The Story of Pitong (It’s Pitt by the way)


“I want to add humility or being humble,” said Lenny, referring to my 10 Attributes of a Real Cordilleran three Sundays ago. Lenny was my classmate in college who is now based in London. She said she reads my articles and it makes her feel like in the know and connected back home. (It’s an honor to write and serve this way. Thank you, Lenny!)

Truly, humility is also a must-add on the list. It is an essential attribute to live by.

Lenny explained, “Cordillerans are humble people because of us being spiritual or God-fearing; we believe that no matter how much earthly richness we achieve, our Father is above us all and thus, we should lower ourselves and live modestly.” I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, humility comes with acknowledging the Source of our richness. We have to understand that we are merely stewards of the riches or resources that we may have. Yes, we stand tall because of the magnificence that comes from our Creator but we also take the stance of our humble role as stewards of His riches.

Humility, she continued, “as we humble our self and give respect to our elders (ap-apong ), we listen and give importance to their ‘yam-yaman’ (counseling), ‘bag-baga’ (advice) and ‘bilin’ (guidance) as we deem its importance on how we can live a better life.  We heed their words as they have lived through life and have significant experiences and their intention is just for our goodwill.” In other words, we acknowledge that we don’t know it all – that we listen to words of wisdom from the men and women who have walked before us.

In those ‘bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’ are priceless life lessons that we can learn. In those ‘bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’ are steps and strategies that were simmered and sifted from life’s struggles and successes. In those ‘bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’ are treasures that cannot be bought. But those gifts from ‘bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’ would never be acquired without humility. We need to be humble and listen.

‘Bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’ may come in different forms – either in traditional or contemporary events. Means and modes of communication have evolved. But the essence – the gifts we gain and the required humility – remains the same.

Thus, the call to us – the young minds – is to stay true to this attribute of humility as we take heed of ‘bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’ that comes from various brilliant minds who have attained success and significance. They could be part of your household, community, or ethnic group. They could be acquaintances and friends from different borders of the land. They could be men and women you met through their books and talks, or videos and posts in social media and other good sites in the internet.

This rings true to all (Cordilleran or not), but for one who have lived by this code would certainly simply continue living it as it is already ingrained in his veins. But for the other, he or she can still exert the effort to bend him/herself to gain the gifts of humility.

Let me end with a story –

Pitong and Prido just graduated from college in Baguio City and they set out to work in one of the multinational companies in Makati City.

As a child, Pitong used to listen to the ‘bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’ of his grandpa. Whenever his parents would go to the ricefields, he would be left with his Lolo Moklo. Lolo Moklo is known to be a wise man that have survived the struggles in the mountains and thrived through farming. Pitong would always listen to stories of Lolo Moklo during breakfast, lunch, dinner and after dinner before bedtime.

Prido, on the other hand, unfortunately was left on his own due to some untold circumstances.

As they entered the busy city, both got excited as they tighten their necktie and walk into the elevator to bring them to the 21st floor of one tower. Both got interviewed and got hired.

Seven years after that day, let us look at what happened to Pitong and Prido…

Pitong have met a mentor who guided him through. He was promoted thrice! Outside his job, he read numerous books and also met big names in the industry as he attended conferences and conventions during weekends and holidays. He learned from them – about communication, leadership, and even investments. He joined organizations and learning circles to guide him through. Compared to the fresh-grad Pitong and the fresh Pitong today, he has grown much in different aspects of his life. (Oh, others call him Pitt by the way. I wonder if he looks like Brad Pitt, too.)

Prido, on the other hand, was somewhere in his 15th job – still in an entry-level post. His fifth boss said sadly, “He never listened to me.”

What was the differentiating attribute? Could it be the humility in Pitong? Could it be the learning and discipline he got from the ‘bilin’ and ‘bag-baga’? I think so. Perhaps, we can model from Pitong (I mean, from Pitt) and learn from his ways, too.

What do you think?

(Email me at | By the way, I was recently invited to tutor accounting students through a one-of-a-kind tutorial program. I said, “Sure, if they are humble enough, they can receive help that much.” Are you a CPA-aspirant or do you know of someone who needs help in his accounting studies – watch for this. Stay tuned!)