Sunday, August 16, 2015

(#Dann25 Birthday Essay 2015)

It's been ten years since I wrote my first Birthday Essay inside our classroom at ICPS. I was a Fourth Year student then. No. I was a bullied student then, for so many reasons. I was still searching for myself back then. A few months before graduation, I examined myself whether I am ready to face reality or not. How can a weak student like me face the coming challenges when at High School people consider me as nothing?

Ten years after that first write-up, I write this Birthday Essay, not anymore as a student, but as a licensed teacher, and as a Dominican Lay. The road I took was really rough and tough. I met lots of people and faced lots of challenges. I fell down and stood up. And yet, I am still here, at the threshold of time, battling against a serious sickness, yet smiling and giving a thumbs up to a brand new day ahead.

Twenty-five years have passed. I look at every surviving memory at hand -- every photo, letter, post -- and relish the years that came and went. There were a lot of changes. from my physique, to the environment. The kid who was once jolly is now an educator. The student who was bullied is now the teacher and defender of those who were bullied. The altar server who went to church to serve on Sundays is now a Novice of the Dominican Laity.

Yes, a lot of things have changed. Sometimes, I can't help but cry at the nostalgic feeling this thought is bringing to me. Masarap sa pakiramdam na balikan ang nakaraan, at maranasang muli ang saya ng nakalipas. I miss a lot of things, from eating Gerber food (lots of it!), to singing in front of kindergarten students to the tune of Donna Cruz's Habang May Buhay, to my first encounter with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

I also miss the first time I entered ICPS, to the moment my batchmates laughed at my "flat top" hairstyle at our HS graduation. I miss the friendship I had with a handful of classmates, while everyone else bully me. I miss the moment my MAPEH teacher discovered me and asked me to sing Lea Salonga's Ugoy ng Duyan for a program.

I miss the culture shock I endured when I entered CMU. I miss the Ghoy Ghang, 3ce Familia and The Current Student Media family. Those days when I was struggling to continue studying because I incurred failing marks. Those happy moments I had as a host for Mr. and Ms. Education. The happiness we had when we finished PlayProd, OJT and Thesis. The hug I received and the joy in my mommy's face when I marched to receive my BSE diploma.

I could still remember the first day I went to Eastwood to look for a job, the nostalgia of receiving my first sweldo, my first 13th month, and my first tax refund. That summer Team Building which brought me chicken pox. The little love teams I had while at the office, and the friendship I built with the team. The turnout of events which led me to leave NY to go back to ICPS as a teacher.

I miss serving at the Altar, be it Ordinary or Extraordinary Form. I miss the time I was playing the tambourine and guitar for the Neo Catechumenal community of Tanza. Those days that I was travelling to Cubao to mingle with the Confraternity of Catholic Saints.  The moment I saw Sis. Teresing Castillo, Cardinal Chito Tagle, and Pope Francis. The day Ivan died, which changed the sphere of my profession.

I am grateful for the first moment I met Our Lady at La Naval, as well as the first opening session of Mukha Ad. The day I first set foot in Manaoag as a radio host with IPLM friends. That Sunday when I was first given the chance to join the Guardias de Honor of Our Lady. That most touching moment when I received the Dominican scapular as a Novice.

I am grateful for the support people gave when I accepted myself as gay. For those who did not leave me during the trying moments of life when people judged and criticized me because of my past. I miss my friends who became enemies in the long run. I miss the people who prayed for me when I discovered that I am sick with TB, and during the days I was absent from work because I was almost at the brink of death. I miss my exes, as well as those who loved me in one way or another.

These, among the many others, were the big moments of the journey to this moment in my life. These encounters molded me to who I am now. Each is a part of a very big picture; each is important indeed.

I miss them all. 

And yet, all these are part of the past.

Yes. It's all a part of my haunting, exciting and memorable past. As I walk through the last few days of my 24th year, I leave all these memories of my youth behind, and continue with life, as a young adult - or should I say, as a young educator and preacher. There's more to come, so they say. I don't know what to expect, because everything comes as a surprise. 

As the days fade, I know I still need to do more things; it's not yet over. There are some more things that I need to carry on and work on with this coming year. But I know with God's grace, life would never be the same. Everything would be better than before. I would continue with the journey of life, with all the things it will bring. I will accept them, with strong faith and a big smile.

To Jesus and Mary, salamat po!
To my mommy and daddy, kuya and ates, salamat po!
To my classmates, batchmates and teachers who molded me, salamat po!
To the Dominican Family, salamat po!
To SCP, ICP and MAD, to CCS and WSA, to KBKP, 100% KP and AMOC, salamat po!
To NeungYule, ICPS and Tangos NHS, to all my students, salamat po!
To my close friends and barkadas, to all who always gave me advice on various things of life, to all who touched my life in one way or another and prayed for me, salamat po!

I would always be grateful for the past, present and future.
Glory to you, O Lord, forever! AMEN!


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