Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Worrier, Warrior, Wealthier and Worthier

Last weekend, we were in Akron, Ohio to act as Primary Sponsors at the wedding of Rafa Pargas and Courtney Kiel. Rafa is the son of Maris Malvar Pargas who was a classmate of my wife in elementary, college and grad school, and of Roy (Hutch) Pargas, who is a computer science professor at Clemson University. Courtney, who was born and raised in the Akron area, is the daughter of Bob Kiel, an executive of UNISYS and a former high school Varsity basketball coach, and Debbie Kiel, a retired teacher.

It was a beautiful and fun wedding. The wedding planner is the father of the bride. He not only spoke his “words of wisdom” but delivered with much love in deed and in action.

It was a blending of two cultures. That’s why the father of the groom had to reiterate his advice to his son that since he represented the “macho” Filipino, he must look straight into the eyes of his bride, and then firmly, strongly, and authoritatively say, “You are the boss.”

This is really a recognition by Roy that based on his observation, exposure and experience, if you marry a Filipina or an American woman, you have to be ready to be Vice-President, or if you want another position, Assistant Treasurer.

Featured first even before dinner was the beautiful wedding cake. It was designed, and baked by the Chef of Disney World who is a friend of the bride’s family.  I jokingly told the other guests at our table that the friend was asked earlier if she could really bake Courtney’s wedding cake. And her answer was, “Piece of cake.”

Marriage, indeed, is a wonderful “institution”. The only reason why many, like my barber, do not want to get married is because they do not want to live in an “institution”. Marriage also requires full commitment – to the extent that some couples become insanely committed to each other. They say that there is a similarity between marriage and insanity. In both cases, there is commitment to an institution.

Having been married for about four decades, I was asked by my barber as to what could be a major factor for a long, enduring and lasting marriage. I said, “Compromise.”

Example: my wife and I decided to go out one evening. I wanted to go to a movie and she wanted to go see a play. We presented our respective reasons, listened carefully, and then as mature adults, entered into a Solomonic compromise: we went to see a play.

My first cousin, Father Vic Arenas Maynigo, who officiated our wedding, those of my youngest sister, Mila, my eldest daughter, Tanya, and several nieces and nephews, used to say that you usually obtain three rings in marriage: first, the Engagement Ring; second, the Wedding Ring; third, the SuffeRing.

Akron, Ohio. The last time I talked and wrote about it was when LeBron James decided to leave his Cleveland team to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. (See article, “King James and King George: Being Royal, Loyal and Real”).

“Destiny”, they say, “is not a matter chance but a matter of choice. It is not to be awaited but it is to be achieved.”  Our new God daughter, Courtney, has chosen her destiny. She is temporarily leaving Ohio to join Rafa in Virginia to achieve such destiny.

George Steinbrenner of Cleveland left for New York and eventually bought the New York Yankees; John Glenn of Cambridge, Ohio left for outer space and came back a hero; Neil Armstrong of Wapakoneta, Ohio went to the moon; 

Actors Bob Hope and Clark Gable, of Cleveland and Cadiz, respectively, and actresses Halle Berry and Catherine Bach of Cleveland and Warren, respectively went to Hollywood; Kathleen Sebelius of Cincinnati became governor of Kansas and then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; Donna Shalala of Cleveland also became U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services;

William Howard Taft of Cincinnati became U.S. President and Chief Justice; Roger Ailes of Warren is now President of Fox News; James M. Cox of Jacksonburg founded Cox Communications; Larry Flynt of Cincinnati publishes Hustler; Ted Turner of Cincinnati founded Turner Broadcasting and CNN; and Jack Warner of Youngstown co-founded Warner Bros. Studios. Gloria Steinem, founder of the Women’s Liberation Movement also hails from Toledo, Ohio.

One of my first major jobs in the U.S. was as Administration Director and Comptroller of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). Founded in 1947, NAREB is one of the most powerful Black-controlled organizations in the country. Through this group, I learned all about minority business development issues. I reported directly to the President James Haynes. He was the best Chief Executive I have ever been exposed to. He was not only a good planner, organizer, leader and controller; he was an inspiring teacher who trained a group of younger male and female leaders who eventually succeeded him as President of the national association. Most importantly, he is from Cleveland, Ohio.

While in Akron, I could sense from people there that they were quite disappointed with the departure of LeBron James.  This prompted me to do a little research and I found out about the above-mentioned celebrities who came from Ohio but made good somewhere – Moon, Outer Space, Hollywood Stars and Worldwide Web. All of them recognize their roots and somehow made their hometowns proud.

In my high school class in the Philippines, 7 of the top ten honor students plus more left our hometown and now live in the United States and Canada. All are doing extremely well.  Of the 90 million Filipinos, 8 million live and work in several countries temporarily leaving their hometowns and more often than not, their families to provide for themselves and their families a brighter future.

In facing the challenges in this material World, a hard Worker usually start as Worrier, then a Warrior, becoming Wealthier and ultimately a lot Worthier materially, emotionally, and spiritually.

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