Monday, August 06, 2012

Speech Feature: Destiny Spoken by Nathaniel Tolentino

Destiny spoken – Truth Revealed

I think most people my age have a similar conception about their grandfathers. Distant, silent and mysterious. Yet in my mum’s family – consisting of 7 brothers and 7 sisters - he was revered, respected and feared. To me he was all that plus more.  He had spoken about my destiny. 

My grandfather was in the army but then later settled to be a coffee farmer high up in the mountains of Quezon province. I was about 3 or 4 years old when I had first memory of him. My mother had taken us – my elder sister and my older brother - to his farm. 

Early in the morning just after the first rooster crows, I would sense people moving about, seemingly going about their daily early morning task. I would sleep and later wake up to the aroma of burning firewood and roasted coffee mixing with the cool air sweetened by the nocturnal left over scent of the coffee flowers. It was breakfast time – when all adults were required to sit at the long table and share coffee. As a child, I watched my grandfather drink his coffee and later on disappear into the dark, past the thick foliage and into the farm. With the early morning sound of crickets and frogs and in the absence of the early morning sun, I sink back into oblivion. 

I think it was late in the afternoon when my grandfather returned from tilling the land. This time, I assume he had rested. He had seemingly shifted his attention from to the  coffee shrubs to me. He nodded and acknowledged me. 
"Apo," he tells me, "come and show me your palms". I hand over my dainty frail hands, fearful of what he might do them, I open my palm and he received it with his own. 

He drew my hands closer to his face, focussing on the minute details and meandering lines across. Tracing where the lines went and how they were arranged in relation to my hands and fingers.  

Above my palms, his big brown eyes stared at my innocent black eyes. He tells me, "Apo, I have read the palm of your hand. You are a traveller, and will see many nations".  He patted my hair and went away.
As he walked away, I looked at him, intrigued with what he said – but innocent as I was, I did not make anything of it after.  He scared me for being old big and using words I did not understand.  

Destiny was spoken.

At the age of 5, my mother was sent by the University of the Philippines to complete her masters degree in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  When we returned, my aunties thought I was lucky that at such a young age, I had already started travelling. I did not know what that meant.  Destiny was spoken.
It was not until I was 12 when I was again taken along by my mother to South Australia. This time, the same university sent her to complete her PhD. Being at that age, and given my mother’s academic timelines meant that I stayed in Australia for five years. I must have been 18 when we returned.  The same set of aunties told me, that I was lucky that I have travelled at such a young age. This time, I started to realize why people thought it travelling was good. You get to see places, meet people and experience the culture. 

It was my stay in Australia that I started to have an understanding of who I was. I guess it was because I was there at a time when young people start to discover their own identity. Having come from a non-native English speaking country, I was not allowed by their educational system to enrol in language classes. The main stream students received formal foreign language training on either Greek, Japanese or German. I together with migrants from Eastern Europe – had to take English as Secondary Language. In this class, my teacher introduced the Australian way of life, culture and more importantly their manner of speech.  I guess this explains where I got my accent from. 

My mother was very careful and honest in claiming that our stay in Australia was temporary. She did not promote speaking English at home. She encouraged the Filipino way of life inside the house.
That was not easy for me. I was growing up as an Australian when at school but a Filipino when at home. In the absence of any other relatives and Filipino friends and mentors in a foreign land – I found that it was hard to be a Filipino. I did not know how to be a Filipino. Even though I spoke Filipino language, my ways, actions and even thought processes were not.  I was in turmoil. 

You can tell that by the age of 18 that I was a confused person. This was complicated by the fact that by this age, we needed to go back to the Philippines.  I was angry with my mother. I had wished that she had never taken me to Australia so that I will not be foreign thinking.  

Many fights, quarrels and disappointments came about after returning to the Philippines. I so desperately wanted to find myself – as a Filipino.  With this, I volunteered to enrol at the same university system as my mother’s – but this time to give myself space – I chose the University of the Philippines Mindanao. Destiny was spoken. 

The distance from anyone I knew gave me the serenity to identify the things that I like. These included the food, friends, clothes, movies, music, …. In short daily items that a normal Filipino will like, within a Filipino environmental setting.  I finally found my Filipino identity. 

So after a year of unlimited space, I agreed to return home to continue my studies at the University of the Philippines Los Banos. Destiny was spoken.

After earning my Bachelor’s degree, I found that I needed to satisfy my love for science research. And so I chose my first job as a research associate for the University of the Philippines Diliman – at the Marine Science Institute. 

Having such a role meant that we travelled to different places within Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to gather samples for our research. Destiny was spoken

After doing this for 3 years, reality started to bite at me. I needed a job that will not only satisfy my scientific research interests but also allow me to afford some of the after basic things in life.  The world of clinical research offered a refuge for me. 

I had the background, research experience and interests to work as a clinical research associate. This job, entailed occasional international travels in addition to regular monitoring of research sites within the Philippines. Meetings were held in Beijing, Taipei, other parts of South East Asia and even Europe. One day I will be in Manila, the next Cebu, Iloilo and then Davao, always returning home for the weekend to do my laundry. I did this for 5 or 6 years. Destiny was spoken

I have moved on since then. I am now a systems trainer for my company. Being a trainer, my frequent domestic trips were replaced with regular international trips within the Asia Pacific Region. I would be training in Singapore one week, the next Taiwan, the week after in cities within China, Japan, Korea, Australia and so on. Destiny was spoken.

Destiny was spoken.  It was recently revealed to me that my choices in life involved some form of travel. Never have I considered embarking on a phase of my life because there was travel involved. It was always the choice that came first then the travel. Why is this so. 

I go back to my grandfather. Whether there was any merit to reading my palm I do not know. What matters is that my grandfather spoke of my future. Destiny was spoken and now the truth is revealed.


This was Nathaniel's icebreaker speech. It was performed during the club meeting last July 26, 2012 in the ACCI building.

1 comment:

Jun Roy said...

Elegantly written. This looks like an advanced speech to me. Repeating the phrase "destiny was spoken" several times is a good technique. I hope I was there to hear it.


Related Posts with Thumbnails