Sunday, April 20, 2008

CC#10 - Inspire the Audience - "From Nothing to Something"

[Toastmaster of the Evening: Our prepared speaker, Edwin Vinas "From Nothing to Something"... "From Nothing to Something", Edwin Vinas...]

[After introduced, I am walking confidently going to the front shaking hands with the TM of the evening...]

If this is the last day of your life, what will you do? Miss Toastmaster of the evening, fellow toastmasters and guests, if this is last day of my life, the only thing that I would do is to tell everybody the greatest story of my life...

Thirty years ago, I was born in a very far away province with no electricity, no jeepneys, no television, no money and no hope. My family used to go to the mountains to plant root crops in order to survive. Everyday, our breakfast is "kamote", our lunch is rice and shrimps from the river, our merienda is fried banana and our dinner is rice with "tinapa" or smoked fish. We usually sleep at 6pm and wake up at 7am. I used to walk 1 kilometer just to reach a stream in order to fetch a gallon of drinking water and take a bath! That's how primitive and poor our life is... Yes, it is really a very poor life! I really have nothing!

On the very first day that I will enter Grade 1, I was so excited! With my improvised bag made of rice sack sewn by my mother, my "baon" wrapped in a banana leaf, and a pair of thin slippers under my feet, I am now so excited to see the school for the first time! As part of our tradition, my mother was holding a glass of water with wild grass leaves in it. She said, "drink this as this will help you get good grades in school!". Without asking, I drank the potion! Everyday, I used to walk 3 kilometers from home to school. During the flag ceremonies, I used to lead in singing the "Lupang Hinirang" and recite the "Panatang Makabayan". This is one of the things that motivated me to go to school everyday. As I gather awards as one of the top students in class, I have learned to read, write, and be recognized! As I continue to fill my brain with wonderful knowledge I gained from school and from books I read everyday, I graduated 1st Honorable Mention. I am so happy because I now have something!

But, as I enter high school, many people have been noticing that something is different about me. I know I am different because I am poor compared to my classmates. But not only that, I know I am different because I speak softly and walk softly too! I don't know why I am like this since I never wished to behave like this. One time, when I was in elementary, my classmates used to tease me and insult me because I behave like a girl. So, what I did is I grabbed my girl classmate who teases me and hugged her tight just to show that I am also a boy who likes a girl. And what happened? Nothing, it didn’t help me actually! But one thing I learned from this experience is that, if I can't change my personality, I can change my future by defeating everyone in the school. And so, I was able to stop the people from looking at my abnormality and amazed them by my intelligence as I defeated everyone in class and graduated Valedictorian! I am so happy, now I have a golden medal added to the display of ribbons and medals in our cabinet! But, I was sad when I realized I can't sell my ribbons and medals so I can go to the city and continue my college! I am still nothing! At this stage of my life, I learned to depend on God by going to the church every Sunday and believing on the power of supernatural beings to help me. Did you know that I was actually planning to be a priest if ever I can’t go to college after my high school? Through God’s help, I was granted a 5-year scholarship by the Department of Science and Technology, which allowed me to continue my college in Manila. I am so happy because I now have the ticket to success!

During college, have experienced the worst challenges in my life but I have never quit in studying no matter how difficult life is. I remember whenever there was a heavy rain, I am always on the lookout to watch for flood water which may overflow in my room again. I've been used to floods during that time. But one day, a very bad weather came. I never expected that it will get worse. The flood have almost reached the a very alarming level. I was so worried about my books! I need to get them before it's too late, before it gets washed away! Books are so important to me for they are my only hope, my only friends, my only tools to success! And so, despite of the bad smelling flood water almost as high as my shoulder, I rushed and managed to rescue my books out of my flooded room. And that doesn't end there, my suffering was further intensified by the fact that water doesn't drain out by itself so I would have to remove them manually. Sometimes, I would return from school with my flooded room like a fish pond! Instead of resting, I would still remove the dirty flood water in my room and this really almost makes me cry for five years! Whenever I remember this story, I learned that if you really want to get something, you should never give up and instead try to strive further. And so five years of floods have resulted to a Cum Laude graduate of Engineering. Yes, the guy from the mountain who has nothing in life now became the very first electronics and communications engineer from our town!

After graduation, I thought being a Cum Laude graduate and a scholar will easily give me a good job! I am still nothing because when I graduated I have no more scholarship and no more allowance. And so, since I really need a job, I accepted a teaching position in one of AMA IT colleges. One funny thing about this is that when the school director interviewed me and asked me why I want to teach, I said teaching is a good job while reviewing for the board exam! And they seem to realize that I will just be using the school library for my hidden purpose. And so my working life has started as a teacher, something I dreamed of when I was still young. After a year, I transferred to Advanced Science Technology Institute in UP Diliman as a Science Research Specialist where most of my unforgettable experiences have happened and where I learned the technology revolution. And it’s also where I learned the skills which helped me find the job in the corporate Accenture!

As of this moment, I realized that life is really full of challenges and hardships but through your perseverance, you can turn your life from nothing to something if you will just truly set your heart and mind to whatever you want to do with your life! Yes, it's true! It's possible to turn nothing to something if you believe in God's plan for you. As Proverbs 3:5,6 says "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths". [Mister Toastmaster of the evening!]

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