Thursday, November 04, 2004

Portent of the Future

Right now, my relationship with my dad is far from perfect. He really cares about me, and of all the times to start being over-protective, it's when I'm in my twenties. I, on the other hand, often avoid him in general. Of course this wasn't always so. When I was a kid, I admired my dad (perhaps I admired him because he wasn't always present at home nor did he give me too much attention, hence giving him an air of authority). When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd reply I'd be a businessman just like my dad. And when dad would ask what I'd do for him when I grew up, I said that I'd buy him a Mercedes Benz.

More than a decade has passed and I've grown and matured. When friends ask what my father does for a living, replying that he's a businessman just doesn't suffice. They want something specific. I tried asking that question before and all my dad would tell me that he was in bearings for phones, whatever that was. Of course he has a new business now and thankfully, one easier to explain: continuous forms such as receipts. And during our Economics class in third year high school, one of our assignments was to ask our parents their success story when it came to business and ask what was the most difficult part of doing business. Since I was studying in a Filipino-Chinese school, a number of the students told the rags-to-riches story of their moms and dads, usually ending with hard work and perseverance as the moral for the day. My dad didn't have one of those. He merely told me that the most difficult thing about conducting business was collection. Of payments. And that was it. Of course six years down the line, I actually realized the profoundness of that statement. Because when it comes to doing business in the Philippines, some companies don't pay their debts on time, and you'd be surprised that these would be the big local companies (i.e. National Bookstore, Meralco, the government, etc.).

By then, my father didn't seemed so great. And by then, my dreams had changed. I discovered writing as my calling. Well, it was either that, the priesthood, or perhaps even psychology. My father was pushing for computer science since that was the trend during the time. Well, either that or business. For me, business was something to be avoided because of corruption one eventually succumbs to, such as paying bribes to avoid red tape, or paying off crime syndicates so that they'd leave you alone. Or simply dealing with undeserving idiots. And if I was actually an honest businessman, the advantage would go to the dishonest ones. Six years down the line, I came to realize that if I really want to be independent and set up a good future for me and my family, I'd have to go into business for myself. And that if one really wants to be good in business, things should be legal, ethical, and of course, focused on the people that do the business. Well, it's either that or have lots of capital, which I don't have by the way. That doesn't mean I've given up on my dreams of being a writer, but more of recognizing the need to do business, much like my good friend Dean learned several years ago. And Dean proves that you can both be good in business and in writing (and he has the awards to back it up). Specialization has always been a Western idea. I can be both. And it all fits into place, especially considering that during my freshman year, I was getting high grades in Math and Science (not to mention that I always had good business sense, and a need to purchase things at the cheapest price possible), which caught several of my creative writing classmates off-guard.

I guess in the end, my initial dream (to be a businessman) was as true to me as the one I chose for myself (to be a writer). Now all I need is to earn enough money to buy my dad a Mercedes Benz.


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