My theory of HOPE

I’ve been meaning to write about my personal theory of HOPE for quite some time after I wrote about it on Rappler a few months ago.  It is an interesting synthesis of my life’s work so far and I humbly offer it to anyone who cares.

What prompted me to write this was a recent post about me made by Lifebyme where they asked me “what is most meaningful to you?”

I have been asking myself that as well over the years and though I am not sure that I have found it, I am guessing it found me.

The Yellow Boat Journey

Last October 29, 2010, I traveled to Zamboanga City for the first time to speak about the government’s digital agenda to over 100 bloggers from across the region for the 4th Mindanao Bloggers Summit.  Being part of the 2010 presidential campaign, I tried to meet some of our volunteers during the sidelines of the summit and one of them during our casual discussions over the state of things in the country mentioned to me about kids having to swim just to get to school in a nearby mangrove village.  That story really tugged at my heart.  And so upon returning to Manila, I shared the story on my Facebook account, texted and called some friends and the rest as they say is history.

Today, the Yellow Boat Project has spread to over 6 communities around the Philippines and our little movement is now officially registered as the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Inc.

Never did I imagine while growing up in Cotabato City that I would one day be a co-founder of an organization like this that serves children and communities in the education sector.


Children in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City now use these yellow boats to go to school
The Yellow Boat Project became a symbol of hope.   The community in Layag-Layag (Zamboanga City) helped us christen the very first boat “Bagong Pag-asa” (New Hope) which according to them symbolized this sense of new beginning for them – the boat becoming a source of hope that finally someone is looking at their situation and helping them.

My personal theory of HOPE

Which brings me to the topic of this post – my personal theory of HOPE.  When I was preparing for my TEDx talk in Montpellier, France last January 2012, I was pressuring myself to come up with something that is easy to remember but also substantial.  I wanted it to leave a mark on the participants and the other speakers because the very basic idea in our project was not the boats, Facebook or social media, it was that we were in a way bringing hope to these children, their families and their communities.

At the most basic level, that was the key idea in the project.  And for me, it was an idea worth spreading more than anything else.

It was the popular Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky who said that “to live without Hope is to cease to live,” and for some communities in the country and even for a handful of countries around the world, hope seems to have but vanished altogether.

And it is time we spread more hope again.  Which brings me to my personal theory about the subject.

Many thanks to Leah del Rosario for illustrating this theory of hope

HOPE is very hard to define.  It is not just optimism.  For me, it is a kind of faith in doing something that inspires, that lights up the world.

H is about Harnessing one’ potential – it is about finding what you are passionate about in life.

O is about Opening one’s mind and one’s heart.  It is about opening your mind to the possibilities.  It is also about opening your heart to new lessons, new experiences and ultimately, to failures.  It is about caring for others – being open that you are not in this world only for yourself but also to make a difference in others.

P is about Perspiring or taking action.  Once you have discovered your passion in life, once you are open to new experiences – it is important that you act on those passions and insights.  It is critical that you pursue your dreams in life.  That is what HOPE is all about.  It is about being able to act on opportunities that come your way.  It is also about opening one’s wallet – you have to spend resources to pursue those dreams.  Learn to live with it.

E is about Empowering others.  Just as every climber rushes to go back to town to tell the world that he has climbed the mountain, it is your responsibility to share this new experience with the world.  Inspire others.  Be an agent for others to unlock their full potential.  Do this person to person and at your pace.  And then just as every climber sets out to conquer another mountain, set your sights on a new project, rinse and repeat.

A word of caution: the equation above illustrates that it is not always easy to climb the mountain.  In pursuing your dreams, in giving hope, it is important that you take on the challenges along the way.  There is a period of agony, of hardships, of personal struggles.  There is also a period of tension when you need to find the balance between pursuing your dreams and feeding yourself (or your family).  That is to be expected.  There are always struggles in life.  Learn to live with it.  In fact, expect it.

Look for the waves.

As Heraclitus said “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”

Once you’ve find your passion in life, ride the lows and the highs.

Ride the wave of life.  And enjoy it.

You may sometimes fall off the surfing board or the yellow boat – do get back up and try to ride the wave again.

Finally, realize that waves come and go.  Change is the only constant thing in the world.  After riding one wave, set your sights on another wave and then another wave.  Don’t lose sight of the other good waves just because you failed to ride the last one.

There will always be new ones.

And I guess that is HOPE.

As simple as the smile on this child’s face.  Hope is universal.  And hope is for everyone to give.

In this 5-part series, I discuss the 4 elements of HOPE in greater detail:

H stands for Harnessing your potential and H stands for Harnessing your potential (Part 2)

O stands for Opening your mind and your heart

P stands for Perspiration

E stands for Empowering others

What do you think?

I’m interested to learn about your ideas on HOPE as well.  Drop me a comment here.  Thank you!

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