The Moment I Fell In Love

It is easy to forget how being in love feels like when you have had your heart trampled, battered and spat on. It is easy to forget your worth in a relationship when your other half keeps putting you down, or trading you off for someone younger or prettier. It is hard to remember what it even feels like to be a woman when the men in your life have failed you in the worst possible way, and you are forced to divorce all men from your world. It becomes less and less difficult to start imagining a life without men when so many of them have turned out to be abusers, liars, cheats, or predators. At their worst, men are the rapists, murderers, or criminals in this world.

Over time, we have grown accustomed to having very little faith in men and we would start blaming them for all the wrongs in our lives. It becomes safer to not trust men and not allow any of them into our lives. Many women had no choice but to toughen up and become independent. They had to be self-reliant because the men around had little or zero integrity.

However, what would really happen if all women leave the men behind?

What would really happen if we completely disregard the male population from the entire equation of life and love? Would we be happy? Would we become better people as a result? I think we all know the answers to these questions.

One of the main reasons why many women have resigned from men is because there are just too few good men to go around. The great ones are taken. And the rest are highly questionable. At the very least, this is what most women think. I was guilty of the same.

Most men tend to objectify me, or see me as an ATM.  I am hardly ever a human being in their eyes. If you have been following my blog or read my previous post, Confession, then you would truly appreciate what I mean here. Given my past experiences with men, I have moved from hating them to tolerating them and finally, to understanding them and embracing them as who they are. But it was a long journey riddled with barbed wires.

I realised that I had to first break through my own prejudices against men which stemmed mainly from my past trauma. I had to start seeing each man as himself, and not as a representation or manifestation of my past. Above all, I had to learn to give each man a real chance and start over on a clean slate.

I could never have done this without first having met inspiring great men such as my Papa, Tony Meloto and the young men from the House of Spartans

I first met them on a rainy night of 29th August 2015 at the Bamboo Villa in the GK Enchanted Farm. There were eight of them at that time. They are the students of SEED, the School for Experiential Entrepreneurial Development at the farm. SEED is a University that is only open to the bright poor. These kids now have access to quality higher education with full scholarship. It costs about PHP5000 or MYR500 or USD118 to sponsor a SEED student a month. The students get an allowance, meals, education, internship, mentoring and etc.

The average age of the eight young men is 19. Some are older than the rest because they had to quit school and worked to help their families. So, they did not resume their education until SEED was established two years ago. Many of them came from broken families and challenging dynamics. Abject poverty has ravaged more than the immense lack of inspiring role models in their lives. While their eyes lit with hope, their spirits were still trembling within. Although physical poverty have subjected them to live and behave like scavengers, it was inner poverty that had impaired their ability to dream of a better life for themselves. I finally understood why they were there with Papa at the Bamboo Villa. Papa called them, The Spartans.

The eight of them have pledged to undergo a strenuous training designed and curated by Papa in order to become better men than their predecessors could ever be. Although the same opportunity was offered to all of the students at SEED, only these 8 stayed and have committed themselves to Papa’s Spartan program.

For starters, all of them have to take a vow of virginity because discipline and integrity are not mere lofty ideals here. Because anyone can just have sex irresponsibly without any respect for the women. But not everyone can hold themselves in a higher regard. Also, a woman can only get pregnant once a year. Where as, a man can impregnate many women in a day if he is really reckless. Hence, men of honour, value and integrity have to be built from inside out.  This is also the reason why no Spartan is allowed to have a girlfriend until they graduate. They need to concentrate on transforming themselves and any distraction at this point could very well lead to their self-destruction.

The Spartans live out the code of moral ascendency as better men in the choices they make every single day. They wake up at 5 each morning, they do their chores, cook, clean the house, wash their own clothes, grow their own food, go to school, do their assignments and work on their individual internship at the respective social enterprises at the farm. They also work on Sundays. Because being a Spartan is about cultivating the right attitude and mind-set 24/7.

Hence, you can appreciate why not everyone would be rushing to sign up as a Filipino Spartan. Not everyone would willingly put themselves through “Hell” in order to achieve their greatest selves, and their highest dreams. Not everyone is seriously that committed. Period.

I have been working closely with the Spartans since 29th August 2015. I conduct direct mentoring, transformational training and even help them with their assignments. Mine is a supportive course to Papa’s over all Spartan Program. To date we have 10 Filipino Spartans living in the House of Spartans, as 2 more young men courageously joined the program. Their transformation from who they were in August to who they are today has been incredible.

This is how my heart fell in love with the 10 fearless Filipino Spartans. They have persevered through personal trying times and are determined to become better versions of themselves. They do it not just for themselves, but also, for the love of their family and country. They believe that their loved ones deserve the very best of them, and nothing less. In the same respect, they believe their country and women deserve better men.

It did not take long for me to adopt all of them as my Spartan sons. They have restored my faith in men by their conviction in doing more for others, and by becoming their own fearless heroes. They are gradually becoming greater than they, themselves, could ever imagine.

The Spartans

The 10 Fearless Filipino Spartans (from left to right) are Felmar M. Nierva, Vincent Jhunieal L. Tatel, John Regino M. Garcia, Marvin A. Israel, Prince Francis P. Lopez, Franz Dereck C. Trajano, Marlon P. Parale, Joseph Q. Dajao, Ron Ranier Dela Cruz and Jayson V. Aytona. Remember their names for they will soon grow up to be LEGENDS.

In fact, it is these fearless young Filipino Spartans who taught me how to love in the purest way.  Because love should not imprison someone so that he or she stays with you. Love should be the very path that leads you to your own authentic sublime beauty, and greatness.

REAL LOVE does not engender dependency nor does it enslave one to the other.
REAL LOVE heals, nurtures, liberates, inspires and empowers.

In the past, I have always confused love with attachment. I was always seeking something in return from my object of desire. I needed constant affirmations from the person I adored. In fact, I was running on empty and was searching to be filled up by someone else. I did not realise that attachment is more about fear and dependency. Attachment is only concerned about self-preservation and self-gratification. This is why most relationships fall apart. People feed off on one another instead of nurturing each other.

As I began to genuinely care about these 10 young men, I began to see the fallacy in how men and women relate to one another. Our expectations of each other, especially those un-uttered ones, are the real killers of all relationships or friendships.

So, this is my advice to all the men and women out there – 

Most people jump into relationships out of desperation or need. They are lonely, afraid to be alone or they need someone to make them feel loved or special. In my opinion, women are the biggest culprits of this. Because many women are deeply insecure. This is why they remain petty and small. I have seen how women destroyed the greatness of men with their insecurities and fears. Needless to say, I have also witnessed how men damaged women.

At the end of the day, insecure petty people who are still trapped in the prison of their own fears are the ones who corrode the brilliance of each individual. Some people do not even realise they are doing it to others. Some just don’t care even if they’re aware of what they are doing to other people.

So, please do not ever become the cause or reason for someone’s downfall. Do not ever be the one holding people back from their greatness. Or, distracting them from their highest potential.

As women, we have the capacity to become the transformative vessels that can heal and inspire the men to reclaim their greatness. We can support and motivate them to be better at every stage of their lives. 

As we understand what it feels like to be abandoned, we should never leave anyone behind. We should have more empathy, and become their beacon of hope. In this way; every man, woman or child can learn what great love really means.

Then every single person will have a real chance to discover their true worth and achieve their highest most magnificent self. 

Please bear in mind that Real Love can’t be built in a day. Courage isn’t developed in a moment. We have to work at it every single day, invest in it moment to moment, especially when times are challenging and the moral lines are blurry. We have to be very present in our lives, as well as, in the lives of the people we are trying to help. Because the power of presence is the most priceless gift we can ever give to someone. So, use the power of presence wisely and kindly.

As long as we do not give up on the men in our lives, they will be encouraged not to give up on themselves. When they improve and it is real, the joy in our hearts will explode into a million stars. It is the kind of happiness that words can never convey. This is exactly how I feel about my Spartan Sons. They have come a long way in these short months. When they evolve, I am motivated to do even more for them. In truth, we inspire one another.

So, day in and day out, we need to un-learn what we have been corrupted with and re-learn new principles, adopt new healthier habits until they all become effortless. Until they become our new life skills. Quitting is never an option, because it is about regaining our self-respect. The more we improve, the more people will start to believe in us.

It takes conscious effort and consistent dedication to build ourselves from the rubbles of our past. It takes a lot of determination to tear off what’s bad for us and leave the ashes of our lesser selves behind.
This is why it is important for us to be brutally honest with ourselves. If we are still lying to ourselves for whatever reasons, then we can never cultivate an honest relationship with anyone else.
We must remain acutely self-aware in asking the right penetrating questions so that we will receive the right answers. Only then can we have clarity in our progression.

At all times, we need to be generous with forgiveness. Because there can be no peace in harbouring bitterness or holding onto anger. Because it takes a lot to heal the tears of our hearts and our deepest wounds. Let us not be cruel and hard on one another anymore. Let us be kinder and more patient with each other so that all of us can become better versions of ourselves.

Most of all,  we need courage to stay in this game of life and love. Because the richness and beauty cannot be experienced by hiding on the sidelines, or merely existing on the surface. We do have to go through some form of hell in order to arrive at our own brand of heaven.

Therefore, go deep with the lessons so that the understanding seeps into our bones, hearts and minds.
Let them shift from within. Don’t settle for anything less. Don’t compromise your potential for greatness.
Every step should take you closer to achieving the complete and magnificent beautiful YOU.
Only then will you become your most powerful amazing self.


All my love and best wishes,

Note: Terms like “Power of Presence” and “Moral Ascendency” are all part of Tony Meloto’s Spartan vocabulary.

Being Afraid Is Human, But Staying Afraid Is A Choice.

  • jack cheah
    October 25, 2015

    Tq for expressing beautifully out something deep down in your heart & nothing is more sincere than that; and I share your feeling…at the end of the day LOVE is free like the blowing of the wind, let it be & let it flow & we have to respect it, being such a PERSONAL THING FOR BETTER OR WORSE, however, we’will learn from our experiences & become a better person who will be an asset rather than a liability to the world, appreciate for being given an opportunity to reply.

    • shirleymaya
      October 26, 2015

      Dear Jack,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I love your last few lines – Become a better person who will be an asset rather than a liability to the world. That sums up everything, actually. We as women, men and children, have the capacity to heal, nurture and inspire everyone to be better people. We have the ability to be the solution and not add to the existing problems. After all, when we become better – WE WIN. 🙂

      • Michael A Grey
        January 23, 2017

        What you are sharing with your life experience has touched me as no other thing in my life has.
        I have always believed that if we want to make a change in this world, we have to be the living example. We have to love and be fearless. Thank you.

  • Carol Balawyder
    October 29, 2015

    Your beautiful and meaningful involvement in the lives of these young men is heartwarming, Shirley. 🙂

    • shirleymaya
      November 9, 2015

      Hi Carol, lovely to hear from you always. Hope all is well with you. Sending you much love, light and joy. Hugs x