Monday, October 14, 2013

Reigniting Passions at TEDx Diliman - "Things that Matter"

TED videos  were a source of writing inspiration in my former job. To those who don't know, TED Talks are short (around 18-20 minutes) recorded speeches from TEDx events that revolve around the general theme of "ideas worth spreading".  TEDxDiliman is just one of many independently organized TEDx events around the world. Today, TED has become a global movement of changemakers and thinkers who are passionate about the things they do and think about.

I never thought that one day, I'd actually attend a TEDx event and listen firsthand to these brilliant minds. The topic for last night's TEDxDiliman was "Things that Matter".  I signed up for it after a friend encouraged me to apply, and after I saw that the subtopics (music, art, books, reason, etc.) were things I'm deeply passionate about. Knowing that only 1 out of 3 people are selected to be part of the audience, I was really happy to have received a positive response!

Another huge surprise came when I saw on the email that my sister was also part of the event. If there's anyone who I'd love to be with during this type of gathering, it would be my sister.

Happy to attend TEDxDiliman with my sister! 
Organized by Gigo Alampay of CANVAS (Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development), TEDxDiliman brought together speakers who are pursuing their passions and loving every moment of it. Some speakers brought tears and laughter to the audience. Some challenged long-held beliefs and gave us fresh ways of looking at things. What was evident though was that each is a source of inspiration.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from each speaker:

Joey Ayala and his rendition of Lupang Hinirang in a different time signature

The reward for us is the experience we give you - Gigo Alampay, TEDxDiliman organizer

To be authentic, embrace change - Joey Ayala (musician, cultural artist) on Indigenous Music

Our job is to read and demand good books - Rica Bolipata-Santos (Literature professor and Philippine Star columnist) on Books

Shadows matter because they develop our creativity rather than our fears - Don Sulabayba (from Anino Shadowplay Collective) on Shadowplays

Commenting on Borges' short story On Exactitude in Science: The best map of the world is the world itself. The perfectly accurate map is useless - Popo Lotilla (UP professor and antique map collector) on Maps

Adopting a child won't change the world, but for that child, the world would change - Marina Cruz-Garcia  (visual artist and adoptive mother) on Adoptions

We need lawyers who understand that law is not a career but a profession.  Law is a passion. - Marvic Leonen (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines) on Lawyers

The real competition is found in the rehearsal room where one is striving to be better, knowing that each one is relying on one another to make beautiful music. - Mark Anthony Carpio (Choral conductor and choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers) on Music

I learned that behind something unpredictable, there's actually a process, an order. - Reinabelle Reyes (Filipino Astrophysicist who proved Einstein's Theory of General Relativity) on Science

History is two things: data and interpretation - Paul Alexander Morales, Ballet Philippines artistic director

Why rely on "diskarte" [winging it] when you can prepare for it? - Jonathan Yabut (Apprentice Asia Season 1 winner) on Passion

TEDx freebies: where I took notes.

I was on TED high after the event, and I could say that a lot of the speakers either changed my perspective or affirmed my passions. For me, the biggest transformation was that my world suddenly expanded again.  I was in a cubicle for two years while trying to live out my passions on the side when work was done. I don't regret it, since I felt that God called me there for that time and I met great people. But now, God is telling me to get a move on.  The things that matter to me are books, education, volunteer work, creativity, music, faith, family, relationships, and God.  These are the things I love and value, and I want to focus on them.

Forgive me if I seem to romanticize TEDx and make it about me, but I truly realize how blessed I am to have been given the desires and strengths I have.  Now, the possibilities are before me, and I have an awesome opportunity to do what I love to do. I'm just happy I trusted in God's timing on this.  TEDxDiliman is just one confirmation of my God-given purpose to focus on my strengths, so I can be a blessing to others. Undoubtedly, this event is one of the highlights of my year and a fitting end to my cubicle life.

Thank you TEDxDiliman for the inspiration! You guys are awesome!

To receive updates from TEDxDiliman and view quality photos of the event, visit TEDxDiliman on Facebook.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Doors (a short story)

The door closed him. Pushed out of the room, he didn't know where to go. After a few moments of confusion, he decided to just walk away and look at what was ahead. The day was bright and there was a light breeze. For the first time in months, he breathed in clear air. In the small room he had gotten used to, it was often dank and damp.  Slowly, the sadness gave way to a feeling of freedom. He was free.  There was doubt and a little bit of fear, but he couldn't help but also feel the first stirrings of what seemed like joy. With a little smile, he decided to walk on.

Pretty soon, he found himself before a stream.  He didn't know exactly where it led, but the water seemed cool and inviting. Cupping the coolness in his hands, he drank from the stream and was instantly refreshed. The slight wind tousled his hair, and he just felt a deep, deep peace.  He allowed himself a laugh. Immediately, he was overcome by the feeling that he had to go barefoot and follow the trail of water. There was no better way; he was sure of this. And he had time...lots of time to spare. The water was so clear, he could see small fish darting around. They went this way and that, enjoying the gurgling water. But he could also see that the steady current compelled them to move forward, to see what was at the end of the trail.

After a few minutes of easy trekking, he finally knew he had reached his destination.  In front of him, were rows and rows of doors. They stretched before him far into the horizon. Some were round like those in a hobbit hole. Some were small, he didn't know if he would fit.  The colors were varied - a sea of blue, a verdant green, a splash of yellow, and some colors he didn't even have the words for. What was sure though was that each door was just waiting to be unlocked.

The stream had brought him to what seemed to be infinite possibilities. Which to choose? What to pick?  He closed his eyes and remembered the soothing sound of the waters and the gentle whisper of the wind on his face while he walked.  Then and there, he knew exactly which door to open.

It's been a while since I've written anything that comes close to a short story. This draft was inspired by possibilities and is dedicated to everyone experiencing changes and facing crossroads in their lives.