english literature

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The resilience amidst adversity

“I shall enjoy every step of my journey, conquer my fears, and ensure that I take forward and upward steps, no matter how small and no matter how difficult, to get me to the top.”

A Japanese proverb notes that the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists. The bamboo is probably the most versatile plant in all of God’s creation. It signifies great strength, yet it bends easily in wind. In China where it is abundant, bamboo flourishes even in winter, the harshest among the four seasons. The resilience of the bamboo must have come from the adversity it has to go through in the process of its growth.

In the movie Mulan, an elder says that the flower that blooms in the harshest conditions is the most rare and beautiful of them all. Mountaineers talk in glowing terms about the beautiful flora that they see in the high altitudes that are extremely unfavourable to human survival and one might think any kind of fragile life form such as plants. Instead evidence suggests that the best flowers are those that bloom in the highest peaks. Deep sea divers describe an comparable experience in the breathtaking magnificence of the fauna in the depths of the oceans where human life cannot survive. The underwater landscape is an otherworldly and wondrous spectacle of colourful plant and marine life and the splendour grows dramatically more stunning the deeper one goes.

Why do such amazing wonders abound in severely inhospitable environments where life is not expected to survive much less thrive? Life that grows in difficult conditions is made strong by hardship and adversity. By the process of selection it becomes the hardiest and the choicest manifestation of God’s creation. Nature raises up the beauty that grows out of adversity. Napoleon Hill noted this when he said that the strongest oak in the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands out in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the buffeting winds, the torrential rains. and the scorching sun. The same is true of people. The Good Book cites the fire of purification many times. For example Psalms 66:10-12 says “You tested us; refined us as silver, brought us into the net; laid affliction on our backs, caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire.…But You brought us out to rich fulfilment.” We are likewise familiar with the story of Job and how his perseverance in faith in spite of seemingly interminable and unbearable loss and suffering bore him the fruit of even greater blessings than what he had lost. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said much the same thing when he proposed that "that which does not kill us makes us stronger."

Paul Stoltz set down similar parallels in his book Adversity Quotient. He divided people into three groups and characterized each group as quitters, campers or climbers. The quitters are those who, upon seeing the mountain, surrender and give up. They lose the chance of discovering what the mountain can offer. The campers are those who climb only to a certain height and simply settle in to camp. They impulsively draw satisfaction from the very low height that they were able to reach even though it is clear that there is a lot more mountain to conquer. The climbers are those who will not stop until they reach the peak. They can only derive gratification from making the top of the mountain. And then after reaching the peak, climbers decide that the mountain is not that high after all. Their initial feelings of elation at reaching the top are transformed to disappointment which motivates them to set new goals to climb higher mountains.

Are you a quitter, a camper or a climber? In your present career or business, have you ceased to make any effort to reach higher than where you are now? Have you quit? Or did you at least make an attempt to rise above your present situation and then give up? Have you reached the place where you believe that you are already comfortable in and settled in to camp? Or are you of the group of climbers still actively and aggressively planning to climb up more and higher mountains in an assiduously relentless effort to achieve ever more success?

Climbing is the way of prosperity but you should expect adversity along the way. Take along with you your vision of getting to the end with a clear sense of mission which you learned from chapters one and two. You should be prepared for the opportunity that lies ahead as in chapter three. You have to effectively and efficiently manage your most important asset in the climb, which is yourself as you learned in chapter four. Use both your head and your heart as you learned in chapter five. You have to select the right mountain to climb and make sure that you ascend it correctly as you learned in chapter six. But you also have to be equipped with the resilience that will be your weapon against multiplicity of challenges and hardships that you will encounter along the way. Bring a bamboo stick to remind you of the lessons to be learned from this hardy plant.

People who are determined to reach prosperity will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals undaunted by the toughest difficulty or the biggest obstacle. They might even be willing to push boulders up a mountain impervious to the prospect of Sisyphean failure.

ADVERSITY TOWARDS PROSPERITY

Sir Winston Churchill observed that kites rise highest against the wind - not with. Henry Ford reminded us that when everything might seem to be going against us, we should remember that airplanes take off against the wind, not with it. We should likewise keep in mind that the most skilled pilots earn their reputation from having gone through the most powerful storms and tempests. Prosperous people are like the kites and planes that reach the peaks of their climb against the wind. They are like the pilots and captains who have overcome the worst challenges that nature can throw their way.

A lot of people start their business because they are convinced that it would lead to their prosperity. Many of them think of an idea for a business and take the initial step of a start up. However a good number of would-be entrepreneurs are unable to withstand the hardships that usually come with the labor and birthing pains of any business enterprise before the first signs of success become evident. Many abort their business while it is still in its fetal stage of development. They terminate the enterprise well before it reaches the stage where it has become viable and ready to grow. They turn their backs too soon on the opportunity to become parents to a business that might have brought them the prosperity that they have been dreaming of and aspiring for. They give up before giving their dreams a chance to come true and bear fruit. They fail without even trying.

Behind many of today’s most successful brands are entrepreneurs who have gone through not just one but several bankruptcies in their careers. If they had given up too soon, we would have not have heard of them or found their products and their brands in the market and in our homes today. On the average, most successful entrepreneurs have suffered an average of three to four bankruptcies before achieving their initial successes. The bankruptcies did not only teach them lessons. They also made these individuals stronger and better able to cope with the hardships and difficulties that they knew would constantly beleaguer their every attempt at success. They grew out of adversity. Each failure made them hardier, tougher, and more capable of hurdling even progressively greater obstacles in their efforts. Many started like them, but did not have the resilience or the ability to survive and prevail through the hard times.

Failure and bankruptcies revealed to them their mistakes and deficiencies thereby showing them what they still needed to work on. Failure and bankruptcies were never looked at as fatal mistakes but always learning experiences. Dwelling on failure only leads to the demise of effort and initiative and eventual stagnation. In the course of his 10,000 experiments that did not work, Thomas Alva Edison claims that he did not fail. Instead, he looks at them as successes in identifying 10,000 ways that did not work and should be avoided next time.

Successful people make more mistakes than ordinary people. A Buddhist Philosophy states that the arrow hits the bullseye as a result of a hundred misses. Michael Jordan recalls that he has missed more that 9,000 shots in his career. He lost 300 games. On 26 occasions, he was entrusted to take the game winning shots and he missed. He has failed over and over again in his life. But to him, these failures were precisely the reason why he became the Michael Jordan who is arguably considered the best basketball player to ever play the game. Tiger Woods started training much younger than any other golfer but this did not guarantee a perfect career. Constant practice to overcome faults, flaws, and weaknesses did. Losing in many of his earliest tournaments did. However we, of course, all know that his ultimate failure and decline were not caused by his failures in golf but by his inability to control the weaknesses in his personal life. It remains to be seen how resilient he is in recovering from his current situation.

Donald Trump has his own version of resilience triumphing over adversity. His life policy is to learn from the past, focus on the present, and dream about the future. He is a firm believer in learning from adversity. This business icon notes that often the worst of times can be turned to one’s advantage and his life is a case study of the validity of that perspective. One of the aphorisms that he is known for is that when someone hits you, you should hit back and make sure you hit harder. While we really cannot condone physical violence, we can endorse the fighting attitude, the combative and almost overtly pugnacious mindset in dealing with difficulty that is anchored on resilience and toughness.

We can learn a lot from champions. They are ordinary people with extraordinary competencies honed by extreme adversities. They know how to celebrate their victories, but they are aware that every victory is only temporary. They are prepared for setbacks which they look at as mere preparations for them to come back stronger and tougher in future encounters.

There is already a champion in you! You have won many tournaments already. You are already a be-medalled champion.

The top 10 adversities that I have overcome in my life…and the lessons I have learned from them

The ADVERSITY

The LESSON

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Congratulations! You are now privileged to indulge in your prosperity because you have prevailed over the different kinds of adversity in your life.

The Square peg that is fit to a Round Hole

Prosperity is a round hole. You are a square peg. Will you fit? I say yes! But it depends upon what you are made of. A steel square peg will not fit the steel round hole. But certainly, a square peg made of pliable material will fit into the hole.

Fear is a natural response. There is nothing wrong with experiencing fear. In fact, courage, which in the Shinto religious tradition is the supreme virtue, is not defined as the absence of fear but as the mastery of fear. Fear elicits a physiologic response that releases adrenaline, a hormone activating the entire body. It signals the body to the fight or flight mode depending on the person’s assessment of the situation. It makes you action-oriented. Fear, once mastered and transformed into courage, can be used positively. It brings out the fighter in you. Because of what courage can accomplish, the person who has mastered his fears has the advantage in most adverse situations.

A phobia is an irrational fear. It is a fear of something that is not normally considered frightening or disquieting to other people. Phobia is brought about by the use of the defense mechanism called displacement, which makes a person unconsciously transfer the fear from an original source to something less threatening. It can be explained by a past experience that traumatized the person and which the person retains within his subconscious. I met a person who was claustrophobic and exhibited an almost irrational fear of riding elevators. He could not explain why as there seemed to have been no relevant experience that he could recall that would explain his feelings until he learned that his mother had a threatened abortion when she was pregnant with him.

To overcome phobia, the person may be gradually exposed to the object that is the source of his anxiety. The exposure under controlled conditions enables the subject to adjust to the object and develop a more accommodating and relaxed perspective towards it. As the person experiences such exposure, the person realizes that the fear is irrational and manageable. The phobic person is therefore desensitized. Fear is managed and phobia disappears. The person moves on a normal life after re-setting the mind and increasing the person’s conscious control over the unconscious irrationality.

We all have our fears! And to be courageous does not demand from us the elimination of our fears. All we need to do is develop a resilient attitude and learn to live with them.

Adversity is a ‘given.’ The most we can do is to always be prepared to deal with it and overcome it. As the Jewish Proverb puts it, “We pray not for a lighter load, we pray for a broader shoulder. The Bengali Renaissance man and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore made a similar appeal when he wrote “Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.”

Nelson Mandela quotes Confucius in saying that “the greatest glory in living lies not, in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” There are nightmares and dreams even in our waking hours, but we can defuse and counteract every nightmare with our dreams.

When we fight, we get hurt, bruised, and wounded. The wounds heal and are covered with scars. And scars are perfect reminders that the wound has closed and the hurt is over. The scar is stronger than the skin that was once in its place, skin that was once intact and then broken. A fight can impede your progress for a while but only you can make the decision to cease fighting altogether. According to personal success guru Napoleon Hill, “Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.” Those who quit are accepting a permanent solution to what should be a temporary problem.

Francis Bacon made the observation that “Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes.” Coal is transformed into natural diamonds through the high pressure compression at tremendously high temperatures of carbon minerals well below the surface of the earth over billions of years, an extremely protracted process that accounts for the very high value of the substance. Upon extraction it is further subjected to polishing friction and refined to cuts that make it even more precious. The sand trapped in the oyster hurts it and causes its tears which evolve to become pearls over time. The deeper the location of the oyster bed, the higher the pressure exerted on the oyster and the lesser is the current leading to more perfectly rounded and expensive pearls. The process of transformation and conversion of substances from low value to high value items is a turbulent and generally violent and even brutal process but the products of such upheaval are prized objects of great worth and significance.

We can notice the same phenomenon in our own bodies. The muscles that are more frequently subjected to tension and opposition become stronger and bulkier than those which are not used as often or as strenuously. As body-builders say most often, “no pain, no gain.” On the microscopic level, the muscle cells adapt to the tension by increasing in size. It is a process called hypertrophy, which simply means enlargement. Such enlargement gives the muscle more strength. On the other hand, muscles that are not used suffer atrophy. They become small and weak. Did you know that calcium escapes out of the bone during immobility? The bones of less active people contain less calcium than those who regularly subject their bones to tension. In effect, the bones that are subjected to stress are stronger and tougher. The palm of your hand is not an exemption. The roughness of the palm indicates the physical activity of the working hands.

Adversity brings out the best in us. In times of prosperity, talent and creativity may lay dormant. But in adverse situations creativity and innovativeness are stimulated and harnessed to effective use. As the Roman philosopher Horace put it, “Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.”

DE-STRESS FOR PROSPERITY

Dr Hans Selye, the father of modern stress theory, defined stress as the body’s non-specific response to any demand made upon it. By this he meant that stress affects the total being of a person. It is a general response that agitates every cell of the body from head to toe. And since it is a response, it is highly personalized. It is highly individualized. What is stressful to one may not be stressful to another. Why? Because we can always choose our response. It is a response to any demand made upon it. Stressors, the source of stress need not be negative. Any demand made upon a person may activate a stress response. Did you know that celebration of holidays is included as one of life’s major stressors? And since promotion imposes a demand on the person being promoted, it normally generates a stress response.

The journey to prosperity can be very stressful. The personal vision and mission by themselves impose tension and demand and eventually result in stress. Preparedness for opportunities can bring about stress. The search for self management can also be highly stressful. Being passionate about something and the quest for excellence both cause stress. For prosperity, we have to DE-STRESS.

D-efine the stressors!

E-xamine your motives!

S-anitize your word!

T-alk it out!

R-etain your composure!

E-nergize your accomplishments!

S-tay healthy and well!

S-ay a little prayer!

Define the stressors before they stress you out. Determine if the stressors are worth it. Find out if the problem really exists. Make sure that it is something worthwhile before allowing it to bother you. Sometimes we worry about something that we consider as impending doom only for us to find out that our anxiety was premature or worse that the cause of our worry is not really a problem.

One time when I was in Malaysia I noticed that I seemed to have misplaced my wallet. I thought that I might have left it in the gym that I had gone to that day, but I was not sure. I hoped that it was still in the gym if I had left it there. My wife was so worried and panicked by what had happened and worse that it had happened in a foreign land. I however was unperturbed by the situation. I didn’t lose my composure and was totally engaged in finishing our dinner. She asked why I was so relaxed when I should have been panicking. I felt that needless anxiety over a situation that could not be immediately resolved would simply have ruined the rest of the evening for everyone. Why worry over something that we could not do anything about at that instant? I reassured her that my wallet was most probably in the gym where I left it. As I had wished and prayed, we found that the wallet was in fact in the locker of the gym, and, thank God, intact and untouched. I could have worried about losing my wallet, but why should I when I was not yet sure I had actually lost it? What if I had indeed lost my wallet? What if it had been stolen from the locker while we were having dinner? Then that’s would have been the time for me to worry. I always verify if my stressor is valid before it stresses me.

Examine your motives before allowing stress to get to you. Work and having to work do not worry me. It is what I have to do. Dealing with work-related problems does not stress me because I use it as an indicator that something is not working. I pray for many enrolees in my review programs, and if God gives me more, and I have to work harder for it, I consider the whole situation and even the problems that it brings as blessings. When my staff was still new, they would oftentimes come to me with their problems. I would ask them first if they had already considered alternative solutions to the problem that they would present to me. If they had none yet and the problem could wait, I would ask them to come back only when they had possible solutions to offer. We would then explore the proposed solutions, integrate my suggestions and attack the problem. In the first place, I did not hire people to give me problems. I hired them to help me with solutions. Yes, I might make the final decision, or I might have the best solution, but I also wanted them to learn how to solve problems on their own. After some time, a system was established wherein they would come to me not with problems for me to solve but with solutions they themselves had worked out for the problems that they might have had to deal with. The problem-solving culture that we have set up has enabled all of us to see that there can be several solutions to a single problem. They block the stressors for me. We de-stress the workplace as they learn my problem solving style.

Sanitize your word as they are printouts of your thoughts. Neurolinguistic programming makes us look into our words to effect changes in our mindset. Your thoughts and your words are frequently major stressors. Watch your words for they are reflections of what is in your mind. Pessimists have pessimism expressed in their every word. Negative-minded people distinguish themselves for words that are negative in content and context. Watch what you say! Identify common words that you use and be aware and always conscious of their negative implications, and stressful impact. Here are some common examples:

“I will try.” You mean you are not sure if it will work. If it fails, you can say, “I told you, I will just try.”

Better to say: “I will do it.” It expresses your commitment and conviction that it will work.

“Only” which imply the smallness and the inadequacy of it. “I am only an employee,” which implies inferiority in being an employee. “I am only human.”

Eliminate the word only.

“I am an employee” expresses pride and certainty that exudes confidence.

“I am human” which projects the supremacy of being such not the weakness of being one.

“Maybe,” which expresses uncertainty. If asked if it will succeed, you may reply “Maybe.” If it does not work, you may say, “I told you, I was not sure.”

Better say, “I am sure,” and make sure it will work. It commits you to success and attracts it.

“Come what may,” which makes you rely on fate, and makes you surrender to something you are not in control of. In Pilipino, “Bahala na” (come what may), which root word is “Bathala na” (Let God) expresses acceptance of anything that it may occur, as if God willed it.

Choose words that are more proactive and that you are more certain of.

Better say: “This will come because I choose it and because I work for it.” God gives you the freewill to choose. Use it.

“That’s good enough,” which makes a person settle for less. In Filipino, “Pwede Na” (That will do).

Better say: “Good can be better, and better can be best, and best can be great.” This eliminates complacency and acceptance of mediocre results.

“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” which indicates contentment in the present situation and with things as they are.

Better say: “If it ain’t broke, make sure it will not break.” Or better yet, “I am open to new upgraded technology to replace what ain’t broken before it breaks.” This projects dynamism and open-mindedness to change.

“I don’t know,” which could be an honest admission but is definitive statement that lacks the openness to know.

Better say: “I will find out,” which is an attitude of readiness to learn and to determine with certainty.

Talk it out for it is therapeutic! Women have more social stressors than men, but there are more men in mental institutions. There are more women who thought of and attempted suicide, but there are more men who succeeded. There are more women who are hypertensive, but the incidence of strokes is higher in men. Ultimately, women have higher life expectancy than men. How could that be possible? Because women talk out their problems and concerns. The objective of talking out is not necessarily to find solutions to problems or to resolve issues and address concerns but simply to ventilate and release anger, disappointments, fears, worries, and other causes of stress within. In psychiatry, this is called catharsis, which is derived from the physical process of purging out human waste through the intestines. Clearly illustrated, catharsis eliminates the emotional garbage that is trapped within. Men should learn from women how the process of catharsis can release stress and extend their life spans.

In communication, assertive interaction is less stressful. It means you uphold your right, as you also respect and uphold the rights of others. Use the “I” message, which is effective in assertiveness. Also, don’t justify and make excuses. Here is how:

Aggressiveness

Assertiveness

“You humiliate me!” This will generate a defensive response on the person.

“I felt humiliated!” This is an “I” message. If the response is “No, I did not humiliate you,” you may continue saying, “I did not say you humiliate me, but I felt humiliated.” What explains this best is the fact that your feelings are valid and that you are entitled to your own feelings.

“I’m sorry that I was late. I had been through a terrible traffic jam and had to direct the stupid driver to the best route to get here.” This will probably only irritate those who must have been through the same jam and had their own version of a story.

“I am sorry to have kept you waiting.” Simply put, this communicates the sincerity and expresses respect for and understanding of the feelings of others.

Retain your composure and be in control! In the event that circumstances put you in a bad situation, maintain your composure and keep control of the things you can control. Don’t lose your poise and dignity. Equanimity in the face of turmoil creates confidence in you and brings out the champion in you. Even in the face of overwhelming stress, keep calm and carry yourself in a way that will show your full control of your greatest asset – yourself. You will be looked up to more if you show grace under pressure, and control in adversity. Leaders who manifest calm and self-assurance in the face of the most difficult circumstances reassure their people and encourage them towards fast and effective resolution of the situation rather than panic.

To present a relaxed response, take deep slow breaths several times. You may close your eyes or look at the mirror to tell yourself that you are in control.

Energize your accomplishments by celebrating victories! Your wins are worth celebrating no matter how seemingly small and simple they are. By these celebrations, you are able to count your blessings and feed your self-esteem. Reward yourself with something proportionate to your achievements. Whenever I feel tired in the middle of a work, I imagine and plan for a nice dinner or treat. If you are engaged in a big project, identify milestones, and mark the accomplishment of each one with a celebration. Milestones refer to indicators of success towards the completion of a project. In writing this book, the completion of every chapter is a milestone, and I allocate a reward for myself when I finish each one. This form of joyful acknowledgment of partial accomplishments recharges the psychological energy and feeds the ego with a taste of the prosperity that awaits the final completion of the project.

Stay healthy and well! The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the person’s (or group’s) ability to realize dreams and aspirations, satisfy needs, and change or cope with the environment. This role performance model reaffirms the value of health in the attainment of dreams and aspirations to prosperity. It is also a vital means for the satisfaction of our needs. It is a prerequisite for us to change and deal with with our environment.

We have to conscious of the vicious cycle of stress and illness, where illness is a stressor as stress leads to illness. Stress is immunosuppressive, meaning it reduces the strength of our immune system by suppressing the inflammatory function which is also one of the natural defences of our bodies. Both contribute to the person’s susceptibility and weakness to infection. Worse, when the immune system is poor, cancer cells may become activated and begin to proliferate. Stress also alters the metabolic processes which can lead to increasing blood sugar levels. It also exerts additional demands on the heart as the blood vessels are constricted and blood pressure rises. Oxygenation is reduced not only in the pulmonary level but in the cellular level as well.

In conclusion, stress leads to the most debilitating illnesses of today such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac problems, and many others. Then the diseases and infirmities that are brought by stress in turn aggravate the stress on the afflicted individual in a self-sustaining and ever worsening cycle of physical, emotional, and mental deterioration which left unchecked can end in death.

Why do we need to keep healthy? Because good health will enable us to not only beat stress but also to climb the ladder of prosperity.

How do we keep healthy? Another more comprehensive book dedicated to the subject may be of greater help to you. But let me use God’s message in the human anatomy to prove that we need to eat vegetables. I don’t advocate vegetarianism for I will never preach something I cannot do. I tried to be a strict vegetarian but I failed. They say that the practice should be rooted to a philosophy which I have yet to discover. I do know and firmly believe that God wants us to eat more vegetables. I am sure! Human teeth are designed for the consumption of vegetables just like those of herbivores in the animal kingdom. The length of our gastrointestinal tract is not designed for the digestion and absorption of meat but is more like those of herbivores. Sitting down to a meal without having to imagine what it might have died of is certainly a much more pleasant experience. Doctors propose that we should eat like a king in the morning, a prince at lunch and a pauper in the evening. The food pyramid is also there for us to know the kinds of food that we should consume to ensure the balance of the go, grow, and glow nutrients that we first learned when we were still in kindergarten. We know that one of the principals of staying healthy is eating right and well.

Since the adult human body is composed of more than 60% water, we should make sure we supply it abundantly with clean refreshing fluids. Treat the body as a machine and always be aware that it needs to rest. Treat it as a temple and respect it for what it does for you. Listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs to serve the purpose of your journey and prosperity

Say a little prayer! What can be more de-stressing than the faith that assures you that you have the omnipresence of the omnipotent creator on your side? Who can be a greater partner on our journey towards prosperity than the Holy One who is good, great and almighty? By saying a little prayer, we find refuge in our faith and always seek the ultimate solution through His will.

There are many lessons on how to pray best. When I pray, I commit something good in return. We were not able to bear a child in the first two years of our marriage and we really wanted to have children. I prayed for a child and I promised to be a good father. God very kindly and generously answered our prayers and we were blessed with four! And I have tried to live up to my promise. I had 14 reviewees for the first batch in my review center. I prayed to God to give me more and I promised that I would take care of them and make sure that I would bring them closer to Him. And God very kindly and generously made my review center one of the leading brands in the field today.

Since I was a child, when I pray, I simply follow the acronym for Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield. I praise God to the highest. I repent for the sins that I commit. I ask for help in my journey to prosperity. Then I yield to His will for what I deserve through my partnership with Him.

Resilience evokes courage and patience – when supplemented with prayer, becomes even more powerful. Be inspired with the stories of people on the rebound from life’s challenges and misfortunes.

Interview 1: Cecilio Pedro

One of the most popular cases in the country of a company’s turnaround from a big loss is that of Hapee Toothpaste. In the helm was Cecilio Pedro. He narrates, “I was making tubes for the multinational companies making toothpaste in the Philippines form 1977 to 1986, almost nine years. They decided to switch from aluminum to plastic laminated tubes. So that was a crisis for me. In 1986, I laid-off more than 200 employees, closed down my factory and had to pay so much debt and loans. I literally went bankrupt. Instead of giving up, I decided to put toothpaste in my aluminum tubes and sell my own brand in the market. So Hapee Toothpaste was born out of adversity.”

Hapee Toothpaste is not just another brand in the market. It also was one of the biggest advocates for supporting our own. His first commercial sponsored the Philippine Olympic Team, which at that time was not very popular for companies to do, since they were not expected to win any medals. Pedro himself directed the commercial. The big clincher for Hapee was that it was able to use the Olympic Logo in its products, boosting its sales dramatically. The company continued its trend in using Filipino talents to promote their products. “These are the things that we spearheaded and we are not afraid to take risks to build up our brand,” he says.

As a Christian Filipino, Pedro attributes all his victories to God. He shares, “God has given us creative minds, so take advantage of that gift to create businesses, enterprises, jobs for the country.” His company particularly has the heart for Filipinos with disabilities. His greatest fulfilment is being able to provide work for about 100 hearing impaired people, enabling them to be productive, so they can feed their families and send their children to school. He also is proud of the company’s community projects and the reasonable pricing of their quality products that the masses can afford.

Indeed, amidst the challenges, Pedro is one of the few people who have been able to make his childhood dream of becoming a successful businessman a reality. He asserts, “I believe that in this world the ultimate secret of success is hard work and perseverance. You just have to continue working in spite of crisis and despite of failures. I’ve encountered more failures in my life than successes. It is always from the failures and learning from these that ultimately build the character, build the person, build the foundation for the success. So whatever you do don’t give up.”

Interview 2: Lito Colona

“I always tell everybody that if there is a problem, there must be a solution,” says Lito Colona, who, back in March, 1987, lost his lucrative job as the General Manager of the United States Lines in the Philippines.

He relays his story:

“My boss from Hong Kong called me up and greeted, ‘how are you?’ I said, ‘I’m ok!’ He said, ‘bad news, we are closing US Lines worldwide! We are in chapter 11!’ I thought to myself, ‘oh my God!’

I did not tell my staff at that time about what I had just learned. US Lines was one of the biggest American multinational shipping companies. I closed the door and just conceptualized what I’d do in spite of this. I left work early and passed by Cultural Center of the Philippines to watch the sunset, and by 6 p.m. I was already home. My wife asked me, ‘why are you very early today?’ I answered, ‘aren’t you happy?’ She said, ‘I am very happy but this is not normal because you spend 16 to 20 hours in US Lines every day.’ I said, ‘you will be happier because now I’m jobless so I will be here the whole day.’

The following day I went to the office, organized my thoughts and called up my boss. I said, ‘I just want to hear again from you that US Lines is now in Chapter 11, which is closure!’ He told me not to worry because they will be appointing me as the liquidator of the company and pay all of my staff.”

It took the next 3 months for Colona to liquidate the company. He promised himself that shipping would be his last job. He conceptualized and founded his own company, recruiting first from his staff who were being laid-off. By mid-May, his own shipping company, Eagle Express, was born. And what then began as a small operation with 7 staff, is now a conglomerate with 200 employees.

Colona survived a crisis to become an entrepreneur who has, within two decades, earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from his colleagues “for his remarkable contribution and total commitment to the airfreight industry (http://www.twasp.com/4thQuarter2007/4th_news.php).” His secret to success? “Working very hard in all my dealings. Being flexible, optimistic, pro-active, and taking risks but keeping myself 10 steps ahead. I keep my work honest and do not tolerate immorality in my company. I also put God in the middle of whatever I do. That’s why my marriage is very successful as well,” he discloses.


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