I am 44 years old, and I feel fine and dandy

Original Article Posted on Medium

One of those occasional pose for posterity (and because who can’t resist this beautiful picturesque place in my alma mater)

I am 43 years, 11 months, 4 weeks, and 2 days old, as I write this. How does it feel being at this age, as a man, a husband, a father, a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a buddy?

I still listen to the same music that I have discovered more than 20 years ago. I still collect books and buy my Wired magazine if the cover catches my fancy. I also sleep more these days than I should. I’d rather stay home on weekends and catch up on my readings — and my students’ assignments. I love a quiet time, coffee on hand in my favorite shop.

Road trips make me excited, and I love long drives. I want to travel to Europe, Japan, and some exotic places in Asia with my family. I want them to see the Great Wall of China or experience the rides at the Sentosa in Singapore, or walk the streets of Seoul at night and bask at the neon lights that make this city alive. I want to visit museums or art centers in my own country, and meet poets, artists and writers whom I respect so much.

I want to learn the new solo from my old-time favorite rock ballads, and if I get the chance, finally write that song for my wife, which she has been begging me to do ever since we met. For unknown reasons, I have trouble writing THAT song, yet I can play a tune on my aging Fender Stratocaster. Mind you, I could play the guitar well — at least for some of my friends’ standards. I love Blues, Rock (Hard Rock), and the standard Jazz music — and okay some 70s and 80s classic rock.

Still wants to be a guitar-slinging rock star

My taste for food is simple. I love them sweet and sour. I also love them roasted and skewered. But due to my recent health predisposition, I have to avoid eating food that turns into sugar, which apparently my body cannot take too much (yeah, my body is insulin resistant). My doctor and my dietician are both telling me that I have to watch what I eat. At this age, I have to force myself to eat my veggies more.

From an interesting menu I found in one of the local restaurants

I have been active since I was a kid. I played a lot (and slept so little). I was a ball of energy, my mom and friends would say. I was always seen running around; could not keep still. I was dubbed the little “Dennis the Menace” since my energy was always cranked up to 10 that I ended up getting in trouble. Meeting me now would make people wonder where did that energetic kid go. What changed? I believe it was me becoming a pensive (read: introverted) teenager who would rather stay with the crowd and would rather melt whenever his name got called by the teacher.

From wanting attention to hating it, the change happened before I hit puberty. I gravitated to fewer friends — at least 1 or 2 really close friends. I got bullied too because I was a small, brown-skinned skinny fellow who only ate hotdog for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I grew up being the only child until I was about 10. Just imagine the attention I was getting from my parents. I owned it all. Then, my brother popped out of my mom. I was sort of jealous. But since my mom had to go back to school to finish her College education, I was forced to grow up and take care of my younger brother. (Thanks to my aunts, however, who were there to help out — I owe them my childhood and my wonder years of learning how to put on a diaper on a baby and how to properly prepare a warm milk for my younger brothers).

I also had a loyal pet dog. His name was Black Tail because he had a black tail. He was a mixed kind of breed — not exactly the dog you would find in pet stores today. He had no pedigree. For me, however, he was my friend and my companion when I was left alone at home. I would let him sleep inside the house (which angered my mom), and I would also do the same in his little dog house (which further frustrated my mom). I smelled like my dog — most of the time. I didn’t care. I just missed having someone stay with me until my mom came back from school.

I also had a dog. His name was Black Tail because he had a black tail. He was mixed breed — not exactly the dog you would find in pet stores today. He had no pedigree. For me, however, he was my friend and my companion when I was left alone at home.


I have often wondered how I would write my own story when I’m older. Would it be as exciting and intriguing as the stories of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov whom I idolized since one of my college buddies introduced them to me. As I turn another leaf in my life, I could only think of a few words to describe it: steady and comfortable. My life does not even have its ending yet — or neither do I have a clear vision of how life would be in the next 10 years. I’m taking it one day at a time. I am more engrossed with my daughters who are growing so fast, I could no longer keep up with their changing interests. I also have been married for 17 years now. And I must say it has never been this good. Me and wife are happy together, and I still can manage to make her laugh.

I’m also in a job that have turned out to be an interesting journey into self-discovery. Having navigated different organizations and having met with interesting people along the way (including the most difficult persons to deal with), I am friends with a handful of them — some have become mentors who have my back, some confidants who would always remind me not to lose sight of the very purpose of our work — and it has always been about our families.

From a page in one of the books that I own (forgot which one).

Talk about friends — I have kept a handful so far in my 44 years. I am still in contact with my close friends from as far back as high school. I also have brothers and sisters from another father or mother who have kept me in line — they would often wake me up from my stupor. I love them as my real brothers.

To end, I am imparting some life observations (lessons) which I wish to share, as I conclude this long read:

  1. Never lose sight of your purpose in life. Whatever that is, take that with you wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
  2. A job is just that, a job. Don’t let it define you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try out new things even when you are at my age. Old dogs can still learn new tricks.
  4. Don’t stop learning (and if you can, teaching).
  5. Keep at whatever you love doing. It reminds you that life is not just about working from 9am to 7pm, and going home, and repeat. Take up a hobby; commit to it.
  6. Real friends will always tell you things you don’t want to hear. Listen to them.
  7. Family first. Love and take care of them, no matter what.
  8. Life is short. Always thank God for every day that he gives. And I’m going to borrow this line from Steve Jobs: Don’t waste your life by living someone else’s life.
  9. Give yourself time to travel and discover the world (with your family if you can).
  10. Always say thank you, and please. Be patient and be kind even to people you hate. Love them back. (My Sunday school taught me that).

The author contemplates about his next move.

Things happen, how you react matters

It took me long to update this personal blog. But, here it goes:

The day almost ended without much happening. Sunday was a day of rest, a day for family, a time of reflection and worship. However, as I went back to my room to read a book, I heard a shattering of glass outside my apartment. I then heard my wife calling my name. Something broke and I was afraid it needed my attention.

I went down from my room, and there it was–shattered glass all over the parking  area where my vehicle was. My wife said that my new neighbors who were moving in caused a loose glass jalousie to fall directly onto my car’s hood. The sharp glass created a deep but small dent on my car.

As I went to check the damage, my new neighbor looked troubled. He saw the frustration in my face, and he acknowledged the accident.

Things happen everyday. But what matters is how we react to these life events. I’m known to be calm. Sometimes too calm while others panicked. I also don’t say much. Perhaps that’s the observer in me. I assess a situation first and think how I would react. I hate confrontation. But when push comes to shove, I use reason, not emotion to get myself out of a situation. I am often get called out for being too “soft and kind” when a situation calls for aggression and toughness. It’s my demeanor. I don’t talk much. I listen. Then react. I talk when it’s my turn. Good thing, I have friends and family that are there to help. Friends sometimes come to defend me. Sometimes, I forget that I need help.

2017: My Views Moving Forward

cropped-10277240_10152729199308269_6766472510073464371_n.jpgThe following words are not my predictions of 2017. They are, however, an attempt to put down in words how I see 2017 panning out.

  1. I will continue learning & teaching kids. My strength lies in learning and teaching — and doing it has been both my joy and challenge.
  2. Full-time or part-time, or both? How do you define work these days? Is it a 9-to-5 kind of thing, or is it a series of opportunities where you are tasked to find solutions? (Look up Gig Economy). It’s going to increasingly happen more next year.
  3. Travel and discovery. This is on top of my list. Discover a new place with my wife and kids. It could be another country, or another place where we could drive to.
  4. Active versus passive income. We all need to retire soon. I’m looking at accelerating this plan next year. Here’s to retired at 50.
  5. Family will always come first…before a job or a gig or any material pleasure.
  6. I will finish a race — at least a long swim. Been practicing for more than a year now without clear goals. (Time to learn how to run properly, too.)
  7. Ending my dependence on medication (for diabetes). I picked up a book called “The End of Diabetes” by Joel Fuhrman. I’m still in the first few chapters, but I have recently realized that diabetes is a condition that can be reversed with proper nutrition/diet and complete overhaul of our lifestyles. (No more junk foods and hopefully expensive Starbucks coffee).
  8. Simplify life. It’s a marathon. I will get rid of more junk and unnecessary stuff from my cozy home. Best to move forward with few, simple things in life.
  9. Start a venture. So many ideas up in the air. Need to pluck them out and turn them into reality next year.
  10. Develop a system of “continuing education” for me, my kids and my wife. It could be a regular visit to museum or a tour/experience that we should try together. (Enough of the theme parks and exhilarating rides).

Can’t wait for 2017 to happen!


The author in his best ‘villain-like’ pose.


About the Author: A corporate worker with a 9-to-5 job, he also dabbles on being a part-time professor in a university; a budding entrepreneur trying to iterate ideas into products; an ex-journalist who remains optimistic about the role of media in a post-truth society. He loves time alone to listen to a podcast or to read a book. He also finds time to study new guitar licks from his favorite rock guitar idols.

Pursuing the Why in Life

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The road to happiness is like this road. You know it’s there, but it vanishes as you approach it.

Recently, I had been listening to this book called “Starting with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” It reveals the stories of people who have become great leaders. Their secret: they had a sense of purpose. They asked the question “Why” before anything else. Their life was driven by this question: Why.

By asking the question “Why?”, it became clear what their purpose was in life. He cites great leaders like Martin Luther King who once had a dream to change the American’s society views on race, specifically on African-Americans.

By asking why, the Wright Brothers were able to build an industry that we now call aviation.

By asking why, Steve Jobs challenged the status quo and revolutionized the PC and the mobile phone industry.

Starting with Why crossed paths with another project that I’m doing, which also traverses the questions of why are we doing the things we do. Answer: We’re all in pursuit of happiness. Happiness takes different forms in our lives. But for me, the ultimate form of happiness is being able to emancipate myself from the rat race and pursue passions that would bring joy not only to me but also my family.

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As you look out the window, you often wish you were out there chasing your dream. But reality always kicks in, and you go back to your comfortable office chair and work.

Okay, I’m not here to preach nor offer a silver-bullet to anyone who wishes to be emancipated from their current shackles of the daily grind. To my mind, life is NOT about work. And work does not define you. Money is important but it shouldn’t be the end.

Lately, I realized that the most precious human currency is not money. Guess what? It’s TIME! Time is irreplaceable. Time is not infinite. Time is a limited resource that our creator has granted us on this earth. So why waste it on a pursuit of the wrong forms of happiness.

When we were young, time wasn’t a problem. We procrastinated and we wasted time on mundane activities for quick and satisfying rewards. For us, time was the least important matter. We were out chasing money, thinking that it would buy us more time.

Twenty to forty years later, money would probably be enough to buy us some laughs and satisfaction; a nice and comfortable home; a collection of gadgets and technology; and perhaps a symbolic trophy of success in the form of a career.

However, happiness remains elusive, just like that vanishing point in the highway.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” an old adage kept coming back to me. Yes, it flies so fast, you suddenly find yourself in a place that is so unfamiliar, so different. We look at ourselves in the mirror. We see a different image of ourselves: older, tired, beaten-down.

It’s not too late, however, to start exercising again; looking good and slowly picking yourself up–redesigning your life in pursuit of happiness.

Start asking yourself why are you doing the stuff that you do. What is the purpose? What’s the impact. Only after that you get clarity, a meaning, a direction. It’s never too late to begin now.

Ask why now.

On selling out (or life in a corporate world)

This article is inspired by this nice musing by a former colleague Rica Facundo.

Several days ago, I was out with friends and ex-colleagues. Most of them are working as freelancers, which means they don’t need to clock-in every day to an office; they don’t have to “dress the part;” and they don’t have a boss.

What struck me was their idea of fulfilment. To them, it was using your God-given talent for something more meaningful and NOT wasting it away in some 9-to-5 job.

This got me thinking, “Does my job suck?”

A wiseman once said the best job that you have right now is the job that you HAVE RIGHT NOW. For me, when people tell you your life sucks because they feel you’re comfortable and you get to go home early and spend the evening with your kids and wife, I would politely tell them to f&&*^ o*(.

Life sucks when you don’t have a job. Life sucks when you’re always chasing the next meal. Life sucks when your kids, partner or even family are wondering why you’re always working late, but everything around you remains the same.

I am resilient. But I’m also NOT refusing every opportunity that is thrown at me. At my age, I take stock at things. I weigh them and think of my family over my own. I muse a lot these days. I think of the days when I was younger, when life was simple.

Does a corporate job suck at this time? No.

As Rica wrote in her blog, it’s all about mindset and culture. Of course, the people are quite important. People leave their jobs because of people (i.e. they hate their boss). People stay because of people.

Perhaps the next time my friends ask me if I should consider life outside of this corporate life, I would tell them it doesn’t matter what job you are doing right now, as long as you’re happy, and your NOT neglecting any people who matter to you in life.

Life is what you make it, as they say. It’s a bunch of decisions with consequences. There will be trade-offs. You choose which ones you’re willing to give up. This time, I’m happy where I am NOT because I’m working for a corporation. I am here because I’m learning from the best people who know great things that I don’t know.

Sounds cheesy, but that’s the truth. It’s just a job. It’s up to you to make it FUN and fulfilling.