When I reached college, I was 15 years old by then (feeling inferior as I came from what I perceived was a lowly school). Equipped with the study habits that I developed in my high school years, I just went on with same study habit in college… come what may. Philippines was under daylight savings time then (1 hour advance). Unfortunately, only 2 months after I started my college life, there was a student protest against tuition fee increase. On July 16, 1990, classes were suspended in the morning. At around 4 pm, the historic earthquake struck the city causing massive devastation of almost all susceptible and vulnerable infrastructures. Classes was suspended indefinitely and resumed 2 months after. While boredom was killing me during that long break, I went to check my workbooks and tried doing my drawings in advance. At the end of the first semester, I never really expected it, but I ended in the dean’s list and academic scholars. (Academic scholars are 5 selected students from the dean’s list who can have refund of their semestral tuitions, whether half or full.) I was ecstatic as I never expected that a simple and baduy probinsiyano, who had limited exposure to the world would end up in that list. This boosted my self-confidence and helped me earned respect from my batchmates, especially from students who graduated from the city.
I was consistent in the list for 8 semesters of my course, sometimes being the top. I gained popularity I guess, having been on most important social, extracurricular clubs, sometimes an officer at that. I also had the taste of student politics as I was the mayor of my batch for three successive years, then ending the governor of my college (of Natural Sciences) on my senior year though I must admit, I wasnt that much accomplished as a student leader. Yeah, I too had some stretch of nerves drafting resolutions (so now, I’m not that totally ignorant how it is done). What was absurd though in my college back then was that we had a fixed maximum grade for prelims (93), midterms (95) and finals (99). I dont know the rationale for this that I heard was that no student would be able to earn such very high remarks at the very beginning of the semester. (Whatever… with a capital “W.”) I was able to graduate cum laude (few point and I would have been a magna cum laude. No I’m not bitter).
So now that I earned a bachelor’s degree, I was really eyeing to be a physician… but there was trouble… my father told me we couldn’t afford it. There are 4 of us siblings, and we were all in college simultaneously. The youngest herself was able to obtain a scholarship and that was quite a relief. Now, I was having problem as I will be having big expenses for my medical schooling. I could not fathom how stressful for my mother to budget for our school expenses, apartment rental and our monthly utilities and household expenses. Luckily, there was a very generous benefactor who willingly sponsored my schooling (for whom I will be very grateful in my lifetime. Now, that part of the problem was solved. I had been a straight student, never shifted in my course. I didn’t want to stop, work, before resuming studies). Yes, I was quite selfish back then with regards this aspect.
Guess many are wondering why a doctor? I also opted to be an engineer and thirdly a teacher. (But I am a virgo, ruled by the planet mercury. Whatever superstitions go with it, it says that people in my group would do best in public service, health care included. Well, I just learned about thisafter I graduated from med school.) My first experience of playing doctor was when I was in my elementary days, 3rd grade to be exact. I then had a classmate who had a chronic oozing would at her shin. My teacher commissioned me to do the treatment daily until it heals. I remembered she told me to apply some yellow-colored ointment. From then on, I got inspired, thinking of helping people who are sick. What a wonderful feat that would be.