Squaring up in 2014: Round is out, square is in

January 21, 2014

Published in the FilAm Courier, Jan. 16, 2014 Issue

Growing up, I was raised to have all things round every New Year. It’s a universal shape for good luck. It should bring prosperity and good karma for a fresh beginning. Or so I thought.

I forgot if it was 6, 9 or 12 varieties of round fruits, but they have to be on the dining table before midnight. Fruit vendors in Manila would hike the prices every end of December even though families would buy just 1 piece for the sake of the tradition.

Polka dots. Wear something with dots. Better too if you wear something red, it attracts more good luck. Also, don’t forget to have coins in your pocket as you welcome the New Year. Jump, jump and jump and let the coins make music to usher in cash and prosperity. Jumping will also make you taller, so jump away!

My vertically challenged friends often blame their non-participatory jumping every New Year. An excuse was that their precious wine would spill, together with anti-gravity based reasons like high heels. It could just be me.

Kagami mochi displays are also round, including the orange on top. Fireworks paint the night’s dark canvass in bright round circles, too.


I have nothing against superstitions, in fact, I enjoy them. I’m all for traditions and keeping them alive. But you know what else is round every New Year? That’s right, my cheeks.

There are several other body parts that turn round too, but we know that already.

I was told many times that there is nothing wrong with being round. When I reply that I wanted to get in shape, that witty response – ‘but round is a shape,’ should die already in 2013.

Body talk discussion aside, I do want to be square this year. I like the pointed corners and 90-degree angles of the thought of being square. Having a square attitude may be attributed to being too nerdy, but isn’t nerdy the new sexy?

I’d like to be square in 2014. Let me explain why.

It’s an election year in Maui County. I’m quite anxious if our voter registration and participation would improve this year. I do know it will improve by one name – myself. It will be my first time to vote in the U.S. after receiving citizenship last April.

Maybe it’s time that you square up and quit going in circles too. For my fellow immigrants, if you’re qualified to fill out that N400 Citizenship application, do it. I promise you won’t miss your permanent resident card a bit. If you have been renewing your alien card, I think you’re missing the point.

For fellow unregistered citizens, it’s time to square up.

Speaking of elections, 2014 may introduce new candidates to the political arena. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get to know your elected officials – they work for you. Getting to know them will allow you to identify those who are beating AROUND the bush and those who are squared up to take positions and decisions.

With advocacy and community projects, squaring up means working within the limits of a schedule.

Take your index finger, point it on your head and draw circles. Let that image be your 2013 outdated version.

A squared up mindset respects a reasonable schedule (especially with volunteer work). Information within a square of your calendar precisely tells you what you need to accomplish within its four corners.

My generation has been trained to ‘think outside the (square) box’ and there is absolutely nothing wrong with going AROUND it. With my resolution to square up, I invite you to consider problem solving within the square box. No need to bend backwards and waste efforts. See what limitations you have and deal with it.

Creativity is what I breathe, but solutions are usually present in best practices and traditions.

Among all things square that I intend to adopt this year, square shoulders (and collar bones) would be nice too. Because everything that we intend to do this year becomes more fulfilling if health is prioritized.

Resolve to get involved in local government: Jan. 15 marks the opening of 2014 State Legislative Session, visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov and know what’s cooking with our lawmakers.

Resolve to give back to the community: Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce will have its Foundation’s Golf Tournament on March 15. The Gintong Pamana Leadership and Scholarship Awards Banquet is set June 18.

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