Warning: What you are about to read is not an entry in Maalaala Mo Kaya.
When I was in high school, I could not join my classmates in taking their college entrance exams, not because I didn’t want to, but because I knew my parents could not afford to send me to college even if I pass the test. From fourth grade until fourth year in high school, I had to sell cigarettes, beverages, buko (coconut) juice, candies, banana cue (banna fritter similar to kebabs), camote cue (camote fritter) and balut (fertilized duck embryo) in a cockpit arena in order to pay my tuition. Imagine a skinny pip-squeaky boy holding all those goods for seven straight years!
How the Bullying Started?
In God’s Grace, I survived high school through my parents’ support, a scholarship program and for being a vendor in a cockpit arena. Mind you, I was seeing some batch mates and school mates at the cockpit arena. I was shocked when I saw them every time. Who wouldn’t? The fear of being bullied in school was always there. And so the bullying happens every time we cross each other’s path in school. Some called and teased me “garilyo, garilyo” because they saw me selling cigarettes. Some called me “buko juice” because they saw me carrying a pail of cold buko (coconut) juice in plastic glasses. During those days, I only had one choice and that is to shut my mouth for the fear of being ridiculed and insulted more (During my time and until now, the more you are irritated at them, the more they get motivated to bully you.)
The Storm in My Life
A month before my high school graduation, I started to look for scholarship programs. I knew I had a not-so-ordinary intelligence quotient but I was not able to bring it all out because my financial difficulties brought limits to my academic performance. I was a writer and a sacristan in high school. Now you know why writing is one of my businesses and serving the Lord is so special in my heart. Luckily, I was one of the two scholarship awardees as sponsored by a Filipino community from Daly City, California, USA. Hey, prior to knowing I was selected as one of the two scholars, I applied as a service crew in one of the country’s leading fast food stores and this pip-squeaky boy failed the interview.
Every single day, my travel fare was a big challenge. There was a point (actually, a lot of times) that I had to visit my scholarship coordinator at night just to borrow money for my fare. During that time, my allowance for food was no longer in my vocabulary as long as I have an exact money to come to school and go back home. The most important thing back then was for me to be able to attend all my classes with or without an empty stomach. I still remember when all my classmates would happily take their lunch in one of the nearest fast food chains in our campus while I take my walk into the intersection road and buy a bread worth PHP5.00. One time, I saw a poor man (well, poorer than me at that time) watching me as I deliriously munch the bread. I pity the poor man and so I broke the bread into two and gave half of it to him. Together, we filled our empty stomach with a solid food that may only last for 30 to 60 minutes.
Okay, That Was My Introduction. Let Me Start the Story Now.
You think that’s the most pitiful situation I had? Brace yourself for what you are about to read next. My mother used to put 5 loaves of pandesal in my bag (hey, my bag came from my classmate in high school). Around five to 10 minutes before we end the class for lunch, I would ask permission from my professor to go out so I could go to the nearest restroom, lock the door, and eat my pandesal for lunch. It was an amazing experience because some people who would want to use the bathroom kept on knocking on the restroom’s door. I feared that the door would be opened any time soon so I pushed it so hard while I hurriedly eat my five pieces of pandesal. My gosh, I could not even afford to buy a bottle of water. Because I ate all five pandesal in less than a minute, I choked. I was torn between choosing to meet St. Peter or to drink the non-potable water at the restroom’s faucet. Obviously, you know what I chose because I’m still alive. I had so many pitiful experiences in college. I may just tell the rest of them in my next story.
All the bullying I experienced in elementary and all the hardships in college made me furious to do and give my 200 percent best. Oh with all those hardships I had, allow me to boast just for once. I used the adjective “furious” and you’ll understand why. You know, I was excelling in college. Whether it’s a seatwork, a quiz, or a major exam, my goal is to perfect it. I can still remember what my classmate said, “Pati seatwork ginagawa mong final exam sa pagkaseryoso.” (“You are treating your seatwork so seriously as if it was a final exam.”) There was no semester when I didn’t get an exemption in almost all final exams. There was a semester when I got an exemption in all final exams.
I didn’t like it because my professors would send me outside the room and advised me to go to the nearest mall or do whatever I wanted to do but I was not allowed to go home yet. Seriously, during those days, I’d rather take the final exams than staying on our corridors the entire day doing nothing. I can’t go to the nearest mall because I had to take a ride and all I had was an exact fare back home. There were several instances when my professors would send me outside the class because I was the only one reciting and perfecting the quizzes and laboratory exams. Trust me, I would have chosen not to perfect at least one of my quizzes had I known I will be sent out by my professors just so my classmates will be compelled to recite. If I had money during those days, it would have been an amazing experience. To cut the chase, I graduated with flying colors (ehem, skyrocketing colors, actually) in the academic, literary, and leadership aspects of my studies.
Today, as I look back and see where I am right now, I am thankful all those hardships and bullying happened. If I were to be a hateful person, I can now afford to approach those who bullied me in high school and ask them how much they want so I can make fun of them as they hold a cold pail filled with plastic glasses of buko juice, cigarettes and balut on the other hand. I am thankful to those who bullied me, belittled me and to those who looked at me like dirt. They all caused me to perfect all exams because each time I get an exemption in a final exam, I treat that as a crisp slap in their cheeky face. But no, I do not want to do that. I have chosen to be thankful to the Lord and see a deeper meaning of my past. My future is brighter than my past!
1 Samuel 18:14 said, “Now David achieved success in all he did, for the Lord was with him.”
My God upgraded me. In the past, anger and insecurity fueled me to do my best to outrun a person. Today, I just want to love God and love people. Friends, I admit, it wasn’t easy to say that, much more do it, especially during the time when I haven’t decided yet to give my life to God and serve Him and His people.
Friends, why did I tell you my story? Two things.
In my past, it was so easy to be sorrowful and hateful. It is so easy to go house-to-house and tell all those whom I believe mocked me during my high school and college years, “Hey, here I am. Where are you now?” It is easy to slap thick hundred dollar bills in the face of those who hurt me. It was so easy to back-out and tell myself, “Oh Jaycee, college is not for you. Just go home and plant camote.” Imagine if I chose not to take my yolk, went home and planted camote. My gosh! I am so thankful that I chose to be happy where I was (college days) but I was not content at the same time. Say this with me, “Be happy but do not content with anything less than Christ!“
Two days ago, I spoke to God through my heart. He laughed at me! Did you hear? He laughed at me. What did I tell Him? I told Him my plans. Do you want to know what did He say? God said, “Dream BIG because you have a BIG GOD!”
I want you to know that no matter how difficult your life is, nothing just happens. My past was not perfect but it is perfect for my purpose. Friends, haven’t you noticed that a problem is only a problem when you see it before you succeed? But once you have overcome your problems, you just smile because you now see yourself bigger than your problem. You have become wiser and stronger. Nothing just happens.
Problem is only a mental state of mind. It exists if we think it is. It does not exist if we think it does not. You have the power to create your destiny on who you will become.
Be inspired by your hardships in life to love people even more. Be an inspiration to others. Those who are currently in the same situation where I was, do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen it already. Yes, I have seen it! Today, my role is to tell you to continue your journey because something big and great awaits you at the end of the tunnel. I focused on the prize. I am God’s most powerful champion!
You can do all things through Christ.
Friends, let me confess something to you. In my past, I surrendered but I surrendered to God with a white flag! Today, I am so blessed beyond my imagination.
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