By Marivir R. Montebon
(I carved out this portion of my 2019 MA essay on Logotherapy and Viktor Frankl, in honor of my high school teacher, Mrs. Ramona ‘Monette’ Alino, who recently celebrated her birthday. Thank you, Madame, for the inspiration you may have never known.)
New York – Ever since I could remember, I always tried to use my time with sense. Blame that on an autograph.
A high school autograph is one precious and fancy memento in my days of youth. Aside from scrapbooks, paper dolls, and diaries, each high school student in my exclusive girls school, Colegio dela Inmaculada Concepcion, usually had an autograph.
Every year, I’d create my own, out of a large notebook, decorated with stickers, pictures, or paper cut-outs and would contain detailed information of each of my batchmates. I remember it was a joy to fill those blanks with our: Name, Nickname, Birthday, Birthplace, Favorite Food, Favorite Quote, Favorite Movie, Who’s Your Crush, Define Love, and all those sweet trivial stuff.
Then there is the dedication page where my classmates and friends write anything to me – a good cheer, a sweet prayer, or a memorable day in that school year.
When I was in my Junior, I had the most memorable and impactful dedication letter from my Speech teacher, Ms. Ramona Alino. She wrote:
Time is precious. Don’t waste any of it. Use it wisely and lovingly, for yourself and for others. Do it now, because tomorrow might be too late.
I so loved this letter, she even signed it with her first name. I was flattered and read it again and again. In fact, I have memorized her message to this day: use time wisely and lovingly for myself and others.
How blessed could I get, having been inspired and guided by this letter to not waste precious time, at the supposedly tumultuous teenage years. I was 15 years old then. I could not thank Mdme. Alino enough.
As a young person, I was a great procrastinator, waking up late, going to school late (I have been put on the warning list several times for not coming in before flag ceremony), always late in submitting assignments, doing house chores late, stressing out my mother no end, for sure. Now I am old, and have imbibed Mdme. Alino’s inspiration. I use time wisely and lovingly for myself and others.
Viktor Frankl once said: “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.” This, to me, has essentially the same meaning and implication as my Speech teacher’s message on my autograph, the wise and loving use of time.
Franks’s protege, Solvejg Ingrid Bernsdorff de Rivera of the University of Argentina, emphasized that the greatest influence she had from him was summarized in this famous line: “The best gift we are given is time. It is the only thing we have to return when we die. How do we use it?”
The impact of Frankl on the life of de Rivera left me with a poignant reflection for this essay. Indeed, how do we make use of our time? What sense do we make out of our life? Boy, looking back at that message from Mdm. Alino, I have been truly blessed to receive such strict guidance.
Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was one of the best gifts to humanity. He is to me a mix of science and mysticism, which the earlier schools of psychology tried to avoid. By encouraging psychotherapists to facilitate their clients’ search for that “spark” or a “whisper from God”: what is the meaning of your life? What sense are you trying to make?, a person is set to embark on a purposive journey in life. The client rescues himself or herself from depression and suicide when they find that meaning, said Frankl.
Derived from the Greek word ‘logos’ which translates to ‘meaning’, Frankl developed Logotherapy as a theory which looks at human nature as motivated by the search for a purpose in life. Logotherapy provides clients with the processes of finding meaning in one’s life.
His critics, especially the snobbish academic people, said that his therapy was authoritarian as it gives specific instructions (words like don’t or you should not) to clients, thereby robbing them the chance and responsibility to decide for themselves their own healing process. For a time, Frankl defended Logotherapy, saying that his therapy actually makes clients realize their responsibility to lead a meaningful life.
Despite those criticisms, Frankl’s influence had been embraced by students and learners of psychology globally. He has gone a long way from the dark years of the Nazi concentration camp to become a respected psychotherapist of modern times. (Featured photo: Monette Alino on her 79th birthday; photo by Gigi Alino.)