For Men

Things I learned before I turned 41: As a public servant and family man

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? - Alfred Vargas - Philstar.com
Things I learned before I turned 41: As a public servant and family man

This is the part two of "Things I learned before I turned 41" by Alfred Vargas. Read the first part on life and acting.

Hello readers! I’m back and I’d like to continue sharing with you 20 of my 41 life lessons, this time, as a public servant and a family man. Last week, I shared how grateful I was to be 41 and how every day is still an evolving process of learning, gratitude, and enlightenment.

This week, I’ll be sharing a more personal side of me—being a husband and a father and the enormous responsibility (and fulfillment) that comes with it. While I try to separate my personal life from my public life, the two roles intersect, because they both teach and inspire me to be a man for others, the most authentic possible way.

As a public servant

At the height of my television career with GMA 7 Network in 2009, a lot of people were shocked when I suddenly decided to quit showbiz and run for councilor in Quezon City for the 2010 local elections. Many doubted my ability to become a public servant just because of the fact that I was an actor. They looked down on actor-politicians and I felt it, first-hand—from news articles to gossip columns, from derogatory comments to actual cursing, and from fans to total strangers.

At one point, someone even said “Ang kapal ng mukha mo, wala kang alam diyan!” It was very hurtful. But I had to swallow it. And I did not waiver. I knew that with this decision, I can help effect positive change with impact. So, with the support of my family and people who know me well, I carried on and became a Quezon City councilor in 2010. That was 10 years ago. I am now on my third and final term as a congressman.

And while time did fly by so quickly, so much has happened in that 10 years. After winning several awards for public service, including the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award for Public Service in 2019, here are some important things I want to share with everyone.

  1. Embrace the opportunity to be busy and stressed about things that bring positive change. It is a privilege. I see a lot of leaders complain about their jobs, schedule, challenges, etc. They see it as a burden and not as a privilege. Choose the latter.
  2. Many people will judge you, so appoint your own “judges.” These “judges” are the only credible people you should listen to in the midst of all the noise and fake news. Choose these few trusted friends. They will tell you the truth. They will be with you through thick and thin.
  3. Don’t try to solve everything. Just try to solve something, effectively.
  4. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
  5. There’s a very big difference between satisfaction and fulfillment. Be careful not to mix both. It’s very tempting to do so.
  6. Sincerity. No matter how eloquent or popular you are, people can tell if you are true to yourself and others. All actions should start from the heart.
  7. Service to humanity is the best work of life. This is another tenet from the JCI Creed.
  8. I’d rather be saved by criticism than be destroyed by praise. People crave for praise. Be careful. I know the feeling of being surrounded by “yes men.” Fire them if need be.
  9. Many opportunists bathe in the sorrows and misfortunes of the poor. They disguise it as being their “savior.” To truly help the poor, we need real solutions. Not photos ops, views and exposure.
  10. Listen first before anything. The best solutions do not come from the experts. They come from the people themselves.

As a husband and father

You’ll know she’s the one when you meet her. It’s hard to explain. It will just happen when you meet the love of your life. But you’ll never know what’s in store for you when you actually get married.

I was 28 years old when I met Yasmine in a town fiesta in Laguna. She was 20. Love at first sight, definitely. Destiny, definitely.

 It was so easy to fall in love with each other as we were young, idealistic, and even immature then. We had petty fights and argued on almost any topic: time, attention, jealousy, cultural difference (she’s half Italian), schedule, what food to order, what movie to watch, where to travel, the color of the belt I’m wearing, if I approve of what she’s wearing, etceta etcetea. Name it, we fought about it. All of it. Once, we even had an argument about who’s going to put down the phone first. It was crazy. But we survived it all, so far.

In retrospect, though extremely difficult, what was happening was that we were discovering ourselves, and growing up along the way. Having Yasmine in my life is the greatest blessing God has given me. I am happiest in knowing that she is the mother of my children. Here are some realizations that might be useful to you.

  1. Never give up whatever happens. What. Ever. Happens.
  2. Chivalry is not dead. It still works wonders even today. Especially today that there’s a scarcity of it. It expresses love effectively. Give her flowers from time to time. Write her old-fashioned love letters. Cook for her. You can even use your i-calendar alarms to remind you of these planned “surprises.”
  3. You will completely get to know your wife in the delivery room, with her shouting in excruciating pain, doing everything she can on her own, giving it all she’s got just to make sure your child makes it safely to the world. My love and respect for my wife surpassed all possible limits after.
  4. Don’t feed the ego, feed the soul. Pride caused me thousands of unnecessary arguments. Humility saved me millions.
  5. Never make promises when you’re happy. I once made her a promise right after winning an award, in my excitement and victory. I ended up saving for that promised handbag bag for several months. I kept my promise.
  6. Never decide when you are angry or hungry. This one’s obvious.
  7. Kindness nowadays is underrated. People have forgotten how essential this is to living a good life. Teach your children kindness. It is actually a life skill. It is what the world needs. Kindness should emanate from your children so that one day they can spread it to the world.
  8. If I can’t pass on to my kids a beautiful home or a hefty bank account, it’s okay. Leaving them with a good name is what is most important to me.
  9. If there’s an item in your home expenses that you shouldn’t mind spending on, it’s education of your children. Get the highest quality education you can get for your children. Borrow money if need be. This is one of the best investments you can ever give your child.
  10. The best education comes from home. No prestigious private school can teach your kids manners, decency, and respect if you do not practice it at home.

There you have it. Forty-one life lessons I learned both the hard way and the loving way from 41 years of living and seizing each day. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. They say life begins at 40, or 40 is the new 30, but I say to you, live each year as if it were the best year of your life and share your life lessons to the people around you too.

This is what it’s all about.


You may reach me via email [email protected] for comments, suggestions and questions, or on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube pages.








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