I probably learned the lesson of gratefulness in the most unexpected time and place. Back when I was around ten or eleven years old, I attended the National Girl Scout Convention in Cebu as the representative of the province of Tarlac, accompanied by the First Lady of Tarlac, Mrs. Ocampo. These were the days when Ting-ting Conjuangco was not yet in the limelight and it was the Ocampos who were still reigning the political dynasty of our province.
A few hours later after what seemed to be the most-luxurious ride of my life (my first ever Pajero ride!) and a three-hour flight from Manila to Cebu, we finally arrived at the Marco Polo Hotel. Without any type of pretentiousness, Mrs. Ocampo carried all of her stuffs while I follow her to the lobby .
While me and Mrs. Ocampo (minus her alalay and/or her driver) were hopping to get into the elevator, going into our room at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, somebody held the door for us. I am not pretty sure whether the hotel staff knew who she was or he was just being helpful after seeing a unique combination of a very young girl scout in uniform with big backpacks and a very dignitary figure, who was almost immaculate in her every move.
Now here is the part where I learned the lesson:
As the elevators close on us, I just stood there feeling tired and non-interactive with anybody, even to Mrs. Ocampo. Then suddenly, she said in the most subtle but effective way, “We have to be always thankful to anybody, no matter who they are or what they’ve done!”. She finished that powerful line with her gaze on my eyes as she waved thank-you to the hotel staff.
I was deeply embarrassed after hearing that. Embarrassed because I felt like I lost my manners and that I needed to be reminded!
I felt like the promise of being a model citizen failed me – by forgetting to say “thank you” to the hotel staff!
I felt even littler to have heard such as a statement from the First Lady herself!
But, I made it through. I took the lesson and when she treated me for some sushi (my first time to eat sushi), I made sure I told her loud and clear, “Thank you, Mrs. Ocampo!”
Questions for you all: Have you been thankful to everybody? Have you been thankful to your yaya (your house helper)? or to the person who photocopies your books? have you been thankful to the world, when you get up in the morning? have you been thankful because you can walk? (believe me, when I was limping for over two months at the beginning of this year…I was really grateful during the days that I could wear my high heels!)
Have you been thankful?
How thankful have you been?
- A. M. S.