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Sunday Lifestyle

Working hard for our family

MANO-A-MANO - Adel Tamano -

What a hectic week! On Monday morning, I took the early flight to go to Cagayan de Oro to attend to my duties as dean of the College of Law at Liceo University. It was a busy but productive day on Monday since I got to talk with the president of the University and he approved the College of Law’s proposal to provide full scholarships for academically deserving (meaning at least cum laude) graduates, but underprivileged or financially-challenged persons who want to pursue their dream of becoming lawyers. (I’ll flesh this out further in a future article.) On Tuesday, I was again on an early flight, this time to back to Manila, to attend to an important hearing before the Court of Appeals. On our way to the hearing, from our Ortigas law office, my associate’s car overheated  I think it was the hottest day of summer  and so I had to walk a part of the way, in my suit and in the scorching heat of a Manila summer, to attend the hearing at the Court of Appeals. Wednesday was another busy day with court hearings, review of pleadings, and client meetings. Thursday was more of the same, with the addition of preparing and hosting my show on ANC, Tamano Perspective: Chief Justice on Trial, and joining Erwin Romulo and Gang Badoy on “Rock Ed Radio” on Jam 88.3. Friday I had client meetings and a hearing in Makati. And, the fact that our office was currently understaffed meant I had to do more than a bit of heavy lifting workwise. Whew! Just writing all this down made me tired.

So why do I work so hard? Obviously, part of it is because I, like most of you, have bills to pay but the financial aspect of work wouldn’t be enough to motivate me to do this much work. The simple and corny answer is that I, like most fathers, work like a dog to build a better future for my family. My wife and I often joke about how “rich” we were before we had kids  both of us were working as lawyers with good firms, she with Sycip Salazar law office and I with the law firm of Estelito P. Mendoza. Saving and preparing for the future wasn’t a priority for us then and we were a bit more indulgent in how we spent our income. But now with two kids, and with our eldest, Santi, having autism, the need to prepare and save for the future becomes paramount.   

Having children will change you and for me, I believe, it changed me for the better. Specifically, regarding work, I’m much more disciplined now and even when I’m tired or bored  or just plain lazy  I power through and do what I have to do in order to provide for my family. This actually benefits my clients and those that I serve because I care more for my work since I know that if I do a lousy job, then my prospects for keeping my clients and improving my career, are diminished, which, ultimately, will adversely affect how I’ll be able to provide for my family. Not that I didn’t give value to doing my work excellently before I had my children but I can honestly say that knowing that my kids’ future is on the line when I do my work is something that gives me the little extra push I need when work becomes difficult.

And make no mistake about it, work can be a real pain. Sure, it is true that you should follow our passion and find work that you can enjoy. However, the reality is that, even in the most enjoyable work, to do your best and to perform at the highest level, you will have to do things that may be boring and tedious. Let me give an example. I loved my work as university president of PLM (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila). Being part of the team that provided the highest quality education to the underprivileged or financially challenged college and graduate-level students was both exciting and enriching. But a significant portion of my time as university president was used up in signing stacks upon stacks of papers, usually referring to appointments and other administrative matters. These administrative matters would have already been extensively discussed and the necessary policy decisions already reached but you still had to do the mechanical act of signing to memorialize or make it official. And when you are tacked to oversee an institution with nearly 10,000 students and hundreds of employees and stakeholders, then there will be many papers to sign.

My point is simple: one of the great motivators for us to work optimally is to do our work, not for ourselves, but for others. For me, the best motivator is keeping my family in mind. As an aside, this is one of the reasons I’ve foregone any plans for politics or seeking elective office is that when I was immersed in politics, as the spokesman for the Opposition and later as a candidate, I became a truly selfish person and put my career ahead of my family. This was, to be sure, one of the worst decisions of my life and something that I will never repeat. Even more simply: putting family in the center of your life is the best decision that any family man can make. It will give you focus, inner strength, motivation, and direction.

As a final point about work, you should love what you do or, if you can’t, then do it for those you love. At work, we are bombarded by all sorts of temptations to slack off  simple stuff like doing Facebook instead of reviewing your files, chatting with co-workers too much so that you miss a deadline, or something as basic as being physically at work but having your mind somewhere else, which essentially is not concentrating on the tasks at hand. And, being human, it is understandable that we will slack off once in a while. But what we should never forget are two things: one, that there are people who depend on us, not just our clients but, more importantly, our family; and two, that work is a blessing. I disagree with the way work is often portrayed as mere toil and perhaps even a burden  or a curse  placed by God on us. No, work is a blessing. Work, whatever it may be, as long as it is lawful and ethical, imbues us with great dignity. I have a deeper respect for the MMDA or LGU employees that I see sweeping and cleaning our city streets than I do the rich and perhaps more educated person who, instead of doing an honest day’s work, just lives off the generosity of his family. 

So while my week may have been hectic, busy, even frantic at times, I am full of gratitude to have my work and I’m content knowing that my family will benefit from the fruits of my labor.

CHIEF JUSTICE COLLEGE OF LAW COURT OF APPEALS ERWIN ROMULO AND GANG BADOY ESTELITO P FAMILY FRIDAY I LICEO UNIVERSITY WORK
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