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A child mentored a twenty-five-year old me.

I know that adults should teach children,
but I realize that children can teach adults as well.
I taught her some few guidelines in dancing,
she taught me important lessons in life.

I am talking about my little buddy, Ayah Leonorio, who grabbed the first runner-up title in Little Miss Mayflower held in our parish. She was so competitive, so talented, that I believe she should have won the championship. Well, it was a fund-raising contest, so what do you expect. Anyways, on the fun part, I thought I might share with you the things I learned from her.

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“Ayah, the whiz kid”

1. The only time you become a winner is when you realize that winning is not everything. – She was asked in question and answer portion if she thinks she should win the contest. Her answer is this: “Well, winning doesn’t matter to me anymore because I know I have already given my best.” If you were in the audience who were just watching her on the stage, you would probably think that her answer was a bit of a cliché and there’s a possibility that her mother coached her. The truth is, I know she learned it on the course of the whole contest. It wasn’t staged—it was the truth she learned on the whole process of the competition. Back when I was teaching her some dance steps, she used to utter “Matatalo ko na din sila” (“Now, I could defeat my opponents.”) Then her mother would tell her that she should think more of giving her best shot, and forget about winning. I also remembered telling her that dancing is not about winning, it’s about performing and giving it all to the audience. I know she came a long way when she said that winning is not everything. I know she learned a lot from the contest, and I am as well reminded by the fact that life is all about giving your best shot.

2. Pursue your passion. – This girl possesses an incredible skill in dancing, and this is not an exaggeration. It was such a joy to watch her bloomed from a cute, little dancer to a young star of her own. I remembered few years ago, I was teaching some teen-agers for a group dance contest, she was there. (Read the full story here.) She volunteered confidently. She was only 6 back then, her co-dancers were 15 and up. Definitely, I couldn’t say no to this girl, she was right above her passion. It turned out, she became the star who made our group won in the contest. I realized that when you are true about your passion, people would resist saying NO to you. Opportunities would flow naturally. I believe major part of her winning the contest is because people saw how passionate she is when she dances. Her moves say it all; dancing is what she loved the most.

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“Off for the parade…”
This is Ayah during the parade with (left to right) Ate Ana (her mom), Mama Erly (her mom’s friend and my friend, too), Stephen (her escort), and Kuya Manding, (her father)

3. Do not be afraid to set your own standards. – When we watch a child perform, we expect her to be imperfect. We, people, are meant to be forgiving to children. We don’t blame them for a half-done presentation. But not with Aya. Biased as it may sound, but I think she set high standard for fund raising contest like the one she just has joined. She has shown pure intelligence, and I believe she won the contest for setting a huge fight with skills rather than money.

4. Experience builds confidence. – We always say that experience is the best teacher, and yes it is. But along with that knowledge, I realized that experience will also hone your confidence. Jittering in front of the crowd will fade away with years of being in front of them, thus being more comfortable in front of them. I realized this after watching Aya. I have seen how much she has improved all through the years she was joining contest after contest. I have seen her truly “own” the crowd with confidence.

5. You’re never too young or too old for your dreams. This is the most important thing I have learned from her. When we were having some dancing sessions, I was kind of reminded of my childhood –of my dreams. She was so passionate for her dreams, I didn’t realized I was also reminded of my dreams as well. When we are but children, we dream lot. Then we lose sight of them as we grow up. We stop to persevere, we stop realizing our dreams. But now I know better. With Aya, I have been given another breath to take on my dreams on new level.

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Ayah and I
I was soaking wet in this picture because of the heavy rain during the parade (and I was riding in a motorcycle.)
I am thankful for all my mentors that came into my life, Ayah included. I am thankful indeed that I gained wisdom from the most unexpected people at the most unexpected times. I could go on boasting about this child, but I hope you gained wisdom from what I shared. After all, we are all learners of this world, young or old.
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