Coming home

I feel like a prodigal child.

If a home means a place where you are most comfortable, in terms of my career that would be teaching and research. I have been doing both since I started working, but separately, alternately. There were times when I had to give up one over the other. I have never had the chance to do both together.

My first serious job after graduation was in Ateneo. I was a project research assistant. I learned a lot from data gathering to data analysis. Yes, I was handling data analysis as an assistant, although guided by my boss. Still, I was given that much responsibility and had no other choice but to learn. After more than a year, and after some personal circumstances (read: lovelife gone wrong LOL), I resigned. My mind was contemplating then if I should look for another research-related job, or should I try teaching. I heard my blockmates were in the academe so I also started applying for teaching positions all over the Philippines. Yes, all over the Philippines. I almost applied for a teaching position in UP Mindanao. I was actually offered a job in some university in Mindanao, but since it’s too south (haha), my mom said I should reconsider.

Luckily, UP Baguio came. It was  almost an out-of-the-blue blessing. Of course I applied for the job but I didn’t expect to be actually accepted after so many rejections from other universities and colleges. I stayed there for two years before I decided to leave again, this time for further studies.

I knew before I left that it will be difficult to go back to teaching after grad school. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what would happen. I just grabbed the opportunity of studying abroad in full scholarship, hoping my life would eventually have direction and meaning.

Two years past grad school, I had to come back to the Philippines. Meaning I had to start over again. My expertise changed –from literature major to an urban environmental management expert. Again, I had no idea what to do with my life. Fine, I have masters degree. So? Would that even matter? At some point, it did. But most of the time, I was treated as if I just got out of college. Worst case, I was treated as if I don’t know anything in the world. I was like, “hey I was doing this much data analysis right after college and now, after all these knowledge and skills, you would treat me like some idiot? Come on! Stop this nonsense!” I resigned after a month. It was useless, not to mention I was shortchanged.

I also tried development work. I worked with an NGO as a research officer, then jumped to another government-owned company whose expertise ranges from productivity to capacity building. With the license as an environmental planner, I also worked for various consultancy services –from LGUs to international organizations, to academe.

During the 2nd quarter of last year, I tried management work –as Program Officer. I was very optimistic when I started the job, but after a while I got depressed, restless. Something didn’t feel right. I wanted to do research or teach but what I was doing was monitoring whether the staff were doing their jobs well, whether the visiting foreign persons were given VIP treatments, etc. In all fairness, I was pre-warned about the responsibilities of the job before I accepted it. I thought that job would make me stay. But it didn’t. A few days after my 35th birthday, I resigned.

After that, I had some ‘serious talk’ with myself. I asked me, “what is that one thing you would want to do and be happy doing it?”

I remembered my teaching experiences in UP Baguio and PWU. My first day ever of teaching, I felt I was finally given the chance to talk, to say what is on my mind, and people are listening, or at least pretending to be listening. It felt surreal, actually. The whole teaching experience made me feel a sense of fulfillment, as if I was contributing something great to the world. My days in Baguio, although the pay was very para sa bayan, was actually the best days of my life. I was even prettier then. LOL.

So teaching then. But how about research? I was teaching in PWU but I wasn’t happy because I had to teach from 7AM to 7PM everyday. San ko isisingit ang research?

The answer to that question was delivered when a teaching position in UPLB was offered to me. During interview, I was asked why do I want to teach in that department. I answered in the most honest way possible. I told them I want to teach, but I also want to do research or at least practice my license. Sayang naman! Teaching in UPLB can make that happen. I can do research, I can practice my career, I can teach. It’s like the merging of theory and practice. I need them both to prosper in this career that I chose. And it’s fulfilling. It lightens up my soul. I feel like my heart has been yearning to share what I know. I feel like my heart is growing with the mere idea of sharing, of teaching.

Yes. As much as we see teaching as a career, I find it like a cure to my aching soul. Nandoon na ako sa stage na ganoon. May ibang hinahanap ang utak at puso. And when the heart and mind collide, there’s no stopping. There are no limitations.

And since my new workplace by Monday is in Laguna, it is just logical to stay in our house in Siniloan. Although Siniloan-Los Banos is two-hours by commute, it’s still practical to stay there than here in QC. I would have to spend more than Php300 per day if I will be coming from QC, compared to Php200 per day if I will be coming from Siniloan. And gulay, the traffic in EDSA is a pain. I cannot, err, refuse to deal with EDSA traffic, promise!

My only concern is that, I haven’t really stayed in our house for more than two weeks. Yes, it is home. I am comfortable there but I am not sure if I can stay there and feel the same comfort after two weeks. You see, I have been everywhere –QC, Baguio, Thailand, CamSur– except Siniloan. I was living elsewhere since I was 15!!! I don’t know how to live there! Especially now that my mom is gone, the place feels empty. I’m a stranger to my own house.


One comment

  1. I remembered what you said when I felt really down two years ago, it is all a phase. I believed it and it really was a phase in life. I hope you will realize that this too is a phase. Hope to visit you in Laguna soon! :D

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