My First Salary
by Oliver Carlos
My very first real fulltime job was being a research assistant in my alma mater, the UPLB College of Human Ecology. That was in 1993. I remember that my salary then was around P6,000 a month. Minus taxes and other deductibles, I think I grossed a little less than P5,000 monthly, not bad for a rookie in the labor force. I was so happy I now have my own money, I can now buy the things I wanted.
My mother gave me a very nice advice before I got my first salary. She said that I shouldn’t spend it on food or items that are non-tangible and consumable. Instead, I must use my first salary on a tangible item, a souvenir, something that would last a lifetime. Her reason is that that object would always be there to remind me of my career’s humble beginning.
I find great wisdom in my mother’s suggestion. Indeed, I won’t have any remembrance of my first salary if I would use it for paying our electricity bill, or buying a basket of vegetables. It got me to think deeply too. What item would I buy that would last a lifetime, and is a fitting representation of my career or life journey?
During that time, I was beginning to grow deeper in my faith and in my personal walk with the Lord. I just learned the importance of worshipping God thru music, of expressing oneself or one’s devotion and gratitude to God using one’s voice and musical instruments. I wanted to do that regularly, so I decided to buy a guitar.
After setting aside my tithes, I put the remainder of my first salary in my wallet. I went to our town’s one and only guitar store at that time. I chose the most extra ordinary-looking guitar in the store, an acoustic-electric guitar with holes like a violin. Later I learned that those holes are called f-holes. I got my first guitar for P2,500.
When I first got my guitar, I was just a beginner guitarist. In essence, it’s that guitar that made me grow in my craft as a musician or artist. With that guitar, I was able to compose my first few songs. So it really serves as a reminder of my beginnings. It’s also a reminder of God’s faithfulness to me, of the guidance he gives me to grow in my life journey.
In the Book of Psalms, Asaph an ancient songwriter, mentioned something similar. He too, had this habit of continually looking back at God’s faithfulness in his life. He wrote in Psalm 77:11 (NLT):
“But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.”
God has shown himself mighty in Asaph’s life, he’s mighty, generous, gracious. By looking back at the past, we will be reminded of his deeds and character. He has bailed us out in tough moments and blessed us with everything we needed. Remembering his goodness in the past helps us have an upbeat mood today. Let’s make this a habit. This practice will help us face the present and the future with joy, hope, and confidence, knowing that our Almighty God is just beside us and will carry us through all the trials and challenges that lie in front of us.