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Thursday, May 6, 2010

When a Train Runs without a Railway -- my first in Toastmasters


At late night, I always have the tendency to dig up my old files and take a look at each one of them.  And just recently, I found my old Toastmasters Club manual where my very first speech delivered in 2006 was inserted. It brought back good memories because our group not only allowed us to have the opportunity to hone our communication skills but it introduced us to wonderful friendships, it gave us the chance to have fun while learning and it taught us different perspectives and valuable lessons in life.  So let me say my thank you to Butter N' Toast and Toastmasters International, Cholo Garilao (who introduced me to the club), Ed Ebreo, Gege Sugue, Alvin Tan, Michelle Lim, Gina Mapua, Boom San Agustin, Tisha Timbang, Raju Mandhyan, and the late Mars Sy, among many others.

Well, unfortunately, I need to leave the group because of my erratic work sched but I still hope to make a comeback in the future. =) Anyway, let me share with you the memorable speech I'm talking about.  It's entitled "When a Train Runs without a Railway".


When a Train Runs without a Railway
by Ferdinand L. Bondoy

“For your safety, please do not step on the yellow platform edge.”

That’s not the premise of my speech. It’s just the famous line we hear every time we ride the Metro Rail Transit or more commonly known as the MRT. With the quality of life continuously regressing as years pass by, well in the Philippines to be more specific and politically correct, the construction of MRT is something that we should cheer about. At least, our generation could claim that we have now contributed something for the betterment of this nation. Now, we already have a choice if we don’t want to breathe the dreaded air circulating at EDSA or if we don’t want our EQ be tried and tested by the diabolic traffic congestion produced by this road. Well, that’s if there’s no obstacle orchestrated by Mother Nature or by people who wanted to end their lives by jumping at the railway. Ulk, how morbid I could be?

Don’t get me wrong, MRT is no fairy tale story at all. It has its own goose bumps. As a regular passenger, I am a witness to longer than anaconda lines of people buying train tickets or magnetic cards if you want to hear it that way; to the football like pushing and bumping of people just to get seated first; and during rush hours, to being physically intimate with the rest of the passengers no matter how each one smells!

That’s how it is when you ride that train, with a railway of course. But what if it runs without a railway? How possible could it be? It is a different trip then and let me take you into it.

At the first station south bound, there’s North Edsa. This is where people from almost all walks of life converge. Here, people really struggle to catch the first train to leave. If you’ve seen James Cameron’s film version of Titanic and you’ve remembered how the commoners were dying to get out of the ship, that’s how the MRT North Edsa station exactly looks like from 7:00 to 8:00 AM.

The first stops where at the Quezon Ave., GMA and Cubao stations; all in Quezon City, the so-called Hollywood of the Philippines because it houses all the major TV stations and studios in the country. And three of these stations have been a home to my first loved career that is video documentary production. I had my training in GMA, I wrote scripts for ABC and had a permanent program in ABS-CBN. Though the work demanded a lot of sacrifices from me --- letting go of weekends and holidays, not having normal hours of work and… of sleep, facing all sorts of people from the police scalawags to the most wanted criminals and enduring to work with some brutally frank and rude people --- I managed to enjoy my stint in this field as documentary production was my first love. 'But TV work is not that bad at all. I somehow enjoyed shooting elsewhere in the country, interviewing personalities and nostalgic people from the countryside, experiencing new things – both trivial and life threatening, and witnessing the pseudo-VIP treatment given by the public, especially some government people. But as I grow older, the time came when I have to let go of these ideals and accept the bitter – sweet reality of life… that is better salary is where the boring stuff is.

covering stories during my stint in ABS-CBN
 Then as the MRT moved from one station to another, I suddenly realized that I’m already at the Ortigas area, the so-called mecca of mass protests and the chamber of our country’s very own street parliament – thanks to our activists and self-proclaimed righteous people who used and abused the essence of this historical site. Why is this part significant to me? Not because I was in EDSA 1 – 2 – or 3 but because of my passion for history, nationalism and cultural identity. Thanks to my college days as my youthful idealism is still burning in my heart. But unlike most of our historians, I’m a lover of the purist culture and history – that is the pre-colonial era. A lot of people find it weird that I indulge myself in discovering these things in an age where western influence is very much accepted and well treated, while indigenous traits are treated otherwise. Well, that’s me; I love what everybody or most people hates.

College graduation day
Then the train passes through the Guadalupe station and as I look by at the side windows, I again had flashback attacks and this time, to a period way back, to the age of innocence. Though I engage a lot on debates on public policy, history and social issues, the other side of me is reflected in this station as I grew up in this district. Our barangay is part of its geographical sphere. My colleagues, I must confess, I am Peter Pan personified, not in my body and mind though… but in my heart and spirit. I still live in my Neverland as I still collect action figures, I’m still fascinated with special visual effects movies and animations and I buy videos of the cartoons I grew up with.

my childhood friends in Makati... the Daybreakers Unltd.! =) In photo are (from left): Jonjon Tomador, MuchaChoy, ValenTina, me, Leah Violeta, Mae Kandul, Maila-wit, Eugene Kalabaw and Ate Ghie your hair smells.
And then suddenly, the train approaches the Buendia and Ayala stations, the sentimental journey slowly slips out of my mind as these are the stations that remind me of my current situation – that is modern day slavery and glamorized caste system. But despite this reality check, the skyscraper of the Makati’s central business district gives me a new hope. It reminds me that there is still a space beyond the horizon, that there’s still a bigger world out there, and that there’s a lot more in life to explore. That’s why I continue to discover new knowledge and continue to challenge myself; and one of my latest discoveries is… the Toastmasters Club.

Ayala Avenue
As I go home everyday, I take a round trip of the MRT, from southbound to north bound, as we all do in our life. We may have pushed ourselves to the limits, overcame boundaries and became the best of ourselves, but at the end of the day, our hearts tell us to go back to our roots, to go back where we truly belong. And as I take that long and rigid train route once again, the stressful and tiresome day is overshadowed by my infinite desire to go home and be with my loved ones. This is where the simple me emerges, the one who would enjoy watching DVD at home, with my family or friends around, and of course, with pizza, chips and soda at the side.

our family. In photo are (from left): me, Mama, Mags, Ya Tojo, Te Tracy and Ya Lamil.
I took that train for it to take me to work but it brought me somewhere else. That was how the train ran… not on a railway though… but on a memory lane.

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