The Dream I Fought so Hard to Reach.
I waited for this for 7 long years. This is my roller coaster story.
My college journey was unusual and very tedious. It was a journey I had never thought of coming. It was like I was on an expedition and got lost in the middle of the ocean. That although I have my compass, I don’t have my map. That although I have my ship, I don’t have the helm. I was haphazardly sailing in a vast body of water.
Seven years ago (2015), I moved to Davao for college, carrying with me a big heavy suitcase that my mother once used when she went home from abroad. I carried all my stuff without any help because everybody in my family was busy. I was just 16 back then, walking on the streets trying to get a ride to take me to my father’s workplace. I was just 16 fighting for my dreams. I was just an adolescent skinny kid, wandering on a busy road full of bright lights and noisy cars. I realized I was not a kid anymore. My mother was away from me, my father was busy working, and my siblings had their own life. I was left with no one but myself. I was alone. But I fought.
A few months later, with my father's influence, I enrolled in USeP as an engineering student. I was confident that I would finish my course in just five years without delay. As someone who loved math since elementary, taking any math-related course would not be a problem for me. I believed that the years I had been exposed to numbers and equations equipped and prepared me to be a good engineering student until they weren’t. A senator visited the university, and I thought the classes were canceled. So I rushed to my church to attend a religious meeting (yes, I was religious before). An hour later, my classmate texted me that our professor came to class late and gave them their midterm exam. I MISSED MY MIDTERM EXAM. I tried to talk to my professor the next day for a special exam and told him my honest reason, but he declined. It broke my heart into pieces that even God could not mend it. It was the day I knew that I would be getting a failing grade at the end of the semester. As someone who kept excelling in class, it was a big slap on me.
The day had come, the grades were finally uploaded, and I saw a red color with a grade of 5. I FLUNKED. I failed for the first time in my entire academic life. It made me cry for the first time over academic reason. I suddenly uttered, “Naka top 1 ka sa high school, pero bagsak man diay ka sa college.” In my entire high school life, except for 3rd year, I monopolized my math classes. I always got the highest grade in math every grading. In my senior year, I was the only one who was able to solve an equation my teacher gave us. My teacher would brag about me in his other classes, and I would hear other students murmuring, “mao mana si Bacaling oh siya ray naka solve sa problem ni sir Mendoza.” Suddenly everything turned upside down. I WAS HEAVILY ASHAMED OF MYSELF WHEN I LEARNED I FAILED MY MATH CLASS IN ENGINEERING. The following semester, I tried again, and I fought.
It was in my 2nd year (2016) that I began to question things. I lost the vigor to continue my engineering. I doubted my church. I lost trust in my spiritual leaders. And I started to question God. I questioned His capabilities and even His existence. I was on the verge and at the height of my existential crisis. I was so confused, hurt, helpless, and broken. No one knew it but me. I isolated myself from the people I knew and who knew me. I reduced my Facebook friends from 5k to 300 and just retained the ones VERY close to me. I unfriended my elementary friends, HS friends, engineering friends, childhood friends, and neighbors. I didn’t add and accept people. I wanted to erase their memory of me. The light that once shone from a sanguine student faded. A few months later (July), I left my church, but I carried with me the values they taught me. One of which was to love my country. There were nights that I would stay up late just to pray to God and ask him to help the Philippines. Those were the days I dreamed of becoming a senator of my country because I wanted a real change. I wanted to help. I cried for change for my country. It was then that I decided and planned to shift to pol sci.
On the night of September 27, when I was at the peak of my existential crisis, I once again talked to God and prayed. I muttered, “Lord, if you are real, give me a sign. Show in my dream tonight.” I woke up the following day crying again, and I uttered, “You don’t exist.” Little did I know, it would be my last prayer. On September 28, I knew I was no longer a believer, but I kept faith in what I do. I still fought.
December of the same year, I quit engineering. There was a change in my passion. And so, I did not enroll the next semester in January. I talked to my father first, and he did not allow me to quit. I then talked to my mother via messenger, she was so defiant for months. She went home from abroad and personally talked to me. That day was the first and last time I cried in front of my entire family. I cried because I wanted to fight for my dream. Before my mother conceded, I made a promise: “Ma, sugti lang ko promise mu graduate jud ko with latin honor.” Then I was able to convince my father as well and he said “murag daug najud ka sa imung pangandoy maging abogado.” I won because I fought.
Immediately a month after (January 2017), I went to Ateneo to inquire. I asked the admission if they are offering a Political Science program at the moment. The admission said yes and abruptly added that the academic year had already started. I said it would not be a problem for me because I am not planning to enroll this year. I told them that I would wait for the first batch of K-12 to graduate in 2018, and I would join them as if I were a K-12 graduate. They assured me that it would not be a problem on their end. I was happy. I was hopeful. Again, I won because I fought.
I realized I had one year of leisure. I decided to apply to a BPO or call center company. There, I spent a year taking calls from American people who would call me “monkey” for simply being a Filipino. I received and endured their racist remarks and curses because I believed a day that would pass is a day closer to my dream. Until it wasn’t.
On March 21, 2018, I took the entrance exam and passed it a few weeks later. In May 2018, I went to Ateneo again to process my enrollment. The admission stopped me and said, “Dili man diay ka graduate ug senior high, kailangan nimo mag take ug additional 2 years.” Right there and then, my entire dream collapsed. I was literally speechless. I went home and locked my room. I CRIED. And cried countlessly. I HATED THE UNIVERSE. I HATED MY EXISTENCE. I HATED MY LIFE. I WAS HURT. A few days after, I went to the national book store to look for a book that would alleviate my feeling. I found a book of quotes and bought it. I went home and immediately read it. I came across this quote: “Direction is much more important than speed. Many are going nowhere fast.” That quote was so powerful that it gave me hope. A week after, I went to Ateneo again, not knowing whether I would concede or ask for consideration. But I went still, willing to fight for my dreams. Again, I tried to fight.
I talked to the head of the admission first. I tried to ask if there was any way I could enroll in Pol Sci without going back to senior high. I told him if he could instead tag me as transferee-shiftee. I diligently explained that tagging me as transferee and shiftee at the same time would not require me to go back to senior high and take additional 2 years. I added that it would be as if I were an old student. After our energy-consuming conversation, the head of the admission said, “I would allow only if the department chair of pol sci would agree.” I was relieved and was partly happy. I rushed to the 6th floor where the pol sci dept chair could be found. A pol sci senior accompanied me to the department. There I met sir Beleno and explained to him my COMPLICATED status. I gave him a piece of paper where he could write whether to accept me or not. He returned the paper to me and continued talking to his fellow professors in the room. I said thank you and walked away. I glanced at the paper, and there it read, “The student is advised to enroll in the program.” I WANTED TO SHOUT THAT TIME. I WAS SO SO HAPPY. It was the day I knew I won because I fought. I fought so hard to reach my dreams. It took me many fights to reach where I needed to be.
Fast forward, I enrolled in pol sci, and I did not credit my subjects because I wanted to start from scratch. This time, I came braver and smarter. This coming Saturday, I will be graduating finally.
To Political Science, you were a challenge to me. You were difficult to learn, but no learning is easy. Thank you for the 4 years of torture, anxiety, and heartbreaks. But it’s worth it. One day, I’ll come back and teach your subjects in university-level education. But for now, adios the course of the brave.
To myself, you’ve been through a lot. I am excited about what you can achieve more. Your old self might be proud of you now. You redeemed yourself. You fought so hard for your dreams, and you won. Keep fighting, self, and always remember that direction is much more important than speed.
At the end of every chapter, we always learn something. As for me, I learned that, perhaps, I wasn’t really sailing in the ocean with my ship, I was swimming myself. The compass nor the map did not guide me in my direction, the stars and constellations above me did. The universe took away my helm because it wanted me to change the route. Now I know that in case my ship sinks again, I will swim.
To the one reading this, know that potential and passion are two different things. The former is being what you like, while the latter is being what you love. Choose love. Because only once you do things with passion will you discover more things about yourself. It will keep you going.
Indeed, the end of a chapter is the beginning of another: See you law school.
I’ll end this with a quote by Professor Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter:
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”
This is not my own story, this is a Testimony of one of the person I inspired with. I posted this to inspire more people about his journey before he graduated in Ateneo De Davao from Political Science and a Magna Cum Laude.
Lead Image was From Unsplash
Sobrang hirap pero kakayanin ano? Andami mo na din napagdaanan at alam kong makakayanan mo padin ang patuloy na pag abot sa pangarap mo. 😊 this blog will inspire a lot of people esp. Those young students who will read this.