Journey or destination? The company is more important


“Which is more important,” asked Big Panda, the journey or the destination?”  “The company,” said Tiny Dragon.

I came home with this nugget of wisdom after listening to a homily delivered by Fr. Deo Galang at the St. Jo-seph the Worker chapel in Clark Field the other weekend. He urged the mass goers to reflect on the significance of the lessons from St. Luke’s narrative on an encounter in the road to Emmaus, a town near Jerusalem where Jesus Christ was crucified and buried.

Cleopas, the disciple, was conversing with a friend on how they witnessed the journey to Calvary that ended on Mt. Golgotha, and on how people were astonished to find an empty tomb where Christ had been buried. They met Jesus Christ and conversed with him on the road to Emmaus but somehow, they failed to recognize him.

Conversations, said Fr. Deo, enable us to carve pathways to reflections and insights that give us wisdom. It is important for elder people to carry on conversations with the young; it is also vital for the youth to converse with their elders.

It is the conversation between Big Panda and Tiny Dragon that leaves a deep imprint.

How often have we heard well-meaning counsel on how to deal with life’s challenges?  “Persevere till the end. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks along the way. It’s the journey, not the destination.” Reaching the desti-nation is always well worth the efforts exerted to get there.

The destination could be an end point of a long trip, or the peak of a steep ascent. It could be graduating from grade school, high school, or college. Or climbing the corporate ladder until one is promoted to the C-suites – or attains the coveted chief executive officer position. No matter what, it’s the journey that delivers personal gratification or fulfillment.

No, said Tiny Dragon to Big Panda. The company is more important.

“The company” refers to our most cherished friends and fellow travelers – those whose fellowship and com-panionship we have treasured through years and decades.

Last February, I wrote about my boyhood friend Bob Tolosa who rode with me to school in a carretela. He was among my classmates at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati. We celebrated the golden jubilee of our high school graduation in 2019. We maintain an active – and boisterous – Viber chat group – that enables all of us to keep in close tabs.

My high school class is the most enduring and well-bonded company. Not long after we graduated, we were initiated into the era of student activism. Parties and soirees were replaced by rallies and protest marches. Our preparations for our silver jubilee enabled us to assemble anew, not anymore as teeny boppers but as young parents whose kids were already in high school. Even while a good number had migrated abroad, our alumni homecoming every January was always well-attended.

Another cohort whose company I cherish are my classmates from the Master in Business Management (MBM) class of 1978 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). Thanks again to the wonders of Viber we con-verge and converse frequently on cyber space.
In retrospect, what created such strong bonds among us was the shared experience of Boot Camp. For two years, we went through a severe test of will and determination while scaling the graduate school mountain and reaching the summit. In the caseroom, we learned to summon the courage to speak our minds and articulate what we would do if we were the managers-on-the-spot, tackling real-world problems in real time. We devised and crafted strategies for gaining competitive edge, attaining industry leadership and adapting to an ever-changing environment. We also ventured into the exciting realm of entrepreneurship, simulating what it was like to do start-ups and compete in a free market.

We hosted AIM’s alumni homecoming on our 20th year in 1998 at the Coconut Palace with a fiesta theme, complete with fireworks and comedy time featuring Willie Nepomuceno’s wacky impersonations of Presidents Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada and Fidel V. Ramos with his trademark cigar. During our 40th year, we met up in Bangkok. We followed this up with a reunion in Las Vegas just before the pandemic broke out.

The company that I cherish also includes my officemates from my first employer, Far East Bank and Trust Company; my faculty colleagues from the Asian Institute of Management where I taught for 28 years; and my fellow workers in government, especially those from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC); the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the Philippine Information Agency.

Next to my high school classmates, my longest companions have been my fellow Rotarians. I joined Rotary in 1984, or 39 years ago. Rotary bonding is forged on the anvil of volunteer work and service to community.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote and sang about the treasure of lifelong friendships in one of their iconic songs, In My Life:

There are places I'll remember / All my life, though some have changed/
Some forever, not for better / Some have gone and some remain

All these places had their moments / With lovers and friends, I still can recall /
Some are dead and some are living / In my life, I loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers / There is no one compares with you/
And these memories lose their meaning / When I think of love as something new

Though I know I’ll never lose affection / For people and things that went before / I know I’ll often stop and think about them / In my life, I love you more