By Virginia J. Pasalo
I shall be in Bangkok for five days, to speak on the subject “Women Leaders Where Men are Significantly Present”, one of the topics to be discussed in the leadership training to be conducted by the World Organization of Workers-Asia, the regional body of the World Organization of Workers (WOW), with consultative status in the International Labor Organization (ILO).
This invitation comes as I transition and focus on new things, which includes mental, physical and emotional adjustments. The days seem to roll faster than the ability of my mind to appreciate the moments, and the moments seem to be enough only for the daily tasks. So many things left undone, so many files remain to be sorted and it is going to be the end of March soon. I can say that my spirit guides are gearing me up for other things, competing with the activities that impact on the transitioning.
The computers where all the files exist remain in the boxes. I do not know where the peripherals were packed so that I could assemble them before I leave, and be able to access important data for my speech. I can only work from memory, and my memory is wallowing in the present. From there I can do a patchwork, weaving the stories together to depict experiences in my career life, “where men are significantly present”. It is enormous retrieval work.
Intermittently, I can hear some birds talking to each other. Or like me, they are talking to the morning, to the sky or someone in the sky, maybe God. The fact that God resides in me, makes it easy for me to find him/her presence everywhere and in anyone, making me realize, I can actually stand on the stage without the notes, and capitalize on the spontaneity I have always called upon in the past. The words will float before me, and I would catch them, stars that encapsulate each encounter with the “significantly present” men.
The words are easier now to form, they even roll out with some logic. Sometimes, the words do not roll out as easily, and my only consolation is a deep faith that I will eventually encounter these words at some point to flesh out a skeletal framework. Enough words to harvest, for an hour speech, a modest target, considering I am a woman of few words. The thoughts coming out are no longer about men as competition to the workplace, but as important elements in my growth as a professional, and more importantly, in my growth as a woman. In hindsight, men, competition or not, honed my ability to extend myself to as far as I can stretch it. The relationship built self-awareness and understanding, an inside journey, a different remembering of the impact and significance of their presence.
I remember a friend/colleague who, on my birthday, gifted me with an Acer 3810, very long ago. When I asked him why, he simply said, you are a “good woman”. What is a good woman? He kept repeating I am a good woman. I should ask him what he meant, before I will draw the talking points of my speech. Maybe goodness is the pivotal element in a highly-competitive field. Perhaps, it is not only about the intrinsic goodness, but to be really good, to be very good, to be extra good, at a level where you can be the person who is significantly present.
The essence of the speech slowly takes its substantive form. Now, I can listen to the song of the birds. The birds continue to sing, engines roar as they drive people to wherever they intend to go, and the peace inside grows amid the diversity of sounds, for those who contemplate. This morning, hues transform the sky from gray to soft blue and a hint of old rose. There are more voices among the birds. In the past I can only distinguish two or three sounds, now there is another voice, louder than the rest. Perhaps the bird has lost the forest that used to be her home, and exploring the city for a suitable tree to perch on. She sings a dirge, a cry I heard before, from a tree, near a river, not so far away, from a national highway.
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