I was born and grew up in the city of Malaga, capital of “La Costa del Sol”, internationally famed Mediterranean tourist enclave, in the Southern region of Andalucía, Spain.
At this time the country was under the stern rule and supreme power of Fascist F. Franco (El Caudillo), therefore I am a product of Franco’s Spain. While a lot is debated about dictatorial governments, I can only judge by my own experiences, and priorities.
Some people say that Spain was under a tyrannical regime, however if you were an honest person, apolitical or pro Franco’s politics, and of Roman Catholic persuasion, you weren’t exactly in nirvana but I have travelled the world, lived in France, reside in Australia for most of my adult life, and I never have experienced the same feeling of safety as I did then.
The moral of the story is all about the leader, if that person is of fair intentions and self-interest, although rare/imperfect, I believe a strong ruler is very often the best answer. Some people would say that we didn’t have freedom of choice, I say do we have it now, and if we enjoy some, at what price. Let’s not be judgemental, imposing our western belief and style democracy on everyone, although with best intentions, does not augur well with other backgrounds, creeds, cultures, or sovereignties.
I researched my parental ancestry back to the XVI Century, they both originated from Castile, Spain.
Schooled by The Marist Brothers (considered the leading educators of their time), as a student I was quite diligent, contrary to my father’s wishes to join him in his business, I excelled in Mathematics and Latin, attracting the favours of the clergy. In High School, my peers voted me as the president of our Eucharistic Society. My spiritual mentor recommended me, and as a natural progression I was destined for the Seminary.
I found an affinity to learning, which to this day never failed me; it is the love of my life. I enjoyed studying Philosophy, Theology, Liturgy, and specially Latin, however although in just my late teens, I started doubting my vocation, I had more questions everyday than I found answers, and the explanation I was given (we weren’t allowed to interpret most passages in the Bible) left me wanting, unfortunately, I felt my faith was not strong enough nor worthy of the cloth.
I felt so terribly unhappy and distressed that finally my headaches were diagnosed as affects from a tumour in my right maxilla. I had four very cruel experiences; they incised bone from my face to stop the malignancy, fortunately medical bed manners and after care service have improved enormously, at times I could only call their treatment inhumane (akin to the horror during the Spanish Inquisition).
One time, while in theatre I saw an extremely bright light; almost uncomfortable to my eyes in the corner of the room, at the time I thought very briefly that it had to be the Holy Spirit, then like in a dream I was engulfed by the light and looking down to the centre of the room, I saw a group of men and women in odd uniforms and masks, desperately working on this unusual looking table with a big round light above their heads, I didn’t recognise anyone, all of a sudden I sensed they were trying to revive me! I don’t know what made me descend quietly and join my body once more.
I never spoke about this episode to anyone, including my parents, when they told me many months later that I had passed away for several minutes. I am a logical person; I didn’t want to believe what happened that one time in my life, and didn’t tell for fear of ridicule, until recently, when several people have claimed similar ephemeral outcomes.
Obviously, my ambition of a life in the priesthood came to an abrupt end, my medical prognosis was not very positive, to say the least, I could be here today and gone tomorrow, I was told five years in remission would indicate a lesser likelihood of reoccurrence.
I did a course to have more tangible job prospects, and while living in France, a friend of mine told me that he had heard of a recruiting promotion of this unbelievable country, somewhere at the end of the world called Australia, I was quite intrigued; my adventurous side came to the fore. I attended an interview with a Consulate’s representative, and he obviously found me an appropriate type to immigrate to Australia, I was fascinated, I am sure Cristopher Columbus had the same feelings when departing for the Americas.
When I arrived to Sydney, Australia, it looked much more civilized than I expected/wanted, the disappointment was short lived, and soon I became charmed by one of the most beautiful cities in the world, very cosmopolitan, I felt at home, and the people embraced me too.
I was employed as a trainee manager, although I couldn’t speak English at that time, my employers spoke French, the General Manager was Canadian, and the manager was from France.
Most of my free time was totally dedicated to learning English, I enrolled on a course, and within a couple of months I found the language fun to learn, my Latin foundation served me well, grammatical English rules were easy to handle, compared to the intricacies of the Spanish grammar. I watched TV to get used to the colloquial Australian, and my confidence grew.
Due to a friendship I developed with a local Real Estate agent, I became very interested in his stories, listening to him over drinks, talking mostly about the Australian dream of home ownership, and the investment opportunities it offered. I proposed to him what I thought quite improbable, I wasn’t quite 21 years old, with very little money saved after buying my first car. My challenge to him was that if he could help me obtain the necessary finance, I would buy a house from him, as long as it was inner city.
Within a week from this conversation he rang me to make an appointment; he then proceeded to show me two terrace houses, and asked me to choose my preferred one, back at his office he had already prepared a rental return summary, possible scenarios on capital gains, and the solution to my finance. This man changed the course of my career, I would imagine he could be classed as my then “Guardian Angel”, although that would be a misnomer, as it turned out he was Jewish.
Somehow my Real Estate magician was able to organize most of the deposit required, and introduction to a bank that would consider my application to advance the funds necessary to complete the transaction. I remember vividly my appointment with the New South Wales bank manager, a jovial middle aged man, I liked him, and he must of felt impressed with my documentation, clean cut look, and job description. This was more of an emotional meeting than a logical one, the fact is I didn’t understand much of what he was saying, I was very young, my first application to any financial institution, nerves, and most important, I wasn’t versed in English.
I received my formal approval letter, and instructions as to mortgage documents, etc. I realised then that the nice manager didn’t understand me properly either, my monthly repayments were more than my salary, so the only solution to my dilemma was to find a second job, and so I did.
Bank managers in those days had discretionary powers to approve loans at a personal level, and some were very experienced and astute in analysing the applicant, rather better than the cold blooded policy system of nowadays. My benefactor could have also been influenced by the reputation that most southern European migrants had, hardworking family people, paid bills on time, and their words were their bond.
In any event, meeting the Real Estate agent was serendipitous, and the decision to buy the house, so young, gave me an introduction/opportunity to explore my innate entrepreneurial/business incline.
Within 18 months, due to a Federal change of government following elections, Real Estate prices soared. I was able to sell my little terrace house, and had sufficient money left over to make deposits on two houses, after paying back all my debts.
This Real Estate experience changed my direction in life, although I had a very good executive position with good prospects of advancement, I resonated with the property business. Somehow I never felt that I was employee material, maybe the environment in which I grew up in had a part in it, my father and all his brothers (3), had their own businesses, and subsequently all their male offspring’s (7 cousins) ended up with business ownership.
I was a free spirit, didn’t ever feel the need to compete with anyone, just do my work to the best of my ability, and the rest took care of itself. The proverbial, office politics, annoyed me. I’ve always admired achievers per se, for their focus, discipline, strength of purpose. I never felt envious of anyone, or inferior, I was able to succeed in what I really wanted.
Real Estate was almost a revelation for me, I had the opportunity to be independent, creative, and offer a product of enormous benefit to anyone, a real win-win situation. I just couldn’t anticipate any negatives.
While doing my licencing course, I became aware of my inadequacies regarding the law of the land, and the English language, so I decided to attend The Sydney Faculty of Law, with absolutely no intention of becoming a Lawyer nor work in the legal field, but to gain knowledge in the elaborations of contracts, leases, etc., also to be more proficient in English, to help me communicate at a higher level. The dictionary was my best friend, it was a very hard time for me, however my vocabulary exploded, my confidence skyrocketed; without a doubt one of the best decisions I ever made regarding self-help/personal development, it also saved me a lot of money in my business, I was able to act for myself on most property transactions and with litigants.
At that time, I involved myself helping the community in a small way, I was appointed Justice of the Peace, and I was an unpaid interpreter for the local police station, although I didn’t anticipate how emotional this occupation could turn out to be; one evening I was called to interpret for a Spanish middle aged family, their only 14 year old daughter, for no apparent reason threw herself off their apartment’s balcony to her death; most distressing.
My business of selling, building, and developing Real Estate flourished, I found doing business the way I truly enjoyed was a winner, my formula added value by incorporating integrity without reproach, and fair/ethical practices guaranteed. My client base grew exponentially, due to word of mouth recommendations.
I just loved doing business, especially when you see people benefit as a direct result of your actions. I expanded into other occupations, i.e., manufacturing prefabricated house panels, and a three restaurant franchise system, while maintaining my presence in Real Estate.
Life is good, although not a bed of roses (The Wolf Inside Of Me), especially for a person with a predisposition to cancer, I had more than my share of ailments, and financial challenges, however life goes on, and I am very grateful for my life, I believe I am blessed, probably the best thing that happened to me is the fact of having had cancer at such an early stage in life, it changes your natural philosophy, and you seem to gain a calmness, and acceptance that serves you well when most needed.
As I hit the rock formation, I heard a crunch in my skull, and almost instant ethereal calm filled all my senses, I just accepted the inevitable, and by this unconscious action I stopped a higher level of blood flow to the brain.
Due to major brain haemorrhage, and following surgery, I was released from hospital with organic depression, mental and physical disability, and a whole lot of drugs (I later found that the side effects were much worse than the cause). It has taken me 6 years and lots of hard work to regain my full mental and physical faculties, thank God; today my brain is as acute as ever, I am fit, healthy, and looking forward to a worthy/productive life ahead of me.
During my convalescence, I had more time to indulge on my favourite subject and love of my life, personal development/growth, and learning at bettering yourself, whether physical, mental, or spiritual.
As an avid reader, I picked up just about anything at the local library that looked interesting, technology, nutrition, exercise, religion, philosophy, etc.
I have to say, that we “baby boomers” would have to be the most privileged of our contemporaries, the changes we are experiencing in our generation are mind blowing, and counting……., what can I say, it is exciting just to wake up to a new day with the expectations of new discoveries to lifelong question marks.
I am so fortunate and grateful to still be alive and enjoying the best of health and fitness that I would like to impart some of my own experiences, and if just one person in the world is helped to improve his/her personal development, state of mind or philosophy, I have achieved my goal.
“Whether one believes in a religion or not and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion”. Dalai Lama.