The Art of War, and Work, at a Palo Alto Golf Course

As I sit in my golf cart unwavering, focused on “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, I am snapped back into reality. The reality of Palo Alto, California. The median household income in Palo Alto is $118,989. Mean housing prices were $922,616. BMWs and Audi’s roll in and out of the parking lot. Palo Alto High School is on Embarcadero across the 101, head down further to cross over El Camino, and there lies Stanford University. Google, Facebook, and other corporate giants could call this place home. Here I sit, a small fish in a big pond. This is the reality. A reality where privilege provides power and cultural capital is the main form of currency to get one to a higher standard of living. And here I sit, on my 8 dollar an hour salary. Sometimes I really take this in perspective, I picture eight one-dollar bills laid out, I contemplate to myself, “This is what I make per hour. Is my labor really worth this much?”

Is this truly the reality? No, it is a nightmare. It is here where I flip a quote by Sun Tzu who states, “So it is said that when you know yourself and others, victory is not in danger.” I know myself, I know what it am capable of. I know well that I will not be confined to washing golf carts, picking range balls, picking up buckets, vacuuming, sweeping, and cleaning out drains clogged with goose business for the rest of my life. Best believe that. My potential will not be fulfilled here. My light will not shine here. I have to make those who paved the way for a young Filipino in this country proud. Filipinos first started to work in the Central Valley of California, working on farms, picking fruits and vegetables. Many businesses would post “Positively No Filipinos Allowed” on their doors. This is the legacy of my people in this country, like many others. Turned away, looking to be forgotten. And yet those Manongs still put on a smile, breaking their backs to provide a better life for their families and themselves. The same goes for our parents and grandparents.

My dad also works here, we both have the same job. He has been working here for about five years and he has only gotten a dollar raise. We do alright for ourselves, but it is difficult to work a budget. I have three younger brothers. Two of us go to community college. I'm about to transfer to a university. The next one in line is graduating high school this year. The youngest of us is in first grade. Still my parents stand strong. Other people that work here or have worked here are people my age. Except I hear stories about going to universities, some of them wasting time and money. Well, not their money. Technically, their parents pay for everything. It's sad. It's a waste. There are other people who could take their spot, who are actually willing to put the work in. Even with this reality we still put on a smile and continue to work and strive on. We put on a smile, we remain humble, even with the unjust treatment we receive at times. This smile, displays heart and perseverance. This is our true, intended legacy. A legacy of hard work full of trials and tribulations, eventually reaping the rewards. This is who we are. Know yourself. Also know the others. These are our “superiors.” I have been to work where customers essentially say that I am incompetent (ie. Target, Cupertino. I see you!). Have you ever had this experience?  Nevertheless, you know who you are. You know who the others are. What else is there left but victory?

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Beautiful. I can totally relate. I have a job that I don't see myself rising my full potential in. Yet, I try my best everyday because that's how I show my hard work and dedication at anything I do. Thanks for the inspiring words.

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