Takeaways: 5 things that struck me while reading Malala’s story

This year I want to be more courageous. I started off by reading about people who exhibited this trait. Malala is one of them. She stood up for education and women’s rights when it was dangerous. I never knew what it was like to live in the Middle east where women are restricted to roles set by their culture. I didn’t know that there are still women who cannot have equal rights with men especially in terms of education and profession. I commend her for speaking up even at an early age. It must have took her great courage to begin with. I also commend her dad for encouraging her to be free.

Today I’m going to share five things that struck me the most while reading her story.

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Malala came from the middle east where women were not given much importance and yet she made use of every opportunity given to her to share kindness and love to the people around her—her neighbors, the children they saw on the streets and other needy people. She lived under the reign of Talibans where people were suddenly hurt or killed and yet she had the courage to speak.

As a person living in a democratic country where people have freedom to do most of the things that we like, I realized that I am taking a lot of opportunities for granted. I am motivated to speak up now that I can.

I also realized that I should not be contented to live my life as if there are no people in need. God blessed me with abilities, resources, and time so that I can bless others. We may sometimes complain that we do not have enough as of the moment and thought we could share if we can become millionaires one day but I realized that even a small amount could do. As little as we can, we can help a lot! On her 16th birthday, Malala spoke at the United Nations where she mentioned that one book, one pen and one teacher can already make a huge difference. I realized that if we believe in some things, we must have the courage to go all in.

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Speaking up when you are oppressed is difficult when you know that your oppressor is more powerful. When Malala’s dad was starting to build his school for girls, there were a lot of problems especially in dealing with the government and the community. Corruption was rampant, and the influential people wanted to close his school. The Taliban saw it as a violation of the Quran. Parents were against him when he invited poor and needy people to sit in a class with the rich kids. His former business partner gave up also when he didn’t see immediate results.

Malala’s dad realized that through speaking up in behalf of schools, he could raise his opinions to those in position. He joined several organizations who stood up for education and girls’ rights. He raised his concern about corruption in the government when schools were having difficulty in getting permits to operate. Through the help of like minded individuals who are concerned about the children, he was able to motivate them towards his vision of giving good education. He also encouraged Malala to speak in their campaigns for girls’ rights.

I realized that we can only do as much when we’re alone. It is as if we’re trying to fight single handedly. But with the help of a community of like minded individuals, we are stronger, our voice is louder, and our hands are bigger. We need not make a difference on our own. We can look for individuals who are also wanting the same.

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When Malala’s dad started his school, there were only few students who enrolled. He also had to balance his time to focus on financial concerns, welfare of teachers, academic curriculum of students and cleanliness of the school. They had to sacrifice meals and personal space. Other people would even make fun of him. It took a while for the community to recognize his school’s reputation. After some time, there were already three buildings in the school, a bunch of students who join competitions across their place and teachers. It also took him several years to be able to build his reputation in the organizations he joined. He was even looked up to when there were instances that they must speak up on some issues even though he wasn’t involved politically.

Like the movement that Malala and her dad started in Swat Valley, it will take time to see progress. Changes do not happen in a day especially when we want to see a total turnaround. There will be a lot of challenges too. All of these will not result to nothing.

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The Taliban hit Malala by the bullet over her head. She believed that the reason the gunned men were forceful was because they were uneducated. They did not know what the words in the Quran mean. They were interpreting their religion as something that it is not. She said that it was supposed to be peaceful because Islam means peace. They wanted to use brute force to show their power. They wanted to use such force because they fear that people will not honor them. Because they do not know the truth, they did so many crazy things just to make people afraid.

Another instance mentioned in the book was when Malala’s dad and his friend was passing through a checkpoint. His friend asked if they will pretend to be somebody else because they were known and were looked after by the Talibans. Her dad never made a second thought of changing their names. He stood for what he believed was the right thing to do.

I realized that when we speak the truth, there’s nothing to worry about. Because we know we are in the right, there will be peace in our hearts. Whatever happens, our conscience is clear. I also realized that it is important to know the truth. And we will know it by reading or learning from other people.

I commend Malala’s dad for being courageous. Both Malala and him motivated me to die a noble death than swallow the words that I said.

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Malala was asked a couple of times by reporters whether she felt a grudge towards her perpetrator. She said that she did not even think of the gunned man who tried to kill her. There was no hurt feelings that was left on her. Instead, what remained was more passion to make her new life count to be able to help more people in need of good education and equal rights.

Her parents also supported all sorts of people in need. She told in her story that their house was always full of guests. They feed the children they support before heading school. They also help others whenever they have concerns as much as they can. Both her mom and her dad were activists in some way. They made sure that they do what they can to help.

On the other hand, when they were in need and were in critical situations, people just suddenly appeared to help. When her dad was on his way to the university, he didn’t know where to move in because he lack money and his only relative didn’t have the means to take him in. His fiancé and now wife’s uncle willingly offered his place not knowing his situation.

When Malala was brought to the Birmingham hospital, hundreds and thousands of people sent messages of encouragement to her. There were also several people who helped them finance the operations and recovery.

I realized that when we extend mercy, we receive grace. When we become generous with other people, we tend to get more than we could ever ask for.

When we sincerely want to help others, we will muster the courage we need because we know that our efforts will not be in vain. It is when we volunteer to stand up for others that we will be able to do dangerous things and compromise our security for the good of other people.


Takeaways on Originals by Adam Grant

I never thought that a classroom setting can be so choking and inflexible. I was contended that I get honors and high grades. My sister was the one who is critical of our school systems. She dreams of establishing a school where children can freely play and learn at the same time.

Through several materials and encounters, I now agree with her that there’s something that needs to be done. Schools are usually designed for conformity rather than fostering originality. A lot of our examinations and projects are tailor fitted to make us follow rules and instructions. Something is lacking!

The same situation usually happens at home. Many parents want their children to obey ‘in spite of’ and in all circumstances. Asian parents, in particular, want their children to pursue careers that are ‘safe’ and traditional.

I personally struggle coming out of my own as an original. Until now, I can’t still figure out my skill sets and the things that I like doing. I envy Joy Mendoza’s kids because their mom knows them very well. I wish someone had studied me, my strengths, and weaknesses. But I believe it is not yet too late. Clearly, we need to take time to discover and ask help from other people.

Upon reading the Originals by Adam Grant, here are the seven things that I realized:

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A wonderful Creator designed us. God made each one of us unique. We are carefully and wonderfully made—each with strengths and weaknesses, passion, and ability to influence. God designed us in a way that would glorify Him in the end. He placed us specifically where we are right now. We are born to be an original. There is no single person here on earth with a similar set of experiences. Therefore, our influence, reach and capabilities are also different.

We are unique and original and yet we need to discover our gifts and talents. We need to discover what sets us apart. We must remember that it takes time to discover these, so we need to actively participate. And we can enhance our creativity and originality by trying out different styles and combinations, trying out different things and the like.

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Our parents’ priority is to give us our quality education. They want us to be equipped in the future. Sadly, our parents’ minds and thinking are sometimes narrow. They tend to advise us to take the safer route. Take a business course or any other course with a professional license. We end up living in a box environment because of this.

Recently, there is a good amount of acceptance to unconventional jobs like becoming a blogger, stylist, designer, and the likes. But for it to came to a well-known status, there must be many brave souls who spoke out what their passions are. That is true to the vlogger Cassey Ho when she was supposed to take up medicine because her parents said so. She courageously voiced out that she liked designing. For several years, she was not in good terms with her parents because of this. After a while, they have accepted. If not for her courage to speak up, she wouldn’t be the top fitness vlogger on youtube as of date.

Parents should encourage their children to pursue creative activities. They should also encourage them to dream big dreams.

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When you enter college, there are a lot of stereotypes. There are also norms around the campus that are acceptable because they became valid over time. Even in the workplace especially in the corporate world, rules have been long set. It is difficult to break from it even though it will greatly help the company and its employees.

Speaking up might cost our jobs or grades and even our lives. There were a lot of world changers like Malala who spoke up for women’s rights in Pakistan. They risked their lives because they stood for what they believed is true. They admitted they were scared but they did it anyway. It took courage to speak because if they didn’t, no one will.

This might also mean we should care less of our own welfare and care more about the company, school or community in general. It means we need to care less about promotion and care more about the company’s long term success just like Steve Jobs who was fired because he took risks for the company to grow and be innovative.

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I want to master a skill as quick as I could, but I am losing the patience and discipline to master along the way.  I feel like it is taking me too long to get a concept, or a way of doing things! Research shows that it will take us 10,000 hours to master one. This year I want to master driving but sometimes I am not confident enough. My dad always gives his lecture whenever I would do something that is not right.

Through several occasions and upon reading this book, I realized that we cannot fake greatness. Fakers cannot continue as fakers and not be found out. It takes time. It takes time to learn how to drive. It takes time to master other new skills. I am amazed of other people who learn quickly but I am more amazed of the people who have already mastered a skill or two because they patiently practiced.

I realized that confidence can be built when we know enough and have done enough. When we practice our craft, we learn through discovery and trial & error. Also, as we master skills, our reputation becomes established as we deliver.

Also, the author stressed the importance of creating despite having mastered an art. He mentioned that there are two kinds of creativity. The first one is that you tend to be creative and yet through time, you repeat your own work because you cannot think of new ideas anymore. You stopped playing even though you mastered your skill. The second is that you start slowly but your creativity produces unique and innovative ideas in different styles. We should strive to have the latter.

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I believe what the author said about this is true. When we are focused in getting achievements, we tend to pursue a single path and becomes more inflexible. Our vision becomes narrow. Instead of having the willingness to try other things if the plan becomes not feasible, we push through with eagerness. We lessen play time and experiment time. We are too rigid in getting the prize or pleasing others. We are being stubborn in a wrong way.

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When we hire people in our company or work for others, we see to it that our values are similar with the people and the organization. Because of this, we tend to have a culture of conformity. Many company cultures are drawn to this because it is ingrained in the culture. We need a culture that fosters different perspectives. If we want to become a great company, we need to allow others to be their own personality. We need to take in different perspectives. We should not shut down ideas too quickly. We need to study them. We should not settle with mediocrity and status quo. Always challenge the current practices and try to learn from them.  It will help us become an original. We should also be open with negative criticism. That’s how we’ll grow.

It was also mentioned that we should avoid the words love, hate and like. They have a psychological effect in our thinking that will make us drawn to it unconsciously. This will in turn prohibit us from venturing different ideas and styles which are helpful in becoming originals.

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One of my favorite books to read in our university library is the 100 innovative ideas book. I even know where it is placed! I loved the book because there are so many ideas to generate ideas. It is fun to read how we can be creative and how we can foster creativity amongst ourselves and other people.

In this book, I learned that the only way to generate great ideas is to generate more ideas. I realized that the reason why business people and creative people are encouraged to bring a notebook and pen always is for them to create more. That is to account for business ideas or ways on how to do business. Generating a lot of ideas allows us to choose the best and viable option given the limitations and other factors on hand.

Overall, I found the book helpful. I realized that there are still a lot to be done with my own habits as well as practices in business and at home. I should foster a habit that allows creativity and play. I also realized that disagreeing is different from disrespecting. We may disagree on some ideas but we should not disrespect. We may voice out our opinions but we should consider others’ feelings as well. After all, our gifts and creativity are meant to help other people and not tear them down.

Thoughts: Remembering the dead

It is customary for Chinese families to light red candles for the loved ones who passed away. It signifies that we are happy for their state in heaven. It is also customary to burn incense and “pray” to ancestors like what Mulan did.

While we still keep this tradition, I believe it is for the purpose of respecting the elderly in our community. People who grew up with their parents who are first generational Filipino-Chinese tend to be more sensitive when we dismiss their rituals.

For me All Saints’ day means visiting my grandparents’ tomb both on my mom and dad side. We also visit my great grandparents’ tomb on my dad side sometimes.

My uncle is really intentional when we go to the cemetery. He shares stories about my grandmother. He would often tell that she likes to paint and collect jewelry. He shares her beliefs and her experiences.

My uncle also likes to discuss the meaning of their names and other characters that are written in the stone.

When I took this picture my grandfather was already ill. It was his one year death anniversary at the start of this month.

This is a picture of my Angkong (dad’s dad). I like this picture a lot because of his stature and the waves! I never really got close to him because he was often out of the house playing mahjong.

When he was already bed ridden, my uncle asked me to let our Pastor visit him. It was really a hard time for us because we rescheduled his visit three times.

Pastor Collen shared about Jesus and my cousin, sister and I listened behind. Angkong could barely speak but I think He felt relieved. He also listened carefully. Afterwards, Pastor asked us to sing for Angkong. We sang Amazing Grace.

It was also the last time that I saw Angkong alive. Praise God for that one last chance to visit him and the opportunity to sing for him.

We also remember by looking back at their photographs. My grandparents’ house are filled with pictures!

My Guakong and Guama (grandparents on mom’s side) taken on my mom’s wedding day

I hope that as we remember our loved ones who passed away, we also remember to:

  1. Live our lives to the full. Live your life for Christ. Serve with your heart and hands.
  2. Thank God for the family and friends that you have (and show that you care)!
  3. Give your time, talent and treasures to the people around you (And not to spend most for our time on leisure).

I hope that when our time is up we will not regret anything. Remember that our lives are short. We need to make them count for eternity.


Words on Wednesdays: Say no


After reading this book, I realized how entitled I am. Our parents, being baby boomers, really worked hard almost all their lives. They are used to working almost 24 hours. They cannot live without work. Our generation is more prone to self-entitlement. Everything is accessible in an instant. We want results now. We want to have life outside work. We are dissatisfied easily. At least that is in my opinion. What do you think?

I have to remind myself especially in the area of work that I need to do my best because it is not just me who’s in the line. As a believer of Jesus Christ, I ought to follow His example.

Dr. Townsend described two kinds of pain–success pain and symptom pain. Success pain is experienced when we push ourselves beyond our limits. For example, we do five more pilates stands despite the ache that we are feeling or keep on writing despite the rejections that we faced after we submitted articles to a news company. On the other hand, symptom pain is experienced as a result of mediocrity. For example, we notice that our work isn’t good enough. We feel that discomfort and yet we did not act on it.

As much as I want to feel more success pain, I can relate to the symptom pain more. Let’s not forget that we are here to excel and give our best. Let’s not forget to do hard things now rather than regret later.

stay motivated,


Words on Wednesdays: Spice up your life

Sometimes we fall into the trap of doing the same things. We eat the same food, walk in the same route, have the same work routine, talk to the same people, and watch the same shows. When I tend to do routine work, I feel like I am not progressing. I know somewhere I have to tweak it a bit.


Last week I challenged myself to alter some of the items in my routine list:

  • Instead of eating a spoon of honey I decided to try the orange flavored vitamin C drink
  • Instead of walking in the overpass, I walked on the street
  • Instead of eating in the cafeteria, I went to get some salad somewhere for dinner
  • Instead of checking my favorite blogs, I watched Mark Zuckerberg’s commencement speech in Harvard

Concurrently, in the office it was our first Friday to wear jeans so yay for a small organizational change.

Stay inspired,


Words on Wednesdays: Let it be


A few weeks back, I was reading Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis because it was mentioned in one of the clips during a recent retreat that I attended. At first, I had a hard time understanding what the author meant. After a while, I came across a portion where he discussed about how the song “Let it be” by The Beattles was composed in relation to a discussion. He said that it was based on a dream where the songwriter’s mother gives comfort to him after a break up. I also listened to the song on Spotify because I got a bit intrigued. On our way home after dinner, I passed by this ped xing along dela Rosa that says “let it be”. What a perfect timing! It was a reminder that despite the things that go on in our lives that do not make sense, God is still there for us. Because of that, we can be thankful even though there are bad things that happen around us. God is in control so we need not worry.

Stay posi,