#VoicesOfHope: Following the Great Physician

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I always wondered why my parents never said “we’re proud of you.” I had never heard them say the word “proud.”

Sure, my mom sometimes posted on social media about my achievements pero iba padin yung masabihan ka ng “proud kami sa’yo, anak.” Some of my friends had become professionals and nasa stage ako na “buti pa sila.” Pero, sabi nga ng iba, “don’t compare your success to others.” Yun na lang iniisip ko.

Whenever some of my friends passed the boards, I heard “buti pa si ganto, doctor na, teacher na, lawyer na, nurse na”. Ang sakit. Every time naririnig ko yun, nag walkout ako. Maybe this was the reason hindi ako close sa parents ko unlike ng iba.

Back in 2011, I took up Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at Bicol University. I studied there for a year. I ended up dropping some of my subjects kasi nahirapan ako. Though I developed software back then, iba yung programming language na gamit sa major subjects kaya nahirapan ako.

Long story short, my parents found out and I was dismissed from the university. I remember, umiyak ako sa harapan ng dad ko and I asked, “Pa, pwede pa ba ako mag aral?” That was the first time that I cried in front of my dad. My dad said yes and I enrolled in a two-year Associate Degree in Computer Programming. I graduated in 2015.

After graduation, I was ready to look for a job in the IT industry pero ang taas ng qualifications nila. So, I decided to shift my career to the hospitality Industry because, aside from creating applications and software, I also loved cooking.

It was in June 2015 that I took up BS Hotel and Restaurant Management. My plan was to go abroad and work on a cruise ship. I got my bachelor’s degree in April 2019.

2018 I think was a difficult year of my life. I was always anxious about the future. Iniisip ko, “ito na ba yung para sakin? Magiging successful ba ako sa career na pinili ko? Magiging proud ba sila sa akin?” Isa pang iniisip ko was, “this is my second course, marami nang nagasto ang parents ko just to send me to school. Ito na ba yun?” September of 2018 was also when my girlfriend broke up with me.

Parang pile up na lahat nung 2018 and that led me to consider ending my life. I was suicidal. I became alcoholic so I could calm myself. I remember when I was ready to jump with a rope around my neck, I was crying, inisiip ko yung mga maiiwan ko sa mundong to: mga nag mamahal sakin, my friends, and my family. Parang may nagyayakap sa akin that time and I grabbed the Bible. I opened it to Hebrews 13:5: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” And after mabasa ko yung verse na yun, I cried a lot. After that, lagi na akong nasa simbahan.

November 2018 nung bago ako matulog, I remember I was scrolling through the newsfeed and yung kaibigan kong pari nagpost, “when you can’t sleep, talk to God.” So I did, I prayed and talked to Him about everything. While praying, I felt sleepy. After I ended my prayer, nakatulog ako agad and I remembered dreaming. I was climbing a very high mountain. When I reached the top, sobrang liwanag. While walking, may nakita akong tao sa gitna ng liwanag and he was wearing a white robe with a red stole. It was Jesus. Sobrang liwanag. I can’t explain the joy nung time na yun. We had a conversation. Alam mo yun, yung nag-uusap kayo pero sa isip. Nung papalapit na ako sa kanya, may force naman na nag-pull sa katawan ko. And just like that, I woke up and it was 3 am.

1 hour na pala yun.

Later that morning, I told my mom about my experience. Sabi nya, “talaga? Ano kaya ibig-sabihin nun?” Sabi ng uncle ko, “baka sign yan na magpari ka?”

Sinabi ko rin ‘to sa kaibigan kong pari and he said the same thing: “maybe that’s a sign that Jesus wants you to be a priest.”

Year 2019 was a year of hope for me. My priest friend encouraged me to enter the seminary. Sabi niya, “try mo lang, kasi dyan mo malalaman kung ‘yan ba talaga ang calling mo.”

March 2019, I took the exam at Our Lady of Peñafrancia Minor Seminary. I got the result after a month. I passed.

I remember Holy Week nun. Sinabi ko sa family ko na I passed the exam in the seminary. Yung ibang relatives ko masaya sila pero my mom, parang ayaw nya. But after that, parang I was still searching for something. Maybe I had a different calling. So, I went to Manila June of 2019 to search for a job. Dun ko na experience na ang hirap pala maghanap ng trabaho sa Manila. Almost two months straight akong naghahanap ng work. To be honest ready na ako mag-give up that time, but God is good. Na-hire ako 27 August 2019, two days before my birthday. I have been working for a BPO company in Pasay for almost a year.

I was planning to enter the seminary again on January of 2020. This time, it was the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary in Makati. It was a seminary for late vocations and professionals. Nag-inquire ako online and nag-share din ako ng short background about myself, but I didn’t get a response after that. Siguro di talaga ito para sakin.

March 2020, Manila was on full lockdown. Di ako nakauwi ng Bicol that time due to the travel ban. I stayed in Manila for almost three months. June of 2020 nung nakauwi na ako ng Bicol, sabi ko sa sarili ko, “babalik pa ba ako dun?” I decided to stay here in Bicol.

My dad is a doctor. Whenever my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, sinasabi ko agad gusto ko maging doctor kasi gusto ko kagaya ni Papa para matulungan yung mga maysakit.

When CHED waived the National Medical Admission Test this school year, I grabbed the opportunity to enroll in med school and follow the footsteps of my father. Maybe this is God’s way of saying na hindi talaga sa priesthood yung calling ko, pero sa pagiging doctor. Hindi man through preaching but to save lives.

Nung interview ko sa med school, sabi ni Dean, “pag doctor ka na, do you promise to serve the poorest of the poor?” I immediately said “yes.”

Now, I am a 1st year medical student at Bicol Christian College of Medicine. I will continue to follow my father’s footsteps to heal the sick as Jesus also did. We serve God by serving others.

This is my story.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

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