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Live, excel and leave your mark.  Susan V. Ople

Speaking Out

By Ignacio R. Bunye

In memory of  recently departed  Overseas Workers champion  and writer,  Secretary Susan “Toots” V. Ople, let us revisit her poignant words from an article which appeared October 30, 2019 in Business Mirror. The original article, entitled. “How long will you live?”  started circulating in social media shortly after her death on August 22 at the age of 61.

In a nutshell, these are the words that Secretary Susan “Toots” V. Ople preached and lived by. 

“The common cockroach lives its fleeting year, unaware of its temporal fate. It scuttles through life’s dangers, untouched by the looming shadows of its end. Yet, unlike these creatures, we humans carry the weight of knowledge – the knowledge that one day we, too, shall depart. We return to the Earth, leaving traces of our journey.

Unlike the roach, we’re gifted with an understanding of our expiration date, our impermanent ties to the world. Yet, some tread aimless paths, oblivious to the significance of each dawn. Each sunrise should herald a chance to outdo yesterday’s self.

How long shall you and I endure? This query beckons, for tomorrow’s sun might not greet us. A life spent amassing regrets is a tragedy against existence’s backdrop. In elevators, we pick our floors; in death, no such choice prevails. Divinity reserves its own realm, accessible only to Heaven’s chosen. 

So, live. Don’t merely exist. Leave an imprint, perhaps not monumental as Gandhi’s, but one treasured by the hearts that truly care. Be virtuous.

A mentor once spoke of love’s essence – how one genuine love can sustain us. To receive, we must first give. Thus, love. Don’t aim to solely take. Give selflessly, be it ideas or sincere compliments. Material gifts wane; an unexpected embrace appreciates with time.

If crafting hate-filled memes consumes you, desist. Keyboards aren’t conduits of malice. Loathing truncates life, while bigotry’s arrogance slays. Eradicate hatred; rejoice in others’ joy when yours falters.

In college, grades marked us. Beyond, failure births wisdom. Don’t fear failure’s shadow; it obscures success’s prospects. Trust yourself; attempts yield answers. Challenges reveal life’s essence. As Ka Blas Ople asserted, aging sans purpose is tragedy. Ambition’s flame is just.

Seventy years marks a Filipino’s span, thirty more than years past. Unlike roaches, our fortune is boundless.  Read more. Expand. Age isn’t an impediment to self-discovery. Inhale existence – colors, scents, emotions. Be a contented sponge. 

In your space, surrounded by love, consider enhancing humanity. Unceasingly improve. Save to wander; earn for uncharted learning. 

Kindness is gold. Amidst strangers, breathe gratitude. Smile often; laughter’s attainable. Avoid the folly of screens over people; express, don’t type.

How long shall you persist? God’s secret. When that divine elevator ascends, I envision a radiant smile beaming across clouds, in hearts that remember. For now, live, excel, and leave your mark.”

Let us remember and honor Secretary Susan “Toots” V. Ople, whose words continue to inspire and remind us of life’s value and our potential to make a meaningful impact.

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