Think Pia Wurtzbach. Think Janet Napoles.
What do they have in common? Both are women. Both are brilliant. Both are in the public limelight. One is pretty, and the other is… well, pretty in her own right. But while Pia Wurtzbach is glorified, Janet Napoles is vilified.
We have in the two women a microcosm of the opportunity that lies before us. We all stand on the same road. We gain momentum at the same spot. But how we maneuver ourselves through the same road, and which direction we will take as we move along, all depends on us. We decide our destination. We decide our fate.
When I was requested by the Vice President for Academic Affairs of Silliman University to speak on her behalf to new passers of the medical technologist board exam, it was natural for me to doubt my ability: “Who am I to inspire them?” I needed some inspiration myself! But a good soldier never shuns a challenge from the commander.
Growing up, my parents already had a vision for me: To be a doctor. This was a profession that my late father had given a shot at – at least until he was shipped back from Manila after getting addicted to billiards, becoming a lawyer instead. I remember at age 9, I already knew how to operate the sphygmomanometer – which, at that time, I only spelled with two letters: “BP”. My paternal grandparents trusted me for some reason to take their diastolic and systolic. Sometimes when I got bored with the repetitive figures, I would blurt out from memory: “120/80!”
My first unofficial exposure to medical technology could be at the same age when my grandfather was already sickly. Oftentimes this pretty woman donning a nice smile would enter his hospital room bringing what looked like a daintier version of a toolbox. Every time she took a blood sample from my grandfather, I would grow more interested in what she was doing. At the back of my mind, performing blood sampling would complete my “clinical experience” of sorts.
Since I couldn’t get hold of a volunteer – and I couldn’t make a prank on my yaya who at that time held a PhD in pinching in the groin – I had to look for an innocent prey. There, right smack in the backyard were my first patients. They were noisy anyway, so it wouldn’t do much harm if I’d experiment on one of them. I grabbed one of my father’s fighting cocks by the neck, and – pretending to be a medical technologist – stuck a syringe needle into it. The syringe was too small and the needle too narrow that, perhaps, the chicken was silently laughing inside at my foolishness, afraid that it if made louder sounds, it would find itself on the operating table.
But away from medical technology and everything and anything medical, I am a Mass Communication graduate. My parents may have needed a new pair of glasses as their vision of me fell short of 20-20.
Indeed, each of us is gifted with an opportunity to explore ourselves further. Oftentimes we are unaware of how life will unfold for us. In the morning, we are smiling and suddenly, mid-day, turn of events makes obvious on our faces the pull of gravity.
Whenever I teach Speech, the same is my principle. I often tell my students: “When I ask you a question, and you don’t look at me… I’ll call you. When I ask you a question, and you stare at me so intently for you hold the key… I’ll also call you.” Bottom-line, life presents us with many surprises. It is all up to us to work around it, adjust to it, and translate it into something that will bring out the best of us in the midst of what could be the worst of circumstances.
At the end of the day, the choice always falls on us. We can all take the easy path to wealth and fame like Janet Napoles or grow a Pia Wurtzbach within us and become “beautifully confident with a heart”.