Every morning, I take an hour-long walk around our village. I find that an open air “gym” is a better alternative to an enclosed airconditioned room where gym rats huff and puff, contaminating the air I breathe.
It is most mornings when I get a whiff of someone’s breakfast of longganisa or tapa while passing homes which look so welcoming, I sometimes wish I could be invited in for coffee and ensaymada. Or when I marvel at nature’s blooms, the bougainvillae and acacia trees, or meet the co-walkers with their friendly golden retrievers or huskies who first made me start thinking of these walks.
For 52 years, since I joined the workforce as a copywriter at McCann Erickson, my footsteps took me on roads leading to my imaginative persuasions. From being in advertising—where the culture was free and unrestricted by protocols, except to actually be eccentric in behavior and thinking—I suddenly found myself in hotel public relations, thanks to the prodding of the late Chiqui Recio, who was public relations head at the Manila Hilton.
I asked her, “Chiqui, me as PR of a hotel?” I would have to host cocktails, and be prim and proper in speech and dressing. (At McCann, we could wear anything, which gave us license to express ourselves in whatever way defined us.)
I had to discard all my jeans, learn not to laugh boisterously, and wine and dine VIPs
Without much contemplation, I said “Yes!” I had to discard all my jeans (not allowed), learn not to laugh boisterously, strike intelligent conversations with foreign guests and clients, and wine and dine VIPs with the refinement of a well-traveled connoisseur. (Actually, the training and orientation came from my friendly dealings with our chefs and general managers of different nationalities.)
While in Queensland, Australia, as the first Asian female to be director of sales and marketing in a male-dominated industry, I used my Filipina kultura to charm the titled ladies (such as Lady So and So of British pedigree), and became “one of the boys” when it came to Men Only organizations, such as the Skal Club. I adapted well to this culture. I miss the friends who became members of my extended family.
I don’t intend this to be some sort of resume, but an account of the many steps I had to take, the many forks on the road of life I encountered on my journey to where I am now.
Most young “walkers” nowadays fail to walk the mile to reach their dreams, driven by their restless need to see what’s out there, instead of simply seeing what’s in store where the road signs give clear directions.
So far, I love where I am and where I might be in the future.
I might just decide to stay on the road less traveled.