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downloadThe usual questions asked  whenever the topic success is discussed are – “How do you view success?” and “How do you measure it?”. Let me add another one  – “Do you consider yourself successful?”

Would you like to answer the questions above? Before you do,  let’s revisit first the definition of the word. Let’s check  how online dictionaries define success. Allow me also to share what I think about success.

Cambridge’s definition of the word is something broad  – “The achieving of the results wanted or hoped for.” Colin’s goes – “The achievement of something that you have been trying to do.” Oxford is more specific with its definition – “The attainment of fame, wealth or social status.” Merriam-Webster’s is almost the same as Oxford’s – “The attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.”.

Our favorite research assistant  – “Dr. Google” – says that success is  “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” and “the attainment of popularity and profit.”

Let’s also check the synonyms: prosperity, affluence , wealth, riches, opulence, and triumph.

I hope that the foregoing definitions and synonyms are sufficient to help you come out with meaningful and definitive answers to the questions I asked at the beginning of this article. And by the way, do the ideas conveyed by those definitions and synonyms jibe with what you think success is?

The definitions and synonyms above actually show  the way people in our society quantify  success. They tell us about the measuring sticks being used by most people, including you probably, to determine whether or not a person is successful. Everything boil down to one or a combination of the following: wealth, fame and power.

So, when asked who are the most successful people in the world, people never fail to mention the names of the world’s richest men – Jess Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and the others who are listed in Forbes’ top 10 world’s billionaires . The next ones in our lists are the showbiz, sports, media, and political personalities. We also remember the names of quite a few people – some of them could be our own friends –  who excel in their respective fields of endeavors when we discuss about successful people.

Now, let me ask some questions.

Are those people we consider  successful happy also? Have the money, fame, power, and accomplishment they possess brought them happiness? These questions will certainly draw mixed response. We will never know the the exact answers. Whether the rich, famous, and powerful are happy or not, only them or their relatives, close friends, and confidants, know. People outside of their inner circle could only make speculations and assumptions.

People assume and speculate that rich people live under the constant pressure of  wanting to amass more wealth – famous people to ensure that their stars keep shining – politicians to perpetuate themselves to power – so much so  that they forget to live their lives to the fullest. Thus, they are perceived to be unhappy.

At least, they have the money.

“But can their money buy them happiness?” This question has been asked so many times that it might already be considered meaningless. But in the light of the present discussion it should be asked, not for the purpose of having it answered, but as a point to ponder on.

We presume that with all the luxuries the money of  the wealthy, famous and powerful could afford, it’s almost impossible that they are not happy. Unless it is true that of the needs which Maslow’s identified in the hierarchy of needs, only the basic ones (physiological and safety) could be covered by money. The psychological needs (esteem needs, belongingness and love needs) and self-fulfillment needs are definitely not available in the shelves of even the most expensive stores.

Here is the next question I would like to  ask – “Are they healthy?”

They are already rich, famous, and powerful. They are truly blessed if they are also in good shape. Of course they are – financially. What about physically, emotionally, and mentally? In their quest for riches, fame and power, did they not sacrifice their health, values, and relationships? While they sit on their thrones clutching their coffers, do they feel peace flowing within them? Again, they are the only ones, and the people around them, who could give a definite answer. They are the only ones and those they surround themselves with  who know whether or not they are suffering from any debilitating disease, mental anguish, and emotional stress. Let’s hope they are not. Let’s hope that the news we hear once in a while (or is it only gossip?) that they turn to alcohol and drugs to fill the emptiness in their lives.

I brought out the questions on happiness and health in the discussion of success because I believe that there is a need to strike a balance between the ephemeral and the ethereal when defining the concept. The prevailing  view of success is materialistic. We attach tangible proofs to it – money, big house, new car, degree, job title, a certain body type, etc. I am not saying that such act (of attaching those tangible proofs to success) is wrong. I just consider it as not encompassing.


What about simple people who did not attend school, don’t have cars, and live in simple houses in far-flung farming and fishing villages happily living a simple life and diligently performing their role in society? Can’t they not be considered successful in their own right?

When you don’t have a mansion – a car – fancy clothes – expensive jewelry – a university degree – huge amount of money in the bank, when you’re not famous and not powerful, when you’re  just an ordinary decent individual honestly earning a living and contended with what you have and what you’re capable of achieving and you’re happy and  healthy, would people not consider you successful?

If a person’s goal is simply to be happy and healthy and he/she achieves it, isn’t that success?

Correlating happiness and health to success is a kind of paradigm shift that will make capitalists unhappy. It is the materialistic view of success that keeps most of their present business ventures alive. It is this way of viewing of success that makes people buy cars, jewelry, expensive, and clothes  and build more than one house (call it mansion) when having one is more than enough.

Well, we define success in different ways. Success is subjective and I think that nobody could claim that their way of looking at it is the right one.

The most valuable lesson I learned about success is this – define it for yourself. Don’t allow other people to define success for you. Don’t subscribe to the standards they set. You know your capabilities and limitations more than anyone else, factor them when setting your success parameters. But be not satisfied with your current skill set. You have to improve and as you see yourself becoming better set the bars of your success higher. And most importantly,  don’t forget that as you march towards the achievement of your simplest goals and the realization of your grandest ambitions, you should not sacrifice your happiness and health.

Now it’s time for you to answer the questions  – How do you view success? How do you measure it?  Do you consider yourself successful?



Upon completion of their basic education, the next step for young Filipinos  is to choose a tertiary institution where they will spend the next four years or so to pursue the undergraduate degree they dream of completing. Given the chance, they would choose to enroll in one of the top 10, if not top 5, colleges or universities. Making it to the premiere universities and colleges is the dream of majority of those graduating from high school (and their respective parents and guardians).

Parents, no matter how expensive, would try their best to send their children to the tertiary institutions who are tops in the ranking. Even for basic education they enroll their kids to the most reputable schools. They inculcate in the young minds of their children the need to strive harder than the others so they would graduate in high school at the top of their class and have  GWAs acceptable to the universities they are targeting. And their children follow them like good soldiers heeding the marching orders of their generals.

The foregoing is a manifestation of how society have embraced the idea that when students graduate from highly-ranked universities their success is guaranteed and their future bright. What could have permeated that notion are classified ads trumpeting that only graduates of “this and that” university may apply for certain job openings. Such hiring policy is not giving priority to alumni of top-notch universities, it is giving only them the chance  to fill up positions and vacancies in companies and organizations.

We don’t fault  business entities who implement the policy aforementioned. It is their right to do so. If they want to hire only those who could present diplomas and transcript of records minted in their “preferred colleges and universities” there’s nothing that anybody can do.

But there are rights that supersede other rights. The right of graduates of all colleges and universities to equal employment opportunities is guaranteed by the constitution. So, the policy of not allowing graduates of tertiary institutions not belonging to the “preferred list” to apply is not just discriminatory, it’s also unconstitutional.

But why are graduates of low-ranking colleges and universities seemingly being looked down upon?

Are graduates of “whatever university” mere mortals and those who received their diplomas from “beholden university” gods and goddesses? Would the latter become better persons and professionals after completing their training from their highly-ranked alma mater? Are the former just second best and meant to play second fiddle to the latter?

A writer once remarked. “How good are the graduates of the country’s best colleges and universities? Well, these graduates have been the leaders in most industries in the country and majority of them occupy the judicial, legislative and executive branches of the government since time immemorial. Now answer me! How have our country been performing economically and politically for the past decades? Your answer bespeaks of the kind of graduates these tertiary institutions produce.”

To say that graduates of top-ranked universities are better than those who received their diplomas from lesser-known schools is committing the fallacy of hasty generalization. Nobody can say who’s better between the two groups. Graduating from a highly-ranked university doesn’t make one a better person than those who sweat it out in lesser-known schools.

“Education,” as Horace Mann puts it, “is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.”

Graduates of  the best colleges and universities already have the best things in life. That’s the reason they could afford to pay exorbitant tuition fees and the high cost of board and lodging in cities. The ones studying in lower-ranked schools, especially those located in provinces, belong to indigent families pinning their hopes for a better life through education.

Those who have less in life need to be given a chance, at least an equal opportunity for employment.

At the vantage point of an employer, applicants for a job need to be evaluated using objective measures. The decision to hire should not be based on from what college or university they graduated.

This is not asking that graduates of lesser-known schools be given priority. Let the applicants, wherever they graduated, undergo the hiring process.

They must be asked to submit their resume and the corresponding documents and attachment. These papers, in one way or another, will reveal things about the applicants that will inform decisions to hire or not.

The next steps would involve interview (or a series of interviews) and battery of tests. These parts of the hiring process will gradually show who’s who among the applicants.

What could be considered as the best part of the process is the demonstration of skills. The applicants need to actually show their repertoire of skills related to the job they are applying for.

The decision to hire must be based objectively on the over-all results. The alma mater of the applicants should never be factored. This way, the applicants are given equal employment opportunity.

Companies and organizations limiting their choices to graduates of top universities are also limiting their chances of possibly getting the best applicants. One thing certain, there are brilliant young people sharpening their minds and honing their skills in lesser-known colleges and universities, especially in the provinces.

They are diamonds in the rough waiting to be mined.

The Confession Wives (Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real): A Review


Admittedly, I got tired watching Filipino drama series shown on Philippine TV. The story lines are so repetitive that it diminishes the element of surprise which is a key ingredient in literary appreciation. Instead of the suspense killing the audience, familiarity with the story line kills the suspense then bores the audience.

Then came GMA 7’s TV series “The Confession Wives” (“Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real”).  It’s a story about a philandering husband who married another woman. After going over its synopsis,  I said “nothing new.” So, I did not bother to watch… until my wife  asked me to find on You Tube the episodes of the said TV drama that she missed. With nothing else to do I decided to peep on what she’s watching. Result: For the first time in years that I eagerly watched a Filipino drama series.

How many times have we watched a movie and TV drama about unfaithful husbands? How many times have we read stories about men not contended with their wives so they resorted to having extra-marital affairs? We know that when the wife learned about it all hell breaks loose. We know that when men got caught they had to choose between their wives and their other women.

The foregoing is also what GMA’s “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” is all about. Familiar situations yet the story, generally, succeeded in veering away from becoming predictable. Every scene, actually, is climactic stuffed with twists and turns. Watching it is like riding an emotional roller  coaster.

Elements of the rising action are beautifully put together as the story geared towards the climax. The climax itself was something unexpected. I have a penchant on rightly guessing how things would turn out in a story but this one had me wrong several times.

Yes, same story line but delivered differently.

Different not because the actors and actresses, if I may use an oft-repeated phrase, “gave justice to their roles.” This is no longer surprising. It is a given. These people are trained to act out roles.

It is different because the whole story is a realistic rendition of life.  And this is exactly what literature is… a faithful reproduction of life.

Characterization and dialogue are consistent with literary realism. The story as a whole presented universal truths about men and women, about family and society making it acceptable even to international audience.

Anthony (Ding-dong Dantes), the husband, is the embodiment of the popular belief about men – “that men are polygamous in nature.”  Henry (Robert Arevalo) and Tino (Tommy Abuel), fathers of the two women married by Anthony, are themselves not clean. Both of them have had extra-marital affairs themselves. Among men in many parts of the world, womanizing seems to be a natural thing.

But the story also presents the good side of the male specie through Jun (Jaime Fabregas), a disciple of monogamy. He is a  loving husband to his wife Sonia (Conie Reyes) and a supportive father to Anthony.  Chaos descended upon his family for all the troubles created by his son yet he keeps his family above water. He was the glue that keep his family together.

On the other hand, Millet (Maricel Soriano) is an epitome of a martyr wife. While almost violently that she reacted to her husband’s infidelity, while she was offended to the utmost upon learning that Anthony married another woman, she forgave him.  That’s how wives are, they always stand by their men. As much as possible they must preserve the famiy. Umeng (Susan Africa), the mother of the other Mrs. Real, Shiela (Lovi Poe) also chose to stick by her husband, Tino, even if she discovered that the latter, just like Anthony,  had another woman and actually fathered a child.

Millet and the other Mrs. Real,  Shiela (Lovi Poe) and her mother Umeng (Susan Africa) represent women who are at the receiving end of an ongoing notion that it is okay for a man to have another woman. Like many women in society, they unwillingly embrace the dictum that men will always be men. Or maybe they are drowned by fear that life may not go on without their husbands.

Aurora (Celeste Legazpi) and Sonia (Conie Reyes)  are the typical mothers protective of their children. They are pained to see their children suffer and they would do anything to alleviate their suffering.

In real life,  we criticize people for the things they say and do. We do the same in the drama series,  we pass judgment on the characters.

We approved the positions taken by each of the families affected. They did what they needed to do to protect their loved ones.

But while we expressed sympathy for some characters, most especially Millet, we criticized some. The harshest criticism fell, not on Anthony, but perhaps on Henry.

Why not on Anthony? He is the most sinful of all the characters. He caused all the troubles. But why was he not crucified. To err is human to forgive is divine. Anthony committed mistakes but  tried to correct them. He tried to put things in order thereby earning the forgiveness and sympathy of the viewers.

And why on Henry? Because he is so unforgiving. He plays his moralism to the extreme. He did not forgive Anthony and sued him for bigamy despite the pleas made by his wife and his daughter and Anthony’s mother.

When Millet fell into depression we considered it to foreshadow the possibility of Henry finally forgiving Anthony. But the story did not give the audience what it expected. Millet getting ill all the more strengthened Henry’s resolve to go hard against Anthony. The case Henry filed prospered.

The viewers disliked Henry for such a hardline stance, although it was out of love  for his daughter that he ought to do what he did. Any father would want to punish anybody who would hurt their children.

While Anthony went into catharsis starting from the moment he got caught for his infidelity and culminating in what he did during the trial when he retracted from his “not guilty plea” declaring his willingness to go to prison and be punished for his wrongdoings for the troubles he created that even led to his father’s death, Jaime on his part, took until the time that Anthony finished serving his prison time to have his own catharsis and finally forgive him.

The hatred and passion for revenge simmered down as the story march to its denouement. There was reconciliation and acceptance at the end. “All’s well that ends well!”

The lesson is clear, when you do something wrong, brace for the consequences.

The TV drama may have changed the way people look at the plight of women crying a river while languishing helplessly in the shadows of their husbands’ infidelity. It may have also sent a clear signal to Anthonys  out there that they could be chewing more than they could swallow.

The Confession Wives (Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real): A Review.

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