Author Archives: HARDPEN

Sa Sayawan

danceMay nagbulong sa akin…
Ika’y nasa sayawan
May kasama ka raw
Magkahawak ang inyong kamay.

Ang bilis.
Noong isang linggo lang eh tayo,
Kamay ko ang hawak mo.
Bakit ganoon?

Ayaw ko sana
Na sa sawayan pumunta
Subalit para mo akong hinihila
Parang gusto kitang muling makita.

Nadatnang tugtog doo’y mabilis… magaslaw
Subalit ‘di ako maenggayong sumayaw
At pilit kitang tinatanaw
Sa gitna ng patay-sinding mga ilaw.

Nang biglang nagliwanag ang paligid
Tumigil ang tugtog na mabilis
Pumalit ay mabagal na himig
Himig ng mga pusong umiibig.

Silang lahat nagsiupo
Ako’t kayong  dalawa na lang ang nakatayo.

Kayo’y aking pinagmasdan,
Umiindayog kayo ng marahan.
Katawan ninyo’y magkadikit,
Parang kinukurot ang aking dibdib.

Nakahilig ka sa kanyang balikat
Balakang mo nama’y mahigpit niyang hawak.
Hindi mo ako matanaw dahil ikaw ay nakapikit.
Parang nang-aalipusta ang ngiti mong matamis.

At bakit naman ang sumunod pang kanta
Ay ang paborito nating dalawa
Kantang sabay nating inawit
Noon ako pa ang iyong iniibig.

Kanta’y parang ayaw matapos
Halos hininga ko sa panibugho’y malagot.
At nang sa labi siya’y iyong hinagkan
Sayawan ay dagli kong nilisan.




Honoring My Parents

(A Personal Essay)


I am so blessed because God gave me the best parents in the world.

My parents are not perfect persons. They are flawed and sinful – like you and me. They were not even the best couple. They eventually decided to dissolve the marriage that produced me and my two siblings. But believe it or not – they are the best parents a son or a daughter could ever dream of having.

I love and respect them both.

 Nobody could do what my parents did for me and my elder brother and younger sister. They have done more than what mothers and fathers ought to do for their children. Their sacrifices to ensure that I and my siblings get past the critical stages of infancy was tremendous to say the least.  They were there for us as we advance from childhood to early adulthood. They were never remiss of their obligations. They performed their duties as parents, with love and joy. I would never forget how hard they tried to ensure that we would have what we needed to survive  until we reached the age when we could already take care of (and decide for) ourselves.

What my parents did for us went way beyond providing our physiological needs. They loved us unconditionally and provided us security and belongingness. And despite their personal imperfections, they did not forget to empower us through the values which they tried to teach us and to model through their examples.

When we were young, my mom, a devout Catholic,  strictly required us to be home by 6 o’clock PM so we could recite the Angelus and pray the Rosary together. Failure to do so would be met by painful whips delivered through a long thin bamboo stick. Both of my parent are loving and caring but we’d better tow the lines they have drawn or else we would face dire consequences.

Those bamboo sticks taught me one thing – discipline. When I experienced how painful it was to be struck by them for the first time, I said never again. So, I followed the instructions of my parents to the letter.

 We would have dinner after our prayers then my mother would help us do our homework. She would require us to read our books after those tutorial sessions.

That was how we were introduced to the values of prayer, discipline, and education. My mom was chiefly responsible for laying the foundation of my faith and for developing my study habits. She also kindled my competitive spirit through the candies and biscuits she would give to whoever among us siblings could answer her questions from the stories she read to us during the tutorial sessions we had with her.

My dad contributed also  in the development of my study habits – particularly the reading part. Every day, a newsboy would deliver him newspapers  – one broadsheet in English and two tabloids, one in English and the other one in Filipino. We read those newspapers together and as we did so, my father would speak to me in English. My dad was very good at English, despite completing only Elementary education. Through those conversations in English that I had with him that I started becoming fascinated with the English language. My interest in literature – stories and poems – was I think the result of my mother’s fondness for comics and magazines written in Filipino which I would also read when I am done with my father’s newspapers.  These things, later on, would influence my choice for a college degree – Bachelor of Arts in English, a course in the Philippines that focuses on linguistics and literature.

The importance of education was something that both my parents impressed upon me. It was from them that I first heard that “education is the great equalizer.” I believed them. They saw my seriousness in the pursuit of education and they supported me until I completed my tertiary education. My siblings did not fall in love with education the way I had. They took different paths.

 The value of faith – that’s what my mom inculcated in me.  On the other hand, the values of hard work and patience are my dad’s most important gifts to me. He taught me through his examples to be self-sufficient and to never assume that somebody will serve  to me  in a silver platter whatever I want in life.

I also tried to emulate my dad’s good communication skills. When I accompanied my father in his business sorties (he was engaged in a buy-and-sell business then), I marveled at his uncanny ability to make people laugh and to convince them to buy.

Later on I realized that the values I learned from my parents are the very things I need in my pursuit to become the best version of me. Those values are the inheritance I received from my parents. They are priceless.

Stored in the hallowed corners of my memory vault are the best times I spent with my mom and dad. The one thing that I could recall in my most distant past was one night I woke up with my chin resting on my  dad’s broad shoulder. I lifted my head and saw my mom walking beside us. She gently touched my cheeks then took me from my dad. They alternately carried me until we reached my aunt’s home.

That piece of memory was so precious. It would constantly remind me of the love and affection of my parents. It made me feel important… that I am connected.  It helped me develop self-esteem growing up.

I will forever be grateful to my mom and dad. They are the best gifts I received from God.

On Personal Accountability


One of my favorite poems is W.E. Henley’s “Invictus.” I read it for the first time in my literature class way back in college. That was the time when I started to ask a lot of questions about many things – not the way a curious child would but the way a young adult searching for a personal identity ought to. The poem  impressed upon me a strong belief. It created a mind-set, a value that helped shaped who I am now – that a person is in-charge of his own destiny. That whatever (or whoever) a person becomes is the sum total of all the decisions he makes.

For me, the day a person says “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” is the day that he is embracing personal accountability.  Thenceforth he becomes responsible for his words, thoughts, and actions and whatever decisions he makes he ought to  own them. If he succeeds and becomes happy as a result of  his decisions he will take the full credit and benefits. Conversely, should he fail, should he not succeed  in his boldness to take on the challenges of life refusing help from anyone, he knows there’s nobody to blame, not even himself. He acknowledges that being self-sufficient is not a fault. Recognizing that each person has his own mountain to climb and that it is wrong to become an additional burden to anybody  is a virtue, not a fault.

It is the person who makes himself a burden to his fellowmen that should be faulted. He should be faulted for not making himself personally accountable for his own life. He should be faulted for thinking that it is the responsibility of his fellowmen to help him. Yes, “no man is an island” but each person should think that nobody could force anyone to offer help. Helping is something that nobody could demand from anyone. It flows naturally from the generosity of a pure heart.

Believe that people know when somebody really needs help. The good-hearted among them would definitely offer a hand. However, they are also wise, they are capable of determining if the problems a person is facing resulted from his unwillingness to embrace personal accountability. They know if a person is stuck in a hole dug by his own laziness and vices. They know that that person does not deserve help. Never assume that generous people are dumb. No person should push himself to the edge because of his irresponsibility thinking that somebody would hold his hand before he  falls to the bottom of regrets. Nobody might and he would come crashing down to his certain demise.

The person who acknowledges personal accountability blames neither himself nor anyone when he fails in his undertakings. Instead of falling into the deadly trap of the blame game, he tries to figure out what went wrong and learn from his mistakes. He considers failures as pathways to attainment. He won’t stop until he succeeds, no matter how many times he fails.

On the other hand, a person without it (personal accountability) blames not himself but others for all his failures. For whatever misfortunes he encounters it is always someone else’s fault. When he fails in his relationships, the other party is to be blamed for failing to satisfy the standards he set. When he resigns from his job, it’s because his co-workers and his boss suck. When he could not find a new job, he blames the government. Even for simple matters like  coming late for an appointment he would  put the blame on someone or something else – like the traffic and the weather.

Heaven forbid that he also  blames his parents for their being poor (if his parents are) and their being unable to leave a fortune he could inherit. Heaven forbid that he blames his siblings and relatives, branding them selfish  for not sharing their blessings to him.

The list of people and things he blames for his bad luck and adversities is so long but has forgotten to put himself on top of it.

It is not difficult to identify a person who is allergic to personal accountability. He is the one who whines at everything and whinges every time. He is never satisfied. His standards of excellence are so high that it seems none of the geniuses, past or present, could ever earn his approval.

For the person who lacks personal accountability there is always something wrong. The problem is he offers no solution to the wrongs and ills he sees. Compounding the dilemma is his strong sense of entitlement feeling that people around him should find a solution to his own problems. He is not satisfied not helping find solutions to problems, he also wants others to solve his own.

It is not obligatory for any person to offer solutions to all the wrongs and ills – to fight all evils. Voluntarism is a rare virtue. And if you’re not that  somebody with a strong sense of personal accountability who would come forward to resolve the problems, if you could not offer a solution to the problems,  please don’t add up to the problem. Be not the problem.

At least, each person is being called upon to tread the path of self-sufficiency. Take care of you own problems and don’t bother others for them, directly or indirectly.  Self-sufficiency is the starting point to the journey to personal accountability.

%d bloggers like this: