Yesterday, my brother invited me to watch the Business Matters (an inspirational radio segment in 98.7) anniversary special Life and Sounds. The theme was to showcase the world-class excellence of Filipinos by speeches from various Pinoy achievers and performances from high caliber-artists (Did i mention that this was in direct conflict with the Jasmania concert's sched?).
Reading the agenda and invite, I was pleasantly surprised that Pat Evangelista, Josette Biyo and Butch Jimenez (exec producer for the movie Rizal) were part of the speakers lined up. Intrigued, I bought a ticket immediately.
It was the best decision I made this week.
Heres a run through of the event. (You will notice that I am NOT really a musical enthusiast)
After Francis Kong's (Business Matters founder and president) welcome address, where he laid out the goals of Business Matters, we were treated to eye candy from handiwork productions cool mime-hands. Then, the speakers were unleashed.
First, Kiko Pangilinan, one of the few senators I actually admired, took the center stage and spoke both as Majority floor leader AND as the husband of Megastar Sharon Cuneta. He talked about some of the problems in the government, the steps he believed could solve some of them (like the problems of the judiciary and the history of his bill), then zoomed in into his life as a father, a husband and a leader in the senate. Quite inspiring.
Raymund Lauchengco then treated us with a couple of great songs with his usual entertaining appeal.
Next to speak, was to me, quite a surprising revelation. Roselle Ambubuyog, the blind student of Ateneo who graduated Suma Cum Laude, is now heading a number of foundations for the blind while acting as a consultant for a US firm (also developing new products for the blind) and working on her MBA. She talked about her initial obstacles after losing her sight, using a messed up Rubix cube (with stickers with Braille symbols so she knows the color of each square) and its messed up mosaic of colors symbolizing her life.
She was a very entertaining speaker, talking about her anecdotes in Ateneo where the other students were stupefied as to how to treat her (for example a typical "See ya tomorrow!" caused many a student to backtrack on their words. ...to which she replies: "Its ok. Better than Feel you tomorrow?") or how she wanted to prove to everyone that a blind person, given the right resources, could do as well as or even outperform a person without disabilities (Ateneo even provided her with a Braille printer to allow her to scan any 2D image and print it as a Braille version to help her visualize complex diagrams)
At the end of her speech, she proudly showed the fully completed the Rubix cube which she solved while speaking (Figuring out one side is a task itself... But solving the whole damn cube with your eyes closed, feeling it up one square at a time, memorizing the position of each, moving the whole cube AND talking to an engrossed audience at the same time was really a feat of sheer mental strength!) and used it as an example on how we can fix up our life if we try hard enough.
The next speaker was Patricia Evangelista, a pretty debating great that was thrust into the limelight when she won an international speaking competition with her "Blond hair, blue eyes" speech in England (yeah. Beating the English in English in England. What an upset.).
I read the transcript of that speech before, but listening to it delivered in her charmingly engaging way, made it even better. She then called out a challenge to the youth of today, a generation "Why" with no Marcos, no World War, or any other definite evil to fight against, to rise up when the need arises. Very intelligent and witty girl. (Doesnt seem to check her email though.)
Robert Sena provided the intermission for the next few minutes, showing off his broadway skills and powerful voice.
Butch Jimenez came up next with a rehash of his famous address to the 2003 graduating class of UP. Like Pat's speech, I read the transcript from the web before, but apparently the one circulating thru the internet, unlike Pat's speech, was but a shortened version of the original. (Apparently, Butch performs extemporaneously and used only an outline of his speech when he first delivered it. However, due to the popular demand, he sent out a shorter version of the speech.)
Last of course, was the star of the show. Or in this case, a planet. Dr. Josette Biyo, the next speaker, is a PhD who selflessly teaches highschool biology in the rural school of PSHS Iloilo and is the first filipina who ever had a planet named after her. (Planet biyo was once one of the moons encircling Jupiter. The nerds at MIT decided it was a minor planet, and inspired by Dr. Biyo, named it after her.)Charming, eloquent and impressive, Dr. Biyo took us all captive when she presented the ideas she gave life in her 8 year teaching stint in Iloilo. After finishing her PhD in DLSU, instead of hooking up with research institutes abroad, she decided to go back to her roots and use her training and experience to uplift the rural educational system.
Lacking the proper equipment and perpetually short on funds for books and computers, she radically transformed the teaching paradigms of PSHS Iloilo by employing more hands-on trainings, fieldtrips to the nearby forests and even sent off promising students to have mini-practicums with scientific agencies she used to work with. She also spearheaded "teach the teacher" efforts and gave free lessons to rural schoolteachers all over the country.
Her efforts were quietly making ripples in the stagnant pool of Philippine education, and soon the world noticed. Now, she is a multi-awarded and internationally acclaimed teacher who travels from country to country spreading hope to those who choose to make a career out of the most noblest of professions.
Her message was simple actually. Reach for the stars, and if you try hard enough, you might even get a planet.
Finally, Francis Kong closed the evening with a simple message.* Irregardless of the gloom of the government or the shadows surrounding our economy, we need not be afraid of the darkness because there are people out there, like Dr. Biyo or Butch Jimenez, striving hard and leading by example to keep that tiny flicker of hope alive.
Can we not do our part to fan these flames by living our lives as excellently as well?
*not exactly what Francis said