My life has been marked with moments of struggle....
March 24, 2009 6:51am CST
My life has been marked with moments of struggle. I was born in Manila Philippines. According to my mother, I had to spend time in an incubator because I had an underdeveloped liver. At that very tender age, I had my first brush with mortality, but I have always been a fighter. Needless to say, I won the struggle for survival. I am the youngest in the brood of three. My parents separated when I was little more than a year old. My father was an inveterate drunkard and a notorious womanizer. When he got one of his mistresses pregnant, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was too young to remember anything that happened around that time, but my mother told me that my brother and I were already here in our province, under the care of my grandmother, when she finally packed her bags and left my father for good. Growing up without a father was not easy. My mother had to eke out a living for our family. It goes without saying that my mother could not fulfill all the responsibilities of both a father and a mother. We were either left under the care of our nanny or our elder sister while she was working. My mother has always been affectionate, but there were times when I could not even talk with her because she would be very, very tired at the end of the day. As a child, I yearned for attention. Being the youngest in the family was not easy for me as a growing child. I had to endure my elder siblings' merciless teasing. Because I was the smallest, they sometimes bullied me. I was defenseless, but I would often fight back with all my might. I always lost our little battles, but never without a fight. The word "fighter" as always defined who I am throughout my life. However, in my younger days, I became a rebel without a cause. I always saw myself as a fighter, but unfortunately, I began to defy authority. My teenage days were tumultous. I had terrible fights with my mother and my elders. I wanted to be self-assertive, but I was not aware that I was only hurting myself. I started smoking and drinking in my early teens. When I was in my late teens, the lure of drugs led me to the path of destruction which I trod upon for more than a year. Fortunately, I was able to get off the high road to hell before it was too late. My grades in school suffered because I seldom attend my classes. Finally, I just decided to drop out of school. My uncle who was supporting my studies at that time, was very angry, and so were the other members of my family. I was the black sheep. I felt like a pariah. When I can no longer stand the glare from everyone's disapproving look, I packed my bags and left for Bulacan (the hometown of my father). Almost everyday I would go to Manila, which is just an hour away from the lace I called home, barring heavy traffic. I pounded the pavement, looking for a job. At first, I thought it would be hard for me to lad a job because I did not have a college diploma, but good fortune smiled a at me. At that time, the call center industry was growing and almost all call centers needed all the agents that they could get,. Since I had finished two years in college, I was already qualified for the job. I was accepted a couple of days after I applied. Commuting to and from Bulacan was an ordeal. Moreover, the lack of sleep and fatigue were taking their toll on my health. I decided to move out of my grandparents' house in Bulacan and rented a room in Quezon City, which is much nearer to my workplace. For the very first time, I had my taste of independence, I fed, I clothed, and sheltered myself. I had never before felt this kind of exhilaration. I was free! But little did I know that with freedom came responsibility which I was not prepared to handle. My meager salary was barely enough to cover my living expenses. Since I was still in the 6-month probationary period, I was not paid for my sick leave, In other words, when I got sick, I got nothing. Because of my erratic sleeping schedule, I often got sick which meant that I earned much less than what I supposed to. I could barely make ends meet. I could not look for a better paying job because I lacked experience and I did not have a college diploma. Finally, I had to give up my job. I knew that I would have a better future if I were to be a nurse. Swallowing tons of pride, I came back to our province to be with my family again. I wanted to go back to school, but nobody trusted me. Everyone thought that it would be just a waste of money to send me back to school again. For weeks, I worried about my future, thinking how I could continue my studies. Then, I had my stroke of luck when my grandmother called me via long distance. She asked the question that I had been hoping to hear, "Hija, would you like to go back to school?" I almost wept for joy.I could hardly contain my enthusiasm when I said yes. From then on, my grandmother sent me money for my tuition and other expenses related to my studies. She would often talk to me to ask how I was doing in school. In gratitude for the second chance that she gave me, I worked hard as I could to get good grades. My grandmother was very proud of me. She was my source of hope and encouragement. However, tragedy struck. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer last year and not long after she was found to be with the fatal disease, she passed away. I lost the person who had a lot of faith in me. She saw the best side of me while others looked at me with suspicious eyes. Since she was paying for my tuition when she was alive, I began to worry where I was going to turn for financial support. One of my uncles offered help, but another uncle meddled. And then, a rumor was spread against me that I was back to my old ways. Nobody but my mother and my sister was willing to support my studies. I am afraid that I may have to discontinue my studies due to financial constraints. Nevertheless, I will fight to the end. I will never quit for good. I might take time off, but I plan to work should I be forced to stop studying. I will save enough money to pay my tuition. I will do all I can to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse, no matter what it takes.