The sweetest joys are to freely serve and give
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - September 13, 2019 - 12:00am

I have been away too far and too long that my journey back to my beloved hometown, Ronda, was a landmark in my life. I am now surrounded by friends and relatives catching up with each other. It's going to be our fiesta in the next two days or so, and the smell of torta, humba, and lechon fill the rustic air, even as rains threaten to spoil the warmth of my welcoming.

Coming home to my old town after many decades of absence, I experienced the greatest joy I never felt before. I finally discovered the real meaning of living and realized the true purpose of life. I honored the invitation of my cousin and compadre, Mayor Terence Yap Blanco, and the municipal council, to share the story of my struggles and life, to give a seminar embellished by the glorified title of “The Secrets of Success in Value-Based and Principle-Driven Leadership”. Many people came, not just town officials but folks from the mountains too. My own relatives and friends, who wanted to hear about how a poor farming village boy transformed his life from a very simple farming existence to the complicated urban dog-eat-dog rat race.

Actually, it was just an “estorya” about how I transformed my life from that of a barefoot mountain village boy from the remote hinterland village of Langin, in the peripheries of the mountains of Apo, part of Sibonga, and the hills of Alambijud and the valleys of Colawin, Argao. My boyhood village is called Langin because it is very near the sky or “langit”. Figuratively, the mountains where I grew up were very far and high up there in the bosom of the skies. Indeed, on a clear day, I can see the apex of Mount Canlaon to the west and the shores of Tubigon, Bohol, to the east. From Pusodsawa, my sitio in Langin, I could see the belfries of both Ronda and Dumanjug. Now I am here in the bosom of people who really love me.

I have traveled far and wide into Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. My job, after retiring from both the private sector and from government, was lecturing in many conferences and conventions. A number of international as well as regional institutions retained my services to teach the realities and theories about labor migration, labor laws, and labor conventions. And so, every so often, I spend many long hours in international airports, alone with my laptop. Lecturing before aliens and foreign faces is my passion. But yesterday in Ronda, just telling my story before simple folks, farmers, fisherfolks, teachers, government clerks, students, and out-of-school youths, I felt a different kind of joy trying to tell them that there is much hope in life.

Telling my story and sharing fundamental values and principles in life, human relationships, family challenges, and great odds, and the lessons I learned was my service to my beloved people, freely given without expecting anything in return. In my speeches and lectures abroad, they billet me in five-star hotels with a limousine and all the amenities. They give me diplomatic welcome with champagne as if I were a celebrity. But still, I would feel some air of pretentiousness in all about it. I am just a mountain village boy feeling lost in the lack of genuine and sincere affections. But I felt then that I was just a paid service-provider. Here in my town, I really feel loved, appreciated, and valued beyond money and material considerations. I serve my people finally after serving many foreigners and other Filipinos.

Of course, before this homecoming, I gave some scholarships and jobs to my cousins' kids. I took care of their emergency needs. But I do all those in confidence. I give them legal, moral, and financial assistance. My greatest joys and fondest memories of true happiness is when I serve them and give them some solutions to their woes. These, to me, give me the real meaning of living.

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