I did not really pay much attention as to how my life has been so far. I live each day exactly like how I managed to survive without any attempt to break the norms of life. As boring and as routinely as it seems to be, I don’t regret at all that I decided to keep it up this way for the past nineteen years of my life. I never intended to be different. Call it playing safe, but I guess, in this game called life, no one would ever make it to the end safely, unwounded at all. Sooner or later, we have to face our fears, and the judgment life will bring us.
From a family endowed with wisdom and faith.
On the night before I was born, my mother is out to watch a movie. She might already know that I was coming soon enough, but didn’t really expect that her water will break while watching an action film. She was brought to Mary Chiles General Hospital in Manila but since I am only eight months and a week and they do not have an incubator for me, the hospital did not take my mother in. She was brought to Far Eastern University Hospital instead and there, she gave birth to me on the 25th of August, 1991. My father being a seaman, my mother took care of me together with her friend, my godmother, and was with us for fourteen years.
I was the firstborn of Catherine Cuevas Cruz (1968) of Binan, Laguna and Delfin Tubongbanua Cabal (1960) of Leganes, Iloilo. My mother is the fourth child of Conchita Cuevas and Ricardo Cruz, son of Adriano Faustino Cruz who is one of the brothers of Daniel Faustino Cruz. My father is the third son of Cleofas Tubongbanua and Moises Cabal. I have three brothers, Daniel (1994), Gabriel (2001) and Nathaniel (2000). As a kid, I am really light hearted and I love to smile. I loved being in front of the camera and being taken pictures of. I even became a part of a television contest because Mama sent one of my photos to Konica. I am also musically-inclined as a kid. I sing and dance on an instant! Papa bought me a real keyboard when I was just asking for a toy piano. Papa may not have been with us most of the time because of work but he made sure that we never forget him. He sent us postcards from all the places they visit and greeting cards on our birthdays and other special occasions. Papa is really industrious, and he knows what can make us happy without us even telling it. Mama, on the other hand, is very caring and understanding about everything. They made sure that God will always and forever be the center of our family, and they never fail to set good examples to us.
Education and extra-curricular activities along the way.
After my nursery year in St. John Learning Center in Quezon City, I spent the whole of my basic education at La Consolacion College Manila. Being in a Catholic school, I was thought to value life the Augustinian way. I am an active student. I excel in academics and my extra-curricular activities. I win contests, from declamations to essay writings to math quiz bees. I am also an active member of the student council, and I became a part of our school paper. I took piano and violin lessons, and participated in several school plays. I felt my importance at school. I felt needed. I felt blessed because not everyone gets to experience my school life. I am a consistent honor student and graduated Valedictorian in grade school and high school. I was in it for everything, but then again, not everything is like a cake with cherry on top.
Weighed, tested and still wanted to be proven.
I lived my childhood life slightly different than the normal. I did not have much time to play. My godmother, who took care with me for a long time, wanted me to focus on my studies more. I can’t play my toys freely and I can’t go out to play with the other kids outside the house. I lived each day hoping that I could play a little bit more, but maybe, I was not just really for childhood fun. This is why I am more carefree now more than ever. When I was able to finally feel freedom, I can’t help but think about how I would become if I wasn’t restrained. But I guess it was too late to hope because I was already in second year high school, and I already grew past childhood games. Instead, a trial came along and tested my character. When I thought my sophomore year in high school was already bad enough, here came the junior year. For the first time in eleven years, I was not able to finish the school year as the best student in class. I was devastated, but I wasn’t strong enough to show it. I am not used to that kind of feeling. I was hurt and I felt sorry, not only for myself but also for my family –for letting them down. My parents counted on me, but I disappointed them. Now, thinking about it again, maybe I was really meant to experience how it feels like to lose something I hold on to for a long time after all. I am really glad that I was able to use that life-changing moment as I did everything to bounce back and get it again the next year. And I made my family proud of me once again. It is actually one of the few things that I could give them for their hard work and support for me and my brothers. It is something that I will forever be proud of and it taught me that every time we stumble and fall, maybe all we have to do is just to get up and walk again.
College and Independence: The Present.
I managed to pass in three out of the four universities that I applied for. And as I received my UP admission letter, I knew I had to go to UPLB. I know that I picked the most challenging life option but I couldn’t miss the chance to live life the UP way. I am still trying to keep my options open as to where should I be after college. I am currently on my third year on the BS Mathematics and Science Teaching program and affiliated with UP GURO: Mathematics and Science Teaching Society. I have been weighing options and consequences of certain things and I am still praying and hoping that I will make good choices. I do believe that if something is really bound to happen, no matter where the road will lead me, I know that I will still get it. I guess I do believe in destiny. But I also do believe in free-will. Independence is crucial all throughout my stay in UPLB. Since I am away from my family most of the time, I am bound to make choices and decisions which I know that I should be able to stand up for. I am grateful that I have a circle of friends that share my interests and beliefs. They have been a good influence on me and helped me survive the university life. Since my friends from high school are in Manila, I had to build life in UPLB from scratch. Roommates and dorm mates really came in handy, too, as proximity really matters after all. I also became a blogger, and I maintain news-based site. I am happy that technology aided me to express myself as internet became an avenue for me to broaden my horizon. Sports also became an influential and a huge part of me as I became a basketball fan and a die-hard Barangay Ginebra believer. Indeed, when things didn’t turn out as you expected, we can’t just back down –that’s the never say die attitude Ginebra brought in me.
Taking the next big step? It’s time.
I think that nineteen years is not yet long enough for me to think about life as a game of survival. But reality is, from the very moment that we were born, everything is about survival. In a world where everyone wants to test my competence, how far can I go? How much am I willing to risk for me to be where I really want myself to be? But then I realized that I should not go where life takes me, rather I should be taking my life where I wanted it to be. No one told me that life will be easy, but no one told me that I won’t be able to handle it either. Right now, I am happy and contented. I have a kind and considerate family, really amazing friends, hard-earned memories, complicated dreams and a whole lot more. Imperfect, I know, but I am proud of everything and I will forever protect my lifetime treasure. I do not know when I can tell myself “Stop. This is it. You finally made it.” but to take one huge step towards it, I guess it’s time.