Moving forward | Inquirer Opinion

Moving forward

It’s a Sunday, and the sun is barely out, but the crowds are busy—shuffling to and from the gates, moving bags, luggage, and bodies all around. There are clueless children, seemingly half-awake, unaware of what’s happening around them, and their frantic parents, looking for them in all places—save for the obvious. I see some passengers on the floor, their legs crossed, their eyes glued to their phone screens, some fast asleep on what I would consider excruciatingly uncomfortable benches. The uneven ridges hugging their backs and the bright airport lights glaring in their faces.

Then there’s me.


I reach the airport at around 5 a.m. I came from Quezon City, dropped by our empty house in Pasay, and went straight to the airport—the smell of sex, alcohol, and one too many cigarettes lingering on my fingertips. The hoodie, unkempt hair, and dark circles under my eyes already speak volumes to the long day I’ve had, which, unknowingly, would become much longer.

My footsteps were a little heavy, but my heart was light. I was going to see my mother after months of being apart. Even if it was only for a few hours, I was excited (and palpably anxious) to see her.


The escalator took me two flights up, and before I even saw her, I already heard her. The sound of my name rolling off her tongue and the warmth that came with it. To my right, I saw her smiling and gesturing for a hug, even when I was still a few steps away.

I sat beside her and greeted her with a warm hug. The usual small talk proceeded—I asked about her flight and if she was excited about the conference she would attend in Bacolod, how my brothers were, and the like. Question after question, I could feel my heart ache a little more—I was still trying to avoid questions that I could no longer run from. So, with a deep breath, my hands carefully folded on my lap, I asked: ‘Nay, am I still going to med school? Silence.

The lack of an answer is an answer in itself. In a moment, the dream that I have relentlessly chased, wanted, and worked for moved worlds away. What I thought was at the edge of my fingertips could no longer be reached. I hold back my tears and look down at my hands, still carefully folded on my lap.

A week later, it was Tuesday. The streets are once again filled with the sounds of students and employees getting ready for the commute. In our house, Kuya was already awake. By the table, he sat with a cup of coffee and his vape, nothing more than the routine morning.

I was already dressed and ready to go—my bag, shoes, fare—everything was set. I just needed to get my laptop when Kuya broke the silence: I need to tell you something. He fumbles for words and dares not to look me in the eye: I think it’s time for you to move out. Silence.

I am the type of person who follows a plan. The events of my life are carefully curated to fit a schedule, meet deadlines, and be ever-present for everything that I choose to go to. I do not take it lightly when my plans get derailed. As much as I account for the possibility of mishaps and alternatives, these paths still branch out from the main plan. In a way, they are accounted for. The idea of completely scrapping the plans I’ve worked so hard to pursue for years was absurd to me—but here I am, back to square one and grasping for whatever hope I am given. The empty pit in my stomach roars, and the feeling of being lost consumes me.

I won’t pretend that I don’t lie awake at dawn asking God too many questions: Where did I go wrong? Was I not a good enough child to be given a shot at my dreams? Have I not tried hard enough? What makes these questions more difficult, more frustrating, is the fact that I know the answers, but still, why am I here? And to that, I say: I do not know.


A struggle, I believe, that is common to everyone is feeling like a failure—this is evitable, but it will never feel like this. We buckle from the pressure of family, friends, peers, society, and of course, the self, so it becomes so easy to believe that failing is the only thing we are capable of. If there is one thing I would like to lean on when my plans are derailed, and the sun seems too far away, it’s to keep moving forward. I echo these words until I believe them to be true.

More weeks have passed, and it is once again Monday. The heat is blazing, and lines of cars flood the streets of Makati. I am on another Angkas ride, scouring the sea of traffic for interesting plate numbers. I breathe in and let it all out. Today, I choose to move forward.


Julyan Ira B. Kabigting, 23, is a nurse by profession and a writer by passion.

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