Thoughts on Happiness

We could come up with hundreds of motivational quotes on happiness, talk and rationalize about them our entire lifetime but one thing is sure – each of us would have already dealt with the pursuit of happiness on our individual , unique ways from the moment we knew we existed. There are times when we would be in a state of quandary, not fully understanding what happiness really means, more so when abrupt, life changing events punctuate our journey. As we move on in life, happiness increasingly behaves like a variable not a constant. Often times it is gives us the illusion of being perpetually elusive and unreachable, much like a Shangri-la. Happiness is like a chameleon that perhaps we can’t precisely define what it really is but we can certainly experience what we may call our personal versions of it.

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” …Aristotle

This sounds so amazingly simplistic and it does pack a big punch. Do I have the right to my own individual happiness ? No ifs and buts about it – you bet I do, much like everyone else. How about people who curtail if not abandon their own personal pursuits and aspirations for the sake of others, loved ones most especially, so that they could be happy ? Have they missed the real purpose and meaning of life ? An example would be the dude who works overseas in a western country, perhaps even illegally, lives in a cramped rented bedroom and thrives on cheap canned food so he could send all his earnings back to Pinas so his wife and kids could buy a new car and take tours to Hongkong and Singapore. I bet you many would say – it’s noble, commendable, inspiring, etc.. The dude is doing a noble thing indeed. But if his family has any clue of what gratitude means and really care about their father, they should rid of the selfishness, make good use of the stipend received to improve their lives, finish school, get jobs and extricate themselves from the dependency bind expediently so that Dad could take a break and enjoy life himself. If happiness is indeed “the meaning and the purpose of life and the whole aim and end of human existence”, Dad shouldn’t be the sacrificial lamb. If his family truly cares about him, he shouldn’t be the oxen pulling the yoke his entire lifetime carrying everyone in the family until his last breath.
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When Less Could Be Better

When I stumbled upon this video, I was reminded of an incident 9 years ago when me and my wife rented a pretty and cozy little cabin by the lake at a resort at beautiful Lake Tahoe. The “little house on the prairie” 😉 was almost perfect but the bed was nowhere to be found. My wife went bonkers and was about to make a scene at the front office when I discovered that the bed was cleverly embedded at the wall close to the fireplace area. It was a Murphy bed – a space saver to the max. All we needed to do was pull it down when we wanted to use it. An ugly confrontation averted. I bet the wife didn’t relish the thought of having our 2nd honeymoon on a sofa bed 🙂

Less could be better. Paradoxical maybe but how true. I’m not a die hard environmentalist and I’m not about to argue about footprint and carbon emission. It would be another blog topic. But I do agree on the smart and productive use of space. My point is more on the stress of managing the extraneous, unnecessary stuff that lie around our home. Anytime you increment the number of your possessions, the stress of managing them increases. It could be costly too. Changing batteries of 8 wrist watches could cost you money let alone the drag of taking each them to the watch store. Remember the days you were a student and your only possessions were a handful of clothes and books ? That was mighty stress liberating wasn’t it? Less could be better isn’t gospel but practical wisdom especially during this holiday season when our penchant for acquisitiveness lurks like an evil shadow tempting us to break our wallets.  Once again, it is the season not only to be merry, but to scrounge around for bargains on anything and amass them at our castles. The say we effectively only use 20% of our wardrobe. 80% of this 20% we consider our favorite, wearing them more often. This translates to the reality that 80% of our clothes are no more than closet junk.

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The Deprofessionalized Pinoy

Here’s an interesting article I read from a local Pinoy newspaper here. It is entitled – Explaining the Deprofessionalized Filipino: Why Filipino Immigrants Get Low-Paying Jobs in Toronto” The report is the result of extensive research and focus group sessions held among Pinoys of different levels of education and occupation. The startling conclusion is that Pinoys are the lowest paid among the major immigrant groups in the country and reasons for such under achievement are postulated in the report.

The article purports that there is an ongoing class struggle and quest for identity for Pinoy immigrants here. In a country that promotes the spirit of multiculturalism – meaning we acknowledge that we came from different cultures but we can celebrate our respective cultures and live together in unity and harmony –it is not overly difficult to establish respect for one’s ethnic origin. Canada’s Multiculturalism Act is entrenched in its constitution. It encourages everyone to preserve and share their unique cultural heritage, making it easier for people to integrate into society without abandoning the culture they left behind. I’m not saying that this city is perfect. Outright discrimination or reverse discrimination can never be eliminated. It may not be obvious but still exists albeit in a much subtler way.

It is not difficult to comprehend the apparent deprofessionalization of an immigrant when it comes to finding work for the first time, when your host country second guesses your experience, skills and education – if they meet the standards. We all have to start somewhere- some from the bottom , some midway. It depends on how we carry and project ourselves to gain the trust of our prospective employer and how bad we want the job. If you are motivated enough, you can crawl up from where you started and no one will stop you. We should be prepared change careers to one that will give us the best opportunities if we are serious in our pursuit of success and prosperity. The people who bitch and moan about deprofessionalization are those who have no motivation, content with laying stagnant and not willing to change their attitudes and outlook and expect people to assess them of what and who they were in the Philippines. I know people who believe in safety first and are scared shit to change their jobs for fear that they might fail. These are the reasons why they remain stuck in their deprofessionalization quagmire. It is not only Pinoys who are deprofessionalized. Immigrants from other Asian countries suffer the same fate. I read publicized stories of university professors and PHD’s who drive taxis for a living because their degrees and credentials aren’t recognized here. The list goes on and on. I’m wondering now – are we Pinoys the worst among the lot ??


The report has these questions :

What class do you belong to ? How do you assess the class or social status of yourself and others? Is it a bank balance or an occupation that defines class? Or is it the size of your car or your house ? Why are women, immigrants and ethnic minorities systematically paid less and why do they tend to occupy lower status occupations in Canadian workplaces ? Have certain identities become associated with particular roles in our labor force and particular status in our society ? What does being Filipino and Filipina imply in Canada ?

Statistics show that 20% of Pinoy immigrants come under the Domestic Worker Program or the Live-In Caregiver Program, 40% under the family unification and the remaining 40% as independent immigrants , entrepreneurs and investors. Now let me ask this question – aren’t care givers , most of whom are college graduates, deprofessionalized by default, in view of the nature of their employment which is generally viewed as servanthood?
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Taxpayer Power

I bet all of us had asked ourselves the question at least once – “ why do I have to pay goddamn income taxes” ? If you’re one who hasn’t paid a penny on income taxes, lucky you for being alive, free as a wandering mountain goat with no liability to the society you live in .

We’ve all heard of the biblical phrase “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” . For some of us this would suffice as complete justification of paying taxes, for would we dare challenge the wisdom of providential authority ? Cesar’s rationale was plain and simple. The tax was payment for the privilege of living in his land. Since the ruler’s power in an autocracy is unlimited, payment of tax was a much milder form of robbery. Confiscation of one’s property would be more disastrous.

Some 2,000 years later , rendering things which are Cesar’s is still very much around but had morphed into a more complex activity. Autocratic kings and emperors are long gone and transplanted by so called democratic governments created by the people for the people, taxation had evolved into a gigantic financial machinery engaged in legalized extortion. Governments had made it law to take a cut of every penny a person or a business earns. Worse, it had gone totally rapacious by taking a cut on what we purchase, consume and inherit – to name a few. The dole out isn’t a one way street though. Since we are a more enlightened specie now compared to the days of Cesar, democratic governments are bound by law to serve and protect its tax paying citizens. Tit for tat. We pay taxes and we get service and protection.

Taxation is so entrenched in the people’s psyche, underscored by the proverbial quote “ nothing is certain but death and taxes “. Countries either prosper or retrogress through their ability to condition the citizens’ minds to pay taxes with the promise of providing better services like employment, education, health care – towards a better standard of living. Every country has its own unique tax grab formula in relation to the kind of services it proposes to offer. Come to think of it, the taxpayer wields tremendous power on who should get his hands on the government coffers. After all, it is the citizens who elect and install government officials to ensure that the tax they pay is being used to the optimum. The taxpayer has the power to boot out errant and under-performing officials. Government officials have to be wary and fearful taxpayer backlash because they can be fired during election day if they screw up in their jobs.

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When I go to the beach or the water park and see bodies, male and female alike, thinly clad in their swimming suits moving around, I sometimes wonder why we have sexy models gracing the front pages of magazines when the rest of the world don’t really give a rat’s ass of how we look 🙂 The probability of finding the finely sculpted bodies of these cover girls in the crowd is rather slim, for the bodies you would likely see are obese, wide, skinny, crooked, chubby, disproportionate….. I’m running our of adjectives now 🙂 In short, the crowd reeks with imperfection but I didn’t say that everyone was ugly and beauty was nowhere to be found. In fact you’d be amused to find lots of imperfect, nice looking cuties that will make your day quite interesting 😉

“I suspect the secret of personal attraction is locked up in our unique imperfections, flaws and frailties ” Hugh Mackay

I dislike people who are perfectionists or those that demand perfection when they themselves are far from being perfect. When we like someone from the opposite sex and finally decide to go out with him/her, it would mean that we have finally learned to deal the worst part of his/her imperfections. Our handling of such imperfection could either make or break the relationship. Marilyn Monroe was absolutely spot on when she said “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

“Learning gives us a fuller conviction of the imperfections of our nature; which one would think, might dispose us to modesty” …Jeremy Collier

At our usual cafeteria lunch talk, a colleague of mine mentioned about a friend who had a habit of watching beauty pageants, searching for the woman of her dreams 🙂 His buddy didn’t have the looks of Brad Pitt but had been looking way beyond his league 😆 In the corporate arena, you sometimes wonder if senior managers have an inkling of what modesty means, when they are so unequivocal with their mandates, demanding results to be no less than perfect. In matters of relationship, the intense friction of egos are the result of the lack of modesty, of understanding one’s own imperfections. As one saying goes, “when you work on your own life, you are less likely to hyper focus on the imperfections of your spouse”.. Martha Quinn


The A-side meth is what they used to have 500 years ago. Remember when the Philippines were fighting the US soldiers? They were shooting them motherf****s with 45s. And 45s were bouncing off their motherf****ng a$$. They weren’t even dying!”

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