Previously I have created an analogy comparing moments in our lives with dots. And always wanting to explore and explain the intricate network of moments that connects one single action to multitude of reactions. However dots are immobile and I'd like to conjure something in motion in the minds of my readers.
In my College years, I have been struggling with different challenges and most of it boils down to the lack of financial freedom. As in zero opportunity, nada. Let me tell you story. One of the moment in my life the changed the course of my existence.
The very reason I'm sharing this is to deep dive into the human capacity to understand the result from complex connection of every single action we take.
Weeks after high school graduation, I have been feeling blue and sore. It's quite normal, no matter how I despise the daily grind, I miss it. And I hated the fact that I wasn't done with my closing clearance yet. So I kept going back to the campus to finish some deliverable just to get myself cleared. It's very tedious, but it's the only thing that keeps my mind occupied. Most of my classmates have already made up their mind on the courses they will take and on which universities they're be enrolled to. I on the other hand is still no done with my clearance and no plans whatsoever. My parents were very clear in telling me that I wouldn't be enrolling this coming semester period.
There's only two months to prepare prior college enrollment. And I'm almost half way through the second month and with two more signatures needed to get cleared. I didn't remember the date, it's been a long time, but I remember it was quite windy that day, I didn't have plans to go to the campus but I went there anyway. I can see the pine trees dancing with the wind as I entered into the school gate. I knew I took a deep breath somewhere in there. It was breath of exhaustion and breath of fresh air still. I can smell the fumes from the roses planted nearby the Department of Education office. I was with my buddy cousin that day, who in his boredom took the time accompany me to the campus.
The notion of not being able to enroll the next semester has already sunk deep into my mind. And even the slightest hope to maybe have my rich relatives sponsor me to college had slowly faded into thin air. The only thing in my mind now is just to get cleared, get my diploma, get the grades and see if I could a job to support myself and save some for college in maybe a year or two. Those thoughts have lingered in my mind and I can still remember it clearly today.
That day I met a classmate who's there finally submit his clearance sheet. I envied his position. We talked for about plans while I waited for the teacher I need signature from. He asked me if I'm getting into college that year and I said, "nah, that's not possible." Then he told me that the provincial government is holding an academic scholarship examination and that he is currently collecting all requirements for it. I asked what requirements they need, and discovered it's quite several and it involves spending some few bucks to acquire. Such documents needs money for travel expenses and tax payments prior getting it. So I didn't quite took an interest. I shrugged the idea off, as the only reason I'm at campus at that very moment is to finally get myself cleared. We continued talking until it was time to say goodbye.
That night, I remember what my classmate told me about earlier that morning. Without a doubt, I told myself, even if I'm able to submit all requirements there would be hundreds of aspiring students who will take the exam. I didn't have the full confidence to actually ace the evaluations.
I live in the rural area in the province, the city is 40 kilometers away that's 24 miles if I'm not mistaken. The examination will be held in the provincial capitol in the city proper. That alone would cost me money, fare for the travel, food for lunch and maybe a place to stay. My loving mother used to help out my aunt who lives there so the accommodation wouldn't be such problem. Out of nowhere, I decided maybe at least try, take the challenge and if not lucky enough just charge it as experience. So I told my mother about she was very supportive in my newly found glimmer of hope. My father as usual would only at me and say, "okay, it's up to you".
Took me a week to fully comply the requirements. Had to get a certified copy of clearances from police, the county, getting tax clearance from the mayor's office, with struggle of compiling all other certificates. The sweat from the blazing summer heat and the dust from daily windy breeze. The tiring walks from here to there, I don't have a motorcycle and I'm not gonna spend a penny more as I have to kept the pot for something bigger.
The day of exam I met familiar faces, schoolmates, friends and a hundred different more. We were group into 40's alphabetically with the last name, all from different towns of the province. Mother was with me that day and helped me find my room and kept on telling me to never worry about the results. That I am there for the sole purpose of experience. But I can't help it. I remember I had little to no care about passing it when my classmate told me about it. But that day, all my troubles and exhausting moment of getting all requirements had pushed me to just hope for something more than just experience.
The exam was quite intensive plus the time limit that keeps me nervous. I tried the very best I could. There's no way to copy from someone for answers, not that I intend to. The room was an atmosphere of competitiveness. It smelled pressure, I can heads shaking, I can hear ball-pens clicking. Even in the ticking of the clock in the wall seems to tick louder and in rhythmic array with my heartbeat. Took us four long hours to finish the exam. With 15 minute break in between. I finished my test papers with no satisfaction. I did the very best I could possibly do. But I felt weird and small after the exam.
Me and mother went my aunt's residence and stayed there for the night, I was just very silent that on the way. Mother keeps on saying, it's okay not to pass as if she knows I wouldn't. Who would blame her, I just learned that there were more or less 700 hundred entrees that day. The facilitator revealed that only 3 every town would get the privileged to pass. I remember seeing more than 50 familiar faces let alone those who I don't know who lives in my town.
Weeks passed and I haven't heard news about it. And so I took it as a no. I told myself, it was a nice experience. I settled down, thinking of alternative ways to earn and save. And I went back to regular vacation days, some days me and cousins would go swimming on the beach which is just a walking distance from home. Sometimes we will be hiking up the hills near the river to harvest plums and wild cherries.
One lazy afternoon, father harvested cocoa and asked me to have it grind. We use cocoa in making a local choco delicacy. We create tablea from cacao fruits. I had to go walk to the nearest grinding place, that is in the next barangay or county. It's a long walk but that day I just took the task with no fuss. My cousins they were with me that day, they got nothing else to do so they decided to walk with me that day to the store who owns grinder/melanger. That's were we would have those cocoa beans refined into creamy chocolate. We were on the way when a motorcycle took a quick menor/slow. The person riding on the backseat was my classmate. She was our Valedictorian in class. She shouted, "Paj, you need to go to the capitol, I saw your name listed on the board who passed the examination. There's only three of us who passed and they need us to attend a meet and greet next week". I didn't even have the time to respond, the motorcycle just went on it's way as I can see my classmate waving at me from afar.
That day, I realized that at some points of our lives we break into the unknown. And that a regular day, just like the day the morning I went to finalize my clearance at the campus could paved a new path for me. If I wasn't there I wouldn't have known about the scholarship exam. If I wasn't on the way to have the cocoa beans for grinder/melanger, I wouldn't even know I was one of those who passed the exam.
If not for the privileged in passing the scholarship grant I wouldn't have the luxury to start college right after graduating high school. There are unexpected intersections of our lives that changed our journey. And even a boring day could turn into something so rewarding. That afternoon me and cousins walked the way home with our heads held high. It wasn't that much for someone else but to me, it was the beginning of a journey. A journey my parents will be proud of.
On the way I home I had the smile from ear to ear and I walk as if I was floating midair excited to see my parents smile when I tell them, "You got yourself a scholar son".