4S Chess Pawn 2018

One Saturday afternoon in year 2008 during my vacation in the Philippines, I was teaching my nieces and nephews how to play chess…

Then, I received a call from my primary school teacher.
“Welcome back, Shiela! Next week is our Graduation Day. Please come and be our Keynote Speaker.”

“What? Me? A keynote speaker? For me, a keynote speaker should have done something big, worthy and noble. Why me? I am nobody.”

My fellow Toastmasters and friends, does that sound familiar? The feeling of being tiny, nobody and unworthy…

Then, she said…
“Shiela, only 1 out of 10 Filipinos is working overseas. You should be proud of yourself! Think about it and let me know tomorrow.”

That night I was thinking-
“Should I really be proud of myself? How can I when all of my life I’ve always been a small potato. I am nobody when compared to others.”

That feeling started at home.

My sisters are so smart. When they graduated, they were both valedictorians.
Me? Just best in Attendance!

My sisters are so pretty. Every Christmas season, they were asked to portray the role of Mother Mary.

As for me, one of the animals or a tree.

They were writers for our school newspaper.
Me? How can I, when all my writing assignments were done by them?

I was crying one day and asked my mother
“Why am I not like my sisters, Mom? Are you sure I belong to this family?”

She said,
“Look at your nose and mine, same! Of course!

Remember this, not everyone was born with looks, talents and abilities all wrapped up into one.

But, everyone was born with a gift.
You have a gift in you, Shiela. You just have to unwrap it.”

In secondary, I studied in a public high school. I made it to the first section — the highest section.

There’s a perception that students in section one are intelligent, beautiful and talented all wrapped up into one.
In my case, I was in section one because I was intelligent, intelligent and only intelligent.

I felt so different and small especially each year during “Extra-Curricular Open Day” event where we would join groups based on our skills.

In the Drama Club, the director said, “Shiela, give me a sad face.” SAD FACE

“A sad face not a bad face!”
In the Dance Club
“What are you doing, Shiela?”
“Sir, it’s Happy Feet dance.”
“I’m not happy with your feet. See, they are both left.”

In Choir, the audition song is Happy Birthday. I was still singing when the Choir Master stood up… —
“Soprano, no, no, no.
2nd voice, no no no no
Yours is third voice, a loser voice Yours is third voice, a loser voice”

A loser voice. I was so sad. I went home crying to my mother.
“Mom, why am I not like everyone else?”

She only said, “You have a gift in you, Shiela. You just have to unwrap it.”

Little did I know, my father knew all about my sufferings but instead of consoling me he taught me how to play chess.
The following year, I joined the school Chess club team. I won every competition and brought honor to our school.

I became famous — Shiela, the Chess Master!
That night in 2008, I finally understood what it means of unwrapping a gift.

I’m being invited to be a Keynote speaker because I’m working overseas as an Accountant. I’m a successful Accountant because of my analytical skills, which I developed through Chess.

With that realization, I agreed to be the keynote speaker.
After that event I realized I need to join Toastmasters.
Fast forward from 2008 to 2018
I’m happy to say that I’m now a proud writer, performer and presenter of my own speeches.

My friends, are there moments in your life that you feel you are tiny, nobody and unworthy?

I learned from my father that life is like Chess —
Not everyone starts as a Knight, Bishop or Queen.

A pawn is the smallest of all the chess pieces but in Chess, only the pawn can transform into a QUEEN.

In life, it doesn’t matter how or where we start because along the way, with the help of our loved ones, we will discover and unwrap our gifts.
A gift that will transform our lives.
A gift that will help us finish strong.



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Shiela Cancino

Shiela Cancino

I help Asian Women advance in their careers without sacrificing “me time” all the time through confidence-building workshops & confidence coaching.