Photo by Flickr user Joseph Ryan Buhia licensed under Creative Commons

Photo by Flickr user Joseph Ryan Buhia licensed under Creative Commons

By Cornel Bongco

Albay is a province in the Philippines located in the Bicol Region in southeastern Luzon Island. It is traditionally known as the source of abaca. Abaca, is one of the strongest natural fibers known to man. What life and leadership secrets could it reveal? Abaca’s strength is very versatile. It is used in a variety of ways.

1. Abaca is more resistant to salt water decomposition than most other vegetable fibers, making it suitable for rope and cordage manufacture. When you visit ports you may see abaca cordage being used to hold big ships. For abaca to hold a ship, which carries a lot of lives and various kinds of cargo, tells us a lot about its strength.

The strength of a great leader is like so. There are times when leaders silently hold the responsibility of so many lives and the many consequences of their decisions with the strength of their character.  Some leaders’ decisions even affect the future, even when they do not hold their leadership positions anymore. This is a reminder for those who aspire for leadership. Lives, whether we like it or not, get affected with what we do. The strength we have will hold us in times of life’s storms. This reminds me to pray for leaders whose decisions affect many.

2. A favorite use of abaca is the hammock where a person can rest and relax. Leaders know that rest and relaxation is sacred. Resting can rejuvenate the physical as well as the spiritual. Taking periodic rests do more good and in the long run make you more productive. Leaders make their team rest in the assurance that they are valued.

3. A lot of the versatility of abaca is just being discovered. Lots of discoveries about the use of abaca for cosmetics are underway. Leaders value versatility! Guy Kawasaki describes some products as “deep.” Meaning it has a lot of features that may be discovered as you use it. Abaca is proving to be deep. Leaders should develop their competence so that they will be “deep” and there would be a lot of things that others thought could not be done, but with the proper research and applications, would make some things a reality.

4. A lot of people don’t even know that they are holding or eating abaca. Abaca is used for paper money and for sausage casings. The Philippine uses abaca for its Peso bills. The Japanese Yen uses about 60% of each of their bills with abaca fibers. A lot of people enjoying their sausages and longganisa do not even know that the casing is made out of abaca fiber. This spoke to me about a leader’s humility. That even when you are included in what the nation considers wealth, leaders maintain a low key and does not showboat! Some leaders nourish many  lives without anyone knowing. This also speaks to me about the humble people of Albay who in one way or another is making the Philippines shine through their winning ways!

I am here to promote Albay!

Cornel Bongco is in his own words, “a beggar who found Bread and want to share the delicious feast he enjoys.”