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Should I finish my fill?

I was having breakfast when my smartphone and Wi-Fi got the better of me.

When later I reached for my mug, fruit flies scampered away. They’ve probably been dancing on its rim for as long as I was glued to my phone. And I pondered hard as if it were a life-or-death question: Should I finish my fill?

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I decided I will. Amoebiasis and all, I took the risk and sipped the remaining drips of caffeine.

Since college graduation, I’ve been asking the same questions: Should I finish my fill? Is this still worth pursuing?

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I had a hard set goal: to work in a development institution. Like most Filipinos, the caveat was that the family also needs the money. The ideal: to find work that keeps my heart singing but still fills the bank. Family, friends, colleagues and bosses knew this. Some were supportive, others cynical.

Never mind them. I was set and, God knows, I took the hard turns so that there’s still money in the bank and my heart’s still locked on the community. I was in the corporate world then, but every day I kept telling myself that someday I’d be in the community.

After three beautiful years in IBM, I gained ground in the corporate ladder. Yet if I continued on that path, I’d lose my chance to move to the community. The corporate arena was my practice but that was not my fill to finish. Three years off from college and I still had that dream, that goal, whose essence is best captured in two words: development work.

So I left. I left home, Manila, and all the promises of the corporate ladder.

Now I’m a program officer for Basa Pilipinas, a national reading program funded by USAID and implemented by the Education Development Center. I’m still learning the ins and outs but it’s the kind of work that keeps me rising early despite the fieldwork fatigue of the day before. It’s the kind of work that keeps me grounded, that reminds me of the advocacy I fight for—education for sustainable development.

We are assigned in Ilocos Norte, but we also go to other areas in the Philippines. In one of the areas, I had a couple of 7- and 8-year-olds read to me a Filipino and English passage. Some read “mga” and “ngayon” as “muh-guh” and “nuh-gah-yon.” They were decoding the letters but not comprehending the content. Ideally, at 8, kids should be able to read simple words rather fluently. Yet this is not the truth for all.

At that moment, I knew I was right in pursuing this goal. These kids, these communities, need the kind of work that we put in.

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“Fruit flies” abound in the work place, the community, and all the places where we think our dreams will grow. There are naysayers, distractions. There will be hard people, obstacles. It’s going to be icky. It’s NOT always a Disney movie with a happy ending.

But I guess the trick is that, no matter what age, comfort zone, or current stature, no matter how many fruit flies hover around our goal, we just have to keep asking: Should I finish my fill? Mine isn’t finished yet, though. There are more kids out there and we have just begun.

 

Ma. Roxanne “Roxy” Fatima S. Rolle, 25, took up development communication (major in development journalism) at University of the Philippines Los Baños.

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TAGS: Amoebiasis, Basa Pilipinas, Education Development Center, Fruit Flies, IBM, national reading program, USAID, youth
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