Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Appearances

I loosened my grip on the razor as blood appeared around my ankles where I had nicked it. Shaving's a bitch. "Why am I doing this again?" I wondered.

"You're crossing a line." Said my brother Tye. I told him about this costume party we were having for our batch, and my plan to come in drag. But the more friends reacted negatively, the more curious I became. What's the big deal exactly? I was bent on finding that out as I got ready for the Senior's Ball.

A make-up artist friend volunteered to do my hair, and promised to lend me a gown. She was a regular fixture in gay pageants and she knew her thing. Initially I thought of the idea of coming in drag as a joke, but after I told her, she jumped up and down excitedly at her new project. She was going to turn me from a "duckling to a swan".

We live in a society that marginalizes gay people- the more effeminate you are, the more people will think of you as "weak" or "superficial". My intention was to prove that no matter what one wears, or how one walks, or how one talks,it has little to do with what's inside- a person's character and substance. In my case I wanted to show that nothing has changed- I am still the same person, no less. Not even 1/4 inch thick make-up or four-inch heels will make me drop my IQ points or berate my personhood.

As usual, I thought, if I am to do this, I better do it right. If I looked like a walrus in a dress, then by no means am I going to parade like that in public. Yeah, that's the vain me speaking. So anyway I began with the basics: remove all body hair from legs to armpits so that I don't look like some deranged cavewoman.

As I stood in front of the mirror, I was amazed how long and slim my legs looked. Regularly they were covered under tufts of hair and all, so I didn't quite expect that. I slipped into silver 4 inch sandals and tried walking. Nice. But once in a while I'd trip, causing my ankle to sprain a little bit.

I put on sweatpants and quickly cleaned my room, then left for a friend's place, where the transformation would continue.

I was given three gowns to choose from: a white halter, a lime green serpentine gown, and a purple gown with a thigh-high slit. My female friends helped me dress up as they took turns in having their faces done. My oh my, they fit alright, but my shoulders were too big I looked like a Linebacker. My friend Aya lent me her dress which was a relatively modest empire cut dress with sleeves.

My friend kept making jokes as she did my face- there was a brownout and she was forced to apply make-up in candlelight. She said they needed to prepare formalin because of the way I looked- reclined on a chair while a friend held a candle before me. Finally, the accessories were worn, and as a finishing touch- two rolled up socks placed on either side of my chest for breasts.

While we were in the car on the way to the hotel, I could hear my heart beating. Oh my, I was actually going to be seen in public looking like this, I almost panicked! Finally, I took a deep breath and just stepped out of the car into the street and then the hotel lobby. As we entered the ballroom, jaws dropped. I couldn't quite hear a thing because people were shrieking and taking pictures. Well, for one night only, why not revel in my outfit? As I thought, it wasn't really that big a deal. I made jokes and laughed with friends. Dressing up in drag wasn't the end of the world, that's for sure.

As I paused for a bit in my seat I had another thought- the essence or substance of everything really goes beyond what our two eyes can see. The essence of a woman isn't in the long legs or beautiful breasts. It is the role that she plays as a daughter or wife or mother that makes her who she is. She nurtures, she cares, and she loves- that's what makes her a woman. Similarly some people blindly measure their happiness through ITRs and bank accounts, big houses or nice clothes, as opposed to having great relationships and a growing maturity. And in the same way, a student nurse isn't measured for the number of medals he or she earned, but in the dedication and the quality of care that is rendered to their patients.

Suddenly, in that room filled with loud and giddy BS Nursing graduates, I learned an unexpected lesson. Days later, I laughed like crazy as they uploaded the photos of the Senior's Ball. We really did have fun that night. I was a little embarrassed at those who took pictures of my boxers peeking from my skirt- another lesson, when one wears a skirt the legs must always be pressed together. Hahaha! Oh well, who cares? I got nice legs.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Big Three-Oh

As the waiters cleared the last of the dishes from our table, we became quiet. The laughter had faded away as the night deepened, and slowly, patrons left until there were only four of us- my high school close friends whom I’ve known for fifteen years: Remejoy, a licensed Med Tech who now worked as an editor; Frances, a Bachelor of Laws graduate who is presently teaching in UP Tacloban; and Royce, an Accountancy graduate who just earned his Doctor of Medicine, and is presently a busy post-graduate intern.

This year, we all turn thirty.

“When I failed the Bar exam, I stopped and asked myself- have I just wasted my twenties?” Frances said. It was an honest and very candid thing to say for our usually reserved friend.

“I know the feeling.” I blurted out.

They all looked at me.

“I think all of us, at some point, felt disillusioned when things didn’t turn out exactly the way we planned.”

It was true, so few of us actually followed a straight path when it came to careers. Majority accepted whatever dead-end, entry-level positions were available, and that is a tiny detail which was never mentioned to us in our four years in college. They failed to inform us that actual career growth happens somewhere in your thirties.

“I think we’re all afraid that we haven’t made any difference at all. That you fell short of your own expectations, that even graduating from a prestigious school is no guarantee of success or happiness.”

We looked at each other and smiled, with that same look of recognition on our faces.

“France, you and I are on completely different sides of the spectrum, and yet we share the same sentiments.”

My friend Frances was someone you’d call an ideal student- she majored in Psychology in UP Tacloban, then worked in an NGO as she got her Master’s Degree in Diliman. By the time she was in her mid-twenties, she began her studies in Bachelor of Laws.

I on the other hand, cruised through my youth with neither urgency nor a sense of purpose. I wanted to “maximize my twenties” and by that, I meant have the most fun as I could.

With this philosophy, I shot out like a loose cannonball. It was not that I was lazy or stupid; I was actually quite good with anything that I put my mind into. I helped design a museum when I was 20, which won Best Thesis in the UP College of Architecture. But by the time I saw how much my colleagues were earning in entry-level positions I was disheartened. I chose to work in a Call Center instead- which at some point made me choose between finishing my last units in Hardscape Construction and accepting a promotion. I chose the latter.

Before I resigned my job during my mid-twenties, I was earning more than most of my contemporaries but sadly was now back to square one, as I enrolled in the College of Nursing. As I celebrated my 28th birthday, a student once more, I also asked myself- have I wasted my twenties?

“We’ve all been there.” Remejoy said.

“Quarter life crisis.” Royce said.

“Well, none of us plays life with marked cards. At least we all got a chance to correct our mistakes along the way, and keep going towards the elusive success and happiness.” I philosophized.

“Maybe we’re just getting old.” Frances quipped.

We all laughed. It was one of those cherished moments with friends when you just let your hair down and be honest. If anything, I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one having problems.

A few months later, as I walked up the stage in front of hundreds of people, I bowed my head as Nanay put a medal on me. Officially a BSN graduate, I was just so thankful to have been given a chance to redeem myself.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have done anything differently- not just because I’ve learned so much from three different industries, but also because I got to discover what I really wanted in life. I had my fun, didn't I? Now it's time to move on and get serious. We live and we learn, and without regrets.

Most of us friends are now past the crisis, and ready to undertake new challenges and new adventures our thirties will bring. Some of us are moving up the ladder, some are building families, some are learning the difference between a calling and a career, and for sure- all of us are more optimistic than ever before.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy


Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Grandslam Batch" History

In response to the rapid turn-over of health professionals due to the trend of migration and overseas work, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing came with the idea of establishing a college of health sciences. St.Scholastica's College in Tacloban formally opened in June 2000 with 336 students.* By June 2006, the school saw the largest batch of enrollees to date- with more than 500 1st year students of BS Nursing, BS Pharmacy, BMLS, and BS Biology, adding to the increasing student population which was at a record high of more than 1,300 that year.One of the peculiarities of this batch was the large number of second coursers and transferees, with students coming from different areas in Region VIII, and some as far as Manila and Mindanao. All first year students had full academic load, with courses taught by some of the best General Education faculty, coming from respected institutions such as Divine Word University, University of the Philippines, and Leyte Normal University. Students were molded to achieve excellence in accordance to the four thrusts of the college: Christian Dimension, Instruction, Community Extension, and Research and Publication.
By the second semester there were 9 sections left out of the original 10 from the College of Nursing, an indication of the stringent promotion and retention which the school is known for. A maintaining grade of 2.2 (83%) General Weighted Average was required to remain in the college. The Dance Concert, National Service Training Program (NSTP) graduation and the annual First Year Research competition were the highlights as their first year concluded.
During the second year, the students began to have their major subjects under the tutelage of their esteemed instructors, mentors, and clinical preceptors. The batch showed excellence also in extra-curricular activities such as athletics- bagging the top spot in the Sportsfest for two consecutive years, when the competition was by year level. Before the summer of 2008 the students lined up at the Dean's office during the so-called "judgment day". Only those who met the grade requirement will proceed to summer classes.
One half of the entire batch in the College of Nursing did not meet the requirement, hence those students either shifted to another course or transferred to Nursing schools in Ormoc, Cebu, and Manila. The Dean's Listers were pooled together in Section A, as a strategy to "breed topnochers" according to the Dean of College Dr. Antonio Lim Jr.- this began with Batch Sugilite. After the summer class in Foundations of Nursing, 252 Nursing students attended the Capping and Badge-Pinning Ceremonies, signaling their transition into the clinical areas. The batch, set to graduate in 2010, was officially named Batch Chrysoberyl.
Nursing students were exposed to the different areas after their lecture and training in Maternal and Child Nursing, Operating Room Nursing, Emergency Medical Services and continued as well with Community Health Nursing, which began during the second year. The clinical performance and well as the grades in Preventive/Promotive and Curative/Rehabilitative Nursing became the basis of the selection for the students to proceed with the Psychiatric Affiliation and Community Immersion. In 2008, St. Scholastica's College Tacloban formally opened the 2-year Diploma in Midwifery.After a commendable case presentation of the first batch in the Psychiatric Affiliation at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center(VSMMC), and a successful Community Immersion in Alang-alang and Babatngon, Leyte, the batch returned for the Communicable Disease lectures and enhancement duties before embarking on their fourth year in the college.
Students of different courses worked on their respective researches/ mini thesis as the 1st semester commenced. For BSN level IV, a grueling four-month review, loaded with pre-tests and post-tests on 13 different areas in Nursing, topped with comprehensive major exams tested the student's competencies and readiness to be released into the "working world". Meanwhile, hospital duties and case presentations added to the rigor to ensure the student's clinical skills will be at par with professional standards. Meanwhile students of BS Pharmacy and BMLS also had their respective pre-board exams. Batch Chrysoberyl once again proved that they excelled in extra-curricular activities when they were hailed Champions during the 2010 College Days- earning the moniker "Grandslam Batch". When the final evaluation came, there were 190 candidates for graduation from the College of Nursing- barely 35% of the original population. Honors were given to Maita Amores, for the highest Academic Achievement from BS Pharmacy, and With Academic Distinction to the top six students of BS Nursing: Jessica Marie Dado, Keno Francis Parado, Ma.Hyacinth Pelias, Thaddeus Hinunangan, Carmella Delos Santos, and Stephanie Sim. The first batch of the 2-year Midwifery course also joined the graduation, along with the BS Biology and BS Pharmacy candidates.A salute to all the graduates of St. Scholastica's College Batch 2010, may God bless and guide you on the journey ahead.
* paraphrased from the Student Manual
***Special thanks to the Administration, the Faculty, Staff and Maintenance of our Alma Mater.

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