Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Of learning from mistakes, getting back up and living my truth

There's something about the last days of a year that makes us ponder what it has brought and how much we've learned. It could be the cold weather that makes us look back a bit, or the thought that a life chapter is in process of 'closing.' It's just the best time to reflect perhaps as we're most likely back in our hometowns, spending time with our families and enjoying the holiday season. "Oh 2013," I thought. It was a rough ride.

It wasn't the best year I've had. I've seen myself struggle with challenges of how I understood things and events, and how much I believed in the power of my goals. I did a lot of random endeavors such as an internship, working as part-time enumerator, applied in various programs, not accomplishing program deadlines as there'd be another more important task to do, went to a top law school for a semester, moved to a new city for a little bit, struggled with thoughts of my career, and raised Hell to some people who can just never leave me alone or have caused offense to me due to insecurity, stupidity and jealousy. It was a hideous, but it did have its highlights such as going to India, having an Asian series-like scene in Malaysia happen to me, meeting people from around the world, having my eyes opened to even more things I could do, developing the friendships I've had with my most loyal friends, and having a stronger faith to God.

I learned lots from the experiences that transpired, the awful mistakes I've made, and the incredible eye-opening opportunities that happened. First were on my personal standards. An important truth I've realized was our standards are pre-programmed for a reason. A lot of times some utter flop would tell me I have high standards, and that I should lower them to be more 'realistic'. That's not gonna do me good. I've experienced lowering my standards, and I ended up unhappy, unsatisfied, and even guilty for letting myself down. I'm the type of guy who despises settling. What's 'real' only depends on how you make your life. I hate settling. I've always been vocal against it, and there's just no reason why I should be living my life in contrast to what I believe. We have these standards to guide us. These are inside us to keep us safe, ensure our long-term happiness, and keep our path walk to a fulfilled life steered rightly. It doesn't mean I need not adjust to new situations life would throw at me. It simply means that I look into the bigger picture with wider eyes, and higher hopes that I don't do anything stupid in the present that'll endanger what I dream for the future.

Another lesson I've learned over and over again is not be afraid to drop off people who hold you back or are of negative influence. This is another way of thinking that I've always been vocal about, and never been afraid to do. My own rule is if they're not family then you shouldn't have to deal with them. We shouldn't be fearful of ending friendships and relationships that we know aren't good. These includes toxic friends, overly negative people, green-eyed monsters, confidence destroyers, and folks who don't support you in your dreams - or worse, those who plant things on your head that hinder you from bettering and skyrocketing. One of the great gifts of life is the power to make decisions, and we should use it to our advantage to reach or maintain the quality of life we aspire. In the same way we should find courage in ending connections, we should also be brave to open our hearts to new ones. I've come to know so much incredible people in the past twelve months, and as I've opened my eyes to their truth, and my ears to their stories, I've humbled myself in the teaching that there are people out there like me who are trying their best to meet the standards they've set for themselves, and would never have second thoughts of being more than who they are to help other people.

This year I've felt so much familiar senses to the ethos of what I think I am, or should be. By the end of it, I saw that I'm a fine all along - and I could be better, and be a happy lad as I experience life's sharpening and polishing. My idea of myself has never developed to be more assured than it has ever been. The countless negative circumstances and the incredibly out-of-this world, amazing ones have made me known myself better, and assured me that Someone bigger is watching over me, and that stumbling down so hard only means getting back up so high. I've  also developed the confidence I've always known I had. It showed itself even more, and I'm going to hone it more. Anyway 2013 is just a year that has passed. An orbit completed for this blue rock we call home in the vastness of the Universe. I've learned that the best way to live my life would be to live my truth. As Emma from The Face UK would say, “It doesn't matter what other people think. It’s about what you think. It’s about what you know to be true.” As the cool Siberian winds blow through my bedroom window in this silent December night, I smile at the thought of possibilities, adventures and new lessons that await me in the year ahead. Now that the planet's current journey around the sun has ended, I solemnly declare 2013 over and done with. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Spilling the truth tea on other people and ourselves

"Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don’t know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn’t you. That isn’t you at all.” - Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life 

A lot of people think they know us. Even some who consider us friends would think so too. But in the end, the one who knows us best, aside from our Creator, is our-self. A number of people have told me I'm nice, calm and funny, but there are also a number who have expressed their disdain towards me for being 'mean', 'evil' and 'overconfident' when I'm just totally honest, straightforward, and never had the time in my life to prolong what I think doesn't matter.

Some people like me. Some people don't. Do I believe them? No. Do I think I am what they say I am? No. Do I care? No. Will I be checking out their social media accounts to see what they have to say about me? No way. Will I be reading long e-mails or hate texts of people that don't contribute anything positive to my life? Certainly not. Believe me, I delete those things in less than five seconds.

People will always have something to say whether you do the right things or not. And those who are stupid enough to believe whatever story they hear will always have second thoughts about the good ones, but will almost always accept the awful ones as true. What's important is that we reach whatever goal we have set for ourselves, be better every time we have to re-evaluate our lives, and that we don't make the same mistakes. We should also place a lot of importance to family and loyal friends, but we should also remember that the more sure we are of ourselves, the easier it would be to move forward with our lives.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Asian Youth in the 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum

2013 Asian Development Bank International Skills Development Forum Skills for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia Pacific ADB Youth Asian Youth International Conference Forum Experience Youth Development Pacific Youth Manila Philippines Youth Participation Filipino Young Leaders Iloilo Future Leaders of Asia Pacific ADB Youth Initiative

Since it started in 2011, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) International Skills Development Forum is a platform for dialogues on skills development in the region. It focuses on two view points: the successes achieved in advanced nations, and the challenges faced in developing ones. Looking into both, the forum aims to improve the access to skills development, improve the quality of education and training, and increase the engagement of various sectors to achieving such goals - which differ from country to country, but all look into improving the situation nevertheless. For the first time, a substantial amount of youth delegates were invited. With the help of Plan International, 40 youth from ten Asian countries have come together to discuss the issues and problems they face in their own countries, and formulate concrete and doable solutions.

The Asia-Pacific region possesses massive human resource - the youth. A whopping 20% of the all the workers belong to the youth sector; a part if society that is full of potential to help economic growth and regional productivity yet still remains untapped, unguided and under-utilized. It's easy to identify that there is a rising problem of unemployment in the Asia-Pacific region just by looking into the statistics. Citing a recent article by the International Labor Organization (ILO), of the region's 700 million young people, only 300 million have jobs. What about the other 400 million? What are they doing at this very moment? The one's who have jobs aren't a happy bunch either. Though they may have a source of income for now, most of them have to do their jobs in poor working conditions, are not well compensated, and have low hopes for their future. With our youth facing such big hurdles to become the productive citizens that they want to be, what should be done? Who should intervene? What could we do?

The youth delegates weren't merely part of an audience - we were proper participants. We expressed what's in our minds, encouraged the big shots to engage in us, critiqued current projects, and presented our own stories, experiences and perspectives. If you've read through the stories of the delegates, you'd find out that each participant has the experiences and skills to back him or her up. We also served as "youth reporters" to what's happening during the forum. Expressing our views on various media platforms such as blogging and tweeting among many other things helped increase the audience and information dissemination through the internet.

As delegates, we've raised a lot of good points in discussions with employment experts, private sector representatives and big shots from the educational sector. What were brought up most were the education and training one has received, dilemmas in finding that first job, and addressing the issue of skills mismatch - points long recognized by experts, but were given a new light by the youth themselves. We pointed out to the top professionals and policy makers that we are not just a sector who needs help, we're a sector that can provide it. We also learned from the experiences of the top professionals themselves as they've worked in tackling with these problems for a substantial time in their jobs.

Aside from the discussions on youth employment and skills development, there is also much focus on how technology is improving the way people learn, work and produce outputs. It is the game changer. It's not something of the future anymore. Technology is a tool that is readily available, customization and usable now. Now we have online learning courses, mobile technology, and various innovations on how we educate and develop skills. The potential of technology, and more importantly, innovation, should be explored more not only for the sake of technology being used, but to ensure that it delivers results and changes lives. Having this blog itself is a proof of how technology, as a tool, made communication and information relay so much faster and convenient compared to the past. But technology in itself needs social, geographical and economic considerations to strengthen its effectiveness and be of real benefit to the community its supposed to serve. 

What I appreciated most in the forum is getting to know my fellow Asian youth who are passionate in meeting the standards they've set for themselves, working hard to break records and stereotypes, and doing everything in their power to meet their goals. I am very humbled to meet people who have shared their stories with me, and I feel privileged to share mine back. They have also made me feel that I could do more, and be a bigger change maker with honing the qualities I already possess. We should also not discount the fact that some of the latest technology, the strongest advocates and effective innovations have also come from the youth sector. Hopefully what we've forwarded in the forum through a Youth Call To Action would get somewhere. After all, investing in the youth is investing in the future. Making things better is not only a responsibility of the rest of the world to its youth, but also a challenge that the youth must take into their own hands. To make sure it happens we need to brew things up ourselves that this time around next year, we could present actions we've taken to improve the situation. What's next? We'll see very soon.