Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mars' First Things

(by Sheila Dela Cruz-Mapanao, CC, CL)

I delivered this speech last July 9, 2009 at our Toastmasters meeting, as a tribute to Mars. This is speech #2 of the Advanced Communication Manual, on "Special Occasion Speeches".

I hope i was able to do justice to the man that Mars was.
Good evening, fellow Toastmasters and friends.

These past weeks while I was formulating this speech in my head, I was panicking. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. But because I didn’t know what NOT to say! There are just so many things about Mars and his life, what I learned from him, and how he has affected me. I was overwhelmed!

So to put a semblance of order in this speech, let me focus on what I believed were the “first things” in Mars’ life.

In Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Habit 3 is “Put first things First”, meaning “putting the most important things in your life, FIRST”. First things could be your goals or dreams, or the people you love.

As Johann Goethe said, “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least”.

And I believe Mars knew what the first things in his life were.

Top on his list, was his family. Mars lost his father at a young age. When his father died, he became the family’s breadwinner. And he did his job dutifully. He became a pillar of strength and support for his family. He provided for his mom and his siblings. He worked to support his youngest sister from the time she was in grade school, until she graduated with a Nursing degree and passed the board exams last December. And when she graduated, he told friends, “Pwede na kong mamatay.” (Finally I can die). Even then, he knew that since he already secured his youngest sister’s future, she would be able to take his place ad care of his mom and the rest of their family.

Mars role as a pillar of strength and dependability was not just contained within his family, but extended to another family, and that was Toastmasters, and specifically, Butter N Toast (BnT).

Mars’ commitment to BnT stemmed from his desire to learn. Personal improvement. Another one of Mars’ first things. Mars was the perfect example of someone who wanted to improve himself. He wanted to be better!

When we started out in Toastmasters, we were all pretty scared of coming up here in front. Especially during table topics! But no, not mars! He was always so brave! He’d volunteer, and yes, he’d fumble or mumble, BUT he kept at it and he got better! And I admired that in him. Me, who’s such a scare-dy cat when it comes to Table Topics. And he knew it!

He also knew that I dreaded to club-hop coz I hated being the odd one out. So what did Mars do? Whenever he got invited to a different club, he’d drag me to come with him. And he was a willing companion when I got invited to other TM clubs as well, egging me on to accept invites. Such that we became more like a package deal. Invite one TM, get another for free! :)

He generally pushed and pulled me out of my comfort zone and conveniently served as my net. My safety blanket.

I also loved to tease him by the monicker Table Topics Monster because whenever he was tasked to handle Table Topics, he chose particularly challenging topics. But he had a special reward, a token, which he gave to the brave participants to encourage them.

And let us not forget that Mars was the first-ever from our Club to take on the role of Area 16 governor. He made it look sooo easy, that he convinced some others from this club, to be Area governor as well! :)

From Mars’ life, another of his first things was Relationships. Mars had loads of friends both in and out of BnT. Friends from college, and even all the way from grade school, who have stuck with him and who consider him a VERY GOOD friend. And I, together with the Toasties, know what they mean.

Most Toasties know Mars and his quick-wit.
His loud, boisterous laugh.
His zeal and energy for fun.

But maybe not everyone knows his thoughtfulness and generosity. I remember when he retired from Pru Life, he treated at least 10 of his closest TM friends to a sumptuous dinner buffet at Masas. And how when one of us was celebrating a birthday, he’d treat that person to Starbucks.

Yes, he was thoughtful and generous, giving of his time and his presence. That, and above all, Mars was a loyal, and trustworthy friend.

Text mate. Erstwhile shopping and movie-watching companion. Toastmasters Club-hopping buddy. Confidante. True and good friend. Mars was all these to me.

I was scrolling through my cellphone’s phonebook recently and felt a tinge of sadness when I saw Mars’ name in my phonebook. And knowing that I won’t be receiving any funny, text messages or calls from him just to ask me how I was. I couldn’t for the life of me, delete his name from my phone book.

Any significant event now, any small thing, reminds me of mars. Michael Jackson dead at 50? Oh, mars was only 42 when he died. Gege and I were eating at Bagoong Club (where BnNT had its xmas party), and our server’s name happened to be mars. We looked at each other, and at the same time, said “awww, mars”…

You can say I haven’t had enough of Mars. Most people who know Mars feel the same way. Clich├ęd as it may sound, Mars has left his mark on us, here in our hearts. I keep telling myself that he’s in a better place now, free from pain, sickness, and problems. But when I think about him now, it is still with sadness because I miss him.

He was a good person. A good man. And he will be sorely missed.

Mars was a dutiful and supportive son and brother --which meant he valued family.

He was a good and true friend -- which meant he valued relationships.

He was serious about teaching and about learning -- which meant he valued personal improvement.

Family. Relationships. Personal improvement. Mars was clear on his first things. He knew what was important to him, and his actions reflected that.

I leave you now with these questions. What are the first things in your life? Do your actions reflect the importance of these first things? Mars’ death has made me think and reflect on these.

Mars was clear on his first things. Are you?

1 comment:

carla v raagas-barros said...

hi shiela! great seeing your work here!!

carla raagas-barros here, we went to admu together for MA? =)... if you can, pleae email me xavierpsych@yahoo.com

hope to hear from you!!


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