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" ‘first-time’ that gave me a long-lasting happiness even until today".


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Raised in a family with just relatively exiguous income, we were exposed to a simple lifestyle. Thus, ‘first-times’ of those things which I thought an extravagant living have been memorable to me.


I was four when I first tasted pizza during a family visit to our uncle’s house. I was eight when I first ate siopao after my eldest sister brought me to the Chinese dimsum house. I was ten when I first relished tomato catsup after my tita brought me to our relatives during their town fiesta.  I was twelve the first time I wore my rubber shoes during elementary graduation. ‘Twas a slightly used, colored brown pair handed over from our close neighbor. As a reward for my academic achievement, being the first honorable mention in our batch, my mother bought that used shoes for a cheaper price. I was so ecstatic because finally, I owned a pair of rubber shoes.


Nonetheless, there is one childhood memory that is still vivid until now. I remember I was six the first time I ate cake, although I was four when I saw a four-tier beautifully-decorated cake in a wedding reception of one of our neighbors– a wishful thinking of enjoying its delectable taste. Unfortunately, the cake was only served to the VIPs. I whispered to my mom how I wished to taste it. My mom promised she would buy cake on my fifth birthday, but the promise was made to be broken, so to speak. A year later, when our family moved to the city for a greener pasture, the simple wish of eating even just a small slice of cake rekindled every time I passed by a nearby bakeshop. One day, I asked my mom to buy a piece of cake as her birthday gift. Instead of granting my request, she promised that she would buy cake for the new year. As the New Year’s Day was fast approaching, my excitement became more intense, wishing that the next day would be the New Year’s Day.


Countdown started right after Christmas. I kept reminding my mom about the promised cake until finally new year’s eve came. That most-awaited evening, around seven o’ clock, I heard a loud knock.  I rushed towards the door thinking that it was my mom and dad arriving with a layer of cake. Yehey, it must be a dream came true! Indeed, with a wrapped cake held on both hands, Mom immediately proceeded to the dining area while my four siblings and I followed her. Out of excitement, my sister opened the box while everyone else watched with smiling, expectant faces. My heart sank as I saw the cake not matching that which I imagined. There was no icing and decorations on top. ‘Twas a plain chiffon cake. Right there, I cried aloud, and protested it was not a cake. My mom was explaining but I just let it gloss right over me. Hours later, my frustration dwindled. I took my first bite. Bit by bit, I ate until the whole slice was consumed.  I took more slices, one after another, forgetting this time about my frustration. The taste was worth the happiness a little child would crave for.


Yes, it was really a great feeling to experience those ‘first-times’ in my life; those wonderful experiences that define a quality of life anyone could have. The trance out of those experiences gradually diminished day after day. However, there is but one ‘first-time’ that gave me a long-lasting happiness even until today. This was the first time I personally met Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I was thirteen when I experienced His unconditional love. It was during a youth camp that I fully surrendered my life to Him. I realized that the happiness and excitement the material things would bring me especially during the first time I tried or tasted those so-called luxuries in life was only temporal. The joy of His salvation would last even beyond a lifetime. This personal relationship with Him defines the quality of life I embrace that anyone can have, too.


HENRY O. PALACA, MTM, PIE is founding President of QUALITY PLUS MANAGEMENT CONSULTING CO. He is a Management System and Business Process Improvement expert. He successfully assisted more than 100 companies in their ISO Certification journey and over 20 companies on their Business Process Improvement programs for his twenty years of experience in the industry, handling Industrial Engineering, TQM, and various management systems. He is the author of the management system book, “Building Organizational Excellence Through ISO 9001.” He is one of the 40 management system experts who were Certified National Energy Management System (ISO 50001 EnMS) Consultant. He is also a regular guest lecturer of UP-ISSI, Diliman, Quezon City.

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