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Saturday, September 6, 2014

An Ivy League Alum Explains How Prestige Can Destroy Lives

Hello there friends! 

It's been a while since I posted an entry on my blog. I've been preoccupied and have not had the chance to write about something. I came across this article, (which I decided to repost here) that I found interesting and I thought of sharing it with you. 

It talks about HUBRIS (defined as excessive pride) and how it can destroy our lives without us realising it. At the end of the day, we want to live a happy life. Who doesn't? But sometimes we might not be aware that our motivations are already flawed because of societal structures / norms. Hubris is a deterrent to that goal. As much as we want to 'be successful' in our respective fields, the article below is a good reflection on how we can avoid self-destructing.

Happy weekend!


How Prestige Destroys You

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by hubris. From an early age, they were persuaded that they had a talent in school, or excellence in some extracurricular activity; for that their names became lauded in school newspapers, emblazoned on certificates, or announced on podiums. The high of recognition was addictive, and began to slowly eclipse the achievements themselves.

As they grew older, they learned that within the message of empowerment, what most grown-ups mostly care about is prestige. If you wanted to make them proud, and earn the right to be proud yourself, the story of your life had to abound with names and titles – AP Merit Scholars, national finalists on the Policy Debate circuit, School Orchestra Leader — that would provoke an envious silence.

The students had learned that the only legitimate reason for being proud was being an object of jealousy. The future was a zero-sum game.
yale university
At the top they stood, their future lives well-defined: suited financiers, white-coated doctors, smile-forcing lawyers, pasty hackers, and turtle-necked entrepreneurs.

At some point, a few lucky ones realized that anyone who cared about the world they would leave behind, and worked to better it, had found something more precious than pride. Others never left the cult of prestige. They had scrambled to the leading edge of every bell-curved valley, and were rewarded at each peak with quick and pacifying hits of a drug called pride. It was an opiate that their lives had bathed them in, to pre-empt the fabled agony of “low self-esteem.” Many found that they couldn’t live without it.

When college acceptance letters came back, some of them ended up as the “lucky” ones. The next four years had a timeless, theatrical quality. Narration was provided by the voice of awed posterity, against a background of carillon bells and WASPy a-capella hymns. It was a time to plan for the important and visible postgraduate careers that they would be called upon to do.

But it wasn’t long before the high wore off, and the airy plateau gave way to a deeper valley. A friend, dressing impeccably, returned from an investment banking “networking session” in tears; she applied for the job, anyway. Seniors with return offers at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs moaned about their clients and bosses, and grouched about trying to move into the mythical “buy-side” — the same work, only with fewer hours.
man suit buildings

At the top they stood, their future lives well-defined: suited financiers, white-coated doctors, smile-forcing lawyers, pasty hackers, and turtle-necked entrepreneurs. At the bottom sat those whose young adult lives — a guest copywriter for a startup blog, for example — were a merciless anticlimax. How steep was the ascent? How long would it take? How many would enjoy life at the top? Did it matter?

For ever-smaller highs, pride set ever-higher expectations, and called for ever-greater sacrifice. What mattered was that those on the other side had MBAs and JDs and CFAs, that they lived in respectable places like SoHo or Berkeley. It would become perversely enjoyable, even, in doing what pride demanded – of martyring the self and its preferences, and building in their void an obedient engine of self-advancement. It was another sport to convince themselves that slaving over contract law and discounted cash flow models was a meaningful use of their young lives.

Yet four years is not fourteen or forty. And few have gasped amid pinging heart monitors that they should have made more people jealous. This is not to say that no one loves contract law, or that all flashy titles aren’t worn by people who were born for them. But most are born for something else – or more likely, for a few things else. And for them, scaling the wrong mountain takes a lifetime, even when trickles of pride numb the aching cold.
Most 20 year olds who want to be doctors are only a shade wiser than six year olds who want to be spies. And the six year old has a kind of wisdom that the 20 year old didn’t inherit: he wanted to be a spy because he thought he would like it.

Our current lexicon of work offers tellingly little guidance. We have “professions” just as we would “profess” to be good at anything, whether or not it’s true.

We have “careers” just as we would board any “carrier,” whether or not the destination is worth it. Conspicuously absent are “vocations” and “callings,” which sound touchy-feely, perhaps because they touch a nerve.
It is no coincidence that Dante imagined the prideful as stooped “carriers,” who haul crushing boulders past statues of the famously humble. Their sin was inverting the moral relationship between career and what is carried. In life, their careers didn’t serve them and hasten them to a better place; they had become careers. They had entered an unwitting servitude carrying someone else’s baggage and expectations. (The exemplars of humility are not just unburdened, but themselves made of stone.) It is probably no coincidence, either, that Dante put them in Purgatory, where their suffering would be only temporary. But I think he still went too far; a life spent that way is purging enough.

Withdrawing from hubris isn’t easy. So start by taking pride in the fact that your career is carrying you, that you haven’t confused approval with value, and that your life isn’t a zero-sum game because it isn’t a game at all.

Friday, December 20, 2013

TOYM Acceptance Speech 2013

The Outstanding Young Men Awarding Ceremonies
Malacanang Palace
December 19, 2013

Response from the TOYM 2013 Awardees
by Chris Tiu

His Excellency, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III; Bienvenido Tantoco III, President of the TOYM Foundation; Mrs. Judy Roxas, Chairperson of the Gerry Roxas Foundation; Jose T. Pardo, Chairman of the TOYM 2013 Board of Judges; Ryan Ravanzo, National President of JCI Philippines; Congresswoman Leni Robredo, Member of the Board of Judges; Dicky Puyod, Chairman of the TOYM 2013 Search, to my fellow TOYM 2013 honorees, to our families and special guests, good afternoon to you all!
In behalf of this year’s awardees, I want to express our utmost appreciation for citing us among the great individuals in the 54-year history of the TOYM foundation. We feel unworthy to be standing amidst such distinguished and admirable individuals when there are many other young Filipinos out there who have so selflessly dedicated their lives for the betterment of our dear country. For this, we feel truly humbled and blessed!

Our world is changing. Because of global warming, we are experiencing typhoons on an unprecedented scale. We can now do virtually anything on the go, from reading the paper, to watching movies, to booking an airline ticket.
We often hear the phrase, “Iba na ang kabataan ngayon”.  If you’re guilty of saying these words before, malamang hindi ka na nabibilang sa kabataan. The youth have information and resources at their fingertips and are a creative, capable, and intelligent generation. On the other hand, this may mean na iba na rin ang value system nila. We accept as reality many things which would have been considered scandalous to older generations. Because of modern day technology, we hardly have to wait for anything anymore and therefore, there is less need to be patient and persevering.

Consumer behavior is changing. The youth have become more fashion forward, and embarrassed to repeat an outfit because your entire social network can see what you are wearing with the advent of smart phones.
Measuring of ones self worth has evolved to the number of friends, followers or LIKES that one has on ones social media sites. Thus, encouraging the user to ‘keep up’ by posting more photos of himself, who he associates with, what he buys or where he eats.
In fact, ‘selfie’ has been named the word of the year by Oxford Dictionary. Don’t worry, if you lost me or don’t have any idea as to what I am talking about, that just means you don’t belong to this generation. “Selfie”, as defined by Wikipedia, is a self-portrait photography usually taken by a camera or a camera phone.
In an article earlier this year, Time Magazine has noted some negative traits of today’s youth, such as, lazy, narcissistic, materialistic, feeling of entitlement, less concerned with community. This is a cause for concern because these so called “Millenials” will be our future leaders!
This is why, in its 54-year history, the TOYM foundation, with its theme of “Inspiring a Nation of Heroes”, plays an even more important role today. By using modern day tools, it can reach out to our youth and propagate its core values of excellence, integrity and most importantly, a deep sense of service to community

Despite the many changes we have witnessed throughout the decades, from climate change, technology, buying habits, to our attitudes and behavior, there are some things that remain and SHOULD remain constant. And these are the timeless values that the TOYM Foundation espouses – excellence, honesty, humility, simplicity, sacrifice, and charity just to name a few. Regardless of age, gender, social class, race or religion, these principles serve as guiding pillars for human conduct that are proven to have enduring and permanent value.
In order for our country to progress, we cannot accept the “pwede na” attitude. Pursuing excellence cannot be learned overnight. It involves a process and tremendous commitment. Once it develops into a habit, it becomes a lifestyle. This is what we call virtue! The foundation of heroism in the Ignatian Spirituality is Magis, which means “more”, - being more, doing more! However, this simple motto requires a higher spirit for it to attain its fullness, which means that our motivation must transcend our own causes for a greater, higher being.
One of the world’s greatest leaders, the late Nelson Mandela constantly reminded his people that: “We should always be patient even if things are going bad, because great things will happen”. He also said, “what truly matters is the small acts of kindness towards others”. These words are very appropriate for our modern world where “selfies” are the in thing and everything has become so convenient that we need not bother to go out of our way for the good of others.

We, too, have Mandelas in our midst.
             Emerson Atanacio, in Social Entrepreneurship
             Dr. Nicole Curato, for Sociology
             Dr. Custer Deocaris, for Science Communication
             Former Gov. Miguel Dominguez, in Government and Public Service
             Dr. Alonzo Gabriel, in Food Science and Technology
             June Cabal-Revilla, for Community Development
             Dr. Karl Reyes and Dr. Paolo Silva, in Medicine.
There is no question that the youth are constantly looking for role models, people they can emulate. Mainstream media and Hollywood do not often provide us with the best models, we know that. On the other hand, the most powerful influencers are those who are ‘real’, those we can interact with in our everyday lives, those who are one of us. Whenever we meet people who inspire us, we feel a sense of relief, that there is hope for the future! And even more, a force of motivation giving us that second, third, and fourth wind, to do more ourselves. Most of the time, our heroes don’t even know the magnitude of the impact they have on others. They just do what they do best, in their respective fields, with utmost excellence, integrity and service to the community.
Hence, I would like to thank our dearest family and friends who have served as our personal heroes. Your example and your faith in us inspire us to serve!
I would also like to thank our Lord for this blessing. To God be all the glory! We are merely His instruments.
Last Sunday, the priest gave a beautiful homily about real joy. He said “joy is not in receiving. But rather, it is when we give, that we receive.” We are immensely honored to be given the TOYM distinction and we are even more inspired to continue giving by living a life of virtue, discipline and other-centeredness. It will take some courage to relay this message in today’s world, but like Mandela and St. Ignatius, we need to go against the wind!
This year’s theme is “Inspiring a Nation of Heroes”. But heroes need heroes too. And heroism starts within each one of us.
Thank you!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Zamboanga - A Day Full of Hope!

Last June 14, I visited Zamboanga for the first time.  The one-day visit was arranged primarily by the National Youth Commission, who I’ve partnered with a couple of times, to do community work for the people of Layag Layag in connection with the 25th anniversary of the NYC. In order to maximize my trip, I figured it would be best to do campus visits to the schools in Zamboanga to propagate our anti-bullying campaign, which has been given much attention lately. During that same trip, We were also able to have a productive meeting with the regional youth board of Zamboanga as well as a live guesting with Sir Ron on TV5 Mindanao to talk about bullying and other relevant issues of the youth.

My friend Oliver and I took the early Cebu Pacific flight that departed Manila at 545am. Upon touchdown, we were met by Commissioner Early of the NYC and immediately had breakfast at the Garden Orchid hotel and met with the rest of the group, composed of NYC Chairman Flores, DepEd representatives and volunteers of the Yellow Boat project headed by Dr. Anton Lim, who became known internationally for his contribution in saving the life of hero dog Kabang.

 NYC Chairman Flores speaking to the very well-behaved kids of Ateneo de Zamboanga during our Anti-Bullying & Anti-Drug abuse symposium
 Students signing the pledge that they will not be bullies, they will report bullies & they will help the bullied
This time, here I am addressing the less-behaved Western Mindanao State University students and faculty, hehe!

Charis Foundation Exec. Director, Oliver Tuason, giving a short seminar on virtues to local administrators


We drove about 15 minutes to get to the eastern tip of the mainland where we had to walk and maneuver our way through the muddy ponds, which used to be salt ponds. It was a wrong move to wear flip flops because they ended up sinking in the mud so I just walked barefoot and watched out for the sharp rocks. We then boarded two yellow boats, which were made possible by the Yellow Boat group of Dr. Anton, and sailed towards the Layag Layag community which was located around 2.5 kilometers away. It was a very scenic and serene ride through the mangroves. This boat ride was only possible as it was still high tide. The bigger boats cannot sail during the low tide.  At one point we could actually see the silhouette of Basilan already. The water was surprisingly clean and clear, allowing you to see the floor bed.

 Executive Director of Charis Foundation, Oliver, and a cute local friend
Beautiful mangroves leading to Layag-Layag

Finally we arrived at the community. I was amused! They literally lived on stilts. And the boats were their primarily mode of transportation. Potable drinking water was delivered twice a day. Electrical wires were tapped from the mainland. I felt like we were already at the end of the country already where all you could see was water surrounding us. Apparently, when I checked my location using google maps on my mobile, we were literally on the southwestern most tip of the country.

Some houses even had TVs and it was flattering to find out that they enjoy watching iBilib on GMA7! Some of them also patronize the PBA and my team Rain or Shine. I was amazed to see they had a basketball rim hung on one of the houses BUT it could only be played when it was low tide.  I initially thought they could play ball on boats when high tide, but no! That would have been interesting to see! Since they were predominantly Muslims, there was a floating Mosque nearby where they would pray several times daily. 

It wasn’t very easy loading and unloading the boat because it would sway once someone stands or unloads. We did our gift giving at the day care center, which was donated by the Tzu Chi foundation and this was physically connected to the sari-sari store only by three bamboo sticks which we had to use to cross.  Incidentally, our goodie bags contained Master facial wash among other Unilever products.

Check out these eco-friendly makeshift light bulbs. Recycle your plastic 1.5L or 2L bottles, fill it with water and add some zonrox or bleach, then you have a natural source of light that’s essentially free and eco-friendly.


The one thing that alarmed me and caught my attention was how the kids travelled to school and back.  The nearest public school was Talon-Talon public school, which is located in the mainland. If it was low tide, these poor little kids have to place their school uniforms in sealed plastic bags and wade or for the smaller ones, swim to the mainland which was around 2-3 kilometers away, so that their uniforms will not get soaked. Remember, these are kids as young as 6 or 7 years old. If the tide would permit, they would take their own boats and paddle their way to the mainland. Some are lucky enough to be ‘paddled’ by their fathers before they head to work.

Upon getting to the mainland, they dock their boats on tree stems and bring their paddle to school. After class, they walk back to their boats, untie them, and paddle back home. I’ve never seen kids so independent and fearless!


The reason why this community chooses to live on water is because of their livelihood. The main produce in Layag Layag is seaweed. They plant and harvest these seaweeds just outside of their houses. Sadly, many of the young boys have to stop schooling as early as high school in order to help their families make a living.

Here’s a photo of myself with the ‘seaweed’ boys! Always cheerful and positive.

Another thing that got my attention was the average number of people per household. Moms had anywhere between 4 to 8 kids despite having such low-income levels. Some of them were fathers even before 20 years old. For the women, because of the lack of opportunities, education and absence of aspirations, they decide to marry early and have kids.


After a few hours, we headed back to the city, I hope we were able to bring smiles to this uniquely persevering community! Paradoxically, I was the one really moved after witnessing their persistent and such simple lifestyles. Yet, they remain so detached and so happy with whatever it is that they have – mostly I would say is the company of their families and loved ones!

This experience made me reflect. Many times, we fail to realize how blessed we are because we are pre-occupied with our fast paced lives. And with this consumeristic environment we live in, we tend to want more, more and more, never content with what the Lord has already given us. I think one way to escape this viscous trap is to practice self-giving and detachment before it’s too late. It won’t happen overnight, we will need to do it one small step at a time. With God's grace, it can be done!

The Yellow Boat project is a huge blessing for the people of Layag Layag! Through the generosity of various individuals and institutions, these boats allow the kids, at the very least, to go to school. More so, they are used by the locals to make a living by planting, harvesting then selling the seaweeds in the markets. But more than its pragmatic function, for me, when I see these yellow boats in the community, I see HOPE! I see persevering individuals trying to survive in life! I see selfless Filipinos who care for their fellow people. This is one type of fever we won’t mind spreading – the Yellow Boat fever!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Angel in Disguise

Here's a tribute to my mother Lianne who is celebrating her birthday today. This was written by a young college student who requested to remain anonymous. Very true description of my mom. Simple, humble, sincere. Thank you Lord for giving us the best mother in the world! Happy birthday, mom - from all your kids!

All God's angels come to us disguised.~James Russell Lowell

When I was little, I remember my grandmother telling me about guardian angels. She told me that each one of us had a guardian angel of our own. A few years back, I learned that mine was named Angel Rafael. That piece of information, while seemingly interesting to learn about, didnt matter as much because I grew up already firmly believing that I always had an invisible angel guarding and guiding me every step of the way regardless if he/she had a name or not. However, little did I know that I would come across another angel the visible, tangible kind during my third year in college, and in the most unexpected way.

One of our past projects in the Student Council was an Auction for a Cause in which willing celebrities/icons donated some of their personal things for people to bid on. One of our donors was a young professional basketball player who also happened to be a TV host, commercial model, politician, and part- owner of a milk tea business. Since he had a very busy schedule, it was agreed that we coordinated with his mother to arrange pickup of his donations. Everything went smoothly as planned. We got the stuff, and politely thanked him and his mom who were both very kind in responding to our messages. From then on, we would coordinate with her whenever we intended to invite her son to our events. And it was through those multiple attempts and invites that I slowly started realizing how extraordinarily kind the person I was dealing with was. She was warm, humble, and most of all, sincere and genuine in her words and actions.

In the showbiz world today, whether a close friend, a family member, or the artist himself, it is very rare to find someone who would not make an ordinary person like me feel intimidated. But this particular woman proved me otherwise. She never missed to send her appreciation, apologies and acknowledgment to any of the messages I sent her. Her kindness to me reached its epitome when one day, after respectfully declining one of our event invites in behalf of her son, she decided to send me a text asking what my plan was for college. My heart literally skipped a beat because never did I see that coming. Why would someone like her even bother to spend a few minutes to ask about my future? But before I got completely caught up in the moment, I replied with polite humor that I was actually already in college...and graduating in a few months, too, at that time. She responded apologetically and found it so silly of her to forget the tiny detail that we have been inviting her son to guest in our COLLEGE activities. That moment, more than anything, left a mark in me because she made being ordinary true for both of us (even if her social status and lifestyle, among others, said otherwise).

Time passed by yet our communication remained. The kind of topics we talked about quietly shifted its course from being business-related to more personal ones. Before I knew it, I was seeking pieces of advice in life from her, and she was always so generous, kind and motherly in sharing her time, comfort and wisdom. It takes a genuinely pure and humble heart one like hers to do such an act to someone who you have never even personally met yet. Without her knowing, she inspires me every day in ways beyond words can ever tell. And every day I pray that God continues to use her as an instrument of His grace.

If we think about it, it was a leap of faith for both us to connect with each other despite being strangers. Although I guess what made the entire process lighter and easier was that we shared something crucial and undeniably special in our lives as mere humans... [our] strong FAITH in God.

Truly, God is the Master in knitting His children together to make His love felt. And indeed, all His angels come to us disguised I know mine did. And I will forever be grateful to the Lord for it for my guardian angel, in her.

June 25, 2013.
Dedicated to Tita Lianne. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SMART All Text 30 w/ UAAP stars

When I arrived at Endurun college, the location of the shoot, I was surprised to find out that I will be shooting with the various UAAP Champions for 2012-2013, the Ateneo Mens Basketball team, the De La Salle Womens Volleyball team and the UP Pep Squad, together with Council President Alex Castro. It was a great honor to be working with the most influential college athletes & students in the country! Honestly, I felt a little bit overage but I could still relate to them somewhat :)

Had a good time chatting with the Ateneo players in between takes. It was here where I first watched the video of the most shocking and disturbing injury of Kevin Ware of Lousville. I also had a nice chat with Michele Gumabao of DLSU and I learned a little bit about her story. She was not recruited by La Salle, tried out and made it to the team because she was tall. As a rookie, she would be called in by the coach to play a few possessions or make the last spike. But with hard work and perseverance, she became a regular in the rotation & eventually won MVP & numerous titles for her alma matter. Inspiring story!

Going back to my experience with Smart, I've been a Smart user and ambassador for almost 5 years now and I've no regrets at all. This is the first TVC I did for Smart though. I once did a series of viral videos for Sandbox with the hilarious Ramon Bautista. I think you can look it up on youtube if you wanna see them.

Anyway, don't forget, text AT30 to 2827 for the All Text 30 promo! Free text to all networks and 30 minutes of calls to Smart & TNT for 2 days!! GO!!


P.S. Thanks to Kat Cruz for styling me and to Direk Paul Soriano for making the shoot fun & quick! Always a pleasure working with the best in the industry!

Mom and I for Poten-Cee Forte

After doing the Milo TVC with mom earlier this year, another campaign for mom and I. This time it's for Poten-Cee Forte, a Vitamin C brand that we use at home. Again, we had to persuade her to agree to do it. Lots of speaking lines for her, but no problem for her! This was shot in San Guan gym, reminiscent of my very very first TVC w/ Master Eskinol in 2004.

What I like about this product is that it contains 1000 mg of ascorbic acid or Vitamin C that can last be an entire day. With my hectic schedule, I usually start getting sniffles and colds whenever I forget to take my daily dose of vitamin C. Another feature is that it has an 8-hour time release formula that releases the vitamins in spurts within 8 hours so that our body doesn't just flush away the excess.

Hope you guys like the TVC! Hoping for more TVCs with mom or perhaps other family members? Many people find it hard to believe that my mom can look so young and often mistake her for my sister. I think she looks younger here than in the Milo TVC. Her secret? A nice and obedient son!! Haha kidding! It must be the Milo and the Poten-Cee :)


Monday, April 8, 2013

Project: "MILO BEST Grads"

Here's a copy of the TV Commercial for those who haven't seen it yet. This is the 15-seconder. I can't seem to upload the original 45-seconder. So let me just post the link MILO BEST GRADS TVC 45sec

This was shot some time early January 2013, in between games 3 and 4 of the PBA Finals series between us (Rain or Shine) and Talk n Text. My scenes were done in one day, for around 13 or 14 hours. My part had to be cut short because it was already 2am and I had training early the following morning. (I usually get 7-8 hours of sleep a day because my body needs to be fresh for training, but this is an exemption)

It was my first time to do a TVC shoot with my mom. She was very hesitant at first in accepting to do the campaign, but eventually after seeing the storyboard, she agreed. She's very camera shy and prefers to stay behind the scenes. I don't think she has any regrets after seeing the final edit and the idea of being able to inspire other mothers to raise kids well & encourage their kids to get into sports. I think she did great in the shoot and believe it or not, many people mistake her as my sister. Don't you think?

It was also fun working with Kiefer, Tita Mozzy, Prince Carlos (who studies in La Salle and is already MVP of the Milo tournaments), Tita Olive and of course, the entire production team! Watch out for more of us :) Hope you liked the TVC! #MiloEveryday


Here's the advertorial

Behind the scenes photos c/o Paolo Cabanero of Publicis Manila