Actions Vs Ideals

I was in a Leadership Enhancement Program yesterday and from start until the end of the whole session this notice was projected along with the MS Powerpoint presentations. “The lamp has reached the end of its usable life. Please replace the lamp.” Ti abi. Has our company ventured into subliminal conditioning? Is there a deeper meaning in that message? Well, it’s for us to find out I guess. Anyway, we had a rather interesting day.

During the first half we had a segment with an American and I was quite surprised when he frankly butted in when a participant was trying to highlight a point by saying “I think this is a cultural thing with us Filipinos.” The expat answered, “Actually, it’s not just you Filipinos who have this problem.”

What was being discussed then was about taking full responsibility when problems arise. I guess he hit the nail on the head with that answer. I learned from him that even other people from other culture in our multinational network would instinctively point their fingers to others to save face. The lack of ownership seems common. And that’s one of the reasons I’m always awed when Japanese (mostly during the feudal period) would commit harakiri when they know that they are a dishonor either to their family or organization. Bloody yet graceful exit. Come to think of it, isn’t it time we include a tantō inside our factory? I bet though that most likely it will stay pristine.

Another part of the program that amazes me most was when all of us were grouped into seven. Each team was to gather from each member his/her idea of a strong leader and then for each group to create a hypothetical person bearing those ideal characters.

After several minutes of brainstorming and discussion, the result was surprising. The common thing that most participants want is a leader who is a firm and tough individual. I almost blurted “but we have that one here in our organization!” It was a result both surprising and sad as it seems to show that we fail to match our acts to reach our ideals.

We want a leader who is firm and tough, yet we get offended when he takes over.

We want great roads and infrastructures, yet we don’t pay our taxes completely.

We want clean surrounding, yet we spit and throw our trashes anywhere.

We want road courtesy, yet we drive just like how the other damn drivers drive.

We want health, yet we fail to do something about it.

We want jobs, yet we don’t do it properly.

Everything we do on a daily basis, basic or complex, entails responsibility. Most of the time we need to make a conscious effort to do it well so that at the end of the day we get to go home, kiss our wife (and kids), have a beer, go to bed and be honest with ourselves that today we did something that matches the one we have been dreaming of to happen.

The Ship is Sinking

 

After almost a week of rainfall due to tropical storm Chedeng I was amazed to see the sun once more yesterday. So instead of settling on my seat and trying to get some sleep while on the bus to work, I opened the curtains and tried to savor the afternoon sun.

I was anticipating an interesting ride all the way and was already imagining a beautiful sunset on the horizon. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Even if it did, I didn’t notice it anyway. My daydream unfortunately turned neither to fantasy nor something romantic. The sun rays instead opened my eyes to a depressing sight just a couple of meters from departure at the bus stop until I eventually got to work.

It was actually not the first time that I’ve been pondering on the state of our country every time I’m on my way to work. But yesterday I had a handful. Sadly, a handful of bad observations that made me ask the endless whys.

At the first intersection the lights turned red. I saw the pedestrian overpass’ construction is almost coming to its completion. And just while I was about to ask the cliché “will it ever be used?” a familiar ambulance siren grabbed my attention. Well, someone must be hurt. “God bless him,” I softly uttered as I usually do every time I hear one coming. The wish though was gone too soon. It wasn’t an ambulance but it was coming from scooter rider who sped by and turned left ignoring the red light and the police nearby. What’s more depressing, the police didn’t even made a fuss about it. Not even a radio call for help or an obvious effort to apprehend the erring driver. But then again, he may not even have a radio (or the balls to do so) at all. Speaking of being ill-equipped.

A couple of kilometers after the trip resumed, a colorful bunch of things came into view outside my window. I would really have wished it were blooming flowers yet not. It was a pile of plastic bags and trash irresponsibly tossed and accumulated on one corner of the road. Is poverty a good reason for this insensitive act? I just don’t think so.

I thought I was uncontrollably shaking my head in disgust when I realized it was actually the bus bouncing and weaving left and right of the road to avoid the potholes. Damn. One week of rain made all these? Blame it on the rain then? Milli Vanilli would have said it but not me. I’ve been honestly paying taxes and I know where and when some of it should be spent. Most likely somewhere out there, some politicians and/or contractors must be happily drinking booze and probably counting kickbacks. Screw the road. Cheers!

If it weren’t for the seat belt and the person beside me the preceding event would have sent me into a yoga stance right then and there. Now where is my golden sun? It’s getting dark outside. Figuratively and literally. As if all those weren’t enough, we got stuck in traffic. Another intersection maybe? Breathe in, breathe out. Stay calm. But it’s not. Just outside I saw several public jeepneys on the opposite lane idling and vying for passengers unmindful of the long queue of other vehicles behind them. So why is our lane stuck too? That’s because another mindless driver felt smart enough to counterflow. And surprisingly he isn’t a jeepney driver. He’s driving a shining Honda. He’s smartly dressed. I rest my case.

The sky outside was overcast when we reached the front gate of our campus. Despite the poor lighting the worsening condition of the facilities didn’t escape my eye. In photography, enthusiasts use filters and lenses to capture what they want to achieve. My eye and mind yesterday was like that. Only I didn’t do that on purpose. It was as if I have a “bad” filter that was meant to see…well, “bad” things. Paints are peeling off, roofs are rusting, and the once regularly well-trimmed lawn has weeds coming out from everywhere.

The people themselves changed a lot since then. I can count the people who got off the bus with enthusiasm to work for yet another day. The contractors around are working with incomplete PPEs. And a lot of bad sentiments are present anywhere I go. Something is just so wrong. Something must be done.

I got into some discussion with my co-workers about this and there was one phrase mentioned that struck me the most. “The boat is sinking”. Probably it is. Sadly, I’m in it. I’m sending an SOS.