By Mark Raygan E. Garcia, Director, Office of Information and Publications
(Message delivered during the thanksgiving dinner for passers of the 2013 Medical Technologist Licensure Examination.)
Think Megan Young.
Think Janet Napoles.
What do they have in common?
Both are women. Both are brilliant. Both are in the public limelight. One is pretty, and the other is… well, pretty in her own right.
But while Megan Young is glorified, Janet Napoles is vilified.
You have in the two a microcosm of the opportunity that lies before you today. You all stand on the same road. You gain momentum at the same spot. But how you will maneuver yourself through the same road, and which direction you will take as you move along, all depends on you. You decide your destination. You decide your fate.
When I was requested by the Vice President for Academic Affairs to speak on her behalf it was natural for me to doubt my ability: “Who am I to inspire them?” I, myself, am in need of inspiration. I said the same words to your gorgeous Director, Prof. Teodora Cubelo. But a good soldier never shuns a challenge from the commander, so here I am tonight.
Growing up, my parents already had a vision for me: To be a doctor. This was a profession that my late father had given a shot at – at least until he was shipped back from Manila after getting addicted to billiards and became a lawyer instead. I remember at age 9, I already knew how to operate the sphygmomanometer, which at that time, I only spelled with two letters: “BP”. My paternal grandparents trusted me for some reason to take their diastolic and systolic. Sometimes when I got bored with the repetitive figures, I would blurt out from memory: “120/80”.
My first unofficial exposure to medical technology could be at the same age when my grandfather was already sickly. Oftentimes this pretty woman donning a nice smile would enter his hospital room bringing what looked like a daintier version of a toolbox. Every time she took a blood sample from my grandfather, I would grow more interested in what she was doing. At the back of my mind, performing blood sampling would complete my “clinical experience” of sorts.
Since I couldn’t get hold of a volunteer – and I couldn’t make a prank on my yaya who at that time held a PhD in pinching in the groin – I had to look for an innocent prey. There, right smack in the backyard were my first patients. They were noisy anyway, so it wouldn’t do much harm if I’d experiment on one of them. I grabbed one of my father’s fighting cocks by the neck, and – pretending to be a medical technologist – stuck a syringe needle into it. The syringe was too small and the needle too narrow that, perhaps, the chicken was silently laughing inside at my foolishness, afraid that it if made louder sounds, it would find itself on the operating table.
But away from medical technology and everything and anything medical, I am a Mass Communication graduate. My parents may have needed a new pair of glasses as their vision of me fell short of 20-20.
Indeed, each of us is gifted with an opportunity to explore ourselves further. Oftentimes we are unaware of how life will unfold for us. In the morning we are smiling, and suddenly, mid-day, turn of events makes obvious on our faces the pull of gravity. Whenever I teach Speech, the same is my principle. I often tell my students: “When I ask you a question, and you don’t look at me… I’ll call you. When I ask you a question, and you stare at me so intently for you hold the key… I’ll also call you.” Bottom-line, life presents us with many surprises. It is all up to us as to how to work around it, adjust to it, and translate it into something that will bring out the best of us in the midst of what could be the worst of circumstances.
I will tell you as a young professional that life beyond graduation, beyond the licensure examination is much tougher than the picture of it that you may have created already in your minds. It can be cruel. It can be unfair. It can test your patience. It definitely is not a bed of roses. But just because it is and it can be does not mean that you will look away. Brave what will come ahead of you, for it is only in embracing your fears, your predispositions about life can you be ready to know yourself more and better.
Accept as early as now that passing the licensure examination just opens yet another journey for you. It will engage you in self-introspection into what you genuinely want to pursue from this point onwards.
Do I want laboratory work? Do I want to join the academe? Do I want to undertake further studies? Do I want to pursue research? Do I want to do community work? It is when you ask these questions that you know you are not abnormal. It is when you ask these questions that you endeavor to realign your goals in life with your self-assessment at present.
Remember though that in your responses, try to confront yourself with the question: “So what?”
Among journalists, the most important question to ask in writing a news story does not cover alone the 5Ws and 1H. What is critical is that question that draws us to the core of the purpose: “So what?” You may hold the what, when, where, why and who – and how – but if you lose sight of the “So what?” you lose a part of you that defines your values and the person that you truly are.
Janet Napoles reportedly masterminded the PDAF scam. “So what?” When journalists ask that question, they dig deeper in the soul of the PDAF – the millions who are poor and hungry. That then becomes a commitment that resonates with their social consciousness of what is happening around them. It makes them write not for the sake of writing but to promote the greater good and to fight for the truth.
Megan Young is the first Filipino Miss World! “So what?” Floating that question, even silently within one, bridges us to a national pride. It connects us to the millions of Filipinos in piecing together an identity for the country. And so the choice of words, of the people to interview, of the facts to incorporate reinforce that collective pursuit.
Let me end by giving each of you an iPhone 5. This is one cellphone that relies on you for its battery life. It requires no load – and doesn’t cost a cent.
I – Integrity
Serve with integrity. You might have sterling credentials but they can only transport you places. What will bring you closer to the hearts of people is the trust that you are able to establish with them through a character that holds strong your Christian values.
P – Perseverance
Do not give up. Persevere. There are no shortcuts in life. When things don’t seem to fall according to plan, don’t falter; push harder. Remember when you were still a baby – if you had given up after bruising yourself while learning how to walk, you would not have been able to know how to run.
H – Hope
Apart from change, hope is that which remains constant. Live a life of example. Be a source of inspiration to the people around you. Think of yourself as a candle – your meaning comes from the light that you radiate.
O – Optimism
Your optimism will keep you afloat. Believe in yourself. Face your fears head-on. Always remember that we cannot run away from a storm, but we can always prepare for it, learn from it, and be assured of brighter skies ahead.
N – Nurture
Life is a cycle of nurture. We reap what we sow. Seize all opportunities to share, to give back, to manifest care, to be one with the community and the environment. Like a river is to the fishes and the forest to the birds, be someone whom one can run to.
E – Empathy
Develop within you a sense of empathy. Find yourself in the shoes of those who have less in life and those in need. Let your life matter to them. You will never know when it will be your time to knock on the doors of others.
But all those only give you an iPhone. Let me upgrade that to an iPhone “5”.
Never forget the “5”. These are what your dreams and aspirations in life are made of. They add spice and color to your journey. They define the person within you.
These 5 are: Yourself, Your Family, Your Friends, Your Community and Your God.
Whatever you do in life, at whatever pace you wish to uncover God’s plans for you, remember to always carry your iPhone: I for Integrity, P for Perseverance, H for Hope, O for Optimism, N for Nurture, and E for Empathy. The signal might be weak at some points in your journey, but never lose contact of the “5” – after all, they make the brand and the necessary upgrade in your life from here on.