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Note to my younger self

The wisdom we gain throughout our lives is acquired by things we are taught and by navigating the different experiences and challenges that come our way. Growing up, you probably thought you had all the answers, but no matter how mature we thought we were at that point, we all eventually come to a conclusion that some things are only going to be learned by surviving past the hurdles that life throws at you. Even if you think you've got it all figured out, there are always going to be more challenges, victories, trials and surprises that will shape who you are. It's important to realize the value of the lessons we learn through life experience so that we are equipped for whatever comes next and not make the same mistakes.

Equally important is listening to other people's experiences and advice and accepting and understanding how this shared wisdom would be applicable to you. And who better to get advice from than your future self? We asked some people to tell us what they would tell their younger selves and here are their answers.


Aimee Marie N. Nuñez-Regala ,39


1. Try to start your family early. Don't lose focus that having a family of your own takes a backseat. --- I always dreamt of having 20 kids! I never thought I'd have difficulty getting pregnant. But turns out I'm one of those truly blessed moms that had to go through blood, sweat & tears to have babies.

2. Trust that God's timing is always perfect. --- Never lose your faith. And never give up. I had 3 IUIs & 5 IVFs before we were given our 1st miracle baby. We even tried IVF at another country but had to fly home because my husband was rushed to their ICU ER. Had we lost hope, we might not have had Adriana (Lizzy)! or Natalia (Lexi)! (our 2 miracle rainbow babies).

3. Remember that as you are growing up, your parents are getting older. --- Look after them best you can & give them as much of your time & love as possible. Be patient with them because they were patient with you. You'll only really know what they went through when you become a parent yourself. Don't give them a reason to worry. Admittedly, I had a party girl stage that may have caused them quite a headache. This I do regret. I wish I never gave them any stress.

4. Friends you meet during Med School will be your brothers & sisters for life. You are soldiers who have been to battle together. That stays with you forever. --- Never be too busy to catch up. You'll never know a Pandemic may come that'll keep you apart!

5. Make time for your siblings. Don't get too caught up in your own lives that you forget you all shared a womb.

6. Save up as early as you can. For rainy days. --- Had I not started saving as early as Grade 4, I would not have known its real value & would have had a difficult time during our fertility workups & emergency admissions.

7. Recognize the partner who truly loves you & will fight for you. You will know by the way he treats you during your darkest moments. That will reflect on how he will be as a dad, too! --- Don't wait until the right person gives up on you. When I was too carefree, I took my then boyfriend for granted. Thankfully, he stuck by me & became my husband & the father of my children. I found someone who reminded me of my dad - their kindness, selflessness, & patience.

8. Do not, I repeat: Do NOT pop that pimple! --- Self explanatory. haha!

9. Time is gold. --- I took some time off after my Medical Boards. I figured since I saved a couple of years being in Human Biology pre-Med, it would be ok to rest a bit. Rest turned into a vacation that stretched on & on, which led me to realization #1 above! You see, they're all interconnected.

10. Beach, please! --- Spend as much me-time as you can by the ocean. Sun, sand, waves, fresh air, peace of mind. Best medicine ever. Priceless. Go back to #6. If you can, save enough for that dream beach house. Or at least that dream vacation.

11. Yoga. --- Self-love. Meditation. This was so healing for me that I got addicted to it. I would practice everyday & it became a way of life. I got so inspired in Bali because the practice gives you so much peace. But then - fertility work ups. So I was advised to pause for a while (It will depend on your own case & your OB's advise.) Haven’t been able to return. Because kids.

12. Keep a journal. Take videos & make them into home movies. --- You may not want to forget. Especially once you have kids. Those sweet little moments you can never get back.

13. Take a lot of photos. And print them. --- You will never be this young again. You'll need proof. Haha! Because gravity!

14. Be significant. --- Share parts of yourself. If you can give something, anything - your time, advise, a hug (maybe the hugs we can save for after the pandemic?) - do it now. Time flies by so fast. You'll be surprised 'di ka mauubos. On the contrary, you'll grow to be much bigger than you can imagine. What you think is so little may be magnified for those you inspire.

15. Don't be afraid to ask. --- If there's something you need to know, just ask. Miscommunication is sad. Not knowing is harder. Which bring us to #16.

16. Tell your loved ones you love them. Any chance you can get. Don't wait until it's too late.

17. Be pleasant. We are all fighting our own battles. It wouldn't hurt to be kind. You'll never know whom you'll be inspiring.

18. Be simple. --- If there's anything these tough times have taught me, it's that all those extras are really just that - extras. Those that really matter are those in your home, their health & safety. Things that can never be bought. Invest in that. When this is all over, do not forget. Remember.


Raymund Joseph "Mon" Santos, 37

Business Unit Head

I thought all along I would become a businessman. In what line of business? I had no idea!

I recall back in the day, I would sell anything that pops in my head - from music discs that I would patiently download from iMesh, Limewire, Kazaa, to the bangles of Thailand (which is cringe-worthy up to now yet I was still proud of doing) to Magic the Gathering and NBA trading cards. I was just on fire and I had it in spades! I just felt that I had it in me and I could just sell whatever is in front of me.

In retrospect though, it was a consequence of having no clear direction at all. I was incongruous, I wanted to do different stuff all at once. I was the jack-of-all-trades type of dude. It was probably because of my devil-may-care mantra during my 20ish years. How I wish I could have read the future and planned what is ahead of me. But would I really want to take it back and change it? Naah.. its an unexpected gift and I wouldn't trade it for anything since it was a big part of my journey of what I have become now. Experience will always be the best teacher, not your college favorite who would always notice your hair and outfit.

Talking about college, few months before I graduated, I was still in the crossroads of an obscure future. Should I pursue law since that was Mama's lifelong dream? Or go to graduate school as it was popular then? Or jump straight to corporate work since i want to showboat to my parents that I can work my way up and make a legit living in an industry where they’re not known at?

Three years down the drain, I was hardly making ends meet.

I thought I had it but being young and aggressive were not enough… what is missing? I didn’t know where to go. So it was a slap in my face.

In 2007, opportunity came and an unknown (to me) industry was introduced -agriculture. I had no idea what was like working for that industry, I didn’t even like plants that time which is totally the antithesis of my 30-something self. Oh yeah, I am a certified plantito now. I’m a marketing graduate who was used to wearing "gusot-mayaman barong" and longsleeves with tie. All I had was the courage and acumen to sell anything, like a purveyor of everything.

Never, even in an alternate universe, did it cross my mind that I’d be working in an industry that makes up 40% of the Filipino workforce and contributes 20% of our country’s GDP. What used to be a long shot too, was to lead a group of people whom I would really invest time with and treat them as an extension of my family. It all became too personal, oftentimes taxing, but that’s just how I am passionate in my line of work because the results are rewarding and it has always been worthwhile. It was not in my playbook all along but when I flipped through the pages, it was just there waiting to be read. I can’t consider it a dream-come-true since I have never dreamt of it but I’m just lucky enough to have landed a job that I ended up loving as if it has been running through my veins.

If I’d be given the chance to talk to my 20ish version of me, I would advise him to try to work on your foresight, plan what’s ahead; don’t try to be good at everything because you will never be. Just focus on what you’re good at, sharpen your saw once in a while and tap good mentors/coaches who can guide you through that journey - I can name a few that made a significant impact in my life, you know who you are. School is for habit formation, it’s not there to make you a successful businessman nor a CEO, it’s just there to make you realize that making it to your class, even without listening, will matter in the end. The yardstick for success will always be measured by the work and effort that you put in. That’s why the story of the Zuckerburgs, Jack Mas, Steve Jobs of this world are no cliches... it has always been the effort and the willingness.

One thing that has become easy now for millennials (like me, offense not meant) is the access to information. It became ubiquitous and readily available. It’s just up to us how to navigate through our good ol' friend google. Everything is at our fingertips and people became smarter, even if most are not (including me admittedly). The challenge for everyone now is how you would outwork your competition the moment you graduate? Do you have to be technologically advanced/adept? Straight up answer- you just have to make up your mind, realize your strengths and put in the effort to elevate your game.


Jean Mattel Labitoria, 36


Speak up - This is the number 1 thing I wish I could tell my younger self. Don’t be afraid to voice out your opinion and be yourself. People will either accept you for who you really are or be like me, I had a lackluster early life with no memories of having done the things I would have loved doing and just followed what the crowd had told me. To this day, I regret this the most.

Appreciate your parents more - God will take them earlier than you think. So thank them at every opportunity. Make more time for them.

Make time for friends - Make sure you have time for them too! I lost friends due to lack of time and communication... and when I realized it, we’ve all grown apart.

Those are my advice. Wish I have a time turner like Hermione so I can do all of those!

Lastly, I’ve realized. Happiness is being content with what I have now and to not constantly compare myself to other people.


Deej Damian-Hernandez, 36

Freelance Virtual Assistant

​1.I will tell myself not to be afraid to dream big. It will seem scary at first but everything will work out eventually.

2. Always know your worth.

3. Don’t rush things that aren’t meant to be (yet).

4. Stop apologizing too much and don’t be afraid to put yourself first sometimes.

5. Invest in gold jewelries! LOL


Luigi Aldeguer, 40

Marketing Manager

My daughter asked me before, if there was something I could change in the past what would it be? I told her I would have taken school more seriously than I did cause my decisions back then are now affecting the lives of my children.


Noana Lichauco, 37


If I had the chance to tell my younger self something to guide her along the way towards the future, it would be, everything happens for a reason. You learn from circumstances. So, just trust God, have faith, knowing that His wisdom surpasses all understanding, He created everything! Do not compare yourself to others. Just do your best in all things, do it for the Lord!


Liza Marie Santiago, 35

Part-time Data Analyst (8 hours a day), Full-time Mom 24/7

If there’s anything worthy to impart to my younger self, it is to always trust your guts and instincts. It is truly amazing how a woman’s intuition is heavily rooted and aligned with the truth. It’s as if a woman’s instinct is driven by the Hand of God and is led to the light of truth. It has saved me several times and even until now, I try to imagine what would have happened had I not trusted and went on with my gut.

Trusting my instincts over the years made me a better person, helped me make the right choices and decisions (I hope) and saved me from all the unnecessary heartaches, toxicity and negativity in this lifetime. It molded me to become the better version of myself for my son Andre and for my family. It enabled me to take risks, no matter how far fetched or unreasonable they may be for others, just because I believed and will always believe in a Higher Purpose that God has paved for me throughout these years.

Just like my photo here, I have learned to jump into the unknown, literally from 14,000 feet off a plane, because I knew and I trusted my instincts that somewhere, somehow I will land safely on the ground once again [through the help and guidance of others]. It may be hella scary and friggin’ cold up there while free-falling, but the view is totally magnificent when you look at a different perspective and focus on the good things as you fall back to the ground. You may even have time to savor the fleeting moment while parachuting slowly back to reality [the ground]. It is practically the same in life - you jump, you fall, you rise and pick yourself up, you make mistakes, you learn from them - all while free-falling every now and then, but still landing safely back on the ground amidst the challenges along the way.

After all, life isn’t about the destination, right? It is most definitely about the journey, the whole of it, with all its bits, pieces and crumbs. So yeah, trusting your instinct and of course trusting the Higher Purpose will make the journey a lot meaningful and rewarding. Life is scary, yes, but it is scarier when you live life without faith and trust to the One True God who lays down the truth for you and talks to you through your gut feel and intuition, always. It all boils down to TRUST.


Ang Cruz , 36


I would probably tell my younger self to put all my savings in the stock market during the 2008 financial crisis.


Kristoffer Cheng 37

Digital Sales & Marketing Manager

Kc, 2 Things I want to tell you,

1. Find your identity in Christ

I know this might sound cliché, but you will try to find your identity, value, worth, and security in a lot of things like fame, relationships, power, money. However, all of these things will leave you empty. It is because your identity, value, and worth are found in Jesus Christ.

When you find your security & identity in Christ, it will turn your statements from "I'm better than you and I'll prove it" or "you're better than me and I resent it" to "I'm unworthy like you but as precious to God in Christ like you." You start to value others well because you will see them as Christ sees them.

2. Know how to prepare for a relationship

Kc, don’t fall in love because you're lonely, fall in love because you're ready… Ready by being fully complete in Christ. That’s where you will learn to love not to get something but you love because in Christ you already have everything.

Marriage is the most humbling & character building journey you will ever be a part of. It forces you to wrestle with your selfishness & pride. It also gives you a platform to display unconditional love & commitment.

Being a good husband requires intentionality and preparation. While you’re young, focus not on finding the one but on being the one. Prepare to be the husband God has called you to be: A Sacrificial Lover, A Servant Leader, A Strong Protector & A Sure Provider.

Learn to be a sacrificial Lover. If you win the hearts of many people and be successful in all that you do but fail to win the heart of your wife daily, then you failed. And, you can only win your wife’s heart once Christ has captured yours.

Learn to be a Servant leader. Lead not by imposing change but by inspiring change through modeling it by how you live your life.

Learn to be a strong protector. Protect your wife physically and, more importantly, emotionally by learning to control your own emotions, especially your anger.

Learn to be a sure provider financially and spiritually. Save up while you're young it’s not how much you make but how you manage what you make. And, more importantly, lead her to grow in Christ.

I know this is overwhelming and it should, because you can’t do this on your own. You need Christ to empower you to do all these things. It is not something you pursue but a by-product of your pursuit of Christ as He Loves you, leads you, provides for you and protects you. So KC, Love Christ and not religion. Focus on loving Him so that His love will overflow to others through you!


Timmy Aguado , 36


Stop worrying and trust God! I would always worry if I would get a certain job, have a family of my own, have enough money to procure something etc. It would give me great anxiety to wait and wait and wait for blessings to come. And now that I have everything I love and need, I wish I had learned to trust God's timing more.


Jr Sy, 36


Life gets interesting as it goes on, do the things you love, set goals that motivate you and don’t be afraid to take more risk. Everyone has failed and everyone will fail again. We gained experience and more knowledge from failure, use it to your road to success. Never give up and always bet on yourself.

Live with your values every day, what you do from this day forward, matters.


Strawberry Acaso Castro, 35

Vendor Delivery Analyst

“You sure took the long, and not only winding but also rough roads. You wasted a lot of time with unnecessary detours but I don’t want you to change anything. Because I won’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for all those wrong turns. So go ahead, enjoy the drive. Full speed ahead!”


Star Tito , 36


What I would tell to my younger self is that enjoy every season of your life cause God has a purpose for it.


Glazel Ann Ramirez, 35

Stay At Home Mom

Have kids earlier, might have a bigger chance of having a girl. I think its nice having someone to tag along and do girls stuff. Invest as early as you can. Now that I have my own family all I want is for them to have the sense of security. Lastly, stop caring so much what everyone thinks about you. Like what I tell my son Luqas, it doesn’t matter what people think about him as long as he has a good heart, and is always kind. That’s what matters.


Ida Evina Ong-Co, 35

Country Manager, Seagate Philippines

Focus on your goal and don't let unnecessary things distract you and undermine your inner strength. Don't be insecure of your (young) age because anyone can achieve anything as long as they are doing their job right. Your "never give up" attitude will build you good experiences and will definitely gain you more confidence through time.

Use your emphatic talent to have an instinctive sense of the emotions of others and try to hear out the unvoiced questions and find the right words to help other people express their feelings. This talent will be of great strength for you to become a consistent team player and an inspirational leader someday.

Lastly, continue to fuel your passion and never stop learning. Be conscious of your strengths that you can utilize and of your weaknesses that you need to improve on. Self Awareness is vital. Relax and give all that you can and everything will fall into place.


Teng Ongpin, 36

Real Estate Broker

I would tell myself, your time here on earth is fast. Take the time and initiative to have meaningful relationships with the people around you. You are lucky you were given a chance to spend time with your Lola. It's a privilege to be living with a grandparent. So don't fight with her over petty stuff! (Good thing, I was still able to learn a lot of things from her while she was still alive and living with us. For that, I am very grateful!)

Pay attention in your Accounting and Math classes. It will be a big help on a lot of things and when you file your taxes.

Leave your eyebrows alone it is better thick not thin!!

And! The best is yet to come!


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