“Who’s to say what’s impossible?
Well they forgot this world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything.”
— Jack Johnson
Every time I jump up and down, I experience gravity. It pulls me back to the ground. Without gravity, I would float off into thin space and wander along other tiny particles on earth. Gravity, this is the story of my personal transcendence.
Over the whole course of my life after college, I seemed to have drifted from one place to another. Living like a nomad, I was in constant search of my true soul, my identity, my essence. When the opportune time came to study abroad in 2006, I jumped up and down to celebrate that my (global) dream was finally taking its wings. Armed with high hopes and a free spirit, I left the Philippines. Every single day that followed, I felt like I was walking on the moon, a lofty place where humankind thought impossible to conquer. Two years later, I received my MBA but I still felt thirsty for more education. After the U.S., I found myself conquering Europe with another Master’s degree, this time in the field of Philanthropy, in the world’s oldest university. In the duration of my sojourn as a European student, I was able to produce several research papers on social innovation. I experienced as well working like a diplomat for specialized United Nations agencies that tackle the issues of hunger, sustainable tourism and refugees. I bragged being a change agent but only to get incessant criticisms from concerned friends and family members who believe I deserve a fat paycheck rather than go about exploring the globe with a nonprofit salary. I hear them well for indeed I could really choose to follow the money with two Master’s degrees under my belt. But somehow, the money talk was not a motivating tool to achieve self-transcendence. There was a disconnect to the reality of service when I was being served myself with silver spoons in those majestic offices. My concept of contentment would only come into fruition when I serve the underprivileged in developing countries. Guided by the belief that I needed to find my voice in the field, I packed my suitcases yet again and moved to India where I did a year’s NGO work for the slum dwellers in Mumbai. India was one of the most stimulating and exquisite assignments I have ever taken because the grassroots actions were as colorful as Bollywood movies. I knew that completing my slum assignment would have inched myself closer to social responsibility. And so it came as I saw myself back in American soil, to challenge my perspectives in changing the world. There just seemed to be an unknown gravity that pulled me back down to the ground. In the deepest recesses of my heart, I know I would find greater satisfaction in living in an upside down world and in becoming a solution to some of the world’s most pressing problems.
I have been away far too long and most certainly have I been exposed to debilitating forces that haunt the sphere of social work. I have seen failures and worst practices and I have felt demotivated with the interplay of bureaucracy and arrogance. I have witnessed depressing faces of poverty matched with inconceivable forms of procrastination and inactivity. With the passing of time, I must say I have lost some pieces of idealism in my younger years for I go about facing life’s day to day music now to a mellowed tune.
The ups and downs of emotions pull me closer to my heartbeat. From success to failure or the other way around, the most important realization for me is not to be complacent with success and not to wallow in self-pity with failures. I may be thousands of miles from my native land but not totally detached from it for I still carry with me the same flag that will represent my unique brandmark to the international community. Gravitating to my highest truth, I serve as an Atlas Corps Fellow at Points of Light, a nonprofit organization dedicated to place people at the center of change through volunteering and service. By contributing my time, skills and resources, I become part of this citizen empowerment movement that works around critical ills in society. In my little ways, I support a responsive and open public sector that sustains and enlivens democratic processes one step at a time. Apart from the fellowship, I make myself useful by participating in fundraising activities like charity runs to support worthy causes. This dream job to do social good will bring me back to the shores of home again someday. With takeaways from a nomadic past, I know that I will become a big force when I get there. All the learnings from a global perspective could be utilized as possible solutions for democratic and economic reforms in my country.
I see gravity at work every time I jump up and down as much as if I drop a book, ride in an aircraft, wear my marathon hat or toss an apple up into the air. It is such a constant presence in my life and that I seldom marvel at the mystery of it. As for the science behind the action, I can only point to Isaac Newton who defined gravity as a ‘force’ – one that attracts all objects to all other objects. For me, gravity is that inner magnet in one’s heart that keeps me and the rest of humankind connected, in fate, to love and serve one another no matter the location.