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January 14, 2011

The Year 2010

The year 2010 has now been added in the history books. Personally, it has been one roller-coaster ride for me. It will remain however an unforgettable year for me. The “ups” were as memorable as the “downs”. One word though can encapsulate the entire year: Adventure.

The year of travel and adventure started during the first quarter when I was blest enough to bring my own family to Hong Kong for a much needed R&R. It was our first travel outside of the country and perhaps a prelude to more travels abroad.
The vacation came in the middle of so much stress especially from work. I was a former municipal health officer and while I loved my job and didn’t even consider it a job, some situations could always ruin the joyous exhilaration attached to the experience. It was definitely frustrating for an idealistic person like me to experience such political maneuvering from people who would think nothing except themselves. Such tragedy faced by many in public health service came straight for the heart like a dagger seeking the right artery for the kill.

I left my workplace without certainty about the future only to regain it again after spending 4 amazing days with my family in a faraway place. Seeing them enjoy the excursions and the food and the experience of traveling made me think of my motivation at work. I wasn’t supposed to be doing my job just for myself, to venture alone into satisfying other people. I was doing it for my family as well, to give them a more stable future, to give them somebody they could look up to. While my idealism has brought me to a fulfilling moment of my life, the fulfillment is half-full for as long as my family continues to sacrifice themselves for the pursuit of my own personal happiness.

Replenished, I came back from work but maybe for the last time, with the objective of saying good bye to people that I have worked with for the last 2 years. The decision to quit did not come sooner. It took me another month of traveling in the United States to think about this life-changing decision.

After my travel in Hong Kong, I went to Illinois together with 6 other students for an international leadership training. It was my first time to travel in the United States. I have always dreamed of traveling to the U.S. I could never imagine that I would be going there and not even at my own expense. Somehow, this month-long travel with student leaders fueled once more my own fading idealism. It was a moment filled with grace, an opportunity to re-learn the fundamentals that brought me to where I am in my life.

When I came back from the U.S., I was somehow re-energized to go back to work. I got featured in a national documentary. The episode was featuring doctors working in rural areas. It was a big moment for me and my family who were also featured in the same documentary. However, while doing the documentary, I could not help but feel detached from everything. I knew then that serving in public health would be the best for me but I was too young to suffer persecution. I was too young to experience the exploitation, the dirt and stench of local Filipino politics meddling in the field of medicine and public health.

Thus, while I was in Finland in the middle of the year studying for a diploma course on Global Health, I immersed myself into deep contemplation. It was the right moment to make a choice. Before I even left Finland, I already made a decision. I sent my resignation letter and told my staff my last farewell. Besides, even if I didn’t resign, the new administration was poised to pulling me out anyway. It was time to leave.

The rest of the year was a huge struggle for me and my family. Basically unemployed, I was doing part-time job as a faculty for my alma-mater. I love teaching. I love being with my students and imparting them the knowledge that would prepare them for the “real world”. Like medicine, teaching is a fulfilling profession. Financially, it wasn’t sustaining my family’s needs. Thus, it was another moment of discernment.

There came an opportunity to work abroad and while in the past I promised myself not to take such course, the present situations were leading me to take such a choice. When I finally decided to say yes almost at the last minute, I was angry. I was angry on the system. I served my country well by being a good public health officer but the system repaid me with a lot of dismay. I was angry on myself for I was leaving myself without any option.

Since my country has failed to recognize my potentials, I decided to seek others who will. Thus, part of the reason why I took the opportunity to work abroad was my frustration for my own country. But, after all, no prophet is welcome in his own land. The major reason however was really the drive for survival. I made myself poor in order to serve others and all I asked was some support to sustain my enthusiasm and passion. Now, I must take care of myself and those that depend on me.

It is needed sometimes to forego one’s personal happiness in order to sustain one’s survival. A dead man can never enjoy the daylight no matter how happy his death was.

I only find comfort in the thought that I have my family’s support and love. Perhaps this experience is my moment in the furnace of God, where once again like in the past, He will smash me and bend me and poke me into the heat and merciless flames. It is a horrifying experience but I look forward to the day when God finally decides that I am ready and He will pull me out of the fiery furnace and display me like a bronze figure, shining and perfect. A better me. May this 2011 be that year.

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