Pagkatapos kong sumablay
It has been over a year since graduation and a lot has happened since. As my gap year comes to an end, here’s my (poor) attempt to string words together on how it went.
So, what happened after I transferred the sablay from my right shoulder to the left?
I looked around and saw wide, genuine smiles from my batch mates. It was a great run with you, PH 2013. Here’s to serving more communities, always in all ways.
I looked for my parents and I was happy to see them proud. (Yes, Ma. I saw you wipe that tear.) After the ceremony, my dad had his hands full with five bouquets, one for me and for each of my college best friends. (Thanks, Daddy.) All that followed were greetings, hugs, some tears, photos everywhere.
And then, I went home – to the people I considered family for four years in the university. The remaining days were filled with graduation parties, celebrations, beach trips, getaways, all before we had to go our separate ways. [s/o ASS(S)U]
And then, I went home – to South Cotabato. I was welcomed with open arms by my family. I went to every family gathering I could go to, to make up for all the times I wasn’t able to attend because I was in Iloilo. I swear, every birthday, debut, anniversary, wedding. Tangina, you name it, I was there.
Of course, there were –
Hugs and handshakes
“Congrats” and “so proud of you’s”
But, I wasn’t saved from all the –
Graduate ka na, kelan ka magtatrabaho?
Si *name*, hindi nga UP pero may trabaho agad
Abi ko mag-med ka?
Truthfully, I went home – to explore what Public Health has to offer. There were opportunities too great, too hard to say no to, but, unfortunately, too far from home, so I had to let them go. I was set to find work in SC so I could be closer to my family. My patience was tested as I waited in line at job fairs, applied for clerical positions, sent a ton of emails, only to get rejected because of various reasons.
Wala abi position para sa field mo, sorry.
We need experience.
Hija, we have an age requirement.
Kailangan kasi may lisensya ka para sa job na ‘to.
So, I went home – to the friends I’ve had since childhood. I had all the time to catch up with them, and celebrations were in order.
But, the hype... well, it’s not always there.
From celebratory toasts to drinking the pressure away
From graduation speeches to drunk conversations of what to do next
From excited phone calls at 7am to breaking down at 2am
So, every time I went home – to our small town, to the familiar comfort of our house and the people in it, I wanted rest. It felt really great to be with the ones I love most for 24 hours in a day/7 days a week, but at the same time quite weird.
/Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think it’s safe to say that I share the same sentiments with those who’ve went away for some time and went back home/
I’ve lived alone for the past four years and it has taught me to be more independent. So when I went back home, it felt unsettling that I was always being tended to, always being asked on how I was doing, and always, always being around people. How weird and at the same time wonderful, to be asked what I wanted to eat for breakfast, and to wake up and actually have breakfast on the table. I wanted rest, and I got it. But, going back home also meant going back to responsibilities, obligations, and expectations.
Hatid/sundo mo muna..
Duty ka anay palihog kay kulang staff
Ihabol pasa ang permits
Bakit ka pala hindi nag-engineer?
For quite some time, I think my parents were worried about me, along with everything that has been going on. They were wary when I told them about my change of plans during my last year in college, my decision to go back home after graduating, my constant search for something I don’t even know. I questioned my choices, reflected on my relationships with the people around me, and dreaded each passing day that I doubted myself.
Three months after graduation, I was still unemployed. Now, it might sound so petty complaining about this, but I know that I wanted to work – to serve back. I was scared; it felt like I was losing time. By then, I was starting to realize that maybe I was meant to focus somewhere else – study for an upcoming exam, help my parents out, rest. So that’s what I did– duty in the day, read concepts at night. I made plans with friends and family for the remaining months, booked plane tickets, planned trips, prepared documents, etc. It was already October, and I was driving around SC, going into offices, meeting people, passing permits, when I got a call.
“Are you employed? If not, drop by the Provincial Health Office. DOH has something for you.”
And when I thought everything was falling apart, it was actually falling into place. I was happy and scared at the same time, I felt like I was going to burst. After a serious talk with my parents, I visited the Rural Health Unit, signed the contract and started first thing Monday.
So technically, I went home – to a new one, welcomed by a new family. I was deployed in another municipality’s rural health unit.
Evaluations and presentations
Fieldwork and local health board meetings
My childhood dream is to be a doctor and admittedly, I took BS in Public Health as my pre-med course. When I was choosing which course to take for college, I realized that every course would be hard, so I might as well take one close to my heart. I remember during our first year orientation, one of our professors told us that PH is not a pre-med course. But, four years in BSPH and I knew I made the right choice. Being in UP opened my eyes to society’s realities, most especially in our healthcare. This journey led me to advocacies and opportunities that strengthened the want and need to keep PHighting for the cause. I postponed my med school plans to know more about the system firsthand. No words can ever describe how thankful I was for the opportunity that DOH-HRH gave.
I came across this quote by Mahatma Gandhi, it stated: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I came to realize that this rang true.
However, just when I was starting to get to know the personnel and other health staff, just starting to get the hang of the job, when a whole new plot twist came my way.
Apparently, my parents wanted me to take the licensure exam. I was hesitant, of course because I was not sure if I could pass. At the same time, NMAT results were out and I needed to apply to medical schools. Some had really early deadlines. I was stuck in SC and cannot personally process my documents. My parents were bothered because we barely see each other in the house. My friends are always offering to have dinner or drive me to work and I appreciate their concern. I was juggling doing everything in my gap year that I guess it was taking a toll on me.
“Unsa man ning bataa nga ni uy, dili ka kabalo mupahuway?”
“Kath, mata mo ay, dalom na gid.”
“Uso matulog, girl.”
I was supposed to renew my contract with DOH, when my parents brought up MTLE again. It was January, and local review centers didn’t accept students anymore since the licensure exam is already on March. This was a very hard decision for me to make, but when I found a review center that opened a last section, I took the risk.
For a while, I had to go MIA – deactivated Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the usual. Only a handful of people knew about my whereabouts. I was trying to avoid the weight, the pressure of people knowing that I was studying for the boards. As a PH grad, it was harder for me to study the Med Tech subjects. My review classmates were re-viewing the concepts while I was still just learning them. And I know studying in college was hard, but the pressure that MTLE puts on you, grabe beh. Iba. Di ako makatulog. There were assessment exams, simulated exams; I was having a difficult time processing everything because I can’t even reach the review center’s passing rate. At the same time, I was processing my med school applications, going into interviews, changing review schedules so I can work my way around both.
A few days before the MTLE, medical schools started to release the results for qualified applicants. I remember how happy I was to receive emails and see my name on lists. It was the push that I needed to get through. It felt like a thorn was removed from my chest.
During MTLE, believe it or not, I fell asleep during the second subject. Honestly, it was *that* difficult and I was uncertain if I could still pass. The next few days felt like torture as we waited for the results. But things started looking up when I got a call from my best friend, greeting me with “hello, RMT” Legit one of the happiest moments of my life.
And then, I went home – back to SC where I celebrated the victory with my family and friends. I got to visit the RHU and I remember how heartwarming it felt when they told me they were proud of me. I spent time with my family again, celebrated my dad’s 50th. My gap year was slowly coming to an end.
I went home – to UP. I can’t help but feel sentimental when I got my diploma. I personally thanked my professors for their recommendation letters, dropped by the laboratories to say hi to the staff, took photos with Oble, and walked around campus. Masaya akong pinaglaban kita, UP. Masaya akong pinili kita, PH.
It was already June when I’ve finally decided on which medical school to go to. If you asked me this time last year, I never would have imagined myself here. Let’s just say that PH reeled me in. July was filled with transition from gap year to medicine proper. I’ve traded seascapes and mountains for cityscapes and skylines. It’s something new, yet something familiar, too.
In the past year, I got to catch sunrises and chase sunsets, let myself get lost, crossed oceans, trekked mountains, met people, got to know myself more, and followed my internal compass that was pointing north. I may have taken the long way home, and the route is not always the scenic one, but it sure was worth it. I’m still scared of what the future holds, but I learned that things may not always go my way, and that’s okay.
This year, ahh this year, taught me that plans may change, but the goal remains the same.
And now, I’m going to medical school. This will be my home for the next few years, whether I like it or not. It’s funny how this universe works, but I’m happy that the road still led me to you, Public Health. Thank you for your warm welcome, ASMPH. Let’s #23iumphAsOne.
Malayong lupain, amin mang marating, di rin magbabago ang damdamin.
No matter where I go, I will never forget the lessons I learned from you, UP. You were there when my eyes were opened, when my heart was changing skin. You taught me that we are only able to achieve great things because we take risks. We are aware of the possibility that we might fail to achieve what we set out to do, but we do it anyway. You taught me that life may knock you down, and you will hit rock bottom. When that happens, the only way is up.
Pagkatapos kong sumablay, dama ko ang saya at pasa ko rin ang bigat na nasa balikat ko. The sablay is something we wear with pride, but at the same time, humility. It’s an achievement, and also a reminder of our responsibility to serve the people.
Pagsilbihan ang taong bayan, sa kahit anong paraan, sa kahit anong larangan.