Friday, March 16, 2007

Last Wednesday I was at the Eastern Bacoor National High School upon the invitation of the local Couples For Christ community. They requested me to give a short talk as part of their GKareers series. I was tasked to share about my work as a doctor in Gawad Kalinga. I received the invitation more than two weeks ago but up until I was driving to the venue, I hardly had anything to say.

Well the truth was I had SO many things to say. It was just that they were swimming in so many directions and the waves and ripples tossed me from one thought process to another. With about half an hour to spare, I finally put something together, sensible enough to make the talk a worthwhile experience for the students.

I reflected on the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over time.

1. We always have a choice. We always have options. Even if we think that are backs are against the wall, we can always maneuver over, under, through, and around obstacles. The key concept here for me is Perseverance.

2. If there seems to be really no choice despite our best efforts, we must trust that nothing is impossible. In the most difficult of circumstances where hope does not even have the slightest chance of seeing the light of day, we must remain Hopeful.

3. Despite persevering, despite remaining hopeful our prayers and aspirations remain unrealized, we must learn to accept that things happen for a reason. This may not be revealed now, maybe not ever, but things always happen for a greater purpose. We just have to Keep the faith.

4. And when keeping the faith does not seem to guarantee the good life, the perfect life, the peaceful life, the bountiful life we work so hard for, we always have a choice. We always have options. Even if we think are backs are against the wall.

I wish I had someone talk to our high school class the way someone was talking to that bunch of incoming seniors and the graduating batch itself. Not that I am the bearer of the panacea to the world’s ills through my talk. But I just wish someone from the greater outside world cared enough to share his/her two-cents regarding life after high school…

I’ve almost forgotten how high schoolers acted in their natural habitat- but this group of 200-odd teenagers made the memories of my own high school life inundate my senses yet again. In the course of my talk held in an open-air gymnasium, I had to slug it out with jeepneys and tricycles, plus the usual cacophony of adolescent chatter. Not a few listened intently though; I prayed that somehow I contributed to making them a tad better as humans.

I let out a barrage of humor-coated eternal one-liners, still part of my continuing education in the university of life (and I’m not talking about the ULTRA):

That we should always listen to our parents. No matter what.

That everyone is special, that God does not make junk, that a hundred pesos would cease to be if one peso is missing.

That all persons have a story to tell, if only we’d care enough to listen and maybe learn a thing or two from them.

That heroes are more valuable alive than dead.

That taking school seriously will only make greater things happen in our lives.

I recounted to them bits and pieces from my own life and how it molded me to become the way I am now- not that I’m a paragon of virtue or a living saint. From the economic struggles of my grandparents and parents to the challenges and rewards of attending the public school system. From the fact that I still receive allowance from my parents because they believe in the work that I do despite its lack of monetary reward to the affirmation from God that I am doing His work by fulfilling my heart’s desire and answering for my daily needs through Game KNB?

As I ended my talk, I encouraged them to dream and work hard to reach the moon and the stars, because by doing so, even if we fail to snag the latter, at least we reached the sky… Imagine if we just aimed to reach treetops and failed- our feet would have hardly left the ground…

I asked them if they believe that if they believe that a senator will emerge from among them. More than a handful willingly volunteered themselves, if not their classmates. I wouldn’t be surprised if come 2034 or 2040, as I read the biodata of a presidential aspirant, I’d see that one or two would be alumni of Eastern Bacoor National High School.

--==+==--

Not to sound self-deprecating or solicitous of pity and/or praise but I initially doubted the wisdom of having someone as ordinary as myself share words of inspiration to impressionable minds such as theirs. It’s not as if when they listen to Ian Gomez speak, their interest will be piqued. Ian who?, they might even ask.

But I soon realized that my ordinariness actually makes me special, if only to give them hope that one can actually rise from the ranks and be somebody enough to be trusted to witness to God unending grace and faithfulness.

--==+==--

To Allan, Ia, and the rest of our HS batchmates- tis been 11 years last Monday since we officially left MaSci. I wonder how Mrs. Banta is... Arnel- missing you much!

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