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Remind Me to Smile

(Taken by Orli Javier during one of our trips to the squatters of Taguig, Philippines)

I can’t smile. I never really got used to smiling. I wish I could though. I wish I could smile a genuine smile – not my current one that looks like I have a stick up my butt.

I was looking through photos of mine, particularly the ones related to the communities where we have social development projects. I was quite surprised to find so many smiling pictures. It’s possible that Filipinos are just some of the happiest people on the planet, but it’s probably more than that.


This picture on the left is one of my favorites. Not so much for the technical image quality, but for the story it tells:

A half-naked father, poorer than poor, but with a content smile as he looks at his daughter.

I thought to myself, “To be able to smile though having nothing, that is a luxury money can’t purchase.”

Then I realized I was wrong.

The father had something – his daughter. And she was the source of his joy. So I corrected myself, “To have something, even one thing, that fulfills you, that is the greatest luxury.”

Luxury can be defined as an activity that gives great pleasure, especially one rarely indulged in. Fulfillment and contentment are indeed luxuries, at least to me they are. They’ve been rare lately. Satisfaction does not come as easy as when I was a child. My joys seem fewer, and many short-lived. Every victory and achievement must be followed by something greater, and must be achieved even faster. How many times have I traded away something that actually fulfills me?

But I’m learning. Actually, I’m re-learning. And relearning is really more about reminding yourself more than discovering something new.

I’m a forgetful guy. So I made a short list to remind myself:
1. Find a reason to be grateful for everything in anything.
2. Enjoy things for what they are, not for what they could be.
3. Fall into God’s hands, not just His plan.
4. Remember the “who” is more valuable than the “what”, “where”, and “when”.
5. Remember the reasons why.

Oh, and remember to smile…