The blessing of feeling

I rarely re-post blogs of other people but I am making an exception for this one.

My dear friend and TV5 Reporter & host of the Golden Dove nominated Radio Program Oplan Asenso (92.3 FM)  wrote something that I feel should be read by others. Michelle Orosa – Ople was covering an event at the Insurance Commission regarding the failure of a pre-need company and the anguish of those affected. Her blog is not only insightful, it is moving. Many times, media practitioners and writers just write about events, report the news or voice their opinions but I salute Mich for her empathy and being bold in voicing out her convictions. It’s people like Mich that makes me hopeful of the future of media. Way to go Mich, I salute you for your ‘feelings’.

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The blessing of feeling by Michelle Orosa-Ople

This was a scenario The Bad News Reporter—myself, often dubbed as such—had covered one too many times before: an angry crowd, officials scrambling to explain a wrong, microphones abuzz and an annoying scarcity of monobloc chairs. It was the same story all over again with only a different set of characters, a different set of figures and a stronger deluge of raw emotions. Today was, after all, the first time everyone got together in the pseudo arena called the Insurance Commission. Everyone knew it would be a box-office, action-packed hit for the news.

With a waiting-to-give-a-go-signal eye on my cameraman I cased the battlefield. The numbers were good: several hundred angry people in a room where tension was so thick that one could feel it in the air.

And then it started.

As the officials wrapped up explaining the problem and their proposed solutions, a woman grabbed the mic and harped her grievances right then and there. Cameras rolling, people around her caught the spark, fanned the flames, and soon were cheering beside her. They were tired of the jargon and numbers. They wanted action. The organizers managed to restore order among the madding crowd, but once the open forum started, the room was again filled with anguished voices tinged at times with frustration. Raw anger. Tears.

I was initially caught up in the usual motions of noting the best video, the best soundbites. My angle. But then, without warning, I stopped.

Without warning, I started to feel.

I don’t remember if it was the point where a mother choked on her plea to get her money back, or the time when a grandmother sharpened her tone to get her pain understood across the room. I just suddenly remembered that, once, my own father had been in their shoes, with the same company—investing what he had on a future that he wanted for his children. I suddenly remembered the difficulty he encountered to make our dreams come true, and imagined him across the room with that kind of pain, had the future he saved for fallen on 2011 or 2012.

And then the tears slid from my eyes.

It took a while for me to process my emotions. I was trained to go out onto the battlefield with an armor so thick, I’d come back to headquarters with all the details, sans even a tinge of bias, drama, or anything remotely related to subjectivity. I wasn’t used to “feeling”, at least not on the job. I’d save that for family and friends, those close to my heart.

And it was then I realized that was the problem all along.

It was when I started to feel that I felt the real story: the pain in the truth that there are people hurting. That those accountable must, to the best of their abilities, find a way to make things as close to right as they can. That as much details must be made available as possible so that informed decisions would be made amid the raw emotions. And as I saw how pained even the officials themselves were, I saw just as clearly that with this rapport (albeit not obvious), a workable solution would in time arise.

It was when I started to feel that their stories moved me, and showed me the blessings I had once taken for granted. It was when I started to feel that I became one with my job at that moment, and my purpose for being in that place, at that time made sense.

I’d save that for family and friends, those close to my heart.

My job—my work—should be close to my heart. All too often, it hasn’t. At least not in the way it was Designed to be.

I look around my life and lives around me and realize the human race is all too prone to stoic routine—from the usual terms called “the daily grind”, the “rat race” to extreme incidences of nurses and interns laughing at the bedside of a dying man.

What a shame.

Because we were created to feel. To be immersed in where we are. To make a real difference in the lives of people around us by knowing them, relating with them, sharing with them. That goes for every single job, no matter how simple or mundane. No matter how seemingly boring and routine, if infused with passion, love, joy and respect then excellence will follow. The workplace isn’t simply a place where money is earned and tasks are accomplished, it is also a place where one learns more about his/herself, the people around them, and what value he/she can place in other people’s lives. Work is about service in its essence, and real service means we. Have. To. Feel.

Jesus, when He started healing the sick and ministering to growing crowds, never lost compassion for each and every person around Him. He could have just concentrated on healing, teaching, performing one miracle after another, but He didn’t. He was deliberately personal.

I pray that we all be deliberately personal in our work. That we never forget to feel, to love, to cherish people around us. To learn from them and allow their lives and stories to permeate our hearts and defenses. I pray compassion overflows in every person’s life each and every single day.

What a beautiful change that would be.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

~ Matthew 9:36 (ESV)

Thanks to Tetta for processing and literally de-briefing me today (hehe) and Pam for inspiring me to write this entry!  :*

*Follow Michelle Orosa-Ople at Twitter www.twitter.com/michelleorosa

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Pre-need problems, part 2

My last blog dwelt on the state of the preneed industry and probable reasons some companies folded up and why things are not looking good for them. Just to summarize, I wrote that their problems stemmed from wrong design (actuary), mismanagement and regulation.

For this blog, I will be writing about what to do with your preneed plan.

First, if you are considering purchasing one, it would be very prudent that you thoroughly scrutinize the product you are buying and the provider of that product. Not all preneed companies are shaky; there are a few that remain strong, so it would be unfair to make a general statement. However, many preneed companies are in limbo, and if you decide to get any plans from them, you have to accept the risks that come with it. Consider why you are buying a preneed plan first; why do you want to invest on it? Consider alternatives, as well; if it’s for savings, try other programs like time deposits, treasury bills and, if you have a higher tolerance for risk, try unit investment trust funds or mutual funds. If it’s for protection purposes, get life insurance. You can actually make your own preneed product by combining different programs out there. In fact, I believe you can even come up with a program that is less risky and will yield you a higher growth. If you are thinking of buying preneed at this time, think hard about it.

For those who already have an existing preneed product, what should you do?

If you already have a fully paid plan, there are some options for you. The first is for you to wait for maturity…it really is up to you if you want to take the risk of waiting, or you feel comfortable with your provider. If your maturity is very near, say, next year, you may want to consider holding your plan until maturity. Your second option is to sell your plan. Prior to the preneed fiasco, there was a flourishing secondary market for fully paid preneed plans. You may want to try selling your preneed price at a discount and see if there are any takers. Be prepared to price your plan at a low price, as the appetite for preneed plans today are not too good. Last, you may opt to call your preneed provider and surrender your plan. They usually have a buy-back facility that offers you surrender values. Unfortunately, preneed companies will always give you less than what you have paid for the said plans, so be prepared to take some heavy losses.

If you are still paying for your pre-need plan, you are limited to just three options. First, you may wish to continue paying for your plan. If you are confident your preneed provider is stable and you trust them, you can always brush aside the so-called preneed scare. Second, and depending on how long you have been paying, you may opt to ask your preneed provider for surrender value of your product. Preneed plans have a mechanism in them for surrender value—the longer you have been paying, the higher the percentage of surrender value (from what you have paid). If you are just on your first year, you probably can’t get any money back and charge your investment on “experience.” Last, you may want to cease from paying your preneed plan, and cut losses. If you are very uncomfortable with this whole preneed issue, don’t lose sleep over it.

What I wrote here are the options for those who have preneed or are thinking of getting one. Like any other investment, preneed, despite its hype, is not spared from the rudiments of investment realities. What can be a great investment today can be a horrible undertaking tomorrow—that’s just the way the cookie crumbles! We can always blame providers and the regulators, but that will not bring your losses back. So what’s the solution? I believe the only real solutions will be financial education. Sour investments will always be part of our life, and we must deal with them. In the end, not all our endeavors will yield a negative result, some will be positive. If you have more positive investments than negative ones, then you come out of it okay.

Filipinos must familiarize themselves with financial literacy. We must be comfortable with ideas like asset allocation, diversification, cost averaging, risk-return relationships, etc. Financial information is everywhere, but seeking financial wisdom is really up to you. Dedicate yourself to learning and understanding. You can take a course like the Registered Financial Planner program (www.rfp-philippines.com), join forums like www.income-tacts.com, read blogs, buy books and talk to other people.

Seek knowledge and, as you seek it, you will eventually build wisdom. “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you” (Proverbs 4:6).

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