Here is a young couple, Gelo Valdez and Kae P. Valdez, as they reflect on some significant lessons they learnt from Don Bosco.
When we met, Gelo was a high school senior in Don Bosco Makati. A decade after that, we got married in Chapel on the Hill, Don Bosco Batulao, Batangas. Fr. Abel Ocampo, SDB, Gelo’s theology professor in Don Bosco Mandaluyong solemnized our wedding.
Salesian blood is running through Gelo’s veins. I, on the other hand, growing up with a lot of Bosconian friends, including my brother who is also a Bosconian, am declaring myself an honorary Bosconian.
We now live in Auckland, which is something like 8,000 kilometers from Manila. It is a place, not only geographically far from where our home is, but also vastly different from the environment we grew up in. Suddenly, going to church on a Sunday became optional and holy week just meant another long weekend, on the beach, perhaps. There was a sudden shift in our spiritual plane and we hate to admit it but things changed.
Not long after, we both found jobs; good enough to allow us to give a little, keep a little and spend a lot. We were young, beginning our careers and we had money in our hands. For the first time in our lives, we were responsible for ourselves. It was challenging to overcome the lure of material things because the more time one spends shopping, the easier it becomes to sink deeper into a consumerism mindset.
Slowly, the feeling of entitlement for anything will start to surface. After that, one’s outlook will change and one will develop a work-more-so we-can-buy-more attitude. Soon, it will be a world of credit card bills and debts more than one can pay off. So, we had a choice: we could fill our closets with clothes we don’t need or we could put away the few extra dollars and save it for a rainy day.
St. John Bosco said, “What do the pleasures of this world amount to? What is not eternal is worth nothing.” We paused and thought about it. We don’t want to tread along the path that will lead us attached to our possessions. So we turned the other way. We strived hard to simplify our lifestyle.
Together with our change in attitude towards our spending habits, we also started to look at our jobs differently. It became more than that to us. We continued to educate ourselves beyond the walls of a classroom, challenged ourselves and changed jobs when we felt we were stagnant.
Now at 29, we have both reached the high notes in our careers. We have proven over and over again that doing your ordinary duties extraordinarily well will allow you to reap the rewards in the end. It’s more than the monetary remuneration but the fulfillment of having helped others through the skills that you have been bestowed with. At the end of each day, when you kneel to pray, you will feel the peace in your heart.