Nandito pa

Ilang araw na lamang at maipipinid ko na ang ika-23 kabanata ng aking buhay. Kung mayroon man akong labis na ipinagpapasalamat sa nakalipas na taon, ito na marahil ang katotohanang nandito pa ako.

Ayon sa pag-aaral ng World Health Organization (WHO), ang pagkitil sa sariling buhay o suicide ang pangalawa sa pangunahing dahilan ng pagkamatay ng mga kabataang edad 15-29 sa buong mundo (2015, Global Report on Preventing Suicide, WHO). Nanguna sa nasabing pananaliksik ang mga aksidente sa lansangan, na sa tahasang sabi, ay karaniwang hindi sinasadya ng mga kabataan.

Nakababahala na ang sumunod na dahilan ng pagtatapos ng kanilang buhay ay isang aktong pinag-isipan – o naisipan – dahil sa inakalang kawalan ng sapat na katwiran upang magpatuloy.

Wala namang mag-iisip na naranasan, nararanasan, o mararanasan ko ito. Naging karaniwan na kasi ang pagbati sa akin na nagbibigay-pansin sa kagalingan o kaya’y kasiyahang dangan raw ng aking pagkatao. Lingid sa kaalaman ng publiko, marami sa mga nabansagang achiever sa ating lipunan ang nakararanas ng depression sa ikalawang antas: una, ang tila pagkikibit-balikat sa sakit na ito sa kabuuan; at ikalawa, na siyang nais kong bigyang-diin, ang pag-aalinlangan at kawalan ng paniniwalang maaari pala nilang marating ang ganitong kalagayan.

Dalawampu’t dalawang taong gulang ako noong tinangka kong kitlin ang aking buhay. Mag-isa lamang ako noon sa aking silid at nasa lupaing malayo sa aking pamilya. Inibig kong lagyan ng tuldok ang nag-uumapaw na mga tandang pananong sa aking isipan. Kakatwa na paparating na rin noon ang araw ng aking kaarawan, subalit sa halip na panibagong buhay ang mangibabaw, naghari sa akin ang tuluyang pamamaalam.

Sa mga panahong sinukuan ko na nga ang aking sarili, doon ko nakita ang puso ng Manlilikha. Gumawa siya ng paraan upang iligtas ako sa pangyayaring iyon. Gayumpaman, aaminin kong hindi doon natapos ang pakikipaglaban.

Sa datos ng Kagarawan ng Kalusugan, isa sa limang kabataang Filipino ang nakararanas ng mental illness, mula schizophrenia, depression, at anxiety. Sa kabuuan, tinatayang 4.5 milyon ang depressed sa Pilipinas, na siyang pinakamataas na bilang na naitala sa Timog Silangang Asya noong 2015.

Sa 4.5 milyon na iyon, isa ako sa nakipagbuno – at nakikipagbuno pa rin hanggang ngayon – sa tawag ng pagkalugmok.

Kaya’t bilang munting pagkilos, at bahagi ng pagpapasalamat sa siglang nanumbalik, nais kong ipaalala sa mga mambabasa ang mga sumusunod:

1. May kani-kaniyang laban ang lahat. Hindi natin nababatid ang lahat ng pinagdaraanan ng ating kapwa. Mayroong taong nakasanayang magsabi sa iba, at mayroon namang ikinakanlong lamang sa sarili ang pagsubok na kanilang kinakaharap. Ang kasiyahang ipinapakita sa panlabas ay hindi rin palagiang batayan ng tunay na nararamdaman ng isang indibidwal. Gayundin, ang kawalan ng pagkibo ay hindi tanda ng kapayapaan. Sa halip na manghusga, piliin natin ang umunawa, kung hindi man tayo tuwirang makapagpadama ng pakikiramay sa kanilang kalagayan.

2. Sandigan ang mga salita. Marami na’ng pinapasan na pakikipaglaban sa damdamin ang mga taong nanghihina na hindi na dapat dagdagan pa ng mga hilaw na kataga. “Baliw ka”, “Ang drama mo”, “Di mo alam ang gusto mo sa buhay” — ilan lamang ito sa mga sambit na maaaring may katotohanan o hindi ngunit hindi nakatutulong sa kagyat nilang pangangailangan. Sa halip na isaboy ang mga ganitong tanong, mas mainam na maiparamdam sa kanila na mayroong handang makinig sa kanilang mga hinaing, na hindi sila nag-iisa sa kanilang pinagdaraanan. Minsan, ang akto lamang ng pakikinig ay makatutulong na ng lubusan sa mga taong pinanghihinaan ng loob.

3. Iwasan ang maghalintulad. Gaya ng aking tinuran, magkakaiba ang pinanggagalingan ng ating kapwa. Hindi kailanman nalulutas ng pagkukumpara ang ubod ng kakulangang nararamdaman ng isang tao. Bigyang-laya ang nakadarama at bigyan ng puwang para mahalin ang kaniyang sarili – sa liwanag man o hindi, sa kasiyahan man o kalungkutan. Makatutulong ito upang mapalalim ang kaniyang pagtuklas sa kalakasan ng kaniyang pagkatao.

4. Maging mapagpasalamat. Ang pagkakaroon ng pusong mapagpakumbaba ang tutulong sa atin upang maging pagpapala sa iba. Sa gitna ng kasiyahan o kasaganaang nararanasan, huwag sana nating makalimutang ibalik at ibahagi ang mga biyayang ipinagkaloob sa atin sa pamamagitan ng tunay at walang pagbabalatkayong pakikipagkapwa.

Gayunman ako’y kasama mong palagian, inaalalayan mo ang aking kanang kamay. Sa iyong payo ako’y iyong pinapatnubayan, at pagkatapos ay tatanggapin mo ako sa kaluwalhatian. Ano’ng mayroon ako sa langit kundi ikaw? At liban sa iyo’y wala akong anumang ninanasa sa lupa. Ang aking laman at ang aking puso ay maaaring manghina, ngunit ang Diyos ang lakas ng aking puso at bahagi ko magpakailanman.

-Mga Awit 73:23-26

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When you leave the Philippines

I wonder if being away is all worth it.

They say it is. Nobody would tell you otherwise.

Nobody would tell you that despite the world-class infrastructures and majestic buildings, your eyes will long for the nipa huts and houses made of yero humbly standing beside each other.

Nobody would tell you that you will long more for pandesal with reno you almost curse before than cheese croissants or French toast surprisingly not appealing to you.

Nobody would tell you that being surrounded and stucked in the transit lines will be missed when you are sitting alone in a spacious bus. No familiar faces around, not even that barker who shouts “Cubao! Balintawak!” then comes in front of you to ask, “Saan ka ate?”

Nobody would tell you that somehow you will look for the delay in the services filled with laughter and warm greetings from the employees. Nobody would tell you that you will no longer be entertained in the middle of fast-paced transactions lest you use your mobile phone as everyone else does.

Nobody would tell you that you will have to introduce and explain yourself, your roots, and your origins for countless times. Even more, nobody warned you the urge to fight for your race as you will be discriminated along with your country and your countrymen.

Nobody has the courage to convince you that your education and skills will be downstrucked and belittled. Nobody would tell you that your ability to speak English in a decent manner is not and will never be enough to understand their rudeness towards you.

The praises and kind words you used to hear will often be replaced with shouts of madness and frustrations. Your values and beliefs will be diluted, downplayed, hence destroyed.

Nobody would ever tell you that.

Nobody would tell you that you will have to face and go through your circumstances alone. You will not be able to visit your Lola or even drop by to say hi to your former teachers; not be able to contact your friends straight away and rant to them in person.

Nobody would tell you that the pictures of your quick tour will never surpass the image of a family welcoming you home and right in front of you. Nobody would tell you that you will have to enclose your sufferings in your thoughts and tears and speak to your loved ones as if everything is okay.

Nobody would tell you that you will have to pretend that you have savings in your bank account when you have none. Nobody would tell you that you need to strategize on how to pay the expensive rent while on the other hand try to give something special to all your loved ones down to your little inaanak and pamangkin.

Amidst the luxury, freedom and opportunities, nobody would tell you the struggle of being in a foreign land.

Dealt with every day, every hour, every minute you spent away from home.

Nobody would tell you that you will come to a point asking if this is all worth it.

You are not an accident

This phrase can be found on the 22nd page of The Purpose Driven Life. And this phrase, for most of the people I talked with, has become so overused – to the extent that it became ordinary and boring.

I usually nod my head to agree with even if sometimes I don’t feel like I am genuinely convinced (Am I the only one here?). The fact that most of the pastors and preachers highlight it during baby dedications, baptisms and salvation seminars has somewhat turned the statement a cliché over the years.

Not experiencing major breakthroughs or not having a grand, life-changing testimony like those who were previously slaves of worldly treasures have caused me to miss how huge it is that I’m no accident. I grew up in a family serving God, my parents are not divorced, I wasn’t a drug addict, I don’t have vices, and I don’t suffer from an incurable disease. In short, God has blessed us with a comfortable life. I didn’t mean to say that I am asking God to let me suffer from this kind of struggles. But because I look at it the wrong way, I can’t appreciate the impact of no-accidental-living and it was crystal clear that I don’t understand what it all means…

… Not until when God rebuked me.

GOD IS BEFORE ALL THINGS

As it is my birth month (and for some reason, it seems there are so many August celebrants I personally know), I thought this post could be very timely – especially for those who are feeling down and neglected. Anyhow, when could be the best day to realize that you are not an accident but on the same date when you were born?

In the past, my parents would always tell that they didn’t plan to have me, and the moment they knew I was already in my mother’s womb, they’d kept on wishing for a baby boy. However, God had other plans. For them, I came too soon, but the timing was God’s.

It could be a fun story for us but many hurting people feel as if their parents or somebody else didn’t plan to have or keep them. Let me tell you that even if nobody wanted you or kept you, Someone out there has planned your life way before your parents or your employer or your ex conceived you.

He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. 
-Colossians 1:17

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
-Psalm 139:13

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;
-Jeremiah 1:5

You exist not for someone to have you, but you exist because God wanted to have you. The Creator wanted to place you amongst His creations. And there’s no reason why He won’t care for you. You are so precious in His eyes that even your hairs are numbered.

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
-Luke 12:7

So if this life has been planned by God in advance, and if He really cares, how come some have been hurting more than they deserve?

GOD KNOWS ALL THINGS

Others can make you feel like you are just an accident in their life for they didn’t want to preserve you. I should know because I for one have been rejected from certain things which I dreamt of, but, I understand this is incomparable to the pain of mothers who had their miscarriages, to the helpless parents who were left by their sons, to the innocent ones the courts declared guilty, to the dying poor whose rights were not honored. Then I observed these are the times when I keep on asking God if He is really just.

This world might be unfair, but God is always, always, fair enough to His children who seek His Will. I can not perfectly answer why you are experiencing that undeserved pain, but at the very least I can assure you that He is in control and He knows what He is doing. There will be instances where the only witness in your situation is the One who’s all-knowing and you have to trust God that He will do the right thing. Let Him take over.

We always have this practice of praying together as a family every New Year’s Eve. And I always have my personal routine too. After praying I make sure I go to a place where I am all alone, talk as if God’s beside me, write in my diary, and pray for my Year Verse. For 2016, God gave me this on top of His promises:

I will fight for you, you only need to be still.
– Exodus 14:14

It’s so tempting to get back to the people who hurt us intentionally. But in Christ we only have one choice – we are to overcome evil by doing good.

Don’t let the negligence of others make you feel like your existence’s just a coincidence. And please don’t ever think that you are not worth the fight. You can check out my previous post where I shared how amazing that Jesus thinks you are worth fighting for and you are worth dying for (5 reasons why your worst days become the best days of your life).

Just because someone else neglected you doesn’t mean you are not worthy to be kept and treasured. I repeat, you live in this world not for someone to have you, but to fulfill God’s wonderful plans.

GOD CAN DO ALL THINGS

You are no accident and your current circumstances are no accident as well. Now why do you think God requested us to be still? Personally, my answer is that, in the battlefield of loss and rejection, He doesn’t want us to fight – God wants us to surrender.

I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
– Jeremiah 32:27

The majestic power of God is displayed in your lowest of lows. You are celebrating your day because you are to live it. You are to live it because of a divine purpose. And you don’t need to show people that you are always that strong man or woman. Show them instead how strong your God is. Remember He himself will fight for you. He said that. And God is not a human, that he should lie.