major, finding my passion in Qatar, to winning public speaking contest in Toastmasters, I have experienced & still am experiencing how the Universe conspires to make my dreams happen. And of course, once I start achieving my dream, I do not forget to share my blessings/gifts with others through Red Stiletto Scholarship Program. Truly, a heel to heal! This is the ultimate meaning of life.



Red Stiletto Scholars

_____________________________

Objectives of the Speech:
 
1. To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives & challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
2. Appeal to the audience's needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama.
3. Avoid using notes
Time: 8-10 minutes