Stumbling blocks or stepping stones?
Stumbling blocks or stepping stones?
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Stones are stones,” said Fr. Dave Concepcion, parish priest of Sta. Maria Gorretti parish in Manila, during an online recollection to celebrate his sacerdotal anniversary. “But it is up to you to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”

Indeed, a stone is a stone. A rock is a rock. A boulder, a boulder. But stones can take us the distance, especially if they lift you from the current of a running stream as you try to cross it.

A boulder on your path can either be an inconvenience or a platform. Stepping on a boulder allows you to get a better perspective of what lies ahead.

And rocks bundled together form a robust foundation for any edifice — in fact, rocks build edifices.

Interestingly, what some see as stumbling blocks are perceived simply as “normal occurrences” by others. Indeed, attitude can either be a stumbling block or a stepping stone.

My late father Frank Mayor was very hardworking, and he sent my sisters and me to the best schools he could afford. But his mantra had always been, “Study hard, work hard” whenever I would share with him my dreams, dreams that were yet unaffordable at the time. But before my father passed away in 2010, he saw his daughters living most of their dreams  (they weren’t atmospheric, but they were dreams) because they did as he had counselled. In my case, I believe I  turned what could have been the stumbling block of not being able to afford certain aspirations into boulders of motivation.


Inspired by the recollection of Father Dave, I asked several movers and shakers how they turned their stumbling blocks into “stepping stones.”

Dr. Andrew L. Tan, chairman and CEO Megaworld Corp.

Growing up in a modest family, I saw how things that you don’t have or can’t have can lead you to take another path or option in life. But eventually, this new path or option could turn into something better for you — something we usually call a “blessing in disguise.”

I remember back in college when I used to walk home from UE. I would usually pass by some shops like bakeries, hardware stores, bazaars and eateries, which later fascinated and inspired me to learn that they were owned by the families of my schoolmates.

When we graduated college, I saw these schoolmates of mine working in their family businesses and stayed there for long. As for me, since my family didn’t own any business, I took the path of working in an office and later pursued my dream of also having my own companies. And the rest was history.

Miguel G. Belmonte, president and CEO, The Philippine Star

To be honest, I could not think of any stumbling blocks in my life. Of course, there have been numerous challenges, and we face tough situations all the time, but I’ve been very lucky in life. I believe in always praying for God’s help and guidance, then doing my best in whatever I do. Whatever will be the outcome is God’s will and I just accept it, whether it’s what I wanted or not.

I’ve been blessed in life, am thankful and hope that I can somehow deserve some of the blessings that have come my way.

Korina Sanchez-Roxas, broadcast journalist

After decades of being in frontline news I really thought I would breathe my last and fall dead of old age while on-air newscasting. Ha! Ha! Ha!

But then, twists of fate. I ended up marrying a political candidate. This shortened my news career, at least for a while. This also pushed me to decide to retire from employment three years ago and much earlier than mandatory retirement age.

I was tempted to fret and be sad about it. But then, I’m hardly one to be and remain a victim of circumstance. My DNA is of reinvention and making lemonade of lemons. So, I became a businesswoman.  I had now the time to get into other passions. Like rescuing animals on the streets. Setting up and strengthening my social media platforms... and all these have become quite fulfilling as well as lucrative.

The unexpected recent closure of my home network ABS-CBN has left many devastated and maybe even desperate. I feel the stumbling blocks that were of before have actually helped me get ahead of this unfortunate event. I am much stronger and more stable to withstand this tsunami. And truly, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And with every stumble, I continue the practice of building from it.

Dr. Geraldine Mayor, psychiatrist

I don’t think I have seen anything as a stumbling block. I thought hard, but nothing jumps out at me.  I don’t expect anything to be easy or always go smoothly, so what others see as “stumbling blocks” are just normal occurrences to me.

Fr. Dave Concepcion

You have to understand, stones are stones. They are all the same, but how you are going to use them is up to you. Your stumbling block can also be your stepping stone. Kaya minsan kung ano ‘yung kahinaan mo, ginagamit ‘yon ng Diyos upang ikaw ay lumago. (Sometimes, your weakness can be used by God to make you flourish.) That will happen only if you ask, “Lord, in what way can I grow with this?”

Learn from Job. Believe that all things will work for good for those who love the Lord (and believe) that you will not be tested beyond your strength.

(You may e-mail me at Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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