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Alec Cuenca: Walking the Small Talk

Article by: Reine Amabel J. Jaruda

Graphics by: Marianne Lois M. Boncolmo

Interested in sharing his personal development insights, Mapúan vlogger and podcaster Alec Cuenca sought to amplify his voice through the diaphragm of his microphone while sitting in front of the camera lens. Through his YouTube and TikTok accounts as well as his self-help podcast – Small Talk! With Alec Cuenca – the Manufacturing Engineering (MfgE) Mapúan brings his audience along through the ups and downs of his journey towards growth.

Decoding his drive

Alec’s journey into becoming a self-help guru proved arduous. Now a graduating student, he once struggled with the same obstacle every other Cardinal faced – adapting to the fast-paced culture and environment of the university. 

Well, at first, I didn’t really have a plan when deciding what course I would take when entering college,” Cuenca shared. “I didn’t really decide on one thing but I figured na I really wanted to be a computer engineering (CpE) student.” 

He later realized that coding wasn’t for him, so he looked for other programs to shift to and eventually settled with MfgE. “It’s not necessarily the gears or the thermodynamics; it’s basically that there that there was a lot of things to learn in engineering that I wasn’t learning in computer engineering,” he explained. 

Cuenca later grasped that people only cared about the amount of effort he poured into his work. From then on, he promised to himself he’ll be more responsible with his studies – tempering his carefree demeanor to be more disciplined. Along the way, he figured that there are a lot of problems, not just in engineering, that need to be solved and that others might be going through the same motions.

I would like [...] to guide them or hopefully show them different tools and techniques so they can solve their own problems,” the MfgE student commented.

Baby Steps

Seeing photos of his grandparents back in the day induced a rush of excitement through Alec – he then knew he wanted to preserve his moments as well. Upon receiving his first decent phone, he dived into the hobby of documenting his adventures and began uploading footage into his YouTube channel in 2018. With content ranging from vlogs, product reviews, to travelogues, he emphasized that he will do his best to capture events in his life because he wants his descendants to feel the same excitement he did before.

In his free time, Cuenca would go to the university library and start reading books about psychology, self-help, leadership, management, and business – eventually incorporating his learnings to his content and thereby jumpstarting his career as a motivational speaker.

The inspiration mainly comes from what I’m currently dealing with; what are the experiences; what are the theories and concepts that I’ve learned from books,” he explained. “60 percent books, 40 percent from what I’ve experienced, or what I’m experiencing at the moment.

Alec recently interviewed Dr. Gia Sison – cofounder of HealthXPh and host of CNN Philippines program G Talks – about mental health and has shared the intent of working with more experts in the future.

I really believe that having this kind of platform can help people just be aware that whatever they are going through it’s okay,” he added. Today, his eponymous YouTube channel – Alec Cuenca – has over 2.5k subscribers while his TikTok account, @smalltalkpodcast, boasts over 438k followers

Peace in a pod

Still, despite his growing desire to share knowledge about personal development, Cuenca felt limited by the few avenues available so he decided to dabble into making podcasts. 

Unlike other influencers who focus on showing the good life, the Small Talk! host opted to go the realistic route. He even noted how others commented that he must be happy with his perfect life due to his content.  He disagrees, however, claiming that “they don’t see that every single content that I put out are the struggles that I myself are dealing with.”

As a rising star in the digital space, he acknowledges the inevitability of pressure especially from external sources. “Some are meant to push us to be better and some are meant to break us and force us to stay back,” he said. What matters to him the most is how he internally deals with said pressure.

For him, the program was more of a journal but it ended up resonating with a much bigger audience. Today, Small Talk! With Alec Cuenca can be listened to on both Spotify and Apple Podcast. In fact, it ranked second on Apple Podcast’s self-improvement category in the Philippines for September 2020.

At his own pace

Like most people, Alec continually seeks for his motivation in life. He likes to reinforce his own philosophies through quotes. The adage “This, too, shall pass,” uplifts his spirits when he’s down and humbles him when he’s at the top. “One day, this is all going to be over, [and] we are going to die,” is another resonant saying for him. As morbid as it may first sound, this line motivates him to live life to its fullest and without regrets.

You will get punched by life more times that you could actually handle but you gotta understand that it’s all a part of the journey,” the podcaster remarked as a reminder that life is about balance – there will be wins and there will be losses.

Cuenca also strongly subscribes to Alan Watts’ Backwards Law – pursuing positive experiences is a negative experience, while accepting negative experiences is a positive experience. Not recognizing this, according to him, leads to toxic positivity.

For the future, he hopes to start a one-on-one coaching program to show people the tools and techniques he has applied to his own life. Additionally, interested individuals can subscribe to his weekly newsletter by messaging his Instagram @SmallTalkPodcast.

The CpE-turned-MfgE Cardinal also expressed interest in writing a book someday.

Amidst the amount of content he’s making, he assures that he will not stop creating and noted that “even if I do this every single week, I know that I am helping maybe one person, two, three [people] to remind themselves to keep going with their lives and that’s basically the why I’m doing these stuff.

As a student, vlogger, podcaster, and motivational speaker, Alec surely gifts the community with insightful content – one small talk at a time.

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