On Winning and Learning…

Sometimes you win, sometimes  you learn

In the District 20 Toastmasters Annual Conference Humorous Speech Contest
In the District 20 Toastmasters Annual Conference Humorous Speech Contest

A year ago, I participated in the District 20 Toastmasters Annual Conference Humorous Speech Contest. There were 15 Toastmasters who competed against and I was able to nail 3rd Place. A humbling and remarkable experience playing just as a wild card since I only placed 2nd in the Division Contest in Kuwait (1st only goes to the District)

Upon moving to Korea in July 2014, I carried a thought that if I really work harder, and think better, I could be really win in a bigger stage, maybe at least managing to be in the global competition if not, in the national.

Toastmasters in Korea belongs to District 93 with only 4 divisions.  Comparing to a bigger District 20 with 15 divisions, we could say that it is relatively small.  In District 20, there is only one representative per division and there’s  semi finals and you need to be at least 3rd to reach the finals and then you’ll get the chance to win.  District 93 is different.  Since there are only 4 divisions, it means at least 2 representatives can participate per division – In short; I have greater opportunity to reach the District (National) Competition.

Korea Fall Division Contest
District 93 Division C Evaluation Contest – 3rd (Fall Conference)

Fall 2014, District 93 announced that the contest for the Fall Conference would be the Evaluation Speech.  So we did the normal procedures, Club Contest, Area Contest, Division Contest.

I won the club contest 1st, Area contest 1st, and then the division contest; I only need to win 2nd to get a ticket to the District, and the contest chair called me 3rd.  It’s okay I thought, there’s still a chance for me in the Spring Conference and thinking that Evaluation Contest is not really my cup of tea.  My ultimate goal is to win in the international speech contest instead. I attended Fall Conference and I had a remarkable time too.

District 93 Division C International Speech Contest (Spring Conference). I am believing the fact that I’m the perpetual 3rd placer. lol!

Spring 2015 came. This is the time I’ve been waiting for, the International Speech Contest!  I prepared again for my contest piece and work on it until my words became my heart, and it happened. I won in the club 1st, in the area 1st, but in the division…

They called me again 3rd… third again… I felt real disappointments this time… Maybe I need to look back again on my speech crafting, on my delivery, but looking at the silver lining, I can visit again Dubai for  District 20 Conference as there’ll also be the same conference going on at the end of the month. I can be reunited with my old friends.

And so I reached the district again… This time, for the International Speech Contest!

And then suddenly I received a message.  The 2nd place winner decided not to proceed due to her pregnancy that is almost due. Wow! The universe is working hard for me to be in the District I thought; however, I had a bit of dilemma, the District 20 and 93 conferences will both be happening at the same week! I had quite a stress and feeling a bit canceling my plan and trip to Dubai. I know what I want and probably my friends would understand…

Either I’m so naive or I’m not listening carefully or I don’t know what the man on the right’s position – President Elect 2016-17 of Toastmasters International!

Fast forward, the night of the contest, of course I was shaking but I want to do my best. I really believe in myself I can do it. I was contestant #6. Speakers one after another went to the podium and whenever each person spoke, I couldn’t help myself to say, wow… that was good, he did well… and then it was my turn. I refused to change my speech from day 1 because it is the speech that was really close to my heart a story about my parents and those days we loved looking at the beauty of the fireworks on every New Years Eve, where we would jump and shout and eat together back when we were little. I miss those days… and that day, they heard my story…

At the podium I’m not really sure if I did well, but in my heart, I felt I did my best. I was ultimately relieved after the contest.

The winners were announced Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t get anything.  Wooohooo! I’m not sure how to react; yet, If I could only quantify the disappointment it’s probably almost negligible, because although I had desire to win the contest, I realized that winning is not the only thing better that day. I gained a lot of new friends and learned a lot by my experience and I became a better person after this. Maybe, next year I will try again and again, but one thing is certain, that we will never stop discovering our true potential.


Also, I want to extend my gratitude to the people who supported me on this, who believed me and I hope the Fireworks I shared to everyone, will never be forgotten…


Exploring Opportunities

Take and explore every opportunity you can get!

One morning in Busan
One morning beautifulin Busan

It has been six months since I arrived in South Korea, and I must say that living in Busan is quite a challenging experience; however, there’s a saying that there’s opportunity in every difficulty so I grab one when I see one.  The culture of the country is a bit fast paced and most people tend to dedicate their time towards work so I try my best to keep up with its busy lifestyle and at the same time, find an opportunity to have a quality time with myself. I listed few things that I have done.

1. Learn to read and write – it’s never easy to learn another language; what more if they have a different alphabet?  It’s a double whammy! Most of the signage in every landmark is written in their native language, Hanguk, even in the menu in restaurants are quite difficult to understand and I have to rely on photos; so the best way is to at least know how to read and know what food I order.

The Hanguk Characters - #photgrabbed
The Hanguk Characters – #photgrabbed

Mekju hana chuseyo!  😛

Hopefully, I’ll be able to learn the language after a year!

Helpful Korean Applications
Helpful Korean Applications

2. Download Phone Applications – I am truly thankful I live in this era, google translate, subway schedules, bus, airline and even food name is available on line, somehow, life is less difficult having these trustworthy apps.  Even online banking and where to watch a movie, smart phone is never a failure.

Jiri Mountain, 2nd highest mountain in South Korea

3. Hike – So now that I have google maps, I was able to learn South Korean topography and choose where to hike every week.  I also tried researching about the place, but of course knowing where to go first is more important. Every place is truly breath-taking! Bukhansan, Cheonggesan, Jirisan,  Jangsan, Hwangyeonsan and counting!  My camera is always loaded with the beauty of Korea.

Korean Roads: Great for running!

4. Run – Uphill, Downhill, Run near the beach, on the road, I can really run every where in Busan, the place is bike friendly and has a lot of parks to jog. There are also monthly races that I was able to join although I just really have to be keen in searching on these running events as most of the sites are only available in Korean.

18th Ocean Busan Half Marathon
18th Ocean Busan Half Marathon

5. Toastmasters – This global club has been around the country for years and being with toastmasters has always been a great help; being with Korean toastmasters helped me to adapt the culture outside work and having Ex-pats toastmasters allowed me to understand also their experiences in Korea.   I even attended a national conference and I had loads of fun. It’s just too tiring though because it’s only for a day.

At the Fall Toastmasters Conference in Seoul with J.A. Gamache (World Public Speaking Finalist)

I’m really sure that there are still a lot of opportunities to explore here in Busan to avoid home sickness and boredom thankfully, I was able to adjust quite faster than what I thought. 🙂

My Tri Talk

Trying to make both things work. Collaboration!

Finisher medal!

In my previous post, I’ve mentioned that I am currently attending Toastmasters Club.  Last October 19, Two years after I’ve done my first Mini-Sprint Tri, I attempted for my first Sprint-Tri.  Don’t ask now why it took so long, but I’m just glad I’ve finished the race and it became my inspiration in doing a Toastmasters Speech. Check it out! 🙂

Do you love Challenges? Because I do love challenges!
I love the thought of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face. Honorable toastmaster of the day, fellow toastmaster and dear guests, Good evening.

not really an awesome photo of me as I can see my anxiety on this shot. Thanks Jhonny for the shot!

For some, Last friday was just an ordinary weekend, but to me, I felt I was facing one of the most challenging but exciting experience in my life here in Kuwait, physically, emotionally and psychologically. While most of the people were soundlessly sleeping in their most comfortable bed, I was preparing my gears for my first ever Sprint Triathlon. Anyone knows what a sprint triathlon is? Sprint Triathlon for your information is a multi-sport event where one needs to swim and then bike and then run.

The first part of the event was swimming. Imagine 750 meters. This room’s length (pertaining to the length of the room) could probably be a little over 10 meters, and I swam 75 times the length of this room.
The 250 athletes who participated swam like crazy and made the sea like a giant washing machine due to the strokes of their arms and the paddle of their legs. I was one of them, While I was swimming along the course that I thought would be easy, I was surprised at the sight of the constellation of starfish and sea urchins not to mention the seabed is more than 10 feet deep. I became frantic and panicked and ultimately lost my coordination. Oh my! This is not really the best way to die! I still have a toastmasters speech on Tuesday!

Drained, but managed to smile for the shot. Thanks again Jhonny!

It was a shameful act, but I shouted, HELP! The speedboat patrolling around immdiately responded on my weak but detemined cry. He asked me if I need assistance but that would made me disqualified from the race. I could’ve quit right then and there, but I suddenly got back to my senses. I thought about this pain that could last a second, a minute or an hour yet if I quit up right at this very moment, it’s over. I calmed myself and felt the water… The water is my friend and I don’t have to fight against it. I shared the same spirit with the water and it helped me move. It helped me move until I reached the turning point and finally back at the most beautiful shoreline of Kuwait I’ve ever seen.

The second part of the race was biking 20 Km. Think about Kuwait Towers and Marina Crescent and back. That is 20 Km. Drained from swimming but I was glad balancing on my bike and began pedaling. I was my own engine puffing to keep me at my speed. There was no sound I am hearing but only that of the wind slapping my face and that made me feel comfortable and relaxed. Elite bikers maybe overtaking me at that time but who cares I was competing against myself anyway.

The last part. 5Km run. My legs were sore and my back was in pain due to the time I sat on my bike. But this is the last part! I need to give all out. This should be the easiest part. Left foot the front and then right foot to the front. Repeat over and over and over. My mind was racing telling myself, Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must but never ever give up…

Glad to know that there are our so-called “kabayan” (country-men) participated the event!

I was not a winner, but I finished the race with glory, with honor. In this pursuit, it didn’t matter if I came in first, in the middle of the pack or last. I can say I finished and there’s a lot satisfaction in that for I never give up, never give in and hold on to my dreams and I never fall flat on my face.

Well, written speech and the way I delivered it didn’t really exactly match but, that’s fine.  I’m just trying to fill in the lines whenever I’m forgetting something. 🙂

Oh, btw, I got the Speaker of the Day Award.

Now, I’m off to my next speech and tri-training!

More Photos from Jhonny Dao

On Public Speaking

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”  – John Ford

TMI Banner

Once again, in my attempt to make my stay in middle east equal if not a little closer to home, I found an organization called Desert Pinoeers Toastmasters Club. While Toastmasters, International is not really new to me as I have learned about this in 2008, I found public speaking a real waterloo, despite of this natural confidence that I have. Well, I guess it’s normal for everyone to have a littlegoosebumps when standing in front of a crowd. Normally, it lessen, until you got your composure, but sure as hell that one way or another, one got scared when doing this. I would bet on that.

All smile! (photo grabbed from DPTM FB Page)

I joined this club as a guest at first and decided to join after a number of visits. On my visits I always endevour to be part of this table topics as I want to really boost my confidence. For everyone’s information, Table Topics is a segment in The Toastmasters Session where in one would need to speak in 1 to 2 min, on a given topic provided by the Table Topics Master. Haha! my first attempt didn’t really lasted 30 seconds. What can I do? It was still vivid to me as I was shaking heavily! There were so many thoughts in my mind and they were just scrambling. Aaahm, Uuuh, Errrr, they all went out. Good thing they didn’t doubt if I am really an earthling! I came in Peace!

Humbled by the constructive feedbacks!

Anyway, things actually happened differently when I had my first speech. My Ice Breaker Speech. I was at first hesitant, but eventually gained composure. I coudn’t be more humbled enough on the positive feed back that I got, not to mention, I got the Best SpeakerAward on that day. Hmmm, probably because this one is a prepared speech, or… or maybe, I had this beginner’s luck.

I must say that my pursuit of conquering my own fear still has long way to go, on second thought, I am thrilled with the challenges that I might face in the future as far as this pursuit is concerned.

The best is yet to come!

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