The gift of adversity

JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2014 - 12:00am

“Ang kahirapan ay hindi kamalasan.” Being poor is not a curse.

Given the choice between having the life of a queen and the life of a pauper, I would choose the life of a queen, of course. I’ve seen how difficult it is to be poor, to have no access to many things like education and health care. According to the Department of Health, 60 percent of Filipinos who die of illness don’t get to see a health professional. How sad is that? Being poor is not a place you would want to be. But given the right perspective, adversity is not at all bad. Challenges will mold you into becoming the best version of yourself.

Case in point: Anthony Taberna, a.k.a. Tunying. He grew up in Nueva Ecija and had a carabao named Matet for a pet. His father was a bus driver. His only ambition was to marry a beautiful lady. 

When his father died, he had to step up, become the padre de pamilya to his mother and siblings — and make a living.

I had my own share of challenges in our family. Though I don’t take credit for the success or blessings that I have, adversity pushed me to be a better person, and not merely rely on others for help. This molded me to become very independent. 

I do not pray for problems to solve and challenges to overcome, because when you’re in the middle of it, it’s the worst place to be — pain, anguish, desolation — 

but I guess, when you’re poor, you get used to it. Picking up the pieces after the storm becomes second nature.

While I was in Sorsogon covering the aftermath of Typhoon Glenda, I met a family that now lives in a pig pen after Glenda destroyed their wooden house. It was the safest place for them because it was made of concrete. When the storm passed, they told me how they casually took their soiled clothes and washed them, as if nothing happened.

I can’t explain how some people are able to rise above adversities, while others are stuck in a rut. 

“Ang kahirapan ay hindi kamalasan,” says Rommel Egusma, CPA Board topnotcher from Tacloban.

For a few years he had to stop going to school to give way to his younger siblings. Always, people would tell Rommel, “Sayang ka,” and this challenged him to study and  prepare for the board exams. It was his goal to be in the Top 10. And he did it. His next goal is to become a CPA lawyer.

Success, we all want a successful family life and career. Success is not achieved when times are easy and it does not come in one blow.

It’s standing up when you fall. It’s knowing when it’s time to wipe the tears and move on. It’s not only about not giving up, but deciding on the kind of life that you want to live.

(E-mail me at bsaguinaldo@yahoo.com.ph.)

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