To kill a dream

To kill a dream

/ 05:03 AM May 31, 2024

As we opened the balikbayan box from South Korea, my Tita handed me a textbook about the history of humankind. My family has known my fascination with stories and books. That book fueled the conception of what I wanted to become.

At school, whenever we are asked to imagine what we will become 10 to 20 years from that moment, I envision myself traveling the world and making groundbreaking discoveries that would help explain what transpired throughout human history.

Dreams are cherished aspirations, ambitions, or ideals. They are what we want to become as an individual. You can be everything you want to be. There were days when I wanted to become a scientist because wearing a white coat seemed cool. I wanted to be an archaeologist. Dreams are limitless when you are a child. You do not have to strive hard. You do not have to think about anything else. You just have to imagine. The world is your oyster.

Only to find out years later that life and dreaming are not as colorful as I thought they would be.


“We can’t afford it.” I have heard this line countless times. Every time a school event required payment out of our means, I would whine at my Tita because I was jealous of my classmates who could join without overthinking the finances. One reality of growing up in a family of farmers is that you feel like you are always just an inch above the poverty line. I remember my grandfather, a farmer, suggesting selling sacks of rice harvested from a small piece of land he owned so I could join a Boy Scout camping. It cost at least P700 to join at the time.

In the end, I did not join. The rice my grandfather harvested was allotted for our consumption because selling directly harvested rice is cheaper than commercially sold rice. Selling our harvested rice will be counterproductive and not worth it. This was more than 10 years ago. However, this reality among farmers remains the same. According to the data released by the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, the lowest prevailing price of unmilled rice in the country is P12 per kilo. This is too low for farmers given the continuously increasing price of expensive inputs like fertilizers. When the rice tarrification law was passed, farmers were faced with a bigger problem alongside the existing troubles that they had to overcome primarily due to the lack of support from the government. Some groups claimed that farmers could not sell their produce for at least P20 per kilo which was the ideal farm gate price. This worsening state of farmers in the country might be why no one in the family encouraged anyone in my generation to farm. My grandfather, an industrious farmer, is proof that hard work is not enough to be financially stable. Our family bore witness to that harsh reality.

It was also during this time that I realized my dreams were too high—hence the need to kill them. My childhood dream to be an archaeologist, a doctor, a lawyer, a writer perished because of our circumstances.

I had no choice but to kill the mighty dreams I once crafted as a child full of wonder when I realized that my biography is inherently shaped by the system and the existing history. These were the first kills that made me realize some dreams are way out of reach. Dreams that we can only imagine and visit during our most peaceful slumbers.


Perhaps the definition of dream over the years has become diluted due to the social conditions that we have to live with. Like me, I know that many have continuously shaped and reshaped their dreams over and over again to cater to their capabilities and means alone. The dreams as grand as the ones we crafted as children have shrunk into tiny bubbles within our realities bounded by struggles. I wished and hoped it was not the case because living is supposed to be reaching the ultimate dreams we have. I recognize that most people have dreams that are not theirs alone but rather accumulated aspirations of their families and the people around them. But the burden to shoulder that responsibility weighs more than we could account for.

There is a different kind of sensitivity whenever I hear anyone talk about their dreams. Whenever I hear stories of dreams being fulfilled despite the odds against them, I feel like a personal friend who is proud to witness their victories. Whenever I see people and even friends crush their dreams, I grieve with them. This juxtaposition of numbness and sensitivity is the result of the mixture of frustrations and optimism toward the dreams that are dead and those that are still thriving.



Nyle Lupin (pseudonym), 22, is a sociology student who aims to write about the realities of people often left unheard.

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TAGS: Dream, opinion

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