Your Health Is Your Greatest Wealth

One of the biggest expenses you can have in this life is when you or your loved one’s health fails. 

I remember when my son was born and he had a heart complication. He was about to be operated on and while talking to the doctor, my father-in-law asked him how much it would cost for them to operate on my baby. The doctor estimated it to cost around Php700,000, and that was not even guaranteed to work 100%. The doctor was honest enough to say it had a 70-30 chance of success. When you’re in that kind of situation where you are asked to take a chance, the obvious answer is always to say ‘Yes’. Because no amount of money can compare to a precious life.

Thank God a miracle happened, and my baby didn’t have to undergo heart operation anymore. He still had to stay in the NICU for a few days, and go through observation and medication for a month. But other than that, everything went well.

In all this time, I was thanking God not only for my son’s life and restoring his heart health, but also for the finances and time he has provided me and my family. 

As the famous TV commercial says, “bawal magkasakit.” Sometimes, people are afraid to go to the hospital not only for the sickness they might discover, but more for the amount of money they would have to shell out to pay for the hospitalization. 

That’s the sad reality for some people. 

Apart from going into a credit card debt, getting a HUGE hospital bill is one of the worst things you would suffer financially. That huge financial setback might even cause some people to further go into debt, which could take a lifetime to payoff. 

It’s not enough that you are the only one who is healthy because when someone in the family gets sick, everyone would help out, not only financially, but also physically and emotionally. When you only want to be healthy, it feels like all other worries you have become secondary. 

Did you know that in the bible, wealth comes from the Hebrew word ‘Chayil’ meaning strength? That’s why just being healthy is already being wealthy in itself. 

Over the years, I’ve tried to keep myself healthy. I played all kinds of sports when I was a kid: baseball, table tennis, basketball, and more. When I got older, I added badminton and tennis. 

But when I started working, I’ve had struggles keeping myself fit for many reasons. One is the stress of work. Another is eating a lot of junk food, to keep myself emotionally comforted from the stress. A lot of times, it was easier to just sit and do nothing at home, just mindlessly scrolling over my phone than to do some exercise or a physical activity.

When I was in high school, I could play basketball non-stop even in the middle of scorching sun, in my school uniform complete with leather shoes, slacks and polo shirt. 

Now that I am in my forties, I admit that my strength is not where it used to be. The last time I played competitive basketball, my knee hurt so bad I could not even run down the court, grimacing in pain. It was probably because of my heavy weight it was carrying all day and all night long. 

That’s the main reason why I wanted to lose some weight.

Back in 2011, I tried USANA’s RESET program which focused on eating low-glycemic meals like their Nutrimeal where I was able to achieve my best weight around those times. I felt better and I was able to maintain it for a few years, but as time goes by my weight soon ballooned once again. 

I’ve already tried intermittent fasting a couple of years before, and I did lose some weight, about 10 pounds, but it would get stuck there, and then I would eat whatever I want, and then I would soon all regain back the weight that I lost. 

So this time, I had a plan. Now, I wanted to try to control my eating. 

I planned to do a low-carb meal. For the first 5 days, I ate USANA’s Nutrimeal for my breakfast, lunch and dinner. But soon after, I shifted to eating lettuce, eggs, meat, fish, chicken, etc. 

After the first 5 days, I was encouraged by the result. The following week, I added intermittent fasting to the mix, basically skipping breakfast, but still eating low-carb meals. 

Eventually I also added minimal exercise, just some walking and stretching during my fasting period. I make sure to take my vitamins in order to prevent nutrient deficiencies. 

Now, I have settled into a routine and I am happy to reach a much better weight, losing 20 pounds after 4 weeks. 

I am still far away from my goal weight but I am feeling much better. 

Over the past 4 weeks, I’ve tried taking a better hold of my health. I’m doing this for personal reasons, but the most important of which is to have the best of health and strength to keep up with my two boys. 

They grow up fast. As boys, they enjoy physically demanding activities. Running around, playing basketball, and playing with other kids is something they look forward to. 

I simply want to keep up. I want to be able to play basketball with them. I want my body to allow me to engage in physically demanding activities with them. I want to cherish these moments a little bit longer. 

Because soon, they will have other interests that they want to pursue. Soon, they will be a little bit older and moments like these would be harder to come by. 

But for now, I’d like to enjoy it while I still can and have the opportunity to do so. But the first thing for that to happen is for me to be in the best health of my life.

How about you? How have you been taking care of your health lately?


How to overcome debt

Yesterday while walking on the treadmill, I was listening to Dodong Cacanando’s youtube video explaining how people are having a hard time financially because of debt or “utang” in Filipino.

It reminded me of some of the most painful experiences I’ve had in my life. Back in the early 2000’s when I first got a job, I used my new credit card to purchase a lot of things, not realizing that it is a trap. To cut the long story short, I got into credit card debt. It came to a point where I would do cash advance so that I would have the cash to pay for our apartment rental. It was then that I made a personal decision to change my ways. I enrolled in our company’s automatic savings plan where they deduct 2%-20% (depending on your choice) every month from your salary. It happens automatically. You won’t see it in your bank account anymore, until the day you withdraw from the savings account. That helped me build the habit of saving money.

Fast forward a year after, my sister got into an accident. I had to bring her to the hospital. When we arrived at the emergency room, the doctor gave me a list of medicines I need to buy. Immediately, I went to the ATM and withdrew money to pay for the medicines. Thank God, I was able to buy the medicines, and my sister eventually recovered from the accident. I felt relieved, but at the same time, it gave me a profound appreciation to the decision I made a year ago to save up money. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been had I not made that decision which could have limited my options in helping buy my sister’s medicines. Thank God for second chances.

The habit of saving helped me set aside money for emergencies. I continued that habit and even increased my savings contribution from 2$ to 5%, and then to 10% a year after. When I got promoted, I increased that even further to the maximum percentage which is 20%. Eventually, when I decided to withdraw the amount to use it for my wedding expenses, it has already reached 6 figures. Imagine how much a measly 2% would grow to become a few years after.

When my wife and I went abroad, that habit of saving helped us as well. Eventually when we came back home, we had some savings that helped us transition our life back to the Philippines. We started our investing journey, for which this blog became a platform for me to share my stories and lessons I learned along the way.

I wish learning a habit would be that easy and that life would go on smoothly as we wish it to be. But it’s hardly the case.

A few years after coming back to the Philippines, my wife had a difficult pregnancy for both of our 2 sons. She had emergency Caesarian operation and was admitted to the hospital for close monitoring. Our first son, had to battle through right after he was born, and that’s when the greatest miracle in our lives happened. Recently, my son celebrated his 12th birthday. Everyday I thank God for giving us a chance to be a parent of our miracle child. A year after, my second son was born, also via Caesarian operation. My wife had to go through a lot of sacrifices giving birth to our sons and taking care of them. She resigned from her job, and became a full-time mom to our kids. She momentarily paused her career and focused on raising our boys.

During those days, I had a lot of realizations towards money. For one, truly you won’t understand how blessed you are until you receive something that money cannot buy. But for those things that money can buy, money is still very important. It was also during those early years becoming a parent that I was also starting and struggling to take my business off the ground. The stress of watching our savings slowly getting depleted. The challenge of providing financially for a young family. The self-doubt, the sleepless nights, and crying on your own at the corner begging God to help you overcome the challenges, those are the things that make you stronger in the long run. It is also for those reasons that you are blessed beyond measure, for you have a God that provides for everything that you need, and so much more.

During those times, I also contemplated on getting a job and going back to corporate. It was around 2 years of struggling in the business when I felt like giving up my business. I asked myself whether it was only personal pride that was preventing me to go back? Would pride help me provide for my son’s needs? If I ever need to choose between my pride vs my son’s, I would definitely choose to swallow my pride any time of the day. I did try to go back, but my heart was not into it. Eventually, I decided not to go back. And since I wasn’t going back anyway, I might as well make my business work. So I worked hard and prayed hard. Eventually, my efforts bore fruit and our business started growing. With the income from the business, I was able to sustain our young family’s needs. Eventually, my wife and I even won some awards in the process.

That went on for some time, until I had to take on another challenge.

Our business could not sustain the growth that it had. Eventually, my business stagnated, and I could not figure it out. There were a lot of challenges financially. In my role as one of the leaders of the team, a lot of people consulted me with their financial situations and how to handle them. It was easy for me to advise and give suggestions on how they could overcome it. I realized years after when I faced similar situations that it is not so easy when you’re the one’s facing the problem.

To cut the long story short, I got into a huge credit card debt. Way way bigger than I anticipated. Our business income dropped like a hot potato. But our expenses ballooned even more. The banks were calling me everyday, demanding me to pay it back. I could not sleep thinking about how I can solve my problem. I was paralyzed in fear. I could not think straight. I could not move.

All I could do was pray that one day my problem will go away. Eventually, around 1 year ago, I finally paid off ALL of my credit card debts. It was a huge relief that was lifted from my shoulders. I thank God everyday for helping me go through it all. Looking back, I can’t even credit myself for creating the solutions on how to solve my problem. It was just a decision I had to make in my life to pay for it no matter how long it would take. But I can’t thank God enough for helping me and giving me people like my wife who supported me every step of the way. If you are in a similar situation here are some things that have helped me:

  1. If you’re getting buried in debt, the first thing you need to do is to stop digging.

I had to get my head above water so to speak. I had to get hold of my cashflow. I had to stop and evaluate how much money was coming in and how much money was going out. My first goal was to get to a positive cashflow. Since the money coming in was cut into half, I had to find a way to cut my expenses into half. That means selling my Ford mustang, so that it would help lower my monthly expenses. With the help of my wife, we eventually were able to find a buyer. Thank God for these angels that helped us when we needed it most. I also called up the bank to restructure my credit card debt. I explained the situation to them and we came up with a pay plan that helped reduce our monthly payments. Eventually, after lowering our expenses even further, we managed to finally break even and get into positive cashflow. That helped us greatly mentally and emotionally. We felt like we could finally take a breather after a long long time.

2. Increase your income

This was also the main reason why I decided to go back to corporate after almost a decade of being out. It was a hard decision. There was an opportunity for me to go overseas but after discussing it with my wife, I decided to look for an opportunity in the country instead so that I get to spend my time with my family. I could not bear to be away from my family especially when the world has just gone through the worst of covid and the travel restrictions have yet to be lifted fully. Eventually my former employer gave me a chance to go back to corporate and start again. I am thankful for that chance, and I will always be grateful to my employer who first gave me my first stint in the corporate 20+ years ago and also gave me a chance to transition when I came back from abroad. With the salary I was getting, it helped me payoff my last credit card debt sooner, and also helped me start saving once again.

3. Build better money habits moving forward

Promise to never get yourself in huge credit card debt ever again.This is something I really decided to promise myself personally. Getting into credit card debt is no fun. I’ve had it twice already. In both times, I was able to survive it and managed to fully pay them off. However, I would not wish for anyone to go through it. It takes a lot of mental, emotional, psychological energy just to keep your sanity. Of course, you need a lot of prayers and spiritual support to overcome them for good. This is the main reason why I advocate building better money habits in your life. Building better habits is life being married to your wife. It takes a lot of effort. You have to nurture it. Everyday. If you don’t protect it, you can lose it. But the good news is that if you realize you’re financially struggling, it only takes a simple decision to stop, evaluate and start building better money habits (even how small you think it is – I started with 2%). Eventually, you’ll be surprised how far that simple decision to build that habit would take you. The good news is that once you’re able to pay off your debts, you can take the same habit and begin saving for your peace of mind. It gets even better because you no longer pay interest; the bank is now the one paying you that instead of the other way around. Cheers and let’s live life free from the bondage of debts!


Modern day slavery

The world of money is like a modern day slavery.

Did slavery end after the Exodus from Egypt? Or did it end when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “all persons held as slaves…shall be free”?

How is it that Filipinos are still having a hard time working their assess off but barely make a living. 

Are we really free? Or are we just catering to the system that has enslaved many people for many generations. All your life, you’ve been sucked into a system where your sweat, blood and tears are paying for everything.

Investing in a house, for example, will tie you up for the next 25 to 30 years.

If you are already in your forties, by the time your loan ends, you’ll be in your 70’s.  Who wants to be paying for a loan in their 70’s? Shouldn’t you be just enjoying life since you are already retired by then?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating not working or getting something for nothing. It just feels like that there’s something seriously wrong on how the world is set up.

The more I experience the world of money, the more I realize a lot of things — that a man is buried into worrying about money all his life. You worry about how to earn more. Then once you are able to earn money, you next worry about how to keep what you earned. After that, you worry about how to make it grow. Once the money grows, you worry about passing it to your children, and how to train them to grow it even more. The worrying never stops. Most people do not even get to that. They get stuck worrying how to pay off their debts. Some even can only go so far as worry for their next meal. 

How is it that well-meaning people, who just wants to live simply cannot even get beyond worrying about money? Is it really a case of not working hard enough? Or is the system simply skewed towards making life harder for the “modern day slaves.”

It made me realize that some business models are aimed to leverage (or exploit) the severe inequality of this world. The competitive advantage of the outsourcing industry, for example, is based on the difference in exchange rate in between countries from developed nations vs those in the developing nations. One of the reasons we are able to price our offerings competitively is because our currency in the Philippines is 50x lower than those in the western world. When this balance tips over to other side, the business model will not make sense anymore. 

Why should our money be only 50x of other countries? Who made the rules? 

When I went to the U.S. for a 6-month stint, I saw that we were no different from the people I was working with. They are no better than us. I feel like we are even better in some sense, since we are more willing to work hard. But looking at the lifestyle that they lead, you start to wonder how is it that you are living completely different lives when you are doing the same work? You wish you had similar or at least a comparable lifestyle commensurate to the work you are putting in. But that’s not the reality we are living in.

Is it unfair? Yes. Am I saying we should not be doing outsourcing anymore? Of course not. I am not naive. I think we should take advantage of the opportunity to the best that we can. Learn from them. Learn the technologies. Learn the discipline. Learn everything we can. 

While doing that we should also be working on creating more value. Create more Filipino brands who server the whole world. Our country needs to transform from a consumer-centric nation to a world-class producer of great value. We have already proven that we can compete with the best. We have great singers, boxers, nurses, OFWs and so much more. We should dream to get to that point until the world can no longer ignore us. Until the balance of power tips over and we no longer have to rely on the currency exchange to save us. 

We should learn to stand on our own two feet. Imagine a world where we are one of the superpowers, bringing so much value to the world, in different industries, across the globe, even when our Philippine peso already is at par with the other powerful nations. I dream for that to happen in my lifetime, when the currency exchange reaches that of 1PHP = 1USD or whoever is the most powerful currency in the future. Imagine a day when Filipinos no longer have to go abroad and be discriminated against. Imagine us having the freedom to travel and go to places, not forced to do something and sacrifice being away from our families only because that’s the only option we have due to the inequality being brought by the unfairness of currency exchange. 

When that happens, I wish for the world to also experience what is it like to be a Filipino — to be a little bit kinder, a little bit more accommodating, a little bit more human. A world where all the good things that make the Filipino race something we can be proud of is in full display: friendly and welcoming, smiling in spite of disasters, enduring in all of life’s calamities, thriving and making the world a better place, a place not ruled by worrying about money but the spirit of abundance that lives in us all. A world where we can say we’re finally free. Imagine a day that becomes true.


I went back to Corporate after 10 years and here’s what I discovered

After more than a decade outside the corporate world, I went back. As for the reason why I went back, I’ll share it with you next time, but for now I’d like to share with you why I resigned again…2 years since going back. There are 3 reasons: Health, Family and Freedom.


Now that I am in my 40’s, I feel that my health is not where it was before. It takes me longer to recover from a strenuous activity, like playing in a competitive sports like basketball and badminton. When I was younger, there was no such thing as recovery time. After a bit of rest, I’m ready to go. Now, it takes me days to recover at least before I can compete again. I can’t keep up with younger players anymore.

I have already resigned from the fact that I no longer compete for the prizes, but only to enjoy the time to play and get myself play something that I love. I am happy that I can play these sports that I love.

Not sure if the pandemic had anything to do with it, but being inside the room for a long period of time has encouraged me to take more activities than I can probably handle now that I am a little bit older. 

It’s like revenge travel, but instead it’s revenge playing outside the house.

There were also instances where it took a little bit longer for me to recover from my coughs and colds. Maybe I am just getting a little bit older.

When I went back to work 2 years ago, the first thing I noticed was the adjustment I had to make in terms of the physical demands of work. Even though I was working at home, I now had to wake up a little bit earlier than I used to. I had to adjust my waking hours. It took a few weeks but eventually I settled into a routine that helped me.

The first weeks were brutal. It’s been a while to be in the corporate so the adjustment was expected but one of the things that really got to me was time spent doing nothing. As you know when you’re new to a company there’s normally a period where you are on bench while they are preparing to onboard you to your next project. But I wasn’t used to doing nothing the whole day. I spent the whole time going through training that I wouldn’t even know if I am ever going to use, or if they will be relevant. 

I took trainings and got my certifications. It’s like going back to school again. Fortunately, I managed to pass all of them and got exposed to new technologies. For that I am grateful. 

But mentally, the moments where you are staring at the clock and just waiting for the end of your shift to end is soul sucking. It’s like you’re wasting away your life to an unknown force. Every minute feels like a month that’s taken from your life…bringing you closer to your death.

My mental health was really challenged. I feel like, I can give more. I don’t want to be wasting the years I have left. You never know until when you are here on this earth. I don’t want to be wasting it just staring at a clock every day.


One of the things that I value most is my time with my family, especially my wife and 2 boys. I had to adjust to the idea that my time with them will have to be shared with my work. Since I am in a company that is rendering 45-hour workweek. That’s 9 hours per day + 1 hour lunch, total of 10 hours per day. There was also a time when I had to endure an hour traffic going to the office and another hour back home. So that’s already 12 hours total. This does not include overtime hours whether paid or unpaid. I realized I am already spending more than half of my day working, without building anything that can have a residual income or a capital gain in the future. Perhaps the only thing that I am building is a reputation that I can deliver, which only my manager and perhaps his/her boss knows. I don’t feel like I am building anything in terms of developing a reputation across the industry I am working on.

One of the things that made me really re-think whether this kind of setup is the one for me is when my son attended a recognition program, for which he received an award. I was able to go there, but had to miss the medal ceremony because I had to attend a meeting at work. It pained me to see that because of work, I had to miss one of the important events in my son’s young life. I was there, but I could not even watch him receive the award. My son is very understanding when I explained it to him. But then again, that was a big deal for me personally.

The reason that’s a big deal for me was because my father missed a lot of important milestones in my life because of work. Money was always hard to come by. I remember that my dad was always doing so many stuffs just to earn money. I felt like it’s important for me to not let earning money be the reason why I can’t attend an important event in my son’s life. 

This year, our company started mandating return to office, and that started a huge adjustment in my part. The little flexibility that was available before, is no longer at my disposal. The last 3 months before I resigned, I was working 5-days a week return to office. In short, I was already working 10-hour days every day. I had to endure the commute to work and back home. I had to pay for things that I didn’t have to before, like parking, lunch, dinner. When I did my analysis, I was losing money compared to when I was working at home. The thing was, there are 3 resources that are important to me that is suffering: Money, Time and Energy. Obviously, with the additional expenses, I am losing money. With the drive to work and back home, I am spending a lot of time in traffic. Doing this every day took a toll on my energy and health. I had less time to recover. In the weekends, I can’t simply sleep at home because my family would want to go somewhere, because they too would want to get refreshed. That means additional expenses, the 2 days a week would become even shorter compared to the 5-day workweek. More importantly, my health was suffering because I had very little time to recover from the gruelling week. 

The type of work nowadays requires a lot of mental effort, not a no-brainer task like those in a factory setup. A lot of the things that consume my energy is in solving complicated problems and understanding different systems. More often than not, you have to learn a new system quickly and be ready to get up to speed immediately. Some are technical in nature and time is not always on your side.  Often times, you don’t even have an idea whether something will work or not. You just keep the faith and do the best you can. But everything has a price. And most of the time, the price to pay is in degradation in health physically, mentally, psychologically. The more complex the project you are working on, the more stakeholders you have to work with. The technical problems are the easy part. The hard part is in dealing and communicating with people. Different personalities. Different priorities. Different ways of looking at the problem and how to approach it. Again, these kinds of problems take a toll on your health.

That’s why recovering my health was important for me. Physical health, mental health, psychological health. There were moments where I was feeling really sad and it made me decide to take a break from all these things.

My health is important to me and at this time of my life I am choosing myself.


Perhaps I am not really cut out to be an employee. My spirit is too stubborn, and I feel my whole being is screaming for freedom.

Growing up, I have always been someone who does not enjoy getting orders from someone else. Something deep inside of me makes my blood boil. Perhaps it’s ego. Perhaps it’s something else. Perhaps I’m just stubborn. I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong. I am willing to work. I also deliver results. I am recognized consistently in all my works and they compensate me both in awards and bonuses. More importantly, I can work with anyone. I am mature enough to know when something is important. It means I have to swallow my pride and not sweat over small stuffs. Most of the time, just letting it go to save your peace of mind is the better path. Life is short to be getting worked up about things at work that you wish to be better.

If there’s a lesson I learned during the Covid years, it is the realization that there are only few things in this life that is worth your trouble. I also learned that you can live life without a lot of the other stuffs. Life doesn’t have to be complicated.

The pursuit of material things? Recognition? Pleasing other people? Never ending hustle for money? I have since learned to let them go and seek freedom instead of carrying unnecessary burdens all your life.

Perhaps, this is just part of getting older. After all, we were born into this world with nothing. It is but fitting that when we finally go back to the one who created us, we will also take back nothing. To live with freedom, one must be willing to let go and learn to live lighter.