It’s 2 am and I’m sitting in front of my computer, working on random things, thinking about what life would be like 5, 10 years from now. I’m turning 39 in a week or so and I couldn’t help but to reflect on how blessed I’ve been. I have a wonderful relationship with my wife of 10 years, wonderful family, great job and seemingly a bright future ahead. It’s certainly been a journey to this point. There was once a time when I was young in the Philippines when my family and I, four of us, lived in a room no bigger than 15×15 square feet.  We had to cook outside on a gas stove burner and walked a couple of hundred yards to use the restroom.  I remember my mom and I walking from house to house selling some packaged meat products and plates. There was one time when she was doing a demo of supposedly hard-to-break plates and when she dropped one to show how durable they are, it broke in to pieces. Somehow, maybe because I was too young to know what being poor is all about, or maybe because my parent always had food on the table. I think I finally realized how much my parents sacrificed when I was about in 3rd grade and we were living with my aunt’s family. It was during Christmas and my cousins opened their gifts. They had candies, etc. When I opened mine, I found a half-torn paper money as a gift from my mother,  the same half-torn paper money I had seen in her wallet days before. I think that’s when I finally realized there really wasn’t a Santa Claus or rather my mom was Santa Claus. Looking back at that period of my life, I really appreciate what my parents did for my sister and I.

When we moved to the US, my parents took jobs they could get soon after we got here. My mother worked at a fast food pizza place and for a shopping store in the stock room for years. My dad worked multiple jobs for years, including as janitor for a local mall. I still can’t figure out how he had the energy to do what he did. He worked 2 jobs and on his days off, he took side jobs with my mom to clean stores and even mowed lawns.  He left the house at around 6 am and worked until 1pm or so, he’d come home, take a nap and leave again to work from 3 to 11 at night. One of the proudest moments for me was seeing those big posters you’d see at the mall with my dad’s picture and with a caption that read something like “Ask Jose (my dad’s name)  about his son about UCSB”.  In my entire life, I don’t remember my parents asking me for anything in return for what they did for me.  To me, graduating college was given. My parents never really forced me to study hard or to motivate me. I guess I was one of those “good kid” that really always wanted to please them.

I’m not the smartest but somehow throughout my life, either through luck or God-given will, I was always presented with opportunities much bigger than I anticipated or I thought I deserved.  I look at my career and I’m not even sure how I got to where I am now other than I feel like I was always at the right place at the right time. There were certainly those few individuals that really opened doors for me.

I’m not sure what the future holds but to this point in my life, I am thankful for what has been given to me and a big part of it is because of my parents. Whatever happens in the future, all I know is to this point, I’ve lived a blessed life.