Dinggin ang Bulong ng Tadhana

Makisabay sa agos ng pagbabago...

Grab a cup of coffee and sit down. This is going to be long.

I’m not the kind to easily react and make a fuss about condescending public statements made by imbecile celebrities. Normally, I would simply raise a perfectly-shaped eyebrow and flip my imaginary long hair. Their opinions don’t really matter to me. The same can be said about the recent uproar brought about by statements released by “pambansang kamao” or “people’s champ” incumbent Cong. Manny Pacquiao who is running for a seat in the Senate in the upcoming 2016 national elections. In an interview about his views on gay marriage, he blatantly compared homosexuals to creatures worse than animals. For those who do not know, he is a Christian pastor and a bible thumper. As I’ve said, normally I wouldn’t give a fuck, and initially, I did not. This however, turned out to be something so much more than an uneducated person’s bigoted opinion. People all over the country, and now even all over the world reacted. Famous LGBT icons such as comedian Vice Ganda, talkshow celebrity host Boy Abunda, and renowned singer Aiza Seguerra were unable to hold their rage and released their full fury upon the feeble-minded Congressman. People started taking sides. That was when I realized a deep-seated wound which radiates to the very being of humanity was being poked at. This is beyond a tactless dehumanizing opinion from an ignoramus who claims common sense in his statement yet is obviously devoid thereof. His opinion does not strip him of his accomplishments as a world champion boxer, nor does it dim other honorable aspects of himself if there are any. His opinions have to be taken as they are. After all, one single mistake cannot cancel out ninety-nine good deeds. That would be unfair. Conversely, ninety-nine good deeds cannot make up for even a single mistake. The pride he has brought to the Philippines as a nation cannot make up for the psychological damage he has blown upon the psyche of every LGBT and their straight allies nor does it make him any more competent and eligible for any high political position. To be a national leader requires superior intelligence, extraordinary vision for the nation and outstanding moral fiber. I say moral fiber and not religiosity. Know the difference. You can be a decent human being regardless of your religion or the lack thereof. His intelligence and vision are questionable knowing his record in the congress. It is his paid advisers that should be in the congress seeing that they are the ones doing his job. So, no, I have not nor will I ever vote for Manny Pacquiao for any political position because he is incapable and incompetent in all aspects that the job require and not just because of his ignorant opinion. I easily got over what the congressman said because his opinion of people like me is none of my business. I did not get hurt that I was being compared to something less of an animal because I personally do not see animals as lesser beings. I am a highly cerebral mammal after all. I, however, did not like the deliberate attempt to demean, degrade and disgrace people like me. He said sorry to all LGBT publicly and I was like, whatever. What infuriated me, no, what actually hurt me were the comments of people around me: acquaintances, colleagues, old classmates- people I considered to be friends. This is the deep-seated wound which I thought has been healed long ago. Boy, was I wrong. Pacquiao’s comment was a mere superficial scratch which revealed the true source of the pain. These people- these co called “friends” actually affirm, defend, and share his view of the LGBT people. Some say, “how he said it was wrong but that he was on point and what he said was true because it was written in the Bible.” So, wait, after all this time, after everything that we’ve been through, that is what you see when you look at me every time we see each other face to face? Some even say, “the truth hurts.” I say fuck you and fuck your truths. It is not your truth that hurts but your pretentious ass who gives me the Judas’ kiss everytime we bump into each other. Isn’t there a special place in hell for that in your Bible? The comments went on and on. Another thing that surprised me was that these comments come from people whom I least expected to be so judgmental, homophobic and bigoted. And their numbers grow every day. I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if I wake up one day and I have no more facebook friends left to unfriend. Because of what Pacquiao said, I realized who you people really are and how you see me as a person. He said what you couldn’t say to me upfront. So, thanks but no, thanks. You can keep your friendship and I keep my being gay. I choose not to associate myself with you and with anybody who is so against me being myself and me being happy. I happily sever the cords that tie us in anyway. You may ask, with all this long post and hurtful retort, who’s the bigot now? We are all born the same- all empty slates. Most choose to educate ourselves and widen our perspective because it is our duty to ourselves and to the society to which we belong to. By educate, I do not mean to refer to mere academic learning but to the cultivation of the mind to stretch its limits for maximal functioning. Some, though, choose to remain ignorant. That is their choice. My problem with it is when their ignorance drives them to impose their stupidity to the society. What happened to freedom of speech, you may ask? Oh, you are free to say anything stupid but don’t freak out if I point out how stupid it is. Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think. Stupidity is a choice, sexual orientation is not. Ignorance can be fixed, gender identity cannot. Those two are not parallel. So call me whatever you want but I will not sit and be a spectator of stupidity, unfairness, oppression, intolerance, prejudice, and bigotry. Enough harassment and fearmongering already with your sin and your hell and your hate. You have already broken far too many kind spirits. You have driven far too many to the end of their rope.

Let us move on to the next annoying thing: bible thumping. Most people who are so adamant in discriminating the LGBT are well-versed bible thumpers. The rest who join the bandwagon are blind followers who call themselves “good disciples” for supporting the scriptures which they barely read. Aaay-men to that, they preach. We are damned to burn in hell for all eternity for being faggots and for doing butt sex. What else does Leviticus forbid? Well, let’s see. That fatty pork you had for lunch. That dinuguan your father loves so much. That perfectly tattooed eyebrows your mother has. That fabulous dress your sister wears made of multiple fabrics. Eating shrimps, crabs, lobsters, clams, mussels- all these are abominations before the Lord, and are just as detestable as gays are according to your scripture. All who sport a mohawk or a pompadour or an undercut will burn in hell for you should not cut the hair at the sides of your head. Your entire group of friends who loves drinking alcohol will burn in hell as well. Did you just get a shave? Congratulations, you just got yourself a ticket to damnation. It seems like hell is going to be so crowded with all these people. You better pray hard as I do that when we see each other in hell, I won’t be seated next to the throne. Have I forgotten to mention that masturbation and withdrawal method of sex is also forbidden because to spill your seed on the ground displeases God? And did you know that when your brother dies without a son, it is your duty to marry his wife? Should we stone your aunt to death because she is no longer a virgin yet she is unmarried? The list goes on and on and yet I don’t hear you people complaining about any of these. In fact, you continually consciously commit many of these “taboos” repeatedly. Do you hear any of us condemning you to hell because the scriptures say so? Please stop cherry-picking and before you hypocritically point your fingers elsewhere, make sure your hands are spotless clean. My salvation is between me and my God. I don’t see you in the picture. If heaven is going to be filled with folks like you, I’d jump to the fiery pits of hell myself.

To quote Maggie Smith, “My Dear, religion is like a penis. It's a perfectly fine thing for one to have and take pride in, but please don’t take it out, wave it on my face or shove it down my throat.” And believe me, that is saying something coming from a gay man like me. How would you feel if I impose my religious beliefs on you? How would you feel if I judge you and your actions based on what my religion’s sacred scripture says? If I am a Mormon, how would you react if I say your brown skin is a punishment for disobeying God? What do you say when Iglesia ni Cristo claims that only their members can go to heaven or that according to Jehovah’s witnesses, only 144,000 people get to live eternally in paradise? Will you accept our Pastor Apollo Quiboloy as the appointed son of God? If I am Hindu and I say you must worship an elephant god and you cannot eat beef because cows are sacred, will you obey? If I am a muslim, and my holy scripture says, mature men are allowed to marry prepubescent girls, or that it is acceptable to have four wives for as long as you can feed them, or that wives are properties of their husbands, do you accept this? Probably not. You would probably say, I do not accept and believe in those things because my religion and holy book says otherwise. The same is true in reverse. These people do not accept and believe your truths based on your dogmas because they have their own. It is one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path. So please stop imposing your “truths” upon the world just because your bible says so. Not everyone shares your faith. Your religion should serve as YOUR guide to living YOUR life and not to force others how to live theirs. It is so sad to see that the more “religious” some people become, their intolerance and hatred against others also increase. So many people profess themselves “Christians” yet their behaviors are becoming more and more unChristlike- far from your Christ who is full of love and acceptance.  We let you be with your religion so please let us be with our peace, love and happiness. Most importantly, laws must be made not merely because your bible says so. Laws should consider everyone equally, and not just a specific group or even the majority. How would you feel if a Muslim leader bans pork and liquor in the Philippines and legitimizes polygamy because his Qur’an says so? You cannot go to court and reason out that you stoned someone to death because your bible commands you to do so against someone who has committed whatever it is that your bible prohibits. I am not against any religion. I am against any fundamentalist who tells me how to live my life and what to be basing on a belief that is not even my own. Stop sourcing your scriptures to make state laws that affect even those outside your religion as if it is a universal infallible truth because newsflash: they are only your truths to which you are entitled, not ours. Stop using your religion and scriptures to justify your crappy, unfounded and bigoted hatred. Your religion and belief is not the center of the universe. Each one of us is at liberty to believe as we wish but it precludes not the right to oppress others because of these beliefs. In the same way, you may not agree, accept or approve of the LGBT and its lifestyle but you have no right to oppress us or prohibit us from doing anything just because your bible says so. Peaceful coexistence demands each of us to make space for tolerance and consideration of other people’s belief even if we do not share them.    

The thing that brought about this brawl is the issue of same-sex marriage. Before giving any comment about the issue, honestly, how far have we gone analyzing beyond the whole “against my religion” and “the bible says so” point? Isn’t that the logical thing to do? Before spewing any opinion or taking sides, does it not have to be based on knowing what the provisions are or whether it is constitutional or not? I will not explain to you in detail because I trust if you can have your own opinion, then you should also be able to educate yourself about that. There are however, a number of things I would like to point out.
  1. We are talking about same-sex marriage as a civil union recognized by law, not necessarily by church. Legal marriage is a secular institution that should not be limited by religious objections to same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage does not force any religion to change their dogmas and grant them the sacrament of matrimony. They are after the civil rights, protection, benefits and legal recognition that civil marriage provides. Please do all of us a favor and read up on these legal implications if this issue is truly important to you. 
  2. Equal rights do not mean special rights. The LGBT wants to be able to marry anyone he or she chooses to just like you do. Perhaps you would be able to understand it in a different scenario: Let’s say you love someone deeply but you cannot marry him or her because you are betrothed to someone else you don’t like due to an arranged marriage thanks to your culture. You can’t choose to marry the one you love. The LGBT is faced with the same dilemma in a similar context but with different variables. It is not the right to marry that is in question but the right to choose whom to marry. Another example is this: I love eating bitter gourd leaves. You should also eat bitter gourd leaves because in the tradition where I grew up, it’s healthy. You can either eat only bitter gourd leaves or starve to death. The LGBT can either marry the opposite sex or stay single forever.
  3. Why are you so concerned about gay marriage when you are even straight? It does not change any of your rights. It’s like concerning yourself to a predicament between meat alternative and pure vegan diet when you are not even vegetarian.
  4. I am not voting for gay marriage just because I am gay. To be honest, I currently do not see myself getting married to the opposite sex or the same sex for personal reasons. I’d probably grow old into a shriveled dry prune all alone, but that doesn’t mean every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender should too. Just because I currently do not believe in marriage as an institution doesn’t mean that I should deprive or deny others the chance and the choice to be married to whoever they want to. Nor should you or anyone else for that matter.
  5. If gay marriage abhors you so, then don’t have one! You are not being forced to be married to the same sex. Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean everyone else should not have it as well. 

We all know someone who is part of the LGBT community. He was that kid in the news who killed himself because his own parents disowned him after finding out he was gay. He was that stranger who returned the wallet you dropped somewhere. She was that woman whom you just saw gave food to the poor old lady in the street. They are the odd couple who adopted and raised the love of your life. He is that very hardworking employee you have who is the breadwinner of his family. He is your boss who gives you a pat in the shoulder for a job well done. She is that bartender who just perfectly knows how you want your drink. He is your hairdresser who makes you feel confident and beautiful. He was that nurse who took care of you when you had that shameful disease. She is your proficient teacher who was threatened to be fired from her job should her students know she’s in a relationship with one of your equally competent teachers because they are “bad influences.” He was your lawyer who successfully got you acquitted from a lawsuit that could have cost you and your family everything you have. She was that doctor who cured your mom of cancer. He was that schoolmate who chose cheerleading over basketball. He was that overachiever classmate who constantly needed to prove himself. He is the distant uncle who sponsored your education and who is the reason you have a decent job. She is that cousin of yours whose sense of fashion is limited to polo, plaids and denim. He is your uncle who made all those art homework because you suck at drawing. She is your weird aunt who until now stays single but who pampers you the way your parents never did. She is your barkada who never talked behind your back while everybody else did. She is your childhood friend who always has your back and who knows your deepest darkest secrets. He is your best friend whom you can call at 3 in the morning saying you have a dead body with you and shows up with a shovel, no questions asked. He is your brother whom you have known all along to be gay but hasn’t told you anything for fear that you would beat him up. He is your son who pretends to be straight and keeps being bullied at school a secret because he doesn’t want to disappoint you and dishonor your family’s name. Don’t these beautiful people deserve to be happy? In my experience, the most I’ve had is partial approval. Conditional acceptance. Tolerance only to a certain degree. It’s okay to be gay, just don’t cross-dress and wear make-up. It’s alright to be gay, just don’t flaunt it and don’t be too effeminate. It’s fine to be gay, just don’t kiss and hold hands in public. I love gays but I hope my son doesn’t turn out to be one. I’m okay with gay people but I’m not okay with their lifestyle. I have no problem with you being gay and you can have anyone you want just not my brother, okay? Always with but’s and if’s. It’s okay to be gay just don’t have gay sex. Are you kidding me? Do you even understand what you are saying? It’s all part of the package. My sexuality, orientation, preferences, and identity make me who I am. It’s what makes me gay. I do not beg for your approval or acceptance. I only demand that which is rightfully mine: a dignified, autonomous life. For I, too, am a child of the universe, no less than you are. I have the right to be here just as I am. I have gone through hell and back just to make sense, make peace, accept, embrace and come to terms with who and what I am. Now that I have finally done it, there is nothing in this world that will ever make me change that. Not your acceptance. Not your approval. We did not hide in the closet, society locked us in. When it became too suffocating inside, we busted our way out. We live in a very sick society whose eyes would rather see two men holding guns than holding hands. Pray, for that is what you profess to be good at, that your child does not turn out to be gay for the universe has a twisted sense of humor and you just helped shape this cruel world to be his personal hell. 

To our straight allies, I just want to give you a big warm virtual hug and let that hug communicate to you all the feelings I have for which I find no words to suffice. I can’t tell you what it’s like to be gay and I cannot make you understand. Hell, most of us don’t either. Yet with open arms, you still embrace us. I’m not surprised that most allies are women but when a guy identifies as an ally, my heart can’t help but melt just a little. It takes huge balls to stand up against society and its norms. If anything, you have just proven how comfortable and secure you are of your sexuality. Thank you for looking past these husks to seeing the beautiful beings that we truly are even at times when we ourselves have forgotten due to how society paints us to be. Thank you for smiling as these brave souls choose happiness over society. Thank you for reminding us that this is worth fighting for even at times when we feel so tired that giving up seems to be the only option left. Thank you for accepting that this is not just a phase, that we don’t need a cure or that we can’t be fixed. For how do you fix something that is not broken? You are our last strand of hope left in humanity for you make this world bearable for us. You have fought our battle like your own, and for that I honor you. May the universe smile upon you and lead you to your true happiness.

To my LGBT brothers and sisters: hope begins within. As Michael Novotny of Queer as folk said, “In the gay community, we have drag queens, leather daddies, trannies, and couples with children - every color of the rainbow... Being different is what makes us all the same. It's what makes us family.” Each of us has become strong enough to stand alone and unique enough to stand apart but the time has come for us to be wise enough to stand together. Let us celebrate our differences for how do we expect others to show us respect and treat us any better if we ourselves are incapable of what we demand of them? It’s as if we haven’t had enough bashing and bigotry already that we even do it amongst each other. So instead of bitch-staring and back-stabbing each other, retract those claws and keep them sharp for we will be needing them in defending our own. We should all start lending our voices in solidarity so that our battle cry for our right to dignified existence and expression can finally be heard. That’s right. So hold your head up high lest that crown falls off and do what queens always do: we endure. 

Oh, and let me just straighten my own crown before I give you my final words with a quote by Myrtle Snow.


Don’t be a hater, dear.

Katha ni: Gerardale Ann Apa Balintec, Philippine Daily Inquirer 

I know you have been waiting and praying for this moment. Congratulations for passing the teeth-gnashing and knee-buckling National Licensure Exam for Nurses!

You’ve worked hard for four long years. If there is a course that is literally earned with blood, sweat and tears, this is it!

Now, you can party all night without feeling guilty. Join your alma mater’s torch parade. Take a grand vacation if you must. And when all the congratulations have faded and the parties have ended, I welcome you back to the real world.
You will now realize that:

1. To get a spot as a volunteer nurse, you have to pay up or find a powerful backer.
Getting good grades back in college doesn’t really matter in the battlefield. You may be your batch’s best in related learning experience, or even the summa cum laude, but if you don’t have the right connections, you won’t get anywhere.

2. You will be enticed to take up training courses and exams. The licenses you get from there will eventually expire even before you land your first real job.
I have friends who are US RNs (registered nurses) but have never set foot on American soil. They have IELT’s band 7 plus scores but are stuck in call centers. Some have basic life support and advance cardiac life support licenses, etc., but have never gotten to practice their skills in a hospital setting.
These licenses are expensive, yet nurses collect them like badges on a Boy/Girl Scout’s uniform. They will look impressive in your wallet and listed on your resumé, but as I said, without the right connections, these are all just learning experiences.

3. Reunions with fellow nurses are like meetings with the labor union.
All you’ll ever hear is whining about the current unemployment rate. Some are lucky to be employed or even underemployed, but they are overworked and underpaid.
When nurses gather around sipping expensive cups of coffee, they are most likely complaining about their working conditions or lack thereof. At the back of their mind, they are calculating the things they will need to sacrifice to pay off the very expensive cup of coffee they just had. Or lamenting the long hours they put in just to buy it.

4. The white uniform is not as glamorous as it once looked.
You’ll get screamed at or puked on, and you’ll even pee in your clothes after holding your bladder throughout an 8-hour shift either because there is no decent loo in the hospital you are serving or your unit is understaffed.
Your white uniform may be too tight, old and yellowed already, or your white shoes may also be showing signs of wear and tear, but you’d hate to ask your parents for money to buy new ones. After all, you have already graduated and are supposed to be “working” and earning.

5. Non-nursing service personnel receive salaries bigger than yours.
He/She has SSS, GSIS, Pag-Ibig, PhilHealth and random bonuses while you are battling viruses and bacteria without enough money for your own health insurance, vitamins, or just a disposable mask.
While working as a reliever nurse in a mall, I was paid P250 a day. To my horror, I learned that the high school graduate who was working as our agency’s secretary is paid the same amount. My friend, who is a probationary nurse, is paid P230 a day.
You went to college for four years and you have a diploma to show for it. You now also have your nurse’s license on top of your IVF, BLS, ACLS, dialysis, etc. licenses, but your service is often free. Sometimes you get paid an allowance that is less than what you got way back when you were in college.

6. Being a volunteer, probationary, reliever, contractual, or trainee nurse is not considered working experience.
How can you get out of this country without paid experience? I learned this the hard way when my application for employment in a hospital abroad was denied because I did not have paid working experience. This is the reason many of us agree to be a slave to hospitals that take advantage of our situation.

7. You need a raket to survive.
We girls need makeup and sundry toiletries. As a nurse, you have to look good and smell good. This boosts your self-esteem and self-image. Patients always want to see their nurses looking like angels. But if you are financially hard-up, how can you afford these little luxuries?
I survived my days as a volunteer by selling anything from contact lenses to scrub suits. My colleagues have other  raket  such as selling or  pautang  of pre-ordered clothes and other counterfeit goods on their online stores or in the hospital. Others do home service for intravenous glutathione injections.
We try our best to survive.

8. On night shifts and rainy days, only a few volunteers show up.
These occasions will make up your worst duties. Your staff nurse will be busy snoring while you are left to fend for yourself with over 50 patients in your ward.
The general rule is: Wake up your staff nurse only if a patient is dying. If there is no need for CPR, don’t rouse him/her from his/her sweet dreams.

9. Nurses don’t get assigned only to the ER, DR, or ward. Be prepared to work in the stock room, medical laboratory, kitchen and laundry. Sometimes you will also be assigned to perform secretarial duties.
Admit it. You are dispensable. You are a dime a dozen. If you don’t agree with the working conditions, you can leave. Many nurses will gladly take your place and do the laundry if you hate doing it. After all, there is no shortage of nurses but an oversupply of and a low demand for them.

10. You should not have followed the herd.
Everyone wanted to be a nurse way back in high school. So you wanted to be a nurse, too. The nursing students all looked gwapo and beautiful. You wanted to be one of them. Now, it’s too late. You already have a degree and your spanking new license.

Because I don’t have the financial capacity to apply for a job abroad or for a student visa, I will stay and serve our country. I have also decided to treat my career in nursing as a hobby. As in any other hobby, I will practice it because it makes me happy. But I can’t trust it to put food on my table or pay the bills that consistently haunt me every month.

Welcome to the sad reality of nursing. I just hope that your story has a happier ending.

Gerardale Ann Apa Balintec, 27, says she is overqualified, underemployed and underpaid.

Taking the Nightingale's Pledge

*Inilathala ito noong 9/24/2012 at nakapasa ako sa board exam noong 8/2011 ngunit hanggang ngayon sapul na sapul pa rin ang mga punto ni Bb. Balintec. Binold ko pa nga yung mga relate-much na punto. hahaha... Naisipan ko lang i-repost ngayong kalalabas lang ng June 2013 NLE. Sa mga bagong RN, isang marangal na pagpupugay mula sa inyong kabaro.

Narito ang orihinal na pahina

"I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don't hurt anyone but myself." -Cinna, Catching Fire

This line inspired me to blog again considering the emotional turmoil I went through yesterday.

Tama si Cinna (ang badette with metallic gold eyeliner na stylist ni Katniss Everdeen sa bonggang trilogy novel ni Suzanne Collin na The Hunger Games). Kesa makasakit ka ng iba, mas mabuti pang gumawa na lang ng isang productive at makabuluhang bagay kung saan ma-chachannel mo ang mabigat na emosyong pinagdadaanan. Makabuluhan nga ba ang blogging? Kebs.

Siguro nagtataka kayo kung ano bang emosyon ang nag-udyok sa akin para labanan ang likas na katamaran at magsulat. Marami. Pagkabigla. Denial. Inis. Bitter. Panibugho. Hinayang. Pagbago ng pagtingin.

Ganito kasi yun.

Taong 2011 nang ako ay makapagtapos ng kolehiyo sa isa sa mga pinakauna at sikat na Nursing School sa lungsod ng Davao. Sikat sabi ko, hindi magaling. May pagkakaiba.

Nakapagtapos ako nang walang ni-isang markang bababa sa 90 sa anumang asignatura.

Skyhigh ang expectations ko. Natural, naghirap ako. 

Kinausap ako ng aking guro ukol sa karangalang maaaring matanggap ilang buwan bago ang pagtatapos.

May problema raw.

Hindi ko maintindihan.

Paanong magkakaproblema eh rainbow colors ang records ko?

Sabi niya, para mabansagang Cum Laude, kailangang magka-WPA ng hindi bababa sa 91 o 92?; walang markang bababa sa 91 sa major subjects at wala namang bababa sa 86 sa minor subjects. May tatlo akong 90 sa major subjects.

Nagulantang ako.

Daglian kong tinungo ang OSA para makahiram ng student handbook at mareview ang policies ukol sa Graduating with Academic Honors.

Kung anumang kakaramput na pag-asang mali ang aking guro na pinanghahawakan ko kanina lang ay bigla na lang naglaho. Parang kandilang hinipan ng malakas na hangin. Tama siya.

Nagdilim ang mundo ko. Nawalan ng gana.

Muli kaming nag-usap. Sabi niya, susubukan pa raw niyang gumawa ng paraan. Kakausapin daw niya ang Level Chairperson hanggang sa Dean kung kailangan. Pilit niyang sinasabi na wag akong mawalan ng pag-asa. Mabuti pa siya, patuloy na lumalaban para sa akin. Ako? Ba't pa ako tatakbo kung wala naman palang premyo ang unang makakarating sa finish line?

Pinatawag ako sa opisina ng Dean of Nursing. Pinag-usapan namin ang aking kaso. Pinuri niya ako habang tinitignan ang records ko. Consistent daw. Matagal na panahon na raw siyang hindi nakakita ng ganoong records. At matagal na panahon nang walang nakakamit ng Cum Laude sa paaralang ito. Ang tsismis pa nga eh, ang huling Cum Laude pa raw ay ang kasalukuyang RLE coordinator namin. Imagine gaano katagal na mula pagtatapos niya? Hindi ko rin alam. Sadya bang bobo ang mga mag-aaral dito kaya hindi uso ang magtapos na may Latin honors? Hindi ko alam. O, baka naman hindi realistic ang sobrang taas na standards para ma-qualify bilang Latin awardee? Malamang.

Kung WPA lang ang basehan, posibleng kaya kong abutin ang Magna Cum Laude (94). Pero ang isyu nga raw ay ang tatlong 90 sa majors ko. Natapos ang aming pag-uusap nang sabihin niyang susulat siya sa Awards Committee (kupunan na binubuo ng mga guro mula sa iba't-ibang kurso ng paaralan na siyang nagpapasiya at nagrereview ng mga qualifications ng mag-aaral na maaaring gawaran ng karangalan) upang personal na irekomendang isaalang-alang ang aking kaso.

Dumating ang araw ng pagtatapos.

Ginawaran ako ng dalawang medalya.

Pero sa halip na ma-consider ang 1-point difference, tinanghal lang nila akong Academic Excellence Awardee at Best in Related Learning Experience

May dalawa pang taong nabigyan ng parangal. Hindi academic, kundi extra-curricular award lang.

Sa kabuuan, tatlong mag-aaral lang ang nakatanggap ng medalya mula sa 700-800 na nagtapos sa kolehiyong iyon nung 2011.

Masamang-masama ang loob ko noon dahil hindi napagbigyan ang 1-point difference. Ang mga kaklase ko dati sa highschool na nakapagtapos sa ibang kolehiyo ng nursing, kahit hindi naman ganun katalino, naging mga Cum Laude, may iilang Magna Cum Laude, at may isang Summa Cum Laude. Nagcompare kami ng qualification standards, nabigla sila. OA daw ang paaralan ko. Sa kanila pala, pina-uulan ang awards. Bakit nga ba hindi? Kawalan ba sa kanila ang magbigay ng parangal?

Kalaunan ay natanggap ko rin na goodbye na sa pesteng Latin award na yun. Fair lang din kasi hindi naman talaga ako nakaabot sa abot-langit na standards nila. Nagpapasalamat rin ako sa mga gurong ipinaglaban ang kaso ko at naniwalang karapat-dapat ako sa latin award kahit na taliwas ito sa naging pasya ng Awards Committee. Sincere ako dito ha. Salamat talaga sa kanila. 

Nakapasa ako sa NLE at naging Registered Nurse nung July 2011. Kamuntikan pang mag top. 84.40 ang average rating ko. 85.something naman ang 10th placer. Sobrang panghihinayang ang naramdaman ng kolehiyo ko nang malaman nila. Sayang daw. Sana nag-december na lang daw ako, baka sakaling mas mataas ang nakuha kong rating kung mas mahaba ang paghahanda. Sakaling nag top ako, sisikat ulit ang matandang paaralan ko. Maibabangon sa hukay ang nakabaon nang kasikatan sa larangan ng nursing.

So, anong nangyari? Bakit na-ungkat ang inilibing nang kasawian?

Kamakailan ay nabalitaan kong may nag-Cum Laude mula sa aking paaralan ngayong taon.

Hindi ako makapaniwala.

Kung hindi ko kinaya, imposibleng may nakakaya.

Inisip ko nung una, baka chismis lang.

Pero na-confirm ko kahapon na totoo pala. May nagawaran nga ng pagiging Cum Laude. Hindi lang isa, dalawa sila!

Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala. Isip ako nang isip. May mga mag-aaral ba sa lower years na umalingawngaw ang pangalan dahil sa kanilang academic performance? Wala akong maalala. Kapag tumititingin ako dati sa bulletin board kung saan nakapaskil ang Dean's list, walang kasali sa batch nila. Merong kokonti sa first year. Wala na rin sa second year. Ako lang sa batch namin. So papaano nangyari?

Hindi ako mapalagay kaya't nag-imbestiga ako. Oo, parang NBI lang. Na-realize ko na dalawa lang ang pwedeng sagot: either wala talaga silang below 91, which is very close to impossible dahil parusa para sa mga guro ang magbigay ng line of 9 sa RLE, o nag change ng standards ang Awards Committee.

Na-confirm ko. Napag-alaman ko mula sa reliable source na nagpalit ng standards ang eskwelahan. Effective SY:2011-2012, Cum Laude: no grade below 86 in all subjects. 

Anak ng tipaklong.

Bakit ngayon lang?! Pwede naman palang i-adjust ang standards na yan! Bakit hindi nung panahon namin? 1-point difference! Hindi ko hiniling na gawing 86 ang limit sa lahat. 1 point lang! Utang na loob. Ganun ba talaga ka-hirap yun? Alam kong kailangan dumaan sa proseso ang pag-palit ng mga policies. Hindi isang araw lang. Pero apat na taon akong nag-kolehiyo. Ni hindi man lang nila naisip pakialaman ang lintik na standards na yan. Kahit nung huling taon ko na, isang taon din yun. Bakit hindi naisipang baguhin? Bakit ngayon pang tapos na ang lahat? Hayop.

Wala akong sagot sa mga tanong ko. Wala na rin akong gana magtanong sa skwelahan na yun.

Siguro na-realize nila na hindi sila yayaman kahit mag-hoard pa sila ng mga medalya.

Siguro nakakain ng bulok na tsinelas ang Awards Committee at biglang na-inspire.

Siguro trip lang nila.

Wala na akong pakialam sa rason nila sa pagbabago.

Wala na rin kasi akong magagawa kahit bigyan pa nila ako ng isang dosenang medalya ngayon. Kahit mag-public apology pa sila. Nangyari na. Nagdaan na ang yugto sa buhay ko na nakapagtapos ng kolehiyo ng walang latin award. Kanila na lang yang medalya nila. Isaksak nila sa bilbil nila.

Kung ang kaso ko man ang naging dahilan upang mapagtanto ng kung sinumang herodas na yun na palitan ang standards, congratulations na lang sa batch 2012. Kayo ang umani ng itinanim ko. Ang swerte niyo naman. Sino nga ba ang nagsabi na fair ang buhay?

Napag-isip isip ko rin na hindi lang ako naghihinayang para sa sarili ko. Maraming matatalino sa batch namin. Hindi siguro puro line of 9 tulad ko, pero kung sakaling naging 86 ang standards, maraming nagqualify para maging Cum Laude. Hindi lang pala ako ang nanakawan ng pagkakataon. Hindi lang magulang ko ang sana'y napa-iyak sa galak na naging mabuting estudyante ang anak nila.

Hindi ko alam kung magiging bahagi na ng pagkatao ko ang pagiging bitter ko sa pangyayaring ito.

Gumaan ang loob ko nang maisip kong siguro nga blessing in disguise para sa akin ang hindi pag-top sa board exam. Ang saya lang siguro ng paaralan kung nagkataon! Neknek nila! Hindi ko sila pwedeng bigyan ng ganoong karangalan. Gaya na lang nang ipagkait nila sa akin ang hinangad kong karangalan.

Kaya isa lang ang masasabi ko sa kanila: AMANOS!

Katha ni Mike Portes

Tingin ng mga bobong kapitbahay ko, puta daw ako. Nagpapagamit, binabayaran. Sabi nila, ako daw ang pinakamaganda at pinakasikat sa aming lugar noon. Di ko nga alam kung sumpa ito, dahil dito naletse ang kinabukasan ko.

Tara, makinig ka muna sa kwento ko, yosi muna tayo.

Alam mo, maraming lumapit sa akin. Nagkagusto at naakit. Ang hirap pag lahat sa iyo, virgin eh. Tinanggap ko naman silang tao, bakit kaya nila ako ginago? Hindi ko maintindihan ang mga nangyari sa akin. Bukas palad ko naman silang pinakitunguhan, ni hindi ko nga itinuring na iba. Iniisip ko na nga lang na kasi di sila taga rito kaya siguro talagang ganoon.

Tatlong malilibog na foreigners ang nagpyesta sa katawan ko. Sabi nila na-rape daw ako.

Sa tatlong beses akong nagahasa, ang pinakahuli ang di ko makakalimutan.

Parang maski di ko ginusto ang mga nangyari, hinahanap-hanap ko siya. Kasi, ibang-iba ang hagod niya. Umiikot ang mundo ko sa tuwing ginagamit niya ako. May mga pagkakaton na nasusuka na ko sa mga nangyayari sa aming dalawa. Parang ‘pag humahalinghing siya, nararamdaman ko na nalalason ako.. Gusto ko mang umayaw, hindi ko makuhang humindi. Hindi ko din alam kung bakit. Ibang klase din kasi siya mag-sorry eh, lalo pa at inalagaan niya ako at ang mga naging anak ko.

Alam mo, parating ang dami naming regalo – may chocolates, yosi at ano ka! May datung pa! Nakakabaliw siya! Alam kong ginagamit niya lang ako pero pagamit naman ako nang pagamit. Sa kanya namin natutunan mag-inggles, di lang magsulat ha! Magbasa pa!

Nung kinasama ko siya, guminhawa buhay namin. Sosyal na sosyal kami! Ewan ko nga ba, akala ko napapamahal na ako sa kanya. Akala ko tuloy-tuloy na kaligayahan namin, yun pala unti-unti niya akong pinapatay.

Punyetang buhay! Sa dami ng lason na sinaksak niya sa katawan ko, muntik na akong malaspag. Ang daming nagsabi na ang tanga tanga ko. Palayasin ko na daw. Taon ang binilang bago ako natauhang makining sa payo. Iniisip ko kasi na parang di ko kakayanin na mawala siya sa akin… Sa amin! .

Sa tulong ng ilan sa mga anak ko, napalayas ko ang demonyo pero ang hirap magsimula. Hindi nga ako sigurado kung nabunutan ako ng tinik o nadagdagan pa. Masyado na kasi kaming nasanay sa sarap ng buhay na naranasan namin sa kanya, kaya eto nabaon kami sa utang. Lubog na lubog kami sa pagkakautang, kulang yata pati kaluluwa namin para ibayad sa mga inutang namin.

Nakakahiya man aminin pero hanggang ngayon, sa tuwing mabigat ang problema ko, siya ang tinatakbuhan ko. ‘Yun nga lang, kapit sa patalim sabi nga nila. Para akong isang aso na nangagat ng amo, na bumabahag ang buntot at umaamo kapag nangangailangan.

Usap-usapan ako ng mga kapitbahay ko. May nanghihinayang, namumuhi at naaawa. Puta na kasi ang isang magandang katulad ko. Ang dating hinahangaan at humahalina ay nabibili sa murang halaga. Alam mo maski ganun ang mga nangyari sa akin, nilakasan ko pa rin ang loob ko. Kailangan makita ng mga anak ko, na masasandalan nila ako maski ano pang mangyari.

Maski ano pa ang sabihin ng iba, sinisikap namin na maging maganda ang buhay namin. Nag-aambisyon kami at nangangarap. Ayun, may mga anak ako na nasa Japan, Hong Kong, Saudi. Yung iba nag-US, Canada, Europe. ‘Yung iba ayaw umalis sa akin. Halos lahat, wala naman silbi. Masaya daw sa piling ko, maski amoy pusali ako.

Sa dami ng mga anak ko na nagsisikap na tulungan ang kalagayan namin, siya din ang dami ng mga anak ko na nanamantala sa kabuhayan at kayaman na itinatabi ko para sa punyetang kinabukasan naming lahat. Eto na nga ang panahon na halos di na kami makaahon sa hirap ng buhay. Napakahirap dahil nasanay na kami sa ginhawa at sarap.

Alam mo, gusto ko na sanang tumigil sa pagpuputa kaso ang laki talaga ng letseng utang ko eh. Palaki pa ng palaki! Paano na lang ang mga anak kong naiwan sa aking puder? At paano na lang ang mga anak kong nasa abroad? Baka di na nila ako balikan o bisitahin man lang? Hindi na importante kung laspagin man ang ganda ko, madama lang ng mga anak ko ang pagmamahal ko. Malaman nila na ibibigay ko ang lahat para sa kanila.

Sa tuwing titingin ako sa salamin, alam ko maganda pa rin ako. Meron pa din ang bilib sa akin. Napapag-usapan pa din. Sa tuwing nakikita ko ang mukha ko sa salamin, nakikita ko ang mga anak ko. Tutulo na lang ang mga luha ko ng di ko namamalayan. Ang gagaling nga ng mga anak ko eh, namamayagpag kahit saan sila pumunta. Mahusay sa kahit anong gawain. Tama man o mali.

Sa dami ng mga anak ko, iilan lang ang may malasakit sa akin. May malasakit man, nahihilaw pa.

Mabigat dalahin para sa akin, ang katotohanan na ni minsan ay di kami naging isang pamilya. Halos lahat ng mga anak ko, galit sa isa’t isa. IIlan ang gusto magtulungan, naghihilahan pa. Madalas kong itinatanong sa sarili ko kung naging masama ba akong nanay para magturingan ng ganito ang mga anak ko?

Kanino bang similya ng demonyo nanggaling ang mga anak kong maituturing mong may mga pinag-aralan pero nakakadama ng saya at sarap sa paghihirap ng kapatid nila? Di ko lubos maisip kung saan impiyerno nanggaling ang kasikiman ng ilan sa mga anak kong ito. Sila pa naman ang inaasahan kong magbabangon sa amin. Nakakabaliw isipin na natitiis nila ang kalagayan ng kanilang mga kapatid na halos mamatay sa hirap ng buhay. Parang di sila magkakapatid sa tindi ng pagkaganid at walang pagmamalasakit.

Ang di ko akalain ay mismong mga anak ko, ang tuluyang sisira sa akin. Kinapital ang laspag na ganda ko. Masaya sila sa mga nabibili nila mula sa pinagputahan ko. Buong angas nilang pinagyayabang ang mga pansamantalang yaman at ang kanilang hilaw na pagkatao sa mga makakakita at makikinig. Talaga bang nakakalula ang materyal na kayamanan at mga titulong ikinakabit sa pangalan? Hindi ko maintindihan.

Minsan sa pagtingin ko sa salamin, ni hindi ko na nga kilala sarili ko.

Dadating na naman ang pasko, sana maalala naman ako ng mga anak ko. Ilang linggo pa, magbabagong taon na. Natatakot ako sa taong darating. Ngayon pa lang usap-usapan na ang susunod na pangbubugaw sa akin. Gagamitin pa nila ang kahinaan ng mga kapatid nilang alipin sa kalam ng tiyan. Sa tagal ng panahong ganito ang sitwasyon namin parang eto lang ang sulok na gagalawan ko. Sana may magtanggol naman sa akin. Ipaglaban naman nila ako. Gusto kong isigaw: “Ina ninyo ako! Pagmamahal nyo lang ang kailangan ko!”

Sensya na, ang haba na ng drama ko. Masisira na ang make up ko nito eh. Salamat ha, pinakinggan mo ako. Malaking bagay sa akin na nakausap kita. Ang tagal nating nag-usap, di man lang ako nagpapakilala.

Ay sorry, di ko nasabi pangalan ko.

Pilipinas nga pala.

Inang Bayan ni Rafael Buluran

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