Saturday, August 15, 2009

Into the Unknown

It was exactly one week since I wrote my last blog but a lot of things happened so fast in those six days in between... A lot of things that can make my page burst if I write it all. As I opened my blog and read the comments from my friends, this one hit me bull’s eye:

Dan Denardo said...

"SS, I've been on both sides of this equation. Being on EITHER side is terribly difficult. The good news is that each time I was in this situation (either side) I was in God's hands. And when I was told to take a "different lane", God had a better plan for me."

(Dan, I hope you won't mind putting you on my page. Your words said it all for me this week.)

An emergency meeting was called by our General Manager Tuesday morning. I had to shorten my trip and go back to head office on the next available flight.

"We are adopting a more viable structure that can withstand the difficult challenges we are facing while keeping profitability. Because of this, we will offer redundancy package to 71 headcount: 43 Sales Reps, 9 District Managers and 19 people in Head Office. Out of those 19, three will be from Senior Management...." then I couldn't hear anymore. What? Three Senior Managers? Who? When? Why?

I had been in this company for the last 23 years. It is the largest pharmaceutical company in Europe and the third in the world. I was a part of the growth of our subsidiary. I started as a Sales Rep and worked hard to reach my way up to Senior Management, which is two notches below the GM. I survived two big mergers and I have seen a lot of people come and go. I know this was coming but I haven't seen myself leaving this way.

"All positions with several incumbents will be assessed to know who should be left behind."

To leave or not to leave, that was the question. I had two options: To continue enjoying the company's comfortable benefits while dragging myself to work and facing greater pressure OR To take my generous tax-free redundancy package and explore new possibilities while facing uncertainties. I chose to leave. It was the lesser evil.

When the verdict was given I was told that I was one of the two strongest contenders for the remaining post but they did not choose me. I want to believe that it was because I told them I wanted to leave. At the back of my mind, I think the GM simply liked the other one. But deep in my heart, I know that this was God's hands working miracles in my life. He was answering my prayer to give me what is best.

Yes, I am now at the other side of the equation. Last week I fired three people, this week they "fired" me. Last week I was lamenting of the hurt and pain I inflicted. This week I am silently suffering the pain of separation and the fear of going into the unknown.

I just sent an emotion-filled farewell letter to my team before writing this. I had to do it because I need to thank a lot of people who touched my life. I had to do it because my team also needs closure and assurance that everything is okay.

But am I really okay?

I haven't really cried yet. Maybe because I do not want to show that I am hurt. They have a name for it. Pride. Maybe I haven't realized the enormous impact of this event to my life and that of my family. I am still in the process of sorting out from the chaos while groping blindly to cling to whatever can make me stable.

Where am I heading?

As part of coping up, I computed my package and started thinking where I should put it and how much I would spend. I also listed the things I always wanted to do but have not done because I was busy.

Here is my short list of things to do after August 31:

  1. Buy a good camera and pursue my interest in photography.
  2. Book a 1 week vacation in a local resort and just chill.
  3. Take a 1 week trip to Nepal or any exotic Asian destination.
  4. Attend Toastmasters Club Meetings again.
  5. Put up a small food business.
  6. Enroll in a gym.
  7. Start painting again.
  8. Revive my bonsai garden.
  9. Renovate my room.
  10. Update my files with headhunters and start looking for another "lane"

Looking at my list, I realized I have a lot of things to do with so many possibilities ahead. After August 31, my week will start grinding at a different pace in a different plane. Until I start that week, I will never know how it will feel to live a different life in a different world.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

End Of The Line

What would you do when confronted with this sign? Surely you would simply change lane right away. Easy.

But this experience was never easy for the three people under me this week. They suddenly found their lane was blocked and there is no way to go but take another path.

This was not the first time I did this. I have fired several people in the past. But doing this very unpleasant job is never easy even with much experience. It is never simple to tell a person to leave, even with all the valid and varied reasons: incompetence or dishonesty, redundancy, downsizing or closure.

I cannot forget the look in their faces when I broke the news to them. No matter how kind and humane I did it, the news still fell like a heavy rain drenching their spirit. The glow in their eyes was suddenly snuffed like a candle light blown by a strong, unforgiving wind. Encouraging words that there is life after this may have sounded like a distant echo. It was hard to comprehend. It was irrelevant at the moment.

Yes I know that justice was served. Between me and my God, He knows I just did my work. But at the end of the task I cannot help but lament. It was never easy to break someone's heart, much more, someone's dreams and aspirations. But in times like this when I was left with no other option but to carry it out, I have to do it with a strong heart.

It seems just like yesterday when I nurtured them with encouragement and motivating words. I took care of them, honed their skills, and stoked their eagerness to learn. Between me and my God, He knows I did my best. Now it is the end of the line. I was writhing with pain. Mine was just miniscule compared to theirs. The agony I felt was nothing in contrast to them wondering what lies ahead.

I cannot comfort them but I hope they find solace in these verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Tribute To Cory Aquino

It was raining when I woke up Saturday morning, but unlike my usual happiness when there is rain, this one was a sad rainy Saturday morning.

I cannot control my tears when I learned that our former President, Corazon Aquino, passed away after battling with colon cancer for more than a year. I feel sad because she is gone even if I know that she will live in our hearts. I am consumed with sorrow because she lost her battle with cancer despite surviving many battles in her lifetime - the incarceration and assassination of her husband, Senator Benigno Aquino; the EDSA Revolution; her 6 years term as President of the Philippines; 9 coup attempts to topple her administration; and the countless problems given by her celebrity daughter, Kris Aquino. I am really in grief even if I know I should be relieved that finally her sufferings are over and she is now in a better place.

How can I fit all her accomplishments in a page in my blog? She was larger than life. How can I do justice to her accomplishments? Her life was spent in honest, dedicated and selfless service to the people. How can I honor her more? Millions were already written about her, from memoirs and blogs to newspapers, magazines and history books.

She was the symbol of our hope for freedom from a 20-year dictatorship. She drew millions of people during the 1986 EDSA Revolution, to fight through peaceful means and stand to say, ENOUGH! I was there. She became the first woman leader and the most influential icon in Asia. She became the inspiration of 9 peaceful revolutions, including the Tienanmen Square Demonstration and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. She was nominated for Nobel Prize for Peace and was named Woman of the Year by Time Magazine. Her speech in the US Congress was interrupted by numerous applause and standing ovation by men from the most powerful nation in the world.
But beyond all those titles, accolades and accomplishments, she is "Tita Cory" (meaning Auntie Cory) to all of us. Intelligent, kind, selfless, brave. She embodies the picture of the real Filipino.

I grieve for the passing of an icon but I know that her legacy will always live in our hearts.
Thank you, Tita Cory, for sharing your life and touching us.
I want to share the poem written by her husband to her when he was imprisoned during the Martial Law Regime. This was made into a song by Jose Mari Chan.

I have fallen in love
With the same woman three times
In a day spanning nineteen years
Of tearful joys and joyful tears.

I loved her first when she was young
Enchanting and vibrant, eternally new
She was brilliant, fragrant
and cool as the morning dew.
I fell in love with her the second time
When first she bore her child and mine
She's always by my side, the source of my strength
Helping to turn the tide.

I fell in love again
with the same woman the third time
Looming from the battle her courage will never fade.
Amidst the hardships she has remained
Undaunted and unafraid
She is calm and composed.
She is God's lovely maid.