Saturday, October 31, 2009

This Is It! trumps Just Do It!

Move over "Just Do It". "This Is It" is now destined to be the 2nd greatest string of 3 words to ever inspire (after "I love you" and its variants).


Dubbed as the "Greatest concert that never happened", this movie will be talked about for many years to come and "This Is It" will have its place in personal promises, campaign speeches, marketing slogans, love songs and many a battlecry.

The movie, composed of a carefully stitched series of rehearsals for Jackson’s summer 2009 London concerts, is reality concert at its best. While Michael knew he was being filmed during rehearsal, surely, he did not know that this would be his last curtain call.

I watched the movie out of curiosity but came out awed. Now I know why Michael Jackson is considered as a musical genius and a true artist by his multitude of supporters, and even by his worst critics. I must confess that while I heard his music before, I was never a real fan. I could listen to his songs or watch his MTVs several times without tiring of it but I never sought out to buy an album or listen to it out of my own free will. But after seeing this movie, I realize that it is not really his unique music or upbeat dance moves that earned him the monicker "king of pop". Rather it was his boundless imagination and creative passion to inspire people to shine their brightest even when it was just practice. Michael reassured his team that it was OK to be human and make mistakes; "that's what rehearsals are for". And yet, he never compromised. Each dance move, rhythmic beat, hand gesture and sequined costume was part of a grander scheme to win the hearts and minds of his audience.

I feel that "This is It!", in more ways than one is far superior to another commercialized literary invention: Nike’s “Just Do It!”. “This is It” announces to the oneself and to the rest of the world that what is about to happen next is the culmination of a series of carefully thought out actions, perhaps because there is no promise of a second chance. “Just Do It” pushes action over too much thought, which may be a reflection of today’s video game mindset where people think they have multiple lives and pause and restart buttons when things go wrong. This is It! emerges from within. Just Do It! is something that is often driven from the outside. This is It vs. Just Do It. Quality vs. Quantity, Thought vs. Action. Reality vs. Image. Internal vs. External. Great vs. Average. Forever vs. Now. Heto na vs. Sige na.

This is It! reminds me to stop my unconscious quest for the all too common epitaph of the “Greatest dad who was never home” or the “Greatest husband I wish I knew.”Today is not a simple dress rehearsal for me for the rest of my life. Today could be the last chance for me to lovingly kiss my wife and thankfully embrace my 3 children. Today may be the last chance I have to ask forgiveness from my Lord God for my sins of commission and omission. I will not let this day go to waste by doing things half-heartedly thinking that this is just practice and that the real game is still to come. I will not withhold my dance of joy to the time when I am rich, or think I'm rich. I will live this day with utmost passion and zest and thankfulness. I will not conserve my energy for another day for that day is not promised me. All I have is today. "This is it!"

To hear the song, "This Is It"  hyperlink on the right side of this blog.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Surrogates? Facebook and SMS

I like watching movies. The larger-than-life screen and detached but captive setting enhance the movies' ability to magnify/ abstract/ simplify and distill  streaming snapshots of  life in past, present and future versions. I especially enjoy the Sherlock Holmes exercise which I can't help but do at the end of the movie during which I second guess what message or "moral" lesson was being conveyed by the ever artistic directors and  imaginative writers. In the past, I have let these flood of thoughts keep me entertained for hours after the movie ends, only to be forever lost in sleep and the wake-up-joe realities of everyday life.

But now there's technology. Blogs. And doggone, its free and simple. So, as a first attempt to try to salvage my sanity and stoke the flickering fire of hopeless writing passion that remains within me, here I go with trying to guess what Surrogates, the movie starring Bruce Willis, was all about. And, no, I haven't gone to the movie website or read any reviews about it. Not yet.

The movie was set in the distant future, a time when technology allowed human beings to use life-like robots, or surrogates to do everything better: go to work, eat, make love and lust, hang out without the risk of death, injury or rejection.  The only thing the human has to do is to sit back in the comforts of his room, attach a device that allows him or her to see, feel, taste and experience everything the surrogate does, that is until the surrogate robot comes home and needs to be charged. The surrogates, which need to have the neurosignature of the human controlling it , can be made to look younger and prettier, jump higher and be stronger than the real thing. The surrogates became so good in fact,  that everyone, including Willis aging wife, no longer felt comfortable going out into the real world to compete against  the other dashing and perfect surrogates.

Surely, this is all fiction and will never happen in our lifetimes. You're right of course until you realize the extent to which technology already allows us to project only our best foot forward. Most facebook pages contain the best photos that we have, never mind if they were taken 10 years and 20 pounds ago.  I doubt whether there is anyone who actually shows all the photos taken from their digital cameras. No, no, no. My best guess from my own guilty experience is that photos are carefully selected and uploaded based on which ones show the good and fun side of us during certain events. In some way, facebook has become our surrogate face. Not in the future. But today.

And SMS or texts? Probably our surrogate language. Why risk saying something wrong when speaking live with another human being. Isn't it supremely better to carefully select our words, erase or modify at will prior to sending it? And of course, put a smiley face or attach a photo to make it personal. No fear. No rejection.

This blog post? My surrogate unpublished book. Email? My surrogate letter. Cable TV and Playstation 3? My children's surrogate babysitters. The internet? My surrogate world. If you are still reading this, then I rest my case. Do you dare think of the day when all these perfect things are taken away?The movie, Surrogate,  proposes that when that moment comes, then we start to live.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Permanently Present!


Since 1994, I have been blessed with the privilege of coaching MBA students of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business in Makati and Cebu and soon, the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health in Pasig. As of 2009, I have "challenged" and "inspired"more than 1,300 students to improve their personal brands.
For all these years, I have continuously upgraded the learning systems I share with my students particularly the lecture files and templates. Evolving from hardcopies, to softcopies in CDs, to softcopies sent via email or shared in googlegroups, here is a way of permanent presence- files on the web...24/7 availability not just to one class but for future and past classes as well.

I hope this continues to inspire my team of students to be the best brands they are destined to be. (Prof. Bong De Ungria, Oct. 2009)