All posts by aiepro

Chris Delacruz is the co-founder, general manager, and specialist at the American Institute for English Proficiency. For more information, please visit www.aiepro.com.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don'tSweattheSmallStuffCarlsonIn our last Christmas party at my company, the American Institute for English Proficiency, I was in charge of buying the gifts for our games and giveaways.  As co-founder, general manager, and teacher, I prefer buying gifts that would inspire our students, and I therefore headed to the bookstore to buy books as our prizes for the winners of our Christmas games.  One book caught my eye in particular, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.  I bought several other books that have inspired me throughout the years, but I was more interested in this book by Carlson because I had never read it before, and it contained information that was very similar to what I was teaching in my classes.

We played the games during our Christmas party, and lo and behold, most of our students actually wanted this book as their prize.  However, I kept a copy for myself, and I have begun reading it.  I have only leafed through a few pages (since each chapter is about a page and half long only), and I must say, I am quite inspired already.  As the book suggests, it is a compilation of life advice and how we should stop letting the small things in our life from driving us crazy and thereby getting the best of us.  It is about letting go.  It is about acceptance.  It is about peace of mind.

In this first chapter, aptly entitled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” as well, I have learned that to keep everything in order, to achieve a zen-like lifestyle, that peace of mind we all so want, we need to remember two rules in life: 1) Don’t sweat the small stuff, and 2) Everything is all small stuff.

It doesn’t mean that we should stop taking life seriously.  What it simply tells us is that there are things in life that we sometimes blow out of proportion, when really, things are still under control.  Sometimes, we just over-analyze when we should just simplify, we get angry when should just forgive, we get stressed when we should just go with the flow.  As a result, we let life get the best of us, and we become easily distracted and discombobulated instead of getting a better perspective so that we can move on doing the things we should be focusing on.

I am going to take this mantra with me this 2015.  In fact, I have been instilling this in my mind for the past few days, and I must say, I am doing more “perceiving” than “reacting.”  This means that instead of quickly reacting with emotions, I am perceiving my situations more with a sense of order and a sense of peace.  I have hundreds more chapters to go, with each chapter relating to personal growth, business, and more.  I can’t wait to share the rest of the book to my friends, colleagues, and students.  It’s going to be a very different new year for me.  I embrace 2015.

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FILIPINO RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES: I FEEL EMBARRASSED FOR FILIPINOS WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES A FILIPINO.

This article is my response to an article entitled FILIPINO RAISED IN SINGAPORE: I FEEL EMBARRASSED TO CALL MYSELF A FILIPINO on The Real Singapore, an online magazine/blog.  Here’s my response:

FILIPINO RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES:  I FEEL EMBARRASSED FOR FILIPINOS WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES A FILIPINO.

The writer of the article starts by mentioning her origins and credibility; I shall do the same.  I was born in the Philippines,  and I moved to the United States when I was young.  In Honolulu, Hawaii I finished elementary, intermediate, and high school, and in Seattle, I completed a B.A. in Political Science, graduating as the commencement speaker of the class.  Shortly after college, I worked in Las Vegas in sales and marketing, business development, and training, and I have moved back to the Philippines to manage my own business, the American Institute for English Proficiency.

I had an opportunity to go to Singapore a few years ago as my friends and business partner wanted to go on vacation there, but I opted not to join them because I had thought at that time that it would be similar to the US; I went to Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong instead.  That means I don’t really have first-hand knowledge on how Filipinos behave or misbehave in Singapore.  I only hear stories from my former clients and students stories.

However, my response is NOT fully about how Filipinos behave in Singapore.  I am sure that there are many Filipinos who misbehave in a foreign country as there are many foreigners who also misbehave in the Philippines.  I am sure that there are many Singaporeans who also misbehave in another foreign country.  In fact, my father, who lives in Las Vegas, is almost a perfect resident in the US, but when he comes back to the Philippines for a visit, he sometimes runs amok.  I shall not be embarrassed to be my father’s son.

My point is, there will always be people, regardless of race, sex, gender, age, or belief, who do not behave the way we want them to behave.  We should criticize the behavior, not the race.

The embarrassment is not whether they misbehave or not.  The bigger embarrassment is when someone, regardless of race, generalizes an entire culture because of a few individuals.  There roughly 170,000 Filipinos residing in Singapore, with more than half a million Filipinos coming in as tourists.  I’m not quite sure how many Filipinos the writer has observed to make such a conclusion, but regardless of her observations, there are much better ways to express her disappointment.

Instead of attacking an entire race or culture and being embarrassed to be “called a Filipino,” the writer could have simply attacked the “bad behaviors” and provided solutions.

So instead of falling into the traps of the fallacy of hasty generalization, the writer could have mentioned that there are certain behaviors that people, regardless of race, color, or national origin, should avoid.  After all, these “bad behaviors,” are not unique to the Filipinos.  I have seen a display of these poor behaviors in public by other races as well.  Thus, it is very insensitive and tactless for a Filipino to be embarrassed of being a Filipino simply because of the bad behavior of a few.

If the writer’s logic were to be accepted, then I could also say that my friend Sergio should be embarrassed to be a Mexican because of a few poorly behaving Mexicans, then my friend Thibaut should be embarrassed to be French because of a few poorly behaving French nationals, and my friend Cary should be embarrassed to be an American for a few poorly behaving Americans.  Hence, everyone should be embarrassed of their cultures.

Instead of creating racial divides, pitting the Filipinos against the Singaporeans, the writer could have been more sensible and, I reiterate, just pointed out the bad behaviors and a solution to the problem.

I’m not even going to discuss the writer’s points because his or her points seem more emotion- than logic-driven.  The writer finishes the article by saying that he or she sounds “Singaporean” because of having lived there for a decade.  She could have just sounded more human than Singaporean.  Let me finish my post in the same way she ended her article: I have lived in the US for about two decades, and as a human, as a Filipino raised in the United States, as a Filipino who returned to the Philippines, as a Filipino who has traveled to many places, and as a Filipino proud to be Filipino, and as a human being, I feel embarrassed for the writer.

And to fellow Filipinos: Let’s fix our behavior when we are guests in other countries so that another Filipino would not just generalize about our culture and be embarrassed to be a Filipino.

Road Rage in the Philippines with Gun and Knife

I ride the taxi all the time, and I have had some of the most bizarre moments.  However, this kind of situation would definitely scare the hell out of me.  Road rage is not uncommon, and it can occur anywhere, but when it is caught on video, it becomes a completely different story.  We get front row tickets to a real life movie, and we begin to discover human nature at its finest, or at its worst, in this case.

I am more forgiving than most drivers I know when it comes to undisciplined behavior on our roads.  My father, on the other hand, is less forgiving, and he demonstrates his road rage by speeding up and passing another driver, and finally cutting him off.  Fortunately, it never ended where the two vehicles would stop and altercation would ensue.  My father respected my mom too much for that as she was always in the front seat.  In fact, my father’s semi-road rage was the cause of many of their arguments.

In my case, I am pretty calm and composed, even when driving here in the Philippines.  At first, I was afraid to drive because of the traffic situation here, especially with the undisciplined drivers and pedestrians, but I finally mustered enough courage to drive around the chaotic streets of Metro Manila.  I stayed within the lines.  I signaled left or right when turning.  I followed the speed limits.  I did not cross on the red light, even when there were no cars around at 2 am.  Yes, I drove the same way I drove when I was in the US.

I don’t have a car right now because I got into an accident a few months ago, and my car was totaled.  I have been earning extra cash, trying to save up so I can buy one pretty soon.  As a result, I have been taking the taxi at least once a day, and my taxi budget is almost Php 10K a month.  So that’s a lot of riding the taxi.  That means I have had first hand knowledge on how taxi drivers behave.  Some of them were really nice, but many of them were horrible drivers, swerving, speeding, and cursing all the time.  They mentioned the word traffic as if they have never seen or been into one.   I have had situations where the taxi driver would even fall asleep at the wheel, and I have had to remind him to stay awake. I have also seen how other drivers cut each other off, and it seemed that they didn’t mind since they, too, cut others off.  Just a vicious cycle of poor discipline.

To not be so stressed out with these moments, I focus on surfing the net with my phone until I get to my destination.

So what would bring two grown men to have the audacity to stop in the middle of traffic and threaten each other with a gun and knife?  And just when you think that the situation has been pacified, what would compel a man without weapons to chase and pursue another who just threatened him with a gun and a knife?

What do you think?