My Lolo has given me a legacy that forms the foundation for who I am as a professional. I’m first generation Filipino-American. My mom came to the U.S. with her family of 11 when she was very young after my grandfather (pictured) served in WWII. It is my mother’s father that I pay tribute to through this article. The stories he told, the life he lived, and the traditions he passed down stay vivid with me to this day. Here are his top ten lessons:
1) Education first – Lolo worked hard to ensure that my mom and her eight siblings had what they needed for school and always encouraged my aunts and uncles to pursue higher education.
2) Family matters – When it came to relaxing, eating dinner, vacations or celebrating a holiday - the family had to be together.
3) Be fearless – Lolo used to play a magic trick with a knife that captivated me and my sisters. While he did this in good fun, he proved that fear could be overcome with preparation, practice and showmanship.
4) Remember to have fun – He was amazing at mahjong - probably the best mahjong player I know. He used to use mahjong to break up tense family arguments and oftentimes, it did.
5) Use all of your senses to make a decision – Not only was Lolo able to play mahjong by feeling the tiles, he had the skillset of some of the best poker players when it came to reading his opponents. He also taught me to recognize the art and science in all things I did before making a decision.
6) Remember where you came from – Lolo often told stories about growing up in the Philippines. His humble beginnings helped him appreciate the things we had in the U.S.
7) Be open to opportunities and possibilities – Lolo took different jobs when he came to the U.S. With my Lola, they managed to provide for their family even during hard times.
8) Be proud of being an American – Lolo flew the American flag in front of his house, wore the American flag on his hat and made sure that his family knew how to speak good English. Though I wish I learned how to speak Ilocano and Tagalog from him and my parents, I know he wanted to ensure his children and their children’s children were seen as Americans.
9) Help the less fortunate. Always. - Even though he and Lola struggled paycheck to paycheck, what little they could give they did – from feeding and clothing the homeless to volunteering at church.
10) Be clear about what kind of leader you want to be and make sure that it shows in all that you do, say, and how you act at work – don’t just rely on working hard. Lolo served in the military with distinguished honor but never got promoted while in active duty. I think this was one of his biggest regrets and it showed in how he defined success at work. For Lolo, it was less about what salary he made and more about the role he played.