A month ago, one of my students with Autism, who is in college already, treated me and his dyad mate for his birthday. He opted to bring us to Viking’s (hello, happiness!) Mega mall and was considerate enough to schedule it on a holiday because he knew how busy I can be. What he forgot to do, though, was to reserve a table for us. I know. I know. Your control freak aunt should have anticipated that. But it was a holiday, hence my guard was down.
So that you can picture the dire circumstances of that oversight, I give you the numbers. 12:30 pm. 53rd on the walk-in waitlist. 2 famished students. Correction…2 very famished students with special needs. 1 harassed speech pathologist. Then, I realized that the priority lane for PWDs can be our express ticket! So I talked to the front desk officers and with admirable sensitivity, accommodated our request but cautioned that we still had to wait for a short while. Seeing that my students were perplexed why we went ahead of the others, I explained the concept of the PWD lane to them. The birthday boy then leaned close to me and asked with all seriousness “Bakit, Teacher Mae? Sino ba ang PWD sa atin?”.
Marilag, it is moments like this when I am most grateful for my job. Times like this when I cannot imagine myself doing anything else except to be immersed in that moment – hungry, at my wits’ end and immensely amused. I know, in my heart, that this will be your story too. One of many that will unfold before you and shape you. Others might think ‘such brazenness!’. Future speech pathologist and she is not even half-way through her internship?! I am claiming it. Such is God’s generosity that He will give this blessing to our family twice.
I also know that you and your classmates need this. Traversing this final year, you will be at your most vulnerable and at your lowest. Doubts will set in. You will question yourself if this is really worth it. I was just a month away from completing my internship when I thought of packing my bags and going home to Mindoro. Marunong naman akong gumawa ng kandila kakapanood kay Nanay Belen. Drama rama!
Let me tell you that it will be more than worth it. The steadfastness, resilience, and resolve (coated within endless case presentations and mounds of paperwork) that the university is teaching you? These will be your vehicle. These are personal logos of Filipino Speech Pathologists all over the world.
As I write this letter, I cannot help but think of certain things on hindsight. And now, I realize, you are my hindsight! So here you go… do not just aim to finish. Learn as you finish. Study again (what?!) and do not sit on this plan too long. You are brilliant and then you are not. You may be brilliant but there are others who are way more brilliant than you. Have the humility to accept this and move on. And stay and work here. I am not saying stay in the Philippines forever. After all, you have your own adventures to pursue. But serve even for a while. Your country needs you.
The hindsight list is long but I want to end with this. Please be a part of the association. It is my lament that never have I seen a group of people with numerous skills and talents yet bereft with collective commitment and will. Given the opportunity, work with Weng, Susie, Ken, Bernice, Dane, Aileen, Paul, Sam and Jeri. They are in this for the long haul. And oh, the things that they can do! The places they can bring us to!
May God bless and protect you, Marilag. See you at the finish line! And by then, you can help me answer questions like what my 11-year old student asked last Friday - “Teacher Mae, you think God already made the perfect girl for me?”.