The Drifter

I have always considered myself a drifter. I would like to define a drifter as a person who is carried by the river flow of life. A person who does not only moves constantly from one place to another but makes waves on each place he passes. Each way he takes may be new and unconventional, but may prove more effective and practical. He is also a trailblazer, opening new paths of opportunities for others to follow.  He is also a person who does not just wander, but moves with a purpose in a certain direction that leads to his ultimate destination.

Ever since I could remember, I have constantly been drifting literally and figuratively. My parents work causes them to be assigned to different places every year. Since then, I was always looking forward to that day when we will move to a new place to begin another adventure. When I was in kinder, I could boast to my classmate in Cagayan de Oro that I have been to as far as Cotabato and rode a bus on a topload. That they could only imagine at our young age. When I was in grade 1, I would tell my classmates in New Bataan, Compostela what the big city looks like with all the tall buildings, paved roads and Cinemas look like. No one from my class had ever been to the city. As a grade 2 pupil in Iligan, I was elected President because I was the only one who could speak fluent Tagalog and they felt I was superior to them even though I was just a skinny little boy. No one dares to challenge a boy who had been to the Manila Zoo.

When I was in 3rd grade, my parents became permanently assigned to Davao City. That didn?t prevent me from having another challenge and adventure for the next year that I?ll be in 4th grade. I was enrolled to a better school by my parents earning it by placing 1st Honor in my class the previous year. The competition in my new school was tough and it became my new challenge. At the end of the year, I only earned With Honors which did not meet my personal goal. This even challenged me to prove myself next year. I finished 5th grade with a satisfactory grade enough to put me into 2nd place plus a bonus of having a Departmental Leadership Award. Moving to another school was not an option anymore as I was on my last year in grade school. With the same enthusiasm, I managed to squeeze myself into the honors group and graduate with an Academic Progress Award despite being a relatively new student.

High School was a big challenge for most of us. It was where most of our adventures began. For me, it was the defining years of my life. It was the time that I saw more challenges beyond the academics. It began when I became active in scouting despite being the only 1st year student in my troop. I saw it as an opportunity that will offer new adventures and new places to drift. Scouting took me to Los Baños, Laguna for the first time to attend different international and national jamborees. It also opened my world to the outdoors and the environment. However, my school did not offer those kind of activities for me where I could enhance and develop myself in my newfound interests. It was a sign that I have to drift again.

The next summer, I found myself going to different schools asking the requirements for transferring students. I submitted everything they need and took their entrance exams. My parents were surprised to receive the different admission letters I got from those schools but they didn?t hesitate to enroll me knowing I had valid reasons. When school opened that year, everything was new again to me; a new school, new classmates, new friends, new teachers and a new adventure that I missed so much. My new school did not disappoint me. Even as a new student I became the Senior Troop Leader of the Schools Scouting Troop that composed all 600 students of the 1st and 2nd year levels. It was my personal honor to lead our school to be recognized by the City Scouting Council as an independent troop. That same year, I was fortunate enough to be invited by my mentors for my first ever climb to the famed Mt. Apo. To top it all, I was recommended for the highest level a Scout could receive and also accepted to the community-based Rover Scouting. I did still manage to land academic honors every year but I was more satisfied with the honors I received from my extra curricular activities.

My extra curricular adventures did not end inside the school. During these same times, I became the youngest youth leader to our church Annual Youth Organization, the EMPAC UMYFP. Despite that, I was zealous in the new task given to me. I was rewarded with drifts to the mountains of Surigao del Norte to the Agusan Riverside to Tungao to the mountain ranges of Sultan Kudarat and tribal villages of Tacul. I was given an opportunity to share myself and be a part of their life. My adventures opened not only new worlds to me but also my heart for the career path that I will choose.

My college days was the biggest adventure in my life. Not only because we didn?t know what lied ahead of us, but because as pioneers of the university we had to pave the way for the next generations. That is both an adventure and a challenge most people will not have in a lifetime. I enjoyed so much my four years in college more than my high school. I got to stay in a dormitory that meant more time in school but less time at home. But my classmates became my family for we all stayed in the dorm. This is where I found my so-called lifetime barkada because we practically shared 4 years of our life, including summers, together. We hatched different activities and programs in school to keep us sane being 17 kilometers away from civilization. These activities have now become a part of the University tradition we have left.

After college, I applied for Medicine. And yes, I applied in schools outside my hometown. The journey in going to Medschool is... a journey in itself. I did not have money to go to MedSchool and I know my parents can't afford that money unless I find a scholarship... or borrow money. And so, Bem - my college buddy went looking for Med schools that gives scholarships or does not ask big tuitions. We went first to Iligan City and applied in MSU-IIT. Since they would require us to take a year long of courses before we could get qualified, we looked for another school. This time, I had to ask money from my Grandmother just so I could have some money for this drifting for Medschool and to pay for the application fee. So we (Bem and I) went to visit them in Cdo. Then we rode a boat going to Cebu.

Cebu was an unforgettable experience. I never had to stay in a motel in my life. The awkward thing is that we only had enough money to pay for an 8 hour stay so we had to check in late at night just to make sure we get to have enough sleep before we go around the next day looking for schools in Cebu. After going and applying in CIM, we got in a boat that same night headed to the Panay Island - Iloilo.

This is where my medical career started and ended (at least for now). So, we went to apply in the WVSU College of Medicine. Then, Bem and I just have to wait for the results of the exams because we don't have money anymore to travel back home to Davao. We didn't even have money to buy for food. And we didn't know anybody. We had to eat rice (Php5/cup) and esau (Php1/stick) almost everynight just to have something to eat. How could I forget that? That was the most humbling experience I ever had.

So, we got into Medschool. We choose to study here simply because the tuition is cheap but the quality of education is not comporomised (or so they say). This place is so important in my journey and drifting. I made new and great friends from this place. It was also here that I met my future wife. I have even transferred my church membership in this place. After Medschool, It's time to move up Nortth.

After more than two decades of moving from place to place, facing new challenges and adventures, making waves and paving new roads; I will still continue to move. Life has always been a journey for me until I rest at my final destination. And as long as I live, I will continue to drift.

  • »Permalink
  • Posted by:Neki