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A lesson from Japan
“Of a promise kept” is a Japanese literature written by Lafcaido Hearn. It is a story of a man who kept and fulfilled his promise by killing himself.

Akana Soyemon and Hasebe Semon are brothers by adoption.

Akana Soyemon is a samurai who decided to visit his native land, Izumo. With tears and grief, he left Hasebe Semon and their mother but promised he shall return on the ninth day of the ninth month during the Choyo Festival.

After a long journey, Akana Soyemon reached Izumo and met the new ruler, Lord Tsunehisa, a cunning and cruel leader.

Having a struggle with the new leader, Akana Soyemon wasn’t able to go back to the village of Kato.

On the day he promised to return, Hasebe Semon excitedly waited for his brother’s arrival. He waited until evening and at last Akana Soyemon came fulfilling his promise. But after Akana Soyemon explained what happened in his journey he disappeared quickly. Hasebe Semon found out his brother performed harakiri to fulfill his promise.

The statement “Promises are made to be broken” is a cliché. Every one of us raised our right hand while uttering words in front of somebody. With determined heart and mind we are assuring or probably assuming that we can do something for someone who’s expecting.

I, too, swore under a visible light, witnessed by the Great Provider and by another person. I spoke words with assurance trying to prove something. I was determined that I can beat what I said within a time frame just like what Akana Soyemon did. The only difference was I’ve been so arrogant and begun procrastinating. Being so lax, I found myself in total blankness, and realized that I failed. It embarrassed me a lot. I felt ashamed, undignified, and unjustified.

Instead of blaming myself, I started to think again. I knew I broke my promise and I disappointed that person. It’s hard to prove something if it’s just for show. I changed my perception about promises. I learned that we make promises because we trust, we love, and we care. If you make a promise and it is not for trust, love and care, why do we have to promise at all? It’s hypocrisy. 

Promises are similar to a challenge. You have to choose, either you will battle it out for triumph or give up. 

The significant thing is that as long as you have the heart to fight and you did your best to achieve or fulfill that promise, a reward is always waiting for you. At the end of the day, you will find a sweet smile from others that indeed you promised with meaning, with trust, love, and care.

But if you tried and still failed, never let yourself mired in guilt. Ask for another chance and if you are given that chance make sure that this time you can fulfill that promise.


Coping, a better solution

“A winner never quits and a quitter never wins.”

“When the scorer writes your score, it is not whether you won the game, but how you played the game.”

These quotations aptly describe what life is all about. Life is a competition. It is like an obstacle race where one has to face many challenges before reaching a goal. It is like a river, it encounters several obstacles before it reaches the ocean.

In our journey in life, we also encounter problems. These problems involve the family, environment, finances, studies, career, and unforeseen events like calamities. The first three problems can be managed easily because as a nation, Filipinos are strong-willed, proactive, responsible, and nurturing individuals. The Filipino will never give up nor hate. The Filipino family will be able to cope with all difficulties.

What our children do not understand or appreciate is how we sacrifice so many things so they could go to good schools. We use an old cell phone and use second hand shoes and clothes in lieu of branded items for our children’s sake. Hopefully they will learn lessons from our sacrifices even when we see them using the latest phone, or sipping expensive coffee.

God doesn’t give us problems which we cannot handle.

In studying, coping is a better alternative than hating the subject or the teacher. Striving harder and changing study habits may help a student cope with challenges in school.

When my daughter complains about being overloaded with school work, I tell her she should learn how to cope because college life is not the same as high school.

Unlike in high school where you can copy from a classmate or do your assignments a few minutes before class, in college, you are left on your own. There are no classmates or teachers to run to.

My daughter claims there are so many paper works and time seems to run out. Time management plays a vital role in pencil pushing. All the subjects are important. If you excel in one or more subjects, hone your weaknesses.

Career is another thing where coping is needed. When difficulties arise – a difficult job, a difficult boss, difficult colleagues – we have to devise our own coping mechanism. Be a Hercules, not a Sisyphus. Hating, quitting, or resisting does not solve problems. Have a positive outlook in life and hold on to it.

For a difficult job, do better. One competes with self. A difficult boss just might to want to bring out the best in you.

Today, high school students are very difficult to handle. They do not see the sacrifices of their parents and their teachers. Participation is half-baked and others do not care whether an output is submitted or not. Worse, some students do not even pay attention to their teachers. Again, this should not be the end of the world. Teachers should never give up on difficult students. Maybe they need to go global. Teachers should adjust to the current situation. Maybe their best was not good enough too.

Calamities like Typhoon Yolanda has proven the Filipino’s resilience. They stood amidst disasters, death, and hunger and showed compassion by extending moral support, prayers, and care.

A survivor who came to Baguio to resume his studies narrated how his family withstood Yolanda. I felt the terror and difficulty as he retold his most devastating experience.

“‘Yong tubig-dagat sumalpok sa bahay namin. Lumangoy kami mula sa bubong ng mga bahay-bahay para makarating sa bayan. Iniwasan namin ang mga patay na nakalutang na parang lumalangoy din at nakataas ang mga kamay, parang humihingi ng saklolo.” 

His description vividly detailed his family’s ordeal yet they are in school, coping.

A new outlook creates a new perspective in life. Always look back and learn by retaining the good ones because they are blessings in life. Negative vibes should be treated as challenges in life where one learns from.

Keep yourself connected with nature as it gives us peace of mind and a kind abode to cure our scalded soul.

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