Jan 24, 2011

What are the keys to success in life?

Dear Filipino,
(Source: The Diplomatic Wife Blog.)
O Master, let me talk with thee, and pray tell, what are the keys to success really?

Thy humble servant,
MuQ (Made-up Questioner)

Dear MuQ,

Ah, your timing is impeccable, my friend!  I was just meaning to write about success because three "Filipinos" who exemplify the keys to success I wanted to talk about have been in the news lately.  So, without further ado, here's...

The first key: Genes. 

My dear MuQ, I know it's painful to hear for some, but there's just no getting around to it.  I mean, it's either you're beautiful or you're not; you're tall or you're not; you're model material or you're not.  And if you're beautiful, you're tall and you're model material, why, you can be the world's supermodel, of course!

And that's just what happened to our 5'9"" beauty, Danica Flores Magpantay, 17, who was recently declared winner of the 2011 Ford Supermodel of the World competition held in New York last Saturday, January 22.  Established by Eileen Ford in 1980, the Ford Supermodel of the World is reputed to be the largest and most prestigious international modeling competition in the world.

Besting more than 70 contestants from all over the world, the Fine Arts student from the University of the Philippines has the perfect genes because she is the daughter of Milagros “Lala” Flores, herself the winner of the Supermodel of the World Philippines in 1990.

But I'm sure you want to ask: "What do you do if, let's say, you want to beat the very best in something but you don't really have the perfect genes for it?  Do you just give up?"

No, of course not, dear student.  In fact, that question leads me to...

The second key:  Hard work.

By hard work, I mean, of course, you need to do what you need to do to be good at what you do.  That means practice, practice, practice.  Because if you practice hard enough, if you put in the work, nothing will faze you.  You'll be confident, you won't second-guess yourself, and you won't get rattled by anything and anyone when the moment of truth comes -- even if you're just, well, a "nobody" and you're going against the very best in a contest in which your opponents are the biggest celebrities and are being paid millions to be good at it: e.g., shoot balls.

This is exactly what Ricardo Reyes figured out early on.  Ricardo is only a busboy at Barney's Beanery in West Hollywood but after practicing during every break he got over the past 10 years, he humbled the biggest basketball professionals in Jimmy Kimmel Live!'s "Pop-a-Shot Challenge."

Lebron James came first, and Ricardo, wearing his trademark apron and unruffled demeanor, simply annihilated the self-proclaimed King, 72-42:

Another basketball royalty, Sir Charles Barkley, was next, and the result was the same -- a royal kicking in the fanny -- this time at 85-51:

Next up was Kobe Bryant, the reigning Finals MVP, who impressively put up a challenge but was still clearly overmatched, with the score settling at 82-58:

Now, one would think that other NBA professionals would have learned their lesson by this time, but Lamar Odom wanted to impress his Kardashious wife so badly that he almost lost her to The Man, 84-35:

Finally, the last challenger put up by Jimmy Kimmel was Carmelo Anthony.  The result was predictable, with Ricardo winning the match 72-38.  The comedian, bless his heart, had something up his sleeve though, and rewarded the unsuspecting Ricardo a beautiful red Ford Mustang.  Watch:

But MuQ, I hope you noticed that I placed the word Filipinos found in my very first paragraph in quotation marks.  What was my reason for that?

Well, very simple really: Despite Philippine Star's heart-warming news article dated January 19, 2011, and entitled "Fil-Am busboy outshoots Kobe," and many other Filipino articles and blogs similarly claiming the kababayan connection with him, the truth is, Ricardo is actually not Filipino

You heard it right here, MuQ: Ricardo is named like an ordinary Filipino and he looks like an ordinary Filipino, so many Filipinos assumed he's Filipino.  Can't blame them because the story is just such a feel-good, made-for-TV story.  But the guy is actually Mexican! 

Yes, according to Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated, Ricardo left Mexico City and migrated to the US about 20 years ago.

But just to make sure, I contacted Ricardo's manager, AJ Sacher, to confirm.  AJ's response?  "He's whatever you want him to be. :0"

Given AJ's response and since I'm The Filipino, I officially declare Ricardo "Honorary Filipino" on this blog.  And if anybody's got a problem with that, they know how to reach me.

Now, where are we?  Oh, right, the keys to success. 

MuQ, even if you have the genes, even if you put in all the hard work, you still need...

The third key: Luck.

Yes, MuQ: Luck is key.  Because to succeed, you need the stars to align for you; you need the gods to smile at you; you need divine intervention.

Most especially if you're going against priests!

That's what happened to Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban, who was appointed last January 11 as President of Seton Hall University, the oldest diocesan university in the United States.

Dr. Esteban has the genes: You see, both his parents were educators.  And before you get me wrong, let me tell you without equivocation that gleaning from Dr. Esteban's impressive credentials, I know he has also put in a lot of hard work.  After all, he had served a number of institutions prior to Seton Hall with distinction; he had provided exemplary leadership as university provost; and he had attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education as well as completed the Japan Management Program at the Japan-America Institute for Management Science.  He also holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Management at the UC Irvine, an M.S. in Japanese Business Studies from Chaminade University in Honolulu, and an M.B.A. and B.S. in Mathematics from the University of the Philippines.

Where's the divine intervention?

According to the New York Times, last spring, the university was looking for a new president and it had named two finalists for the job, both of whom were Catholic priests in keeping with the university's bylaws.  But for some unexplained and miraculous reason, both priests withdrew from consideration, forcing the search to start over.

Now what? 

Well, at the time, Dr. Esteban was the interim president and he impressed officials of the university so much that the university's Board of Regents unanimously voted to appoint him President following a resolution passed by the university's Board of Trustees creating an exception in his favor.
(Source: NY Times.)

Didn't I say gods have to smile at you?

And if you're a skeptic, let me assure you, Dr. Esteban's accomplishment is nothing to sneeze at.  According to Wikipedia:

Seton Hall is made up of nine different schools and colleges with an undergraduate enrollment of about 5,200 students and a graduate enrollment of about 4,500. Its School of Law, which is ranked by US News & World Report as one of the top 100 law schools in the nation, has an enrollment of about 1,200 students. For 2009, BusinessWeek's "Colleges with the Biggest Returns" ranked Seton Hall among the top 50 universities in the nation that open doors to the highest salaries. Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business is ranked 56 out of the top 100 undergraduate business schools and #1 in the state of New Jersey according to BusinessWeek.
Since its founding in 1856, the university has produced numerous heads of major businesses and institutions, professional athletes, members of the US Congress, and countless other well-known personalities and politicians, including the current New Jersey governor, Gov. Chris Christie, who is believed to be a possible candidate for the Republican presidential primary next year. 

So there you go, MuQ -- the keys to success: Genes, hard work and luck.  And since the second key is the only one you can really control of the three, you better work your fanny off to succeed in L-I-F-E!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to practice my shooting for Pop-a-Shot.

Got a question for The Filipino?  Email him now at askthepinoy@gmail.com.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking! Your post reminds me of the book Outliers... have you read it? I wrote something related to it on my blog today (http://wp.me/pRFRb-15h).. which is why your post is so appropriate! Enjoy your day!

The Filipino said...


Thanks for visiting. No, I haven't read Outliers yet but I've read several "CliffsNotes" versions (in the form of reviews of the book). I did read Gladwell's other book, Blink, and that was great.

Good Filipino said...

Thanks for the info about Ricardo Reyes.. akala ko talaga Fil-Am sya, pero sabi nga di ba ng manager He's whatever you want him to be.. kaya I assumed na lang na may dugong Pinoy sya.

The Filipino said...


Welcome. But FYI: Ricardo's manager said those words privately to me via email

filipino friend said...

The Filipinos are represented as knowing their place. They are portrayed as naturally docile, hardworking, good-natured, domesticated, and willing to endure long hours of housework and child-care with no complaint. In fact, many Canadians want Filipinos because they are excellent housekeepers. They are very good workers, they are also very quiet. They keep themselves to themselves, for many employers is an asset!

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