Dreaming big

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Friday, March 14, 2014

EIGHTEEN years ago, I said goodbye to a great man, Primitivo. Among his peers, he was known as a generous man who has a different, unusual definition of being rich. He was sent to his grave by almost a thousand people. On his graveyard, I promised to live his dream, “To serve my purpose.”

Thirty years ago, I was born and registered as “Primitivo Ferraris Paypon Jr.” But after my father left us with a beautifully long-lived life, I decided to give myself a shorter name than his, and that’s when “Prim” was birthed. And that’s when I started to dream.

In grade school, I was a dunce who stuttered. My Fridays would never be complete if I do not see my name on the corner of the blackboard for Saturday remedial classes. My two eldest sisters would review with me my lessons, and I would diligently put each one in my head.


But come school time, all things learned evaporate after “fear of not knowing” consumes me. But one day, still in grade school, my class adviser asked the class, “What do you want to be when you group up?” Like how my father would teach me to be courageous, I answered, “I wanted to be on stage, get a medal and speak in front of my classmates.” And that came from a dunce who stuttered.

When I started to know how to read, write and speak, I dreamt of become a community doctor. I moved heaven and earth to get a scholarship grant in college because that’s the only thing I know on how I can help my mother raise nine children, alone.

I got into college with a full scholarship grant, graduated with a degree in Biology, but did not end up as a medical student. I ended up loving communities, though. And I also ended up in national broadsheets as the grade school dunce who turned out to be a high school valedictorian and graduated summa cum laude.

In the four years that I dreamt of becoming a community doctor, I fell in love with communities which made me want to serve the Philippines more.

I fell in love with the stories of Jesse Robredo, Haydee Yorac, Ramon Magsaysay, Dr. Fe del Mundo. I felt so much pride in being a Filipino, that my life’s celebrities are Filipinos who greatly and generously served our nation.

I got a love bug for them that I decided to create a personal directory with all of them in it, and hope to meet each of them someday. Over the years, my personal directory grew into a list of 614, including the now great Filipinos whose passions continue to pursue dreams, serve communities and transform lives.

Years after college, while my college batchmates were doing rounds in the hospitals, I committed myself to learning the ropes of corporate and development practice. I was working on a personal mission “to serve my purpose.” I was apprentice to social movers and development practitioners. I was doing voluntraining in almost all weekends, which allowed me to visit and serve 12 regions. And that’s where I found out how dreams are scarce in regions where resources are scarce, too.

Last year, I knew it was my time to take that leap of faith. While the Filipino food company – my only corporate home – was grooming me for bigger things, I took the road to become a pro bono development worker. I knew in my heart that it was time for me to go, and serve my personal mission.

While much has been said about how uninspired and lost our young Filipinos, the world has celebrated the outstanding contributions and inspiring life stories of Filipinos. I am a myriad of those Filipino dreams, of those great Filipino inspirations. And I dream to give and share these great stories to the future of our nation.

I may not be able to address the poverty of wealth they have, but I can gift them something more powerful than poverty: dreams. And they are free gifts.

And now is the only time to teach them how to dream and dream big for the Philippines. And now is the time that they get to know successful and inspiring stories of our now great Filipinos.

On June 24, 2013, we launched The Dream Project PH in Bacolod City to help build the nation by shaping the dreams of the Filipino youth. What started as a personal advocacy is now a non-profit, volunteer-based community initiative in partnership with the Provincial Tourism Office and Department of Education – Negros Occidental.

Because today’s dream is tomorrow’s future.

After all, my father taught me well how to imagine and engineer a future. But more importantly, he taught me how to be rich and that is, to give more.

This column is dedicated to sharing the life stories and passion works of inspiring Filipino imagineers who continue to give so that communities are built, and dreams are served.

I hope my father is proud of me as an imagineer. (Prim Paypon)


(Prim Paypon is a dream enabler and a voluntrainer who founded The Dream Project PH which helps build the nation by shaping the dreams of the Filipino youth.)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 14, 2014.


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