Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    Dear Kababayans, I hope you are all doing well this April and are keeping safe and healthy during this trying time. Last month we saw businesses closing down and workers getting laid off because of the economic shutdown that was created by the Coronavirus Pandemic. This puts a lot of stress on people as bills just [...]

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Page added on June 21, 2019

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Erwinism: A Journey into the Light

by: Erwin D. Maramat

Is life just a garbled metaphor? The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In the beginning there was darkness and the soul was empty and formless and God said, “let there be light,” and there was consciousness, and atoms in our body generated electricity called ions are converted into signals that travels through axons in our brains, and there we were, deep in thoughts.

We yearn for a life of purpose. We all do, but fear gets the better of us with the understanding that freedom to pursue happiness requires either money or a great deal of sacrifice to earn an eternally life-sustaining income called money. Overwhelmed with thoughts of getting by, as immigrants, we become preoccupied with chasing stability which in turn redefines the word dream.

“Having the privilege to be here is the greatest opportunity to pursue what we love,” I once told a former co-worker, and his reply was something short of discouraging as he sneered while we were busy mopping the floor. “You will never get anywhere here, and our children will be pushing mops for a living.” Hearing this, my heart sank into the depths of despair.

There is something about people falling into the trap of getting institutionalized into their helplessness. Afraid to take risks, people often stagnate in their comfort zones with the mistaken impression that life will pass them swiftly and before they know it it’s time to kick the bucket. Slowly I was withering away into that person. I began to believe what Mr. Naysayer saying was right.

Nurses’ Week

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~Harriet Tubman

My wife was born in a town six hours away north from where Baguio City stood in the Philippines. There, the livelihood of the people were dependent on mining. It was a marvelous place to get bored. Electricity was turned off during the day and restored at night. Jollibee and McDonald’s were inaccessible, and the Avengers were unheard of. There, a dream was born. My wife promised herself that one day she will become a nurse. With the little money they had as a family, she was sent off to the city to study nursing. Fast forward, we were on a date and she told me that she was hired as an emergency room nurse in a private hospital and I told her I was going to be a Rockstar married to a nurse. Ten years later she was working in different units and I was doing my rocking as a teacher. Life was simple and we have two adorable children, but still she aspired to hand our children a promising future and having tried taking qualifying exams for the US and not making it, her hopes of working as a nurse abroad began to fade, but there was something in her that never made her lose heart.

After multiple failed attempts, the closest of which was when my wife received news that she was qualified to come to Canada and that she will be deployed soon. Our spirits were at an all time high, we headed for Manila and spent an eternity waiting in line, as then the agency broke the disheartening news to her that there was a backlog and she would have to try again. It broke my heart to see her crying, but I couldn’t find the words to comfort her.

A New Hope

Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound. ~Simon Sinek

In 2011, my wife told me that she applied to immigrate to Canada, and of course, I had to disagree with her. I expressed my intent to establish a language school and I have previously met up with some investors who shared my vision. I was so adamant to an extent that I threatened her that if she leaves, I will opt to stay behind. Unyielding, I was true to my words, but that didn’t end well. Who do you think won?

As I opened the shutter, golden light from a midspring morning came flooding in my brother-in-law’s apartment. I stepped out of the balcony where a subtle breeze stroke my cheeks and I saw a Ferrari speeding down the 17th Avenue. It was our first morning in Canada and I have never been so excited at the sight of a squirrel crossing the street.

Tim Hortons, the Peace Bridge as designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, the Calgary Tower, maple syrup, the C-train, the vibrant city, the deep verdure of majestic landscapes, the guy asking for an extra cigarette that they never put in the pack I bought—all these things were new to us and as I held my wife’s hand with a deep sigh I said, “we made it,” boy, oh boy was I ever wrong.

As the settlement funds we had began to steadily dwindle, we felt sense of urgency to land jobs immediately. We didn’t have an idea what we were doing, and we dropped in places armed with resumes that were warmly rejected. Desperate to find work, my wife was invited by a lady to help her clean warehouses on call which didn’t really help us financially. There were nights she was suggesting that we go back to the Philippines, but I disagreed with it. Guess who won this time.

We once went to a nursing home and as she handed her resume to the receptionist, she told my wife in all sarcasm, “that certificate of yours is useless here. She broke into tears and I’m all chocked up.

Months later, she landed a position as a nursing attendant and I have never seen her this elated. She worked assiduously while simultaneously attending to the completion of her license as a practical nurse. All was well until I lost my housekeeping job and with us getting behind with our bills, tempers began to flare. I used up the small savings we had and enrolled in a crash course program to teach IELTS, after completion and thousand of resumes floated, I failed in securing a teaching job. Hence, things went south from there. One rainy morning in July, we received a call from back in the Philippines, my wife’s mom fell in a coma and eventually passed on. My wife and her sister flew back while my kids and I stayed.

Live Again

It took us almost a year to get back on track and before we did, we were in the red. Juggling payments here and there; arguing here and there; going here and there…it was an unbreakable cycle. Amidst the turmoil, she was focused on getting things done. We prayed and we prayed hard, and we worked, we worked hard. There is nothing extraordinary about the things we have gone through and are still going through, but I always believed that God listens and if you open your heart and mind, you will hear his voice in the beautiful moments that come unexpectedly.

After we hit rock bottom, I got a call from a non-profit organization to work as a dispatcher. I still remember going home and hearing my wife shouting for joy in our small apartment. As I went in, she held me tight as she broke the news that she got her certificate and is now an LPN. Her efforts paid off. Things began picking up for us and we left our decrepit apartment and moved into a new community. It was another beginning of endless beginnings.

A Journey into the Light

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sometimes life will make you reflect on days gone by. You’ll find yourself remembering the myriad times you fell and lifted yourself back on your feet; times when you find people who you thought were friends, but could only be there for you when the weather in your life is favorable; times when you find the scars hemmed onto your heart to remind you that all the things you went through were as real as you are.

After two years in the warehouse industry, I was invited by a childhood friend to work with him. It was an opportunity that helped my wife and I regain lost ground. Through all the turmoil, we found ourselves looking back and thinking why we were given a difficult road. Things were never easy for us. My wife went back to school determined to be a registered nurse. A few months later she told me to take a leave because I have to attend her graduation and few months after that I woke up to sound of her crying voice as she said, “I’m a registered nurse again.”

I burst into tears. I was jubilant for her. She never gave up and imagine if she did. I was so deeply moved that to this day nothing inspires me more than to witness her persist and insist in making his or her dreams possible. Imagine if I listened to my co-worker who saw life as nothing but pushing mops. Envision what you can achieve, if everyone just listened to their own voice.

Maybe I can make my dreams happen too; maybe you can too. Average Joes building a world out of dreams. How I wish I could tell you that we lived happily ever after, but it will take more than CGI to make fairy tales real. This is just the beginning for us. How’s yours unfolding?


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