March 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
Yesterday, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed about life, and the whole “getting into a great medical school is so scary and hard” bit came crashing down on me. I can be pretty demanding of myself when it comes to school. I study like a freak. I live and breathe chemistry and physics. At school, my friends call me overzealous. And they’re right. If you took one look at my Google calendar, in all its color-coded, blocked out glory, you would probably use the terms, “maniacal” or “obsessive compulsive,” to describe the way I plan out every part of my life — what subjects I cover, when I cook, what problems I complete, how many crunches I do, what review sessions I attend — at any given hour on a given day.
Every minute detail is planned carefully and followed accordingly.
So, as you can probably expect, I kind of cracked, cried, broke down. It was silly, and as always, my mom slapped some sense into me. After talking to her on the phone, I talked to Takafumi about how rigid I’ve become and how I don’t know how to make it all work out. My wise Takafumi responded with a quote. It was deep. It was truth. It was Bruce Lee.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now, you put water into a cup; it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
On random Wednesday or Thursday nights, my mother’s house in New Jersey booms with the sounds of familiar voices, the smells of delicious Filipino dishes, and this indescribable, but truly palpable feeling of warmth. For as long as I can remember, mom has been hosting meetings for the Bataan Association, an organization of Filipino-Americans who emigrated from the historic province of Bataan to the Tri-State area. An academic would call them a diaspora community, a group of people from one land – now in another – keeping their ties alive in their new home.
I grew up calling these people, many of my mother’s closest friends and confidants, “tita” or “tito” — tagalog for “auntie” or “uncle.” Through the years, they have cared for me, showed me unconditional support and affection, and, without even realizing it, these amazing men and women have taught me so much about what it means to be Filipino, to be American, and to be a responsible citizen of this world.
Through action, my mother, titas, and titos showed me that true citizenship is not demonstrated simply by providing and caring for your family, working hard, abiding by law, paying taxes and voting. It’s not enough to just move along through life as if it were a self-containing bubble. You’ve got to utilize your powers, talents, abilities to affect change, to help those in need, to leave this world better than when you first came.
I have never been able to separate what I do in life from this responsibility. I yearn to be part of something larger than myself. That’s what the men and women of the Bataan Association and Foundation stand for. They instilled these values, this passion for contributing, in me. I want to help because, to them, helping has never been an option. It is necessity. It is duty.
I’m so proud to be part of the Bataan Association and Foundation, and I can’t wait to help realize the potential that this charity undoubtedly has to change lives in the Philippines. I want to start preparing the Foundation for success in applying for large grants. I want to visit the Bataan scholars we send to college and share their stories with our donors. I want to meet with the regional hospital administrators to assess any major needs. I want to host a yearly medical mission for primary and dental care. I want to create a memorial scholarship in the name of our late founder to send a student from Bataan to medical school.
There is so much we can do. It’s been a slow start, but I’m ready to give more. It’s overwhelming, and I hardly have the time now, but I can’t sit by with all of these ideas, and let the opportunity to do something — anything — slip by. I’ve got to act.