Sunday, December 11, 2005


“Fear is the main source of superstition, and a main source of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” - Bertrand Russell

Whenever I passed by some of Manila’s impoverished areas, I would find myself wondering at times if fear had a lot to do with their inability to advance in their lives. I would also wonder if theirs are so overwhelming that succumbing has become a more common practice than confronting their fears. And for those who strive to better their lot, what support system or information resources have they got? Where do they go for inspiration? Encouragement?

I once saw the book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, by Susan Jeffers displayed in the window of a bookstore, and its title intrigued me. I later found out the book “offers readers a clear-cut plan for action that, when followed, should help them unlearn their misconceptions about fear and replace them with attitudes of strength and conviction.”

I was rushing to get home that evening and had no time to get a copy for myself. I wish I had because there were many times I felt fear—applying for a much more challenging job, traveling alone to a foreign country, undertaking a new task, replacing a team member with someone else, and so on and so forth. There were also times I was so anxious over something that I’ve lost sleep over it. Yet, in spite of those surmounting apprehensions, I managed to survive or achieve what I set out to do.

I soon realized I was responsible for adding on to the hindrances by giving additional power to my fears—by indulging in them and wasting a lot of energy in the process. From that time on, I’ve learned to focus on proactive solutions, as well as acquire the necessary skills to resolve a dilemma or achieve the desired results. As with most things in life, it took some time but well worth the effort; I was learning to empower myself rather than my fears.

Indeed, the unresolved fears we carry around with us can cause paralyzing anxieties—fear of getting hurt, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being laughed at, and worst of all, fear of losing what we never had to begin with; whatever that may be.

According to Ron Kurtus’ Overcoming Unnecessary Fears, “You can overcome fears by gaining confidence in your ability to do such a task. That is usually done by doing something difficult and seeing that the consequences of failure are not so bad or that the chances of failure are not so great.”

He then concludes, “People fear physical harm or ridicule. Sometimes the danger is not as bad as it seems. Taking a little step in overcoming the fear can go a long way in increasing your confidence and erasing other fears.”

I was once told by a mentor that the pain of failure is not as bad as the pain of someday saying to your self, “I should have.” I had since made that a personal mantra as I prepared to pursue a bigger challenge in life. Certainly, I failed on numerous occasions, but those failures only honed my skills to better manifest my visions, as well as attain some wisdom to guide my future journeys.

And knowing we only pass by once in this lifetime, heck, why not feel the fear and do it anyway, right? And as incentive, we ought to add another line to Bertrand Russell’s quote above — “And wisdom begets prosperity.”

But one question remains: How do we share this information with those living in impoverished areas of our cities?

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posted by Señor Enrique at 6:07 AM


Blogger Deany Bocobo said...

Senor Enrique -- You are always in my thoughts because of a riposte you made to Orphans of the Anglosphere, to which I am yet composing a good reply. for perhaps a continuation of that conversaton. But what do you make of this young poet-friar Gilbert Centina?

December 11, 2005 10:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you have related is similar to the mentality of welfare recepients whose generations also lived on welfare. Of course there is no welfare program to speak of in the Philippines, but it is a condition that creates a beaten mind set, not to mention the broken promises made to these people.

If you are really serious in putting these theories to work, the barangay chairman is a good place to start. I am sure he would only be too glad to help you reach these poor people you wish to enlighten.

December 11, 2005 11:42 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Such an intellectual task you've once again asked of me my dear, Rizalist. But another I'm honored to undertake. Please give me some time to absorb his musing and if need be, I shall not hesitate to communicate with him directly.

I had already browsed his site and I've a feeling I'm going to like him. I'll do a more thorough reading in the ensuing days.

Incidentally, I had a friend once in New York who was once a Trappist monk, but he loved women too much and thereby gave up his calling to pursue a civilian life. However, he now works for the Catholic services as a therapist. He travels quite a bit and lost contact when I left New York.

I should have something posted in a few days.

Thank you!

December 11, 2005 8:08 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

You are right Senor Enrique, some people are achieving great things by overcoming their fears. Good examples are Sy, Lucio Tan, Steve Jobs, etc. And there are many less known people who achieved great things because they overcame their fears.
But we should not generalize. It might even become a VERY dangerous theory if not used with the necessary care. It is easy to cross the line and say that it is their own fault if they are poor, jobless and sick. The odds are REALLY against those poor people. You saw the picture of this naked child in my blog. How can this kid ever go out of this cycle of misery? In theory it is possible, but if we are honest with ourselves, we need to admit that it is almost impossible.

When you are born in a family of scavengers in Tondo or in the Payatas dump site the odds that you get out is almost inexistent. Those scavengers work hard but for nothing…

I see a lot of hard working people on the streets of Manila. We see them all while we are driving in our air con cars. They sell toys, napkins, cigarettes and candies in our hot and polluted streets. I wonder what they earn at the end of the day (probably less than 100 pesos). You can’t accuse them of stealing, of doing nothing, of not overcoming their fears... They work very hard and in very difficult conditions. I really admire those people because I don’t think I would have the strength to do what they do.
How can they feed their families? What about their children?

This being said, I understand your message. You should check out following website: I think this organization is trying to do what you said in your post. Maybe you will even want to join them. I might join in the future if I am convinced that I can help.

December 11, 2005 8:11 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hello Noel!

Those you speak of may be those as a group perceive welfare benefits as "entitlement;" this is more of an aberration. The same is true of the island of Puerto Rico with the largest recipients of food stamps as compared to the other states.

Good suggestion about the Barangay chairman who is, by the way, I have a pleasant relationship with. However, in my endeavors of this nature as I've done in New York, I am more inspired by what Malcom X once replied to a white woman who wrote him wanting to join his cause. He told her she didn't have to join his own organization, she could just start on her own backyard if she was really serious about it.

So, what I've done Noel, since the past three years has been mentoring three kids from diverse disadvantaged backgrounds. I have no talent in addressing hundreds at once, but I excel in one on one basis. But here in Manila, God sent three for me to work with. Hopefully, each one will pass on whatever they learn from me to other three people they know of. So, let's see what happens.

December 11, 2005 8:34 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Actually, Sidney, all day I was wishing you'd post your thoughts on this matter because I know you're always out there, on foot and therefore a better witness.

Also, I couldn't escape from your picture of that little girl, and for the most part, she inspired me to post this blog. I then thought that perhaps, there is some way to get out. And that is why I thought first of "fear" as a possible hindrance. I know there are many others.

I intend to post similar thoughts in the future and as always, please feel free to share your observations so as to enlighten me further as well as others who may happen to read our posts.

BTW, I know the dangers you speak of in their environments and how little value most place on human lives. I went to a christening at the family of one of the kids I'm mentoring somewhere in the outskirts of Tondo, and I almost fell off my chair when a group of kids as young as 12 showed off their 38s and 45s. They make L.A.'s South Central look like Disneyland.

Thanks for sharing us your thoughts, Sidney. They're all much appreciated, indeed.

December 11, 2005 9:04 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enrique, I personally know some of these unfortunate people, and know for a fact that a grumbling stomach knows no fear. Visiting with them on my short trips to Manila and provinces, I see nothing lacking in their spirit and attitude to move ahead. On the contrary they continue to have dreams, albeit failing hopes brought about by conditions not of their doing, for themselves and their children.

You should be commended for what you are doing to help these kids. It is a long and serious commitment that very few would take on to the finish. And who really cares about whose or what style of helping it may be. Any help is welcome, no matter the style.

December 11, 2005 11:46 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes I've heard and seen that our rural areas are worst hit, Noel. My uncle in Albay would tell me of many stories of his friends whose fate are similar to what you describe. Nonetheless, perhaps, as we all continue to discuss this I'd be further enlightened.

These kids, Noel have been hardened -- shell-shocked might be a better term -- by "disappointments" even by the public school system. They may be starting from a disadvantaged position in life but they're just as innately smart as we all are. As Sidney has said, I, too, wonder how I'd fare if I were to grow up in their shoes. Indeed, it is a serious long-term endeavor.

Thanks, for your input,Noel.

December 12, 2005 3:34 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...


I had just visited the site you mentioned and I had extracted the following from its ONCE IN A PHOTOGRAPH page:

Drowning No More

It has been said that one of the Filipino people's best traits is that we are resilient. May we only be resilient to the wrath of nature or the force majeurs. However we should NOT be resilient to the lies we've inherited for generations. We should not be flotsam to political tides. We should liberate ourselves from the culture of mistrust and envy, the clawing at each other, dragging the other one down. Enough.

We should be defying the unnamed "wala ka nang magagawa" wave that has drowned most of us unnecessarily - not knowing that we were idiotically drowning in shallow water. Today, the young Filipino stands up.

For now, I'd much prefer doing what I can from "my own backyard."

Thanks for sharing with us about this site! I intend to visit it frequently.

December 12, 2005 5:48 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Master Yoda was right after all when he said, "The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side".

December 12, 2005 12:14 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Mike, he may be right.

December 12, 2005 6:49 PM  

Blogger  gmirage said...

Proverbs 9:10

August 23, 2007 7:34 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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