“I’m okay.”, this is our usual response every time someone asks how we are doing. A primary reflex that most of us have used to avoid being faced with the thought of our own happiness. People have subjective definitions on what is happiness and where we derive it from. Happiness could be a good job, complete family, perfect health or it could simply be delicious food. As the world celebrates International Day of Happiness today, we are again faced with the question: “Are you truly happy?”
Happiness and Reality
At an age of anthropocentricism, where human beings are considered the central or most significant species on the planet, all of our actions greatly affect everything else. While a small percent of the world are worrying over “first world problems” such as having WIFI connection or the latest Iphone, the rest are fighting just to live another day with dignity and basic needs. We are now facing a depressing reality that as society is getting richer and more technologically advanced it is not making the world happier. In fact, never have we experienced such great inequality and suffering. We witness wars, hunger and natural calamities. We start forgetting our connection and start thinking that we can exist as islands focusing on ourselves and no one else, thinking that another person’s misery will not affect us, but it does and there is no escaping it.
Formula for Happiness
Action for Happiness has developed the 10 Keys to Happier Living based on a review of the latest scientific research on happiness.
The research suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s overall happiness and well-being. The first five (GREAT) relate to how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities*. The second five (DREAM) come more from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.
GIVING Do things for others R ELATING Connect with people E XERCISING Take care of your body A PPRECIATING Notice the world around T RYING OUT Keep learning new things
D IRECTION Have goals to look forward to R ESILIENCE Find ways to bounce back E MOTION Take a positive approach A CCEPTANCE Be comfortable with who you are M EANING Be part of something bigger
For us to realize our own happiness, we must ask ourselves these questions:
What do you do to help others?
Who matters most to you?
How do you stay active and healthy?
When do you stop and take notice?
What new things have you tried recently?
What are your most important goals?
How do you bounce back in tough times?
What are you feeling good about?
What is the real you like?
What gives your life meaning?
Happiness is quite complex if we keep on postponing it, yet simple if we take the time to answer the questions honestly.
Happy People Means Better World
It is important that we take the time to check if we are happy with our lives. Several research have shown that happiness doesn’t just feel good, it has a lot of benefits for our performance, health, relationships and society. An extensive study in the British Medical Journal followed people over 20 years and found that their happiness affected others in their networks across “three degrees of separation”. Happiness is contagious, making yourself happy means making your friend’s friend happy too. Countries with happy citizens have better GDP’s and standards of living. It is your obligation not only to you and your loved ones but to the world in general.
What are you waiting for? Stop denying yourself of happy days.
“Why shouldn’t we play? We have feet to use, eyes to see, mind to think and the confidence to win. Everything that a boy can do, we also can.”, 12-year-old Cresil Mae Penachos of Borongan said during the LFA Women’s Day Football Festival last March 8, 2014. Cresil Mae, together with 77 other girls and women went to University of the Philippines Visayas – Tacloban College football field to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Throughout the course of history, women have always been considered as the weaker gender. Football, being the most prominent team sport played by women, played at the professional level in many countries throughout the world with 176 national teams take part internationally.
Women’s football has faced many struggles throughout its history. In 1921, The Football Association initiated a ban that disallowed women’s football games from the grounds used by its member clubs and it stayed in effect until July 1971. Despite being a developing country with an immense history with European countries, football never won the hearts of the Filipinos.
Mention ‘AZKALS’ to any Filipino and they would immediately say “Men’s National Team for Football”, and yet when you ask them about ‘MALDITAS’, they will only give you a blank stare. It is because unlike the men’s team, there were less media exposure for the women until the recent years when our women’s team won the 2012 LA Viking Cup. Although the Women’s National Team for Football has competed since 1981, the country has yet to give equal opportunities for women seeking to have a career in football. While there is a men’s national league for football, there are no leagues for women.
The case is no different for Tacloban, Fundlife International however is creating a positive change in the field of sports, with their ‘Football for Life’ (F4L) programme wherein they conduct daily training sessions in nine sites across Tacloban. As a show of support for International Women’s Day, Fundlife Int’l encouraged girls under the F4L to join and was not disappointed. More than half of the participants at the festival were from the programme.
It was a fun-filled yet competitive day, where girls shared their love for football and meet new friends. One of the few sport moments, where boys and men were the sideliners ad spectators. Among the teams that joined the festival were the Tacloban Pintadas, an all-girl team formed last January to inspire the participants to actively engage in the programme. Coming back from their first competition in Thirsty Cup held in Cebu, where they managed to make it into the semi-finals beating more experienced teams, the girls once again showcased their skills during the event where they secured a 4th place finish.
Fundlife International sees the vital role that football can have in a woman’s life. According to the United Nations, when girls get involved in sports they are more likely to attend school and participate in society. When women and girls can walk on the playing field, they are more likely to step into the classroom, the boardroom, and step out as leaders in society.
Women’s football has huge potential in the Philippines, with the Malditas currently rank 80th in FIFA despite the recent fiasco which stopped the women from participating in international competitions last year. Filipinas are the most undervalued talents in Philippine football. Let us not indignation or despondency paralyze us from pursuing women’s right to football and sports in general. We need to prove why we rank 9th in world for gender equality.
In spite of the limited promotion and opportunities across the globe, popularity and participation in women’s football continues to grow. Women’s football around the world tends be a mere speck of dust compared to the men’s but we can turn this massive stumbling block into a golden opportunity. A massive transformation has yet to happen for Filipina football players. Filipinas can excel in football given their performance in the international matches but to secure the winning formula in the global arena in the future, we have to start improving local women’s football as early as now. We can help these girls in their paths to success and equality.
Very few girls who play Football will make it to the top-level, but more than producing champion female football players, Fundlife International’s aim is to allow girls to believe they can become champions in any career they choose to pursue. Football provides a visible stage for girls and women to stand equal to men. If we can inculcate that message to all girls to take off the field, then we’re on our way to ensuring a farer, more gender unbiased future exists.
For now, let’s play, smile and continue to share and work on our dreams, both girls and boys, as one.
Out of the 400 kids currently under our training program, 23 kids under 15 were chosen to create 2 teams: 1 male and 1 female.
It was afternoon of February 20th when we met-up with the kids to start our journey. A lot of them were excited, they have never travelled out of their city.
Typhoon Haiyan was the worst typhoon in history and Tacloban City was left to rubbles. Communities lost everything and for people from marginalised communities it seemed like hope was lost.
Months passed since the tragedy happened but up until now people are still rebuilding. While most NGOs and government units are busy rebuilding physical structures, Fundlife International is busy rebuilding lost dreams. Half of Tacloban’s population are youth and to deal with such a traumatic incident, with the Football for Life Project we try to introduce play therapy for psychosocial support as well as to challenge them to work for their dreams.
It was around January when we knew about Thirsty Cup, it is an annual football competition in Cebu City and we knew it was the right motivation for the children to show what they were made of. Out of the 400 kids currently under our training program, 23 kids under 15 were chosen to create 2 teams: 1 male and 1 female.
It was afternoon of February 20th when we met-up with the kids to start our journey. A lot of them were excited, they have never travelled out of their city. Cebu City was one of the big cities in the Philippines and for them it was a dream to go on a ferry boat. It was a 7 hour trip and the boat left by 10p.m. but instead of sleeping early, the kids were so pumped up that they did not sleep until 11a.m. While hanging out with them, I started hearing their stories. For some it was already a big opportunity to compete in another city. Hearing their story of their first travel also took me back to my childhood. I also grew up from a simple family who was always trying to make ends meet. I remember the happiness I felt being on the boat and it was the same thing I saw with the kids. I chatted with them until all of them fell asleep.
4a.m and I woke up to the sound of the stewardess announcing the arrival of the boat in the port of Cebu and I looked at the foot of my bed and there were several girls trying to take a peek on what Cebu looked like. They kept on asking when we would go to the hostel where they would sleep. The moment they got off the boat they started seeing how bigger the city was and two of the boys even decided to sit in front of the jeepney.
As we arrived in the lobby, they gathered around the vending machine. They have never seen such contraption and they asked me to show to them how it works. When we got their room assignment all the kids rushed into the elevator, leaving some of them behind. I told ones left that we should just take the stairs but one little girl looked up to me and said, “Coach it’s my first time taking an elevator.” I just couldn’t deny her of it and so we waited.
After hours of preparing they headed onto the stadium where they met the other teams. Most of them were double their size and yet they did not let it scare them. The boys just lent their shin guards to the girls while both our goal keepers did not have any gloves and still they managed to give a great performance. They never backed down eventhough they went up against more trained players.
The Pintados FC, our boys’ team, went up against three of the best teams but they managed to keep the score of their enemies to 1. While the Pintadas, managed to have 2 draws and a goal that secured their spot in the semis. It was so inspiring to see both teams which were formed in just a month who trained together in just a couple of weeks with barely any equipment, accomplished so much.
As we embarked on the boat back to Tacloban, they were all smiles and stories of how they made it through their first competition and for them it was just a new beginning. They were already asking me when the next training will be. The first taste of victory made them see that they can do more than just wait for people to help them.
Most of the time, we grown-ups do not realise how lucky we are to have certain things and opportunities. These kids made me appreciate a lot of things on the course of our trip, even just having a pair of socks where some of the kids did not even own a pair. To be reminded to not back down from our dreams just because the world seems to big to conquer. These little football players scored their first victory not only on field, but against inequality. From being mere victims of calamity, these young survivors are on their way to being champions of their own lives.