Solar Productions and their event manager, Gabrielle Reyes, organized A Box of Chocolates; an inspirational talk for a cause last Sept. 18 at USC Talamban Campus SAFAD Theater. Titled after the quote “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get,” the talk hosted a variety of speakers from different walks of life, but came all together to speak of one thing: how they became game-changers in life.

The talk consisted of 13 speakers using the PechaKucha 20×20 format; they could talk about anything within 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. The theater was also filled with balloons and a dessert table of chocolates to make the event a bit more literal.

“Sit back, relax and take a bite of inspiration,” Reyes, the event manager added. The first speaker was Goldieyn Tarriman, a former SK chairperson and daughter of a barangay captain. She talked about what her life was as a public servant and what it is like to come from a family of politicians. She also shared her experience on how she managed to conduct different programs and seminars for her community and manage her studies as well.

Ryan Balbuena, the second speaker followed and began his talk with saying “I may not be your inspiration because I am not a saint. I may not be your motivation because motivation comes from within. I’m just here to enlighten you with the pressing needs of our youth today.” Balbuena talked about his journey from being in the bottom of the class to becoming part of the top ten and to becoming a leader. He also shared how he found happiness in the service of others and how we, as youth, should step forward and be a light to everyone. “I think achievement is only for your personal access. I think achievement doesn’t mean that you’re on top of the class. I think achievement is by the way of giving to other people,” Balbuena mentioned.

Balbuena’s speech was followed by Federico Camacho III, who considers himself as a simple, humble man who has God in his heart. He revealed his previous life before he had found God. “Why worry about our future, God is our storyteller.” Camacho added. Now, he is a worship leader and the manager of their family business.

The next speaker was Melody Hodgson, who entitled her journey and road to success as “Roar”. She described growing up as a shy girl who was always body shamed and never confident in herself before blossiming as a successful singer, beauty queen and performer. She inspired everyone to always reach for their dreams and be successful in what they love to do.

Afterwards, Ma. Luisa Cecilia Lopez told the story of her family. She mentioned being rebellious after finding out that she was adopted but later realized and saw the bigger picture. “I thought of my uncle, who became my father figure knowing that I don’t know who my real parents were. That there is someone out there who is willing to fill out the missing piece.” Lopez shared.

The next speaker, Patricia Valena performed a song before beginning her speech; like Melody Hodgson, she too is a singer. Her talk began with learning from the past before transitioning to coping up with stress. As a psychologist, she introduced positive psychology: the scientific study of how to turn stressful experiences into meaningful ones. She then pointed out the need to stay positive at all times.

“It is very intimidating to speak after all of those successful people because as of now, I am not even there yet.” Jann Christian L. Bungcaras, the sixth speaker said. Bungcaras was proud to tell the audience that he was a college freshman at 20 and that he is already on his third course. “We are used to looking or setting plans by looking at a line. This is how we always plan our lives. We tend to see it as a chart or an arrow that always goes up, but in reality it is far from that.” Far from graduating as valedictorian in high school to having a dream of being the Philippine version of Alexander McQueen, life didn’t go the way Bungcaras planned. He experienced bulimia and depression before he was able to pick himself up. Now, he isn’t afraid to start all over again and paint another canvas.

Next up was Brigitte Burato, the beauty queen. She shared her life of competing in pageants and balancing her studies— she is the top one Dean’s Lister in her department. She is also the president of the organization, SHOTS. Her last words were “Do what you love.”

Following Brigitte was Maria Gigante, a Philosophy major who shared thought-provoking slides consisting of the phenomena that we aren’t aware of and facts that so little of us have any idea about. “When you’re thinking about your dreams and what you want to become alone; your world becomes very small. It doesn’t occur to you that all these different things are happening around the globe.” Higante opened the eyes of the audience and made them take a step back and pause for a moment.

“There is a difference from knowing what the right thing to do is and from actually doing it.” Higante declared. She urged everyone to ask, because it forces things to be put into perspective. She also prompted everyone to know what they are good at and use this as a tool to make the world a better place.

Lastly, Mars Espera, TV host of “The Food Show”, shared some insights and life stories on what it’s like to be obese and be a woman by heart. She talked about her love for food and how she worked hard to bring out that passion to finally enter the entertainment industry while making the audience laugh with her undeniable sense of humor. She also came to a point where she said, “You don’t need a guy to make you happy, all you need is crazy friends,” she then supplemented her point by citing one of her own close friends, event manager Gabrielle Reyes.

After all the talks, the speakers received their certificates and gifts and had their photos taken. A Box of Chocolates lived up to its name: with no idea of who the next speaker would be or what they would talk about, the attendees truly did not know what they would get. It is like feeding your mind—not with a variety of chocolates, but with inspiration and a variety of perspectives.

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