Be kind to others

How kindnesss changed my life.

I was sitting in front of my computer for an hour thinking about what to write. While I was staring at a blank screen, I got a message from a high-school classmate. That message gave me the seed to this article.

1985 was the year that changed my life. Jan 1985. two months before graduating from high school, my father left us. I did not know the reason then. Until the day he died a few years ago, I did not find out the reason. I would not want to ask my 75 year old mom about something that long been buried in memory.

A month after my dad leaves, my two brothers, mother, and I had to go separate ways to survive. My mom did not know how to apply for a job since she has been a housewife all her life. She went back to her parents home. My brothers and I started to look for work in our teen age years.

Primo, a classmate in Colegio San Agustin, where I attended school, asked me to go to the top floor of the Citibank building in Paseo de Roxas. He said that I should look for Atty Antonio V. Agcaoili. The senior partner of Agcaoili and Associates. Apparently, his dad works for the law firm. I took the bus the next day to the law firm.

I was asked to wait by a beautiful mestiza receptionist in the waiting area. I flipped through several old editions of Fortune magazines. After 30 minutes, I was led to the office of Atty Anva. The office smelled like cigarette smoke. It was a spacious office filled with picture frames.

Atty. Anva was a heavy smoker. My interview was just Atty Anva asking me what happened to my family. After a few minutes of sharing my personal story, he hires me. There was no job opening, but he hired me.

Atty. Anva then stepped our of his office for a few minutes. I can see him talking to his office manager. He comes back and says that I can photocopy documents for the eleven lawyers in the firm for the minimum wage of P1, 500 a month less government dues. On the side, I will also clean homes that they reposes on behalf of a Bank client. That will earn me an extra P100 for every home I clean with the company messengers and drivers.

The job may not be too glamorous or impressive. However, my photocopying job led me to other jobs, which landed me a computer programing job for FEBTC. The job in FEBTC landed me an IT Management job in Saudi Arabia. That IT Management job led me to other executive roles in the Bank with a career lasting 20 years. My last job was SVP for Strategy and Transformation before I decided to go back to the Philippines.

A few months after I came back, I went back to Atty Anva to thank him. I dropped by a wine store in Makati Avenue to get him a bottle of wine. It was his kindness that changed the course of my life. I was eagerly looking forward to seeing him again.

It was unfortunate that when I went up to his law firm, I found out he had passed away many years ago from lung cancer. His son sadly delivered the message.

However, his son said something interesting. When news of his dad’s passing away came out in the newspapers, hundreds of people dropped by their law firm to pay their respects to his dad. Hundreds of people, like me, were in gratitude to this remarkable man. Atty Anva touched the lives of hundreds of people even without the knowledge of his family.

What did we all have in common? What did Atty. Anva do that was so amazing? It was simple. He showed us a random act of kindness. He showed us the power of kindness. Kindness to a total stranger.

In today’s world, it’s easy to be sucked into selfishness. It’s effortless to cover your actions under the guise of a good cause. It is effortless to focus on our needs and ignore other people’s needs. It is effortless to justify our actions even if they are hurtful.

However, it was kindness that changed my life. It was kindness that changed the lives of hundreds of people touched by Atty. Anva.

Being kind to others is so powerful that it can change opinions and even lives. So, in this very challenging and sometimes painful pandemic, let us remember to be kind to one another.

Be kind no matter what.