Many times conquered


I am presently reading the autobiography of respected Hollywood actor, Sidney Poitier – The Measure of a Man. In the book, Poitier traces his childhood days, in the country of The Bahamas, an archipelagic republic near Cuba and is now famous internationally, as a tourist destination. Bahamas means shallow sea or shallow water. Its capital is Nassau, also known as  Charles Town, about two centuries ago…


Image of the 2007 book cover of Poitier's book, The Measure of a Man

On his 72nd year, Sidney Poitier took a look at the life he struggled with, fought for and lived wisely and well/

Poitier is, of course, a black man. He is one of the senior actors and a respected director in Hollywood and, one of the public figures in America revered by the host, Oprah Winfrey (The other senior, black  figure she adores is none other than the poet, Maya Angelou). Poitier is  a French surname, a common one, in Cat Island, where Sidney’s family originally hailed and lived. The Bahamas was conquered several times – by the Spaniards, the French and the English. It was the Latin American country that was the major source of people – by the Spaniards for the  European slave trade – a couple of centuries back… Being near the U.S., The Bahamas has also been a favorite destination of Americans, since the 18th century.


In 1927, when Poitier was born, The Bahamas was still being governed directly by the English folks. About one hundred years prior, the process of “emancipation” of the former black slaves in the group of islands has already begun. But Poitier’s childhood was already free from the tension between the Americans – who wanted the slaves freed – and, the English and other European colonial masters – who wanted the black people “retained” or held as indentured members. There were only two white persons in his native Cat Island, Sidney recollects in the book. He did not know racial discrimination – until his family moved to the capital, Nassau, when he was eleven.


Image of a beach resort in the Bahamas

Shallow waters and relaxing ambiance in The Bahamas/

Reading Poitier’s book, I have been both surprised and gladdened by the similarities between The Bahamas and the Philippines. The former is composed of 700 islands, while the latter, of 7,107 islands. The Bahamian people have been ruled by the foreigners, three times. So, were we, the Filipinos – by the Spaniards, by the Americans and for a brief, three years – by the Japanese. In The Measure of a Man, Poitier also talked  about the economics of his country, when he was but a child. According to him, the livelihood of his people then was a combination of barter trade and cash economy. Those times, people in the islands lived by planting, fishing, gathering and rendering services in exchange for products or other services. The same has characterized the Philippine economy for centuries, although cash economy has been making its way through the remote areas, in the last several decades.


The Bahamas of today is an eco-tourism center, way better and more modern than the country Poitier lived in, eventually left and, more than half a century later, described in his autobiographical work. In fact, The Bahamas now belongs to the roster of the world’s richest countries, it being the banking center in the Latin American region… Politically, the country has gone some way, as a Commonwealth currently governed by the Bahamian people, in the name of the English throne. From being a slave depot, to a colonial plantation and cash crop center, to its present status as a favored tourist destination – for the leisure-seeking, moneyed people of the world – this group of islands boasts of a prosperous economy and an invigorated people. On the other hand, the Philippines, has yet to gather its moves towards becoming an agri-tourism center in Asia (current government’s plan), sustaining its GDP, alleviating the lives of its citizens and improving their, our, chances in life.


Image of a poster stating Martin Luther King's definition of a man's measure

It maybe easy to measure. The hard part is measuring up/

Poitier, of course, succeeded in life, rising to become one of Hollywood’s pillars, multi-awarded actor and one of the show business’s respected figures… I am, by the way, about one-fourth into the book. It has so far been an engaging foray into the life of a giant personality – wise, been-there, done-that but noticeably, unassuming person. In The Measure of a Man, Poitier speaks longingly, clearly and softly about the place and people that molded him to be the person that he is now. One who is seemingly gone far and away, but quite near and naturally at home – with himself and the world… I’ll let you know, people, when yours truly has finished reading the book.


Kind regards to y’ all… 😉 🙂




What we do is a measure of who we are. If we imagine our work as labor, we become laborers. If we imagine our work as art, we become artists. – Jeffrey Patnaude

If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. – J.K. Rowling

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. – Samuel Johnson

The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he would never be caught. – Thomas B. Macaulay

The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune. – Plutarch

If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives. – Bishop Robert South

The measure of a man’s success must be according to his ability. The advancement he makes from the station he was born gives the degree of his success. – Sir Walter Besant

Success is not the measure of a man but a triumph over those who choose to hold him back. – Bill Clinton

If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man.  – James Dean

The measure of a man is what he does with power. – Plato

Bear in mind that the measure of a man is the worth of the things that he cares about. If it is good to say or do something, then it is even better to be criticized for having said or done it. – Marcus Aurelius Antonius

You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link. This is but the half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link. – Kahlil Gibran




The morning light greets us at five a.m. these days and stays up until seven, folks. Tomorrow is the beginning of the long days of June, here at the tropics. It is the start of the rainy season – slippery roads, plenty of moss on the walls and the pavements and, for sure,  traffic bottlenecks,  whehehe… 😉 Cheers! 


27 comments on “Many times conquered

  1. sorrygnat says:

    Thanks – good post!

  2. June says:

    To make a post about the book which you have only read one fourth of it, must really mean that you are so fascinated by it. 🙂 It sure looks interesting just by the way you describe it. I should put that in my future reading list.
    Love the quotes. They are better than any subject in Mathematics. 😀
    Hello Ate San! Good luck sa tag-ulan. 😉

    • ahaha, does it show? naman! and i thought am being subtle, hehe. nagugustuhan ko ang pag-discuss nya ng how it is to come from a backward and remote place and yet, he ended up in the most metropolis and most public of all places, ahaha. yup, do include it in your list, you’d learn a lot, i guess… 🙂 btw, glad they appealed to you, kapatid. tag-ulan na, June, ye’y! 😉

  3. munchow says:

    Looks like a very interesting book. I have never been to Bahamas, but would like to go one day. The countries history is not the best testimony of the so-called first world. And, yes, I have always liked Sidney Poitier as an actor.

    • ahaha, glad you found it interesting, sir Otto. yes, The Bahamas must be a wonderful place, wouldn’t wonder if you get there one day, ahaha… The Bahamas in the movies – where they stash the questionable money, lol. 🙂

      yes, sir, Sidney Poitier is rather admirable… btw, our Boracay beach in the Phils is very similar to The Bahamas, ahaha (sorry for the pitch) and more affordable than the Carribean, hehe. congrats on your new book… 🙂

  4. nadia says:

    Your excitement about the book is very palpable in this post. It’s such a good feeling when you find yourself with a book that holds your interest and keeps you engrossed. I’m sure with the rainy season, it’s wonderful to curl up with a good book.

    Send some rain clouds our way too. It’s almost 40C and rising here.

    • oh, Nadia, i tried to keep my excitement in reign. 😉 too bad, it still showed, haha. yes, it’s good to curl up with a book yet i have so much to do. either that or i get to sleep 5 mins after beginning to read, haha. ^^

      ay, dear, would love to, but can’t… it’s still way too hot over here although it rains some in the afternoon or evening. but yesterday and today feels like being in the purgatory, if you know what i mean. 😉 stay indoors, dear… ^_^

      • nadia says:

        Haha, then you need to practice more on your excitement reigning skills 😀

        I know what you mean, ‘San. The difference between the heat in the Philippines versus the one we have here is that in the Philippines it is sticky hot, whereas here it’s dry hot (as if the oxygen level is low). I hate both 😀

        And yes, we’ll be indoors until October. Haha.

        Have a beautiful evening!

      • yes, badly so… 😉 ei, you’re lucky just having experienced both kinds of hot, dear. she’ll be indoors, then. hold all the fun until Nadia can endure the outdoor temperature, hehe.

        am thinking of doing a post about Bicol, Puerto Galera and Boracay. but that will be a lot of work…maybe, about 25 revisions and 50 cups of coffee, hahaha. hope i could find the time for it. i’d like to do one such so i could outdo your posts re: to-die-for foods and ala-last-night-on-earth dining experiences, bwahaha. ^_^

        have a wondrous evening. hugs 🙂 😉

  5. ladyfi says:

    Sounds like a wonderful read. I’ll have to put this on my to-be-read list!

  6. Interesting hearing a little of your homeland… 7107 islands?? Wow. You are intriguing me for that next holiday venture 😉

    And quite off the topic, I was just reminded of Black Eyed Peas song Bebot. Is this a favourite in the Phillipines?? I’d love to know your take on that song, since I have no idea what it is saying…

    • hello, Alarna… yes, that many. that’s why we’re so divided, haha and development here is so uneven… 🙂 btw, when you have more time, do read earlier posts – Belt Ahoy! Singing and the Filipinos, Old churches, Spanish heritage and being a tourist in one’s country and Kinder and Gentler: Conclusion (comparing Thailand and the Philippines). that would somehow acquaint you with our place and people. btw, visit Boracay beach, it’s a lot like the Bahamas. Palawan is cool and exciting, too.

      ahaha, Bebot means chick, a slang word for a hot Filipina. or Allan Pineda was from the Philippines (i suppose you’ve heard of that). his mom’s a Filipina and his dad was a black man (a US soldier, likely) stationed at the US base where they probably met. Allan was raised the Filipino way, so he’s very loyal to his people and the Phils. the song is popular here but not as much as the band’s other song, Where is the Love? ahaha, that’s a long situationer… btw, there’s a Wikipedia entry for Bebot. 🙂

      thanks for dropping by…. good luck with your projects. 🙂

      • Hi San, I’ll be sure to look up your posts before I head over your way for a visit! 😉 Bebot means chick, hey? Good to know. That Where is the Love is the fav song in Phils says a lot about your people 😀

        Thank you! I would have looked up wiki, but I was more interested in your view 🙂

      • yes, please do, Alarna dear. our country’s landscapes and seascapes are awesome. 🙂 Allan Pineda’s paying tribute to our beauty, over here… 😉 yeah, we’re way too passionate, for our own good. ^^

        oh, the Wiki entry covers it a lot better, dear. but thank you so much… like your recent post, would like to do something akin – Color Me Bad, ahaha. 😉

  7. J.A. Vas says:

    well, searching youtube for more links between the Bahamas and the Philippines wasn’t that abundant as I first hoped for. but I found some great music to which Filipinos danced on the Bahamas. which makes a rainy evening very delightful: 🙂

    about the proverbs, this “Bear in mind that the measure of a man is the worth of the things that he cares about. If it is good to say or do something, then it is even better to be criticized for having said or done it.” by Marcus Aurelius Antonius is my favourite! 🙂

    about Sidney Poitier, I think the only movie I seen him in was “Sneakers”. not that bad kind of movie, but maybe also not that glorious. 😉 and, as a child, I saw his director’s work “Ghost Dad” with Bill Cosby. ah, those good old times that’ll never come back. 😉

    • hello, JA… and you took the time to look for that, ahaha. same youtube entry is a folk dance of Filipinos, usually performed during fiestas, welcoming of visitors and dance contests. these days, most people dance to the tune of the latest dance craze e.g. gangnam style, beyonce’s hit and jennifer lopez’s. 😉

      ahaha, that is a nice thought indeed. for me, i like the one at the end. 🙂

      oh, find a copy of Lilies of the Field. it’s an old movie. Sneakers and Ghost Dad are not big Sidney movies. if am not mistaken, they’re experimental… 🙂 i will look for some Sidney Portier movies myself, now that you mentioned…

      so glad you came by. hope things are alright… ^_^

      • J.A. Vas says:

        well, I sense these dances and music more welcoming. 🙂

        @What we do is a measure of who we are. If we imagine our work as labor, we become laborers. If we imagine our work as art, we become artists. – Jeffrey Patnaude – – – – well, I think he’s right if one bears in mind the surroundings of work. to be human nearby a conveyor belt might well be the greatest work of art.

        @If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. – J.K. Rowling – – – – though the line between the different appearances, e.g. skidding compassion, ambiguous munifcence or not seeing any inferiority is as invisible as a ply-yarn.

        @The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he would never be caught. – Thomas B. Macaulay – – – – hehehe >;-)

        @If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man. – James Dean – – – – very antique saying from a modern beau 😉

        @You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link. This is but the half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link. – Kahlil Gibran – – – – this, your favourite, sounds really interesting. but I couldn’t choose since I don’t get its meaning. what do you think it is? and, then, why do you like it? 🙂

      • hello, JA… ahaha, you appreciate our folk dances, eh? thank you…traditional dances are usually graceful and pleasing, don’t you think? ^^

        ahaha, i sense a sense of irony there. is there a chance you’re referring to “alienation?” as in, how cruel and mercilessly efficient a conveyor belt is and how graceful a being is he or she that operates it without himself being mechanized? that is how i interpret what you just said, ahaha.

        a, i barely get your point here. rather profound for me, ahaha. i think JK Rowling is saying that if we can respect and treat our inferiors honorably then, we are better men or better breeds/ people. what do you think? 🙂

        hehehe. i think somebody said that that is the difference between a politician and a statesman. that the latter is he that never got caught, hehehe.

        ahaha. yes. James Dean’s talking about greatness and immortality, huh? ^^ on the other hand, i expect great actors thought along that line – of leaving behind performances that would stick to people’s mind through the years. just my thoughts, hehe.

        the last one, ahaha. Gibran, to me, was probably referring to a person’s ancestry and social connections. that one may feel inferior about having come from a “poor stock” or low station in life. but then, one should not only think of one’s poor connections and ancestors but also of the great and accomplished people from his tribe or group and believe that such association permits, if not predisposes, a person to achieve great deeds as well. that is how i see it… what do you think.

        there, i’d like to pick your brains on those topics, ahaha. happy coming weekend, JA. warm regards! 🙂

      • J.A. Vas says:

        about traditional dances, yeah I did once when I was a teenager. it had something lovely and exciting. yes: graceful and pleasing! 🙂

        working at a conveyor belt may not be men’s first choice and greatest achievement, far from being something to make art from by someone who earns his bread and water from this. so, yes I think it’s somekind of artwork to be human at a conveyor belt, not to be mechanized and getting bitter.

        yes, that’s what Rowling is saying, I think as well. it’s just that mostly everything between us human beings, especially in “asymmetric” relationships, resembles stereoscopic pictures: everything is shifting around due to our perspective 😀

        since I never heard of Gibran before I take your reading as it is: as a great, illuminating explanation and absolutely motivating! 🙂

        you have a great weekend too. I wish you all the best! 🙂

  8. itchierfeet says:

    Sounds like a very interesting book.

  9. beebeesworld says:

    Thanks for reading my blog, I read yours as well. beebeesworld

  10. beebeesworld says:

    Again, thanks for reading my blog-please check out some of my older blogs-I havent been able to write a lot lately,

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