Tribute To Og Mandino

December 21-27 Edition

Og Mandino
My Heart & Soul
Dichotomoous Thinking
Impressing Others

 Og Mandino

My article on Og Mandino was published October 20, 2013 in Philippine Panorama, the Sunday magazine of The Manila Bulletin. This is my cover letter to the editor:

"Mistakes are life's way of teaching us," says the great inspiration guru Og Mandino. "Your capacity for occassional blunders is incomparable from your capacity to reach your goals."

Og Mandino has changed the lives of millions. His books will be read by the untold generations to come. We can never count the ways how his stories has uplifted a flagging spirit and strengthened a resolve to begin anew.

My story, "Og Mandino's Messages of Hope," is an ode that will remain timeless, a story that will endure forever. The youth of today needs to meet the camel boy Hafid in The Greatest Salesman In The World; the selfless merchant Zaccheus in The Greatest Secret In The World; the risk-taking writer Mark Christopher in The Choice; and the mysterious "Ragpicker" Simon Potter in The Greatest Miracle In The World.

But the greatest story of all is the inspiring life of Og Mandino himself.

"Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept real challenges when it comes along," he counsels. "You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine."

My Heart & Soul

November 25, 2013
8:34 a.m., Monday

I'm blessed in so many ways, not the least for having the ability for introspection – and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

I have contemplated my life on many levels and I found myself more intuitively attuned to the direction I need to go to achieve peace and enlightenment.

Here in Cebu, I have friends whom I can count on, in the same way that they've proven to themselves that I'm always here for them. I have my sea somewhere south of the city – where I feel a touch of the sacred in swimming alone out on the deep, in the same way that pilots Richard Bach and Charles Lindbergh found it flying alone above the clouds.

I'm not afraid to be alone because I have a deep abiding respect in myself as a human being. I don't get bored in solitude because my inner life is not empty. I'm not afraid of silence because my soul needs it. I know I live in a world where most people are the complete opposite. That's perfectly natural and I accept that without judgment.

I've been around enough to not expect others to understand that not everybody is the same, not everybody belongs to the herd. So I'm not surprised anymore if some people treat me as an pariah, for the simple reason that I refuse to be insincere and superficial. I don't pretend to be sophisticated. I find all these very shallow. I don't think I'm the only one like me.

"You will be different, sometimes you will feel like an outcast," Superman says to his son. "But you will have my strength, and you will see the world through my eyes." (See "Why The World Needs Superman")

I don't major in minor things. A lot of people focus too much on nonsense but completely ignore what is truly important. I don't try be what I'm not. I'm not comfortable with crowds, I'm not eager for attention, I'm not obssesed with impressing others – only the insecure are like that. I don't act superior to anybody, but I'm inferior to no one.

My mindset is that no matter how good I am, there will always be those who are better than me; and no matter how terrible I am in some things, like trigonometry, I'm better than others in other things. This attitude inspires to me to rise above myself yet keeping my feet on the ground. That's why I remained level-headed despite my own share of achievements.

But this is also why I feel sad because a really close friend of mine changed so much. He's at the height of his popularity now. I think it got into his head. We have been like brothers but his gradual transformation turned him into a stranger. He has become patronizing, sarcastic and insulting. I can overlook the fact that he's fully convinced of his superiority. But somehow the bond has been broken What we had was that electric chemistry, like Sam and Dean Winchester in Supernatural. I'm going to miss that. If trust and respect are gone – and one cannot exist without the other -- then any meaningful friendship is lost. But it was fun while it lasted – and I'm grateful for that too.

On Dichotomous Thinking

It's 1:11 a.m., Tuesday, October 29, 2013, as I write this. I've lived in so many different places and I realize, because of that, the way I perceive the world is now radically different from most people.

I get along fine with folks from all walks of life. But it's not always easy to build a meaningful connection with someone who can't even conceive how big the world is outside of his cultural shell.

So I was hurt in a conversation with two friends last week when they seem to display what my mentor Wayne Dyer calls "dichotomous thinking." from Your Erroneous Zones, his bestselling classic that transformed my life.

People who think in dichotomous terms see the world in black and white: something is either good or bad, somebody is either normal or weird; there is nothing in between and there is nothing beyond that. It has nothing to do with intelligence because human nature is not a purely intellectual concept.

I value relationships. I regard friendship as sacred. I want to build bridges that will last for a lifetime. I think the foundation of friendship is trust and respect: one cannot exist without the other. For me, a person who understands, accepts and respects that fact that people are different is worth dying for.

On Impressing People

On the early morning hours of November 3, 2013, I had a flash of insight about human nature: "Why do we tell people about our lives?"

That question intrigues me, especially now that I'm dealing with people with radically different backgrounds.

I'm talking about talking to people, not blogging which may seem logically connected but lacks the instanteous dynamics of face-to-face interaction.

So this about why we tell others about ourselves.

I don't know why.

I can guess, though. I think that somewhere in the depths of our souls is the longing to feel accepted. It's perfectly normal. So we want to give others a positive idea about us.

Then there's another factor. I've consistently seen this as a student of human behavior and as a former semi-telepath: People react to us based on their perception of us. If they like us or if they want to be like us, then everything we do is filtered in their minds and emerge as a good thing. But if they don't like us, then they'd dismiss, downplay or ignore what we say or do or whatever good they hear about us.

Example: Kal-El, Logan and Peter Parker are all labeled as "loners." There are some things about them that most people would simply never understand. I like them because I can identify more deeply than I can explain. Some people like or dislike them for their own reasons or even for no reason at all.

Man of Steel
Bar Scene

The Wolverine
Shingen Scene

The Amazing Spiderman
Subway Scene

If you like them or if you're broad-minded enough to be objective, you'll see them as essentially good guys who need privacy and understanding. But if you don't like them or the fact that they're different somehow threatens your self-identity because of your fragile self-esteem, then you'll see them as outcasts. You would want to believe to they are inferior to you because you've never met anybody like them before.

So, all in all, I think people would rather believe what they think about us than what we say to them. That's why I don't see the point of trying to impress others. I'd rather be judged by my actions. But then again, the opinions of judgmental people mean nothing to me. On the other hand, won't people accuse you of being secretive? Malicious people will accuse you of anything. Decent people and real friends will never do.


"Personally, I need a high level of physical fitness in order to feel at ease."

~Jurgen Klinsmann
One of my happiest times in Cebu was when I would be at the public library everyday for weeks around the middle of 2013, a couple of weeks after my arrival in the island and my self-imposed exile in a small town in the south beside the sea. That's when I re-read the books of Og Mandino which inspired my article "Og Mandino's Messages of Hope."

My tribute to the man whose short novels has uplifted the lives of millions was published in Philippine Panorama on October 20, 2013, and is now part of my first non-fiction anthology eBook Huggybear's Corner: The Amazing Articles of Jonathan Aquino
I don't major in minor things. A lot of people focus too much on nonsense but completely ignore what is truly important. I don't try be what I'm not. I'm not comfortable with crowds, I'm not eager for attention, I'm not obsessed with impressing others – only the insecure are like that. I don't act superior to anybody, but I'm inferior to no one.