Thanks to Marie Forleo for the Decade Review guide questions! One decade, gone! Can you believe it? We’re not only saying goodbye to 2019, we’re seeing 2010s off.
What You’re Proud Of : Over the past 10 years, what have you done that you’re proud of?
I am proud of myself for not giving up and for always being with God all these years. Some people say I focused too hard on my grades, but the more I look at it, the more I realized that it’s because God has revealed himself to me more in my education journey. He used my education to bless people, to bless and provide for my parents and family. Yes, I was using my scholarship to feed my family. However, I hope that He will reveal himself in another field in the next decade. (Lablaif Lord, Lab laif, heeheh!)
|Year||Accomplishments with God|
|2010||I won the National Oration champion. I remember I failed a month before when I competed in another oration competition. I thought that ended my oration journey, but God had another plan. I was wrong for exactly after a month of defeat, a new competition opportunity came.
During another competition I even told God, I wouldn’t do much, if it’s for me it’s for me. But I won, I got motivated so I practiced again until I reached the regional contest then the nationals. During the nationals, I remember being so aloof. My skirt’s back zipper snapped out. Everything was not working for me that day. I remember telling myself, just go home without regrets. It was so quiet, deafening silence while I was speaking on stage in that UP Diliman auditorium (I forgot the name). That’s what I loved when I am orating, I’m in this bubble of deep silence where I could freely talk about the issues that matter to me.
While they’re announcing the winner, I was praying hard. And then I asked Jesus, who are you going to listen to as I saw most of us bowing our heads. All 16 of us were praying for the same title. And when they called six, my number. I cried so hard, cos it’s another revelation for me. I felt God’s eyes looking at me, smiling and telling me, “I listened to you; I chose you”.
And that ended my oration journey.
|2011||2011 was when I was awarded summa cum laude and the Notre Dame award. I was also the graduation speaker. Having the award was everything to me cos I really envisioned myself getting it, speaking before the crowd and bagging the title. Before the Notre Dame Award, there was St. Marcellin Champagnat, but they changed the title that year. In other words, it’s not really the first cos it’s just a change in title. But I think they gave that award 10 years before… so I was hoping for Notre Dame award more than the summa cum laude. I remembered one of the strictest Marist brothers telling me “they said they finally found the person after all these years”. God was again smiling at me 🙂 He chose me for that award again after 10-12 years?
Then came the end of 2011 when I was pushed to the ground again. I did not top the board. I threw tantrums (I’m sorry if I sound like a toff), my mom even pick me up from uni cos she knew how important the title was for me. But it didn’t work out. I failed betrayed, I felt God didn’t listen to me.
|2012||But in March 2012 I competed for Your Big Year. That year, I represented the Philippines abroad. I didn’t win, I was silent. I felt God abandoned me… But I also realized, it’s not the life I wanted. God showed me the world, so I understand myself better. I thought I wanted to be a politician after having served as a leader all my life since elementary. But that Your Big year completely changed my outlook. Well, hey I got to see UK for free and my lola Annie!!! And for me, that was the end of my political fantasy — sad to say it was also the start of not caring too much of changing the world (but the fact that I’m thinking about the pains of people while typing this may be a sign that I’ve not given up on it)
In the same year, I started my first teaching as an English teacher at the newly built San Pedro College-Basic Education in Davao. It’s my first teaching. God brought me to SPC. I thought I wouldn’t like it there, but I was so wrong… The transfer led me to Gemma, Sir Nap, Ma’am Julli and the friends I still communicate with from time to time.
I thought I was living a simple life, but during my early morning walks I would still imagine myself being somewhere else…to the university I’ve always dreamed of.
|2013||2013 was a silent year. I cried a lot this year. I was still dreaming, hoping… I would, as I always did, write my goals and dreams and put it on the wall to remind me. But no matter how much I tried to console and empower myself, I still sobbed every evening. However, I enjoyed my first university teaching at SPC as a speech instructor.This year was also the start of my anger management therapy. Silence was so deadly I admit I scarred other people by my words. I regret it a lot! We couldn’t really run away from who we were. I was so immature, I wanted to lash out and say what I always think as I always did—but life’s no longer that for me. Of course a teacher cannot say “you’re so stupid” which came so easy for me while I was still studying–maybe that caused the pent up anger. As I look back at it now, I realized God was busy working on my character. Thank you God. However, no matter how much we change the people we hurt, the people in our past can only look at us with the same eyes.No smile, no assurance, no care can ever take away the pain we caused them. Maybe that’s the reason why I can relate so much with Kenshin Himura.
Admittedly, I started volunteering at Sta. Ana Parish as a reader to find my heart and peace again.
|2014||Then 2014 came. I was busy with my thesis. From being a silent student, I instantly received good remarks from my ADDU professors. I left another impression.
While moving on, another pain thrust my me again: receiving the news that I got rejected from Fulbright MA scholarship, and was offered the Fulbright Foreign Language Teachign Assistantship instead. I admit that I was hurt, I felt I was disposable, that I’m not enough. But I still said yes…
Like everyone else trying their best at life, I continued to enjoy my time with my kids… I was not the perfect teacher, but I did my best. Eventually I left to start another journey in my teaching career at ADDU while preparing for my US journey.
|2015||Then the Fulbright Journey began! Woop woop! I am thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to travel to New York, Chicago, Michigan, Maryland, Washington, California… It was a gift and a bit of a break from the hustle and bustle. I admit I started to feel small when I was there. I thought I was displaced, that I shouldn’t be there. However, I enjoyed my trips to Barnes and Nobles every day where I read all the books I wanted and lazed around at StarBucks while chugging my Salted Caramel latte and enjoying their cheesecake. I could stay there forever!!! It’s also the year when I started my Orator site. It didn’t work, but it gave me hope at the time.
All the books I read this year built my character, so I realized life is really like this — we need the silence to recuperate and build our character because God is more interested in our character than our dreams.
|2016||While in the US, I got accolades from my professors cos of my work and my public speaking, but I still felt small. And eventually I went back to the Philippines. I was unemployed for a few months. I remember it to be the worst days of my life — I had no money that I couldn’t even eat my favorite G*** lasagna or go to the cinema. I only had 1500 to spend each week. I remember Danzelle and I were crying while we’re in that sad place in our life, in that stinky but comforting room on top of a run-down house.
Until I was finally hired by CHED, which I also left after a day (and reading and summarizing all the university’s budget proposals) I was questioning God why. Why I felt I don’t belong there. I thought I wanted to be a commissioner or an Education leader, but God know me more than I know myself. He sent me there so I become more aware of what I truly want. (The same with the UK experience). I looked at the supervisors ( the two highest officials know me and took care of me) but I was thinking, I do not want their life.
Then Appen came. It was an unknown company to me. To be honest at first I was ashamed of leaving my position for the industry… I couldn’t understand God! From being small in the US (despite of the travels), then it seemed like God wanted to slap me again. But soon I began to love my work: the regular expressions, the excitement whenever I get a new project with new conventions. I LEARNED A LOT FROM APPEN!
|2017||I continue to build my skills on programming and project management while saving money and enjoying and being happy. Then I decided to apply to Australia Awards. The process was long, I thought I wouldn’t get in. I even thought I bombed the interview because I felt they were not satisfied especially Will, the hot Australian-Chinese DFAT representative. I really bawled my eyes out until I received the email from them the next day!!!!
|2018||I began my journey to ANU. Before, I was told I might not have a chance at ANU. But God again told me, nope. Apply! I did and I made it! I was crying when I received the response from ANU! I couldn’t believe it. I am finally going to study in a top university. At the time, I was just contented. While working for Appen and submitting my papers, I realized how God did not give up on me. I was taking my PhD at ADDU that time, I even forgot about my previous dream. I just wanted to have a degree, but God had a different plan. God was looking at me, and he was faithful to His promise. God did not leave me. If I finished that PhD, it would have been over for me.
When I forgot who I was and what I really wanted, God did not. He opened the gates so I could freely walk through it. Aaah, I can’t narrate all the miracles He had done this year: from getting the highest score in the hardest exam (according to the professor), to getting invited by a professor to be his supervisee… I couldn’t believe everything.
If I hadn’t been at ANU, will I ever know I am not disposable? That I would make it there? Nope. But God DID NOT GIVE UP ON MY DREAMS EVEN WHEN I DID!!! God did not give up on my dreams. I was preparing for a different path, but he opened the gates!
Remember when I said I didn’t understand why God put me at Appen, the linguistic Australian company? At first, I really thought I brought it upon myself… for being too picky, for being not enough. But this year, I finally understood. God prepared me- Was preparing me for Australia when he placed me in Appen. I got to work with them remotely even after getting the scholarship, so I got paid a lot for an hour which helped me saved a lot for my mother and for our trip!!!
GOD knew I would need Appen. So now why should I worry right? God already knew what’s next. I may not see it now, but he’s up to something. I’m sure about it. I have faith in You, God.
|2019||I finished my master’s degree this year, and I’m proud of getting the uinversity medal. To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting it. But I did dream about it. I remember when Flora mentioned this award for the first time, I suddenly felt some excitement and I couldn’t understand why cos I thought I was not even qualified.
If God did not guide me through, I wouldn’t have finished my degree this way. I almost did not apply for the advanced version because I was discouraged by my scholarship and some people. However, I felt this tagging again. I finally decided to take a leap of faith when my coordinator told me I can do it. During my thesis writing stage, I was crying a lot! I was so confused and my friend Lois was a witness to it all. I had to learn modelling for the first time, I had to understand concepts quickly. I was literally swimming in the ocean. But God assured me, “I am the Lord, your redeemer, I will teach you what’s for your good and lead you on the way you should go”.
That became my strength! But at times I still felt it wasn’t going well. But he kept on telling me, “I will help you!” there came a stage where I had to stand up independently for myself… My editor failed me, I had two days to edit my own work! Imagine, of course I would cry! Just look at how I write in my blog! I have bad grammar, I am not a good writer – I always just get away because of the content.
But then the Holy Spirit encouraged me. I told myself that night (after eating Dominos with Lois), I am not giving up. I still have that sheet of paper which I plastered on my wall. I wrote “Even when people gave up on you, I will not. With God, I can”. So I edited my thesis with God. And I did it! With God, indeed!
This year too, I am proud to say I achieved another dream of mine to tour my mom. With my Appen salary, I was able to bring my mom to Australia in January then to Korea in July. I spent a lot, but it’s all worth it! It’s a dream come true!
A week before my graduation, out of pride, I resigned from Appen. My manager accepted my resignation. I was crying because I really did love my work. It’s the kind of work I love, but they didn’t have a full-time job for me. At first, I thought I was to be blamed for being too emotional and for sending that resignation email right away.
But because of that, I was able to apply for Cambly. I was cashing in a lot!! LIke a lot! Every week is enough to sustain us. In fact, I could fulfill my remote life fantasy and become a Hikikomori. What’s also amazing is that I get to practice my profession again: helping people, becoming aware that this is my talent especially when people would book a lesson with me again after the call. It’s a rewarding job, but I want something fixed to be honest. While I can earn 18k a week (God, I can’t imagine how hard that’d be), I had to really force myself and motivate myself. There were times I only earned 3000 pesos a week because I was lazy.
Being someone who thrives in productivity, this relax environment is killing me so while teaching, I was also learning advanced stats and modelling and python programming and machine learning on the side. (So yes, I was not only watching Korean dramas).
And exactly in December, God opened a path I was not expecting-a path I was willing to take next year, but it’s been done. I’m excited for the next year… I can’t share it yet, but it’s definitely what I have been dreaming all my life.
By writing this decade summary, I have faith that God is preparing something again! The same God who brought me victories will be with me in the next decade. I just wish He will reveal himself to me in other areas of my life as I hopefully bid goodbye to my education (after this PhD).
Thank you God in advance for your gift of the decade! What a journey! Thank you for being with me all these years God!
Next: Part 2: What I will leave behind!