I've been slowly sorting through some of the old stuff in the house, figuring out what to keep and what to dispose of. Today, I found this in one of the boxes in the storage room. And around it is a personal story.

After graduating from college, I couldn't get a job. It was the height of the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s. At the time, most of the job openings offered in the animal industry were sales related. And as anyone who knows me well enough can attest to, that is something I was never really built for. So after failing to find a job I wanted and getting rejected trying to apply for jobs I didn't want, I went back to UPLB at the behest of my dad and briefly worked as an assistant at the UPLB Foundation, Inc. I was paid 55 Pesos per hour (for my non-Filipino friends, that was a little under US$1.50 at the time). I wasn't planning on taking that job seriously, but my boss, the character that he is, told on my dad I was slacking of, wearing shredded jeans at work and all that. 😄

With the Librero name half-jokingly on the line, I straightened up, stopped wearing the shredded jeans and worked hard over long hours. I even gave up my computer games during that stretch. One time I had the car for the day but was so focused on my work trying to earn that extra 55 Pesos, I forgot to pick up my mom from her office -- and this was after her stroke, so her days of walking herself home was over. My dad had to hurriedly head back from Manila to pick her up and was furious, but didn't berate me too much as he begrudgingly accepted the reason behind my negligence. But needless to say, I didn't let that happen again.

I finally got my first paycheck near the middle of May 1998. It wasn't worth much, but boy did I feel rich, lol. My parents' 26th wedding anniversary was looming, so I knew exactly what to spend on first. So one Saturday, I went to the mall and aimlessly walked around for hours, not knowing what to get. Passing through a Unisilver (or maybe SIlverworks) stall, it occurred to me that I wasn't able to give them anything for their silver anniversary, so this would be a good time to make up for it. Anything made of silver or even silver-plated would cost a good chunk of my earnings, but I didn't care. Eventually, I settled with this angel candleholder. I probably chose this for that balance between being substantial enough (at almost 20cm) without costing me everything I had. In hindsight, maybe it would've been fine spending on something a lot fancier, because this is now the only thing I remember spending on back then, anyway. Still, this was the first and one of the most meaningful gifts that I ever gave my parents (at least on my part). It is also a memory of my personal growth at that point in my life.

So, yes…. This definitely stays with me and will go out of storage and back to one of the display shelves here in the house.