A quote to live by | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

A quote to live by

I WAS scanning the pages of a magazine in our school library recently when a simple quote caught my attention. It’s a maxim by US President Abraham Lincoln that says, “If you cannot have what you like, perhaps you like what you have.” I smiled upon reading this because it perfectly captures the feeling I have at this point in my life.

When I was a child, I used to envision myself as a doctor, wearing a white frock with a stethoscope hanging around my neck. Admiration would be painted on my innocent face every time I saw a doctor. I was awed by their passion to heal and help people. I was fascinated by how they looked in their immaculate white frocks. I admired everything about them, and that’s why I dreamed of becoming one of them.


When I passed the college admission test to the BS Biology program of the University of the Philippines, I was floating on cloud nine. I thought a window had been opened for the fulfillment of my ambition. I considered it the start of something wonderful, the point when my fantasy started to turn into reality.

But I was wrong. After going through the medical and dental exams and after being interviewed regarding my application for financial assistance, my grandparents told me bluntly that I could not enroll in UP. They advised me to take up education instead. According to them, Bachelor of Elementary Education was not a bad choice for a course. If I would take up BS Biology, they said, I would still end up teaching because it was far from certain that I could proceed to medicine. Medicine was a very expensive course and they couldn’t see how they could raise the money to send me to medical school.


I cried hard upon hearing their words. My dream had been shattered. I could not even enroll in UP as an “iskolar ng bayan.”

But it was clear they had made up their minds. I could take it or leave it. So I was left with no other option but to follow their wish.

My paternal grandparents, by the way, play father to me. They have been our family’s provider, giving us the moral, emotional and financial support we need. My siblings and I were entrusted to them when our father, Nono, left us for another woman. So when my grandparents made their decision, who was I to grumble?

Their decision left me no other option but to apply for admission to Leyte Normal University which is known to provide quality teacher education. I was in a dour mood when I filled up my application form, and when I took the oral and written exams, but I still passed.

College is another chapter in one’s life, offering a new cast to work with and it should have been something to look forward to. But not for me because from childhood I had been preparing myself to be a doctor, not a teacher. But then life had to go on.
There was nothing memorable about my first two years of college. I felt as if there was something missing, as if there was something wrong with my life.

But one day, I just woke up with the profound realization that life is a gift and so I must live it well. According to my favorite poem “Desiderata,” despite all the sham, drudgery and broken dreams, life is still beautiful, and one should always strive to be happy. There may be certain things you aspire for that you cannot grasp, but there are a hundred reasons to be happy and thankful for.

Every day I encounter people whose smiles lift my spirit. I have friends whose umbrellas I can share with in calm or stormy weather. I have my titas and titos whose hands I can hold and on whose encouragement I can count. I have siblings whose care and understanding I am sure of. I have grandparents whose guidance and support I can’t live without. I have my mama whose unconditional love never fades. And I have my Nono who, despite all his flaws and imperfections, has helped to make me what I am today. And above all, I have a generous and loving God who has given me all the things that make my life worth living. Why should I sigh with regret, when I have all the reasons to smile?


There was a reason for every little thing that happened, every change that occurred in my life. Everything that happened to me was God’s will.

In my third year of college, I slowly came to appreciate the course my grandparents chose for me. Three years after I broke into tears over my inability to pursue my childhood dream, I learned to enjoy and embrace what I was doing. Being a BEEd student major in Special Education was not easy, but I found myself enjoying the thought that someday I would be a teacher. I was excited to become part of the teaching profession and make a difference in the lives of special learners. Like the doctors whose ranks I once dreamed of joining, teachers also have the obligation to help others. They just do this in a different way. As the poem says, a teacher is a pair of crutches to someone who is lame, a torch to a man in darkness and a star to a lost sailor, for he owns a heart that feels and a heart that loves.

Truly you learn to like what you have.

Desiree M. Negad, 21, works as a teacher.

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