Musings

When Things Happen

Brace yourself.

But that’s not just what it’s all about, right?

You constantly tell yourself to be prepared for whatever is headed toward you. However, every time you breathe and blink, some weird thing comes up and the next thing you know, you haven’t really set your shields up. You try to deal with it anyway because it’s already there so you end up conditioning your mind on what to do if one thing leads to another. You try to manage your expectations and be smart about the choices you make. But, somehow, you turn out doing otherwise. You are the epitome of irony.

You tell yourself to not easily trust people because there will always be an inherent danger in this. You keep your number of friends to a minimum and try to confide your true self and your inner demons to one or two. You want to keep the probability of having your trust betrayed to the lowest level and as much as possible, you want to have easy damage control. “You’re just being practical and smart,” you tell yourself. You contain yourself to this tiny circle… and all of a sudden, boom – you cross paths with someone new.

“No” – it’s the only word you allow yourself to utter. You keep distance because, after all, you don’t need another entity in your life, right? You give out bland responses, as flavorless and cold as frozen tofu. You manage to go through your list of ways of rejection. But circumstances just do not know when to put an end to things and before you know it, you actually already have started a different and unexpected chapter in the book of your existence. You convince yourself that it probably won’t hurt to give it a chance; in fact, you’ve already set up safeguards in case things go wrong. You can’t just get enough of protecting yourself, can you?

Then, little by little, you may not have realized it but you have permitted yourself to be consumed in the situation. You click. You connect. You indulge in deep conversations and talk about dreams and how to achieve them. You talk about worries and skeletons in your closet, the should-haves and the could-haves. You set your arms wide open and embrace whatever is thrown at you, whatever is in front of you. You’ve allowed yourself to awaken in something beautiful.

However, as soon as you think about the beauty, you think about the consequences. Your fears emerge and you let yourself feel pain even if nothing has even started yet. You turn into a frustrated over-thinker. You think about letting go first to lessen impacts of future, unforeseen damages. And for some weird reason you continue taking risks. The best part is that this is where and how you find the ones who become most important to you: love, friendship, success, and family – the finest of all.

When things happen, you just let them. You don’t always have to pre-empt bad things, but you can always mitigate consequences. When things happen, make smart choices. You can’t just make it an excuse to be reckless on purpose. When things happen, wisdom is of the essence, but don’t let it swallow you too much, because when things happen, they happen. Go with the flow and never forget to be responsible in whatever path you decide to walk on or end up taking.

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High School

God is Not Deaf After All

2008 – San Lorenzo Ruiz Academy of Polomolok, Junior Year

My usual days as a junior in high school mostly comprised of excitement for extracurricular activities to happen and dreading Chemistry. This was also the year braces conquered my overlapping teeth.

I remember how bad I was at the subject that one of the most memorable memories of this year was me getting my one and only grade of 76 in my entire history of going to school. After the distribution of our report cards and upon seeing our grades, my best friends and I sat on the floor, outside the classroom, right along the corridor. Next thing I knew, we were bawling our hearts out for fear of getting serious reprimanding from our parents and from disappointment as well. Our grades were in ascending order. Jas (my ex-best friend) got 75, I, 76, and Zyra (my bff) got the highest at 77. Nonetheless, we were crying until we realized how ridiculous the three of us looked. Guess, we reaped what we sowed after all those times we slept in Ms. Kathy’s Chemistry class.

In case you’re wondering, things did get better for the three of us in Chemistry when finals approached. And while we were on the road to achieving this, I also became led to another path to betterment. You see, God actually heard me.

One morning before I went to school, I got a call from my grandmother, who was then a high school principal at Irineo L. Santiago National High School in General Santos City. Now, I’m not going to prolong the suspense any longer – she got hold of an exchange student scholarship and was in the process of faxing the Department of Education’s memorandum and the scholarship application form to our school principal. There were no words to describe how I felt that time. Having access to that application form already made me feel like I just won the lottery.

Of course, what happened next was that I applied. Oh and by the way, it took me a week to finish it because I knew there and then that every thing had to be perfect – from answers to every question to showing off leadership roles and achievements down to my handwriting. I even had my essay checked by our school publication’s adviser to make sure that I answered the question and I had no technical errors. All of it just had to be flawless.

After a few days, I was informed that I qualified for the division screening at the DepEd Division Office in Koronadal City. I remember being there with only one other applicant who had a stellar list of achievements and extracurricular activities on her form (yes, I peeked when she wasn’t looking). Mine only had a humble amount including the one I made up (I lied about having a role in the Red Cross Youth organization at school and I can’t even stand the sight of blood in the first place). The assigned coordinator praised both our applications as she endorsed us to the Division Superintendent. Man, I had a good feeling about my application mostly because the coordinator flattered me before asking me if I printed out my application because the penmanship was too nice to actually be hand-written.

The two of us, being the only applicants, obviously passed the screening process. Before the regional screening took place, the other student who applied apparently backed out because her parents suddenly didn’t permit her to, so I was on my own.

Next stop, Cotabato City (and more missed classes in Chemistry)!

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From the left: Zyra (bff), Jas (ex-bff), and me (brace-face). This is the three of us just trying to survive Chemistry.

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High School

To Dream The Impossible Dream

2006 – San Lorenzo Ruiz Academy of Polomolok (High School, Sophomore Year)

In one of those afternoons coming home from school (when I would usually head straight to my room and text people), I heard my mom calling my name in a “get-over-here-immediately” kind of tone. Irritated like any teenager who’s interrupted from her texting spree, I took a pause from the clickety clack of my Nokia 8850’s skinny keypad, and headed to the living room where she was currently watching the afternoon news.

“See that girl being interviewed? She’s a distant cousin of yours,” she said. “She’s leaving for the US soon to be an exchange student. You should do the same in the future, too.”

I listened to the interview for a bit longer and answered, “Sure. I just don’t know how to, though.” I remember doing my best to look cool and not care that much at that time; however, deep inside, I was bursting with so much interest for what seems like a one-in-a-million chance of getting this kind of opportunity. That night, I couldn’t sleep. I was too busy thinking about how I could get my hands on an international scholarship being someone so young and, well, average. So, I tried to brush the idea off my mind.

The next day, I went to school (late, as usual), last night’s thoughts came back and I felt so giddy about it that I knew I had to share this to my seatmate at that time. During one of our classes, I told her that I wanted to be an exchange student and I thought I definitely could be one. She chuckled, telling me it would really be difficult considering there are not a lot of opportunities out there and if one pops up, I’d be getting into a tough competition. Trying to feel unaffected by the remark, I agreed and went back to listening to the ongoing lecture.

For days, I couldn’t drive the thought out of my head, so I prayed hard (despite not really being that religious). I remember the prayer going like this, “Dear God, I know I don’t talk to you often and I apologize for that and all my other sins. But, You know deep in my heart I am so thankful for every blessing, big or small, that You shower upon me and my family. I’ve known You to be the most Generous and Merciful One, which is why I want to ask for Your help in being able to have the chance to land an international scholarship. I am aware that this is too much to ask, but all I’m requesting is an open door and I’ll do the rest of the work. I also promise to be a good child from now on. Amen.” In case you’ve noticed, I follow the ACTS pattern in prayer – something that has been taught to us by our Values Education teacher, Mrs. Perez.

So what happened after that? Well, nothing really. But, just when I eventually forgot about it and moved on with my hormonal adolescent life, then came junior year.

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My best friend, Zyra, and I in our sophomore year in high school. Don’t worry, puberty did us right.

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