july 4, 2001

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Send me some loving. Drop a line at my guestbook.


 I have not always been interested in other people's lives. There was a time where I was quite preoccupied by my own world and my own problems. I've learned since how interesting the people around me are. I've learned to look around me and observe people as they go about their day.

There is voyeurism in the interest, I know. And yet, didn't Marley's ghost in Dickens' A Christmas Carol say that man's business must be his fellow man? Shouldn't we also involve ourselves in other people?

I don't mean for someone to go and meddle in other people's business. That is not what I mean. What I mean is for a person to be actively interested in the stories of the people around him.

For example, do you know the story of the storekeeper you buy your school supplies from? Do you know how many girlfriends that person you sat beside the bus had?


 It's sometimes difficult for us to engage in conversation with a total stranger. We've been told so many times not to talk to strangers. To a point, I believe this to be true. You really don't know whether that person is with a kidnapping gang. Yet, weren't our closest friends once strangers too?

I admit, I find it really difficult to strike up a conversation with someone I don't know. It wasn't too long ago that I was in a party in such a predicament. I did meet new people, but looking back I could have made more friends. I don't regret meeting Noelle, Rianne, and Chona, though.

While I was eating lunch, I decided to talk to the owner of the small Mexican stall that I regularly go to. She was in her mid- to late-forties, and she was friendly and engaging.

"I've become interested in other people's stories. It's amazing that even if you claim that your life is boring, you'll find these sparkling moments of comedy, drama, etc," I told her.

"That's true," she agreed.

I found out her opinions on politics, the Philippine economy, life, education... I found out how she thought, how she felt about certain issues. I found out that she was quite passionate about her view on corruption in the government. I learned how her daughter got a job. I discovered a lot of things which I would never learn had I not been interested in her story.


Our Filipino teacher is quite the storyteller. He tells us of his experiences as a father, his in-laws, his cousin— he relates to us his life. At first I was uninterested. But then, when I started to listen I discovered a lot.

I discovered his views in life, and through his stories I learned who he was. I learned how he courted his wife, how he felt about the opposite sex, and his opinions on the positive qualities women look for in a man.

He was funny, down-to-earth, interesting, and charming. He had this way of telling his stories— you couldn't help listen to him.

My words cannot sufficiently describe the person. Mr. Ungriano, our Filipino teacher, cannot be boxed into this word or that. You have to meet him, because what I will say will pale in comparison with the genuine article.


Even politicians hold me sway. I attended a talk about New Politics. Invited to the talk were Congressman Butch Abad and Congressman Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna. Just the mention of Mr. Ocampo's name served to get me interested.

As I listened to Congressman Ocampo's introduction by one of the faculty members, I was impressed by the story of his life. It was quite full of action— from his activism to his abduction to his rise in politics as a congressman.

Politics is viewed as a dirty business. But aren't you interested in how a politician lives his life? Aren't you interested in his story?

Everyone has a story to tell— and there is a lot to learn from a person's life story.

I pray that when I am old and I look back on my life, I see these people who have graced it and still remember their stories, their faces, their personalities. Because I believe that the people who you take interest in will eventually be the ones who will take interest in you.

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