With the way things have turned out, I can’t help but remember what my father has told me all these years. And that is to “never say that you have no money”.
I remember my childhood. There was once a political situation in our place which resulted to government teachers not collecting salaries for a number of months.
I remember how my parents worked hard so we would never feel poor. My father caught fish every afternoon after coming home from school (we used to live some 50 meters away from the shore) and brought them home to fix for dinner. My father would tend this small patch of a rice paddy, located just behind the school main building where he was teaching. And because of that we had rice on our table when most houses didn’t have because of its scarcity and expense. On weekends, he would join my uncle sell fish in the market. I remember those days when there were barn dances in some villages in my hometown. My mother along with a maid would go there bringing with her soft drinks, candies, cigarettes, salted peanuts, and chewing gums. I remember seeing the light in her eyes upon coming home with lots of coins chinking in her clutch bag. My parents must have believed that if in the poverty you will linger, a sin is committed against your family.
Challenging times come more often than blissful ones. I must admit harder times came when my turn came, and true enough, I felt insecure when it did. I wanted to break free from the feeling of insecurity. I knew time would come that those people behind my strength would eventually perish.
My mother’s death fifteen years ago made me shiver in fear. Now that I only have one parent left, I dread the thought of losing him one day (although this is a fact of life). I just thank God my father’s always been in the pink of health lately. I knew I had to be strong, too. This is one motivating factor of staying away from his shadow. I knew I’ll never be when I’m with him, because his strength can never be denied. My father is one tough guy even with his age. I also wanted to develop that “tough” image myself. So I went out from his presence, somewhere beyond his reach.
I met suffering all over again, but this time with no one to back me up. I got seriously ill with no one to take care of me. I didn’t know why or what I had to prove to anyone, but I knew I needed to.
Somehow my father’s parental instinct still took over. He kept sending me text messages telling me to come back home if time doesn’t favor me anymore. He insisted it is better to suffer in my own place than in a strange nation. I never replied. How can I tell him the truth? I needed to be strong and to prove something. I don’t know if it was the prayers or my knowledge about natural medicine. I got well from a viral infection which lasted for almost a month, and I had to resign from my school.
Soon I ended up jobless, penniless, and friendless. My friends started avoiding me. I kept applying and sending credentials online, taking every menial opportunity to survive. I remember one time that I had to borrow money to buy presentable clothes, visual materials, shoes, bags, and even confidence (It boosts your morale to face the interviewer with money in your pocket). I also needed some cash for making multiple copies of my credentials. So, I just told my creditor “I have money, but right now it is not yet in my hands”.
Indeed, it all starts with ‘having’. Though I have limited resources and sometimes none at all, my father’s advice has kept me move forward. I start helping others despite my own limitations. It feels good everything’s coming up. Challenges are just challenges. The moment you overcome them, new friends, more creative ideas, and better opportunities start pouring in. My present situation is a live testimony.