The Entrepreneur’s Journey: The Risk It Took To Blossom

The Entrepreneur’s Journey is not a straight path. Anais Nin wrote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

The Risk It Took To Blossom, photo by Baylan Megino

The Risk It Took To Blossom, photo by Baylan Megino

My life had a fairly straightforward beginning, and the American Dream was the lifestyle I was encouraged to build. By my early 30’s, I had the loving husband with a steady job, a family, a comfortable home, the cars, the great job. I even had community involvement under my belt.

But something was not right.

My normally happy, calm outlook had become spiked with occasional fits of temper, which confused me.

I sought help in understanding what was happening, and started seeing a counselor. Those sessions helped me to see myself and my situation with clearer vision and understanding.

LIfe had become an endless round of work – home – work – home – community – work … of fulfilling roles, obligations and  duties.

At one point in my life, I had sought refuge and solace in attending Mass every morning before attending classes. The calm, the routine structure, the expansive space, and the connection to God fed me deeply.

But at this point, my spiritual and life had become almost non-existent, because I was so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that I thought was important.

Wrong. It wasn’t working for me.

It was time for a major change, and managing relationship change was something that I was absolutely, positively not equipped for. After all, my mother married the man who took her on her first date! Though they remained faithfully married until his death 60 years later, I did not learn a healthy way to handle conflict in relationships.

The counseling sessions helped open the door for me to step back and start at Ground Zero — to look inside to find my thoughts and need for expression. Through painting and sculpture I discovered a hidden world within that showed me my feelings and the inner terrain of my being.

Through sharing I learned that I had something of value to express in the silence. Through writing I started to hear my own voice and to value the power of the word.

And through dance I had always been able to access my inner knowing.

I had opened the door to start exploring my life, to understand what I was all about and what I had built. Once that door was open, how I saw the world and how I navigated each moment would never be the same.

The tightly bound bud was starting to unfurl her petals.

 

Inspiration: Be the Light in the Darkness

Inspiration and hope in a time of darkness is like water in the desert. On one particular afternoon I was sitting quietly as I grabbed a few moments of peace in my jam-packed day of taking care of things for others. My thoughts immediately focused on wondering what was next in my life.

Be the Light in the Darkness by Baylan Megino

Be the Light in the Darkness by Baylan Megino

The last several years had been particularly difficult, because I had turned everything upside down. Stepped away from almost all I had built. Ended relationships that I knew couldn’t work anymore, no matter what I did. Let go of whatever pictures still remained of what I used to think I was. Transitioned from a comfortable life to one where I wasn’t sure how my next cellphone bill would be paid.

You might know what I was living. The decks were cleared and I didn’t quite know what was next.

“Be the Light in the Darkness”
reverberated in my mind.  

What?!?!? Give more? There wasn’t a whole lot left to give, I thought. A moment or two passed in silence as my mind rearranged to allow the thoughts to bubble up.

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard these words. In fact, the first time I heard them I felt burdened by the perceived weight of yet more responsibility. This time, however, I felt a new sense of clarity and space around the words.

My life had been a series of experiences, each presenting its own lessons to learn — hard won lessons, easy lessons, difficult lessons. Each time I uncovered another aspect of myself, or discovered a truth that helped guide my steps. It hadn’t been easy. I had a lot of layers to uncover, and I will continue to uncover more and more as time passes.

One thing I realized early on is that we choose what we bring forward with us, consciously or not. An inventory of my experiences and the lessons learned helped me realize I have a lot to offer.

Skills and talents, yes. Organizational visioning and strategy, yes.  Even more valuable are the life lessons and wisdom gathered along my path – the ways to navigate the unfamiliar while creating a more conscious life. Sharing that wisdom to help others — that’s how I can bring light into someone’s darkness.

I’m excited! More to come….

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To your abundant prosperity,

Baylan

Honofre Salvador Megino: Part 2 College Clubs and the Farm

by Baylan Megino

In the fall of 1947, Honofre Salvador Megino attended San Francisco State College and shared a room with his brother Patricio’s stepson, Jimmy Abad. At SF State, Honofre helped found the Filipino Students Club of San Francisco State College (FSCSFSC). Recently, in reviewing his list of Filipino students attending S.F. State at the time, it’s clear that several became life-long friends. And judging from the stack of photos found in a box, he also was pretty popular with the ladies. When he transferred to UC Berkeley, the club had over $300 in its coffers — a handsome amount in those days.

The FSCSFSC was very social, and held their first big dance at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. In order to sell tickets, several of the ladies were driven to enclaves of Filipino farmworkers to sell ballots — probably Centerville, Alvarado, Hayward, Livermore, Salinas, Half Moon Bay, Pescadero, Watsonville, Hollister, and Castroville.The event was so successful that the club netted $750 after all expenses were paid.

Growing Tomatoes in Centerville from the HS and EM Megino Collection

Growing Tomatoes in Centerville from the HS and EM Megino Collection

Back in Centerville (now part of Fremont), Patricio grew a special strain of strawberries developed in U.C. Davis. His pitch was that they were “college educated strawberries.” To purchase the 15-acre piece of land that included cold storage and a fruit stand, Patricio partnered with the Buteds, who were Felipa’s relatives. The 2-acre plot by the house and the 1-acre plot by the fruit stand were planted with strawberries. The remaining 12 acres were planted with vegetables. On weekends, the Buteds and the Suguitans traveled from San Francisco to Centerville to play mah jongg and to socialize.

During the summers, Honofre lived in Centerville with Patricio and Manang Fely. He helped with the strawberry farm and the fruit stand, and helped transform the chicken coops into six apartments.

Before the Alemany Farmers Market was opened in San Francisco, the Meginos sold their strawberries at a small fruit stand in Centerville on Highway 17, and sold vegetables at Housewives Market in Oakland.

Once they acquired the cold storage, the sales from the fruit stand increased. Patricio was able to buy a truck, and traveled as far south as the Imperial Valley to purchase various produce from Filipino farmers. He gathered watermelons, cantaloupes, onions, and other fruits and vegetables, then sold watches and life insurance in return.

In 1949 or 1950, Honofre transferred to U.C. Berkeley to major in Journalism.

Elizabeth Mendoza, Evelyn Rivera and Evelyn Orpilla were trying to form a Filipino Club. Back then, each student had an IBM card that listed each student’s name, contact information, and place of origin. The cards were in an open file available for public viewing in Sproul Hall. Unfortunately, you couldn’t easily identify Filipinos born in the U.S. So the three women went through all 14,000 cards to discover students with names that could possibly be Filipino.

Filipino Club UC Berkeley 1952

Filipino Club UC Berkeley 1952

Some of the other Filipino students in the area were Elias Canapi, Nellie Ancheta, Margaret Acebo, Evelyn Orpilla, Evelyn Rivera, Frances Olivares, Anita Alfafara, Edward Austin, Lourdes Alemania, Frankin Orpilla, Raymond Acebo, Rudy Mallare, Conrad and John Parham,  William Argonza, Sophie Ymasa, Dorothy, Manuel David-Malig, Ramon Reyes, Tomas Pasion, Carlos Rivamonte, and Alfred, Benjamin and Patricia Mendoza.

Elizabeth (my mom) usually studied in U.C. Berkeley’s Doe Library. One day she noticed two male students who might be Filipino. One looked more East Indian, because he had an aquiline nose and dark skin. (The other student was Tommy Pasion.)

While taking a break, Elizabeth approached the two men and asked, “Are you Filipino?”

Honofre said yes, and she continued, “We are trying to form a Filipino Club, and we’re setting up a meeting….”

The first Filipino Club event was held at the YWCA in Berkeley.

 

Next: Courting and Marriage in the Filipino Community of the 1950s.

 

 

Honofre Salvador Megino: Part 1 The Philippines

by Baylan Megino

It has been one year since Honofre Salvador Megino, my father, died from Alzheimer’s and complications of pneumonia. Though met gently with peace and love, it’s not his death that I choose to remember. Instead, I asked my mom, Elizabeth Mendoza Megino, to help me piece together his life.

Luis Megino Family

Luis Megino Family: Honofre, Jorja, Teofanes, Felino, Genoveva, Luis, Purificacion

Honofre Salvador Megino was born in 1924 near Urdaneta, Pangasinan in the Philippines, the fourth and last son of teacher Luis Megino and his wife, Genoveva Salvador Megino. In the late 1920s, with five children to feed, Luis went to the U.S. with his brother Simplicio to work in California’s agricultural fields.

As a youngster in Pangasinan, Honofre’s brother Patricio (son #2) had shown such promise that he was sent to boarding school in Lingayen. Patricio then went to the United States in 1928 to continue his education in San Francisco.

Growing up in the provinces, Patricio learned to play billiards on the family billiard table located on the ground floor below the elevated house. With little to no financial support from family, this knowledge allowed him to survive in the United States while he attended college at San Francisco State.

During this time, Patricio and others wrote a Filipino newspaper that eventually included written pieces from Carlos Bulosan. While not positive, we believe Patricio and Mr. Bulosan met during one of Patricio’s summers as a salmon cannery worker in Alaska.

Later in the 1930s, Patricio married Felipa Suguitan, a widow who shared a seamstress shop in San Francisco with Mary Rillera. The couple eventually moved to Centerville (part of current-day Fremont) and shared their home with Clement, one of Felipa’s relatives. Their social circle included Tommy Clarin, Bernard (last name not remembered), and Sixto (last name not remembered).

Meanwhile, back in the Philippines, Genoveva asked the remaining young children, Felino (son #3), Honofre (son #4), and Purificacion (their youngest child and only daughter), to write letters imploring Luis to return home. By 1938 Luis had returned as part of of the Repatriation Act. In exchange for his one-way ticket home, Luis agreed never to set foot on U.S. soil again. (NOTE: He did visit in 1964 for the Seattle World’s Fair.)

When World War II broke out, the Megino family lived in Manila’s Intramuros. Honofre was attending Bohol Junior College in Manila and taking a national correspondence course for radio work. When Felino took a class in stenography, Honofre taught himself by studying Felino’s textbooks. The two brothers took the Philippine National Civil Service Exam, and ranked #1 and #2 for Secretary/Stenographer. At the outbreak of the war, many Filipino students stopped attending school because they thought their credits would not be recognized.

In April 1942, Uncles Andronico and Teopilo Marana were Philippine Scouts.They survived the Bataan Death March. However, because they were in such bad physical condition, the brothers were among the Filipinos released early on — the Japanese soldiers thought they would die anyway. Other Filipinos along the road helped care for them, and quickly nursed them back to health.

The two Marana brothers returned to Pangasinan and formed a guerrilla unit, which Honofre and Felino quietly joined. Dad was accepted to work in the Mayor’s Office in Manila, and was responsible for writing the travel passes in Japanese Kanji.

Now embedded in the Manila Mayor’s office, Honofre secretly wrote passes for the guerrillas to travel between Manila and the provinces. This was a very dangerous time for the Megino brothers, because they held a list of all the guerrillas in their unit. However, food was scarce in the city, and providing a travel pass allowed the guerrillas to bring much-needed food from the provinces back to relatives in Manila.

Honofre seldom spoke of those days, but once told the story of one unfortunate guerrilla. Several of them were gathered at a home when the Japanese soldiers came to the door. Immediately the tension was heightened when a woman entered the house wearing the traditional informant’s hood. Only able to see her eyes, the angry woman pointed to her boyfriend, and he was swiftly taken away. As Honofre told it, he and Felino were “sweating bullets” as they were questioned because the secret list was tucked into the stairtread not far from where the soldiers stood. If the soldiers had searched and discovered the list, many fellow guerrillas and relatives would have died.

While on a trip to visit his family in the provinces, Honofre received orders in Manila to report for military service, but by the time he arrived back in Manila, his unit had already left. Had he been able to report on time as ordered, he would have been in a unit that did not survive the Corregidor battles.

Eventually, Honofre joined his guerrilla unit in Pangasinan, which engaged in skirmishes as far north as Trinidad Valley near Baguio. Andronico Marana, however, would not allow Honofre to participate in the skirmishes.

One day while traveling on the main mountain road between Baguio and Banaue, the truck they were riding rolled off the road and plunged down the mountainside. Honofre grabbed onto the trunk of a large shrub, and reached out in time as a woman tumbled on her way down. He held onto her, saved only by that one shrub on the side of the mountain, until they were rescued. He was hospitalized for his injuries, then rejoined the guerrilla unit.

During the war, access to medical care was difficult, if not impossible to obtain. The eldest Megino son, Teofanes, was a rising young lawyer, but he died from an untreated illness. He left behind his young widow, Jorja.

On the other side of the Pacific, Patricio worked for the Office of War Information (OWI) as one of the radio voices who sent information to the Philippines (see his picture in the book, “One Nation”). He also raised chickens with Felipa in Centerville.

Always trying to better the lives of Filipino farmers, Patricio tried to organize Filipino farmers to sell their produce to the U.S. government. At the time, in order to get a government contract, you had to submit a truckload of product (in this case, celery) for a random inspection. The farmers packed a truck with celery, but the truckload was rejected. The farmers suspected the rejection was due to discrimination, and did not make another attempt.

At war’s end, Honofre was a Master Sergeant in the 57th Infantry Regiment. He was recruited into the Central Intelligence Corps (CIC), which he described as a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Edmund J. Hahn was a lawyer and FBI agent from New York, and Honofre was assigned as his clerk. Mr. Hahn practiced his Catholic faith as they traveled around Pangasinan, and was Honofre’s sponsor when he converted from a member of the Aglipayan Church to the Catholic Church.

Patricio petitioned Honofre under a student visa, and he arrived in the U.S. on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19,1947.

 

My dad’s birthdate was always in dispute. His mother claimed one date, his baptismal certificate showed another, and his immigration papers listed yet another date one month later. This year (2014) he would have been 90 years old.

 

NEXT: College Clubs and the Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Things to Avoid on the Way to the Philippines

by Baylan Megino

I didn’t plan on getting stranded in the Philippines. It was only supposed to be a three-week trip. Yet the pace of life and how things are done in this tropical paradise required that I stay as long as necessary.

From the United States, three weeks seemed enough time to explore my roots, meet artists, arrange my mother’s veteran’s spousal benefits and hold a few exploratory business meetings. However, eight weeks later, what was actually accomplished was very different from my original list.

In the process, I learned how to live and make my way around Metro Manila. Before sharing tips on living in one of the most populous cities of Southeast Asia, here are seven things NOT to do on your way to the Philippines.

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your papers in order. I learned this the hard way. My departure was moved forward several weeks, so I couldn’t wait for my passport to be processed by mail. A passport is needed to apply for a Philippine visa. It took two days for me to gather and personally submit the official documents required (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html). (Note: Because my name had changed after my divorce, I had to provide divorce/court documents, or a number of statements or bills going back a few years with my “new” name.) Several companies will charge more than $200 to handle expedited processing, in addition to the government’s regular and expedited passport fees. I opted to save that money for travel expenses. Of course, there still was an expedited processing fee, and it took several days for my passport to be ready. Advice: Submit your passport application at least eight weeks in advance.

2. Don’t buy a one-way ticket. This seems straightforward, but because I didn’t know how long it would take to handle my mother’s affairs, I bought a one-way ticket. To receive a visa, the folks at the Philippine Consulate needed a document that showed I intended to return to the U.S. I spent a few hours finding a travel agent who could provide an acceptable document. Advice: Buy your round-trip ticket and be ready to show proof of travel plans.

3. Don’t sleep in when you’re going to the Consulate. Generally, in San Francisco at least, documents submitted to the Philippine Consulate early in the morning are ready for pickup in the afternoon. You may get lucky and have your documents out before noon. If you arrive after lunch, expect to pick up the next day. Requirements for a Non-Immigrant Visa are at http://www.philippinessanfrancisco.org/philippines-sf/consular-services-sf/. It’s a good idea to get at least four 2”x2” pictures of yourself. Advice: Submit your paperwork in the morning.

4. Don’t assume you can get your shots in one day. I waited until the week before departure to get shots. Because I was planning to go to the mountains and be off the regular tourist routes, I could be exposed to more diseases than a tourist staying in protected westernized hotels. There were several shots I should have had (http://www.mdtravelhealth.com/destinations/asia/philippines.php). As it turned out, a few needed to be administered over several weeks to be effective. I didn’t have that long, so I had to skip them. Advice: Visit your doctor or clinic four to eight weeks prior to departure to get the full schedule of shots needed.

5. Don’t follow the herd. Last time I went through Philippine Immigration, there were three lines: Returning Philippine Citizens (RPC – far left lines); Overseas Workers (next to RPC); and Visitors. I made the mistake of getting into the shortest line, only to find out 30 minutes later that I was in the wrong one. Advice: Pay attention to the lines at Immigration.

6. Don’t forget to convert some U.S. dollars. Figure on an exchange rate of US$1 to PhP40. You might be able to change money at the airport, however your exchange rates won’t be to your advantage. If no one is picking you up at the airport, expect to spend at least PhP400 for a taxi. You’ll need tip money for anyone providing any kind of service outside the airport. Advice: Convert at least US$50 into Philippine pesos for your first day.

7. Don’t arrive without goodies. Known as “pasalubong,” it’s nice but not expected to give small gifts to anyone hosting you during your travels. Don’t forget to bring small gifts from home. Advice: Buy duty-free gifts ranging from small Toblerone chocolates to liquor and jewelry at the airport before departure or in-flight. You also can pick up pasalubong on arrival, in the duty-free shop outside the baggage claim area.

When you arrive, be ready to slow down and learn how to flow.

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Read the previous article in this series: FilAm Notes on My Trip to Metro Manila in the Philippines

Read this article as originally published at Inquirer.net: 7 boo-boos to avoid on the way to the Philippines 
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