International Women's Day: Chasing Dreams and Life Lessons

Last year I was invited to talk to a group of scholars of the Philippine Army Producers Integrated Cooperative (PAFCPIC) at their Christmas party. I had the opportunity to share my experiences as a scholar and what life has taught me since I graduated in 2001.

PAFCPIC Scholars Get Together 2015
Looking Back 20 Years Ago

About 20 years ago, I was standing in front of the old PAFCPIC office in Manila which is located inside the Philippine Army compound in Fort Bonifacio holding a brown folder inside an application form for a college scholarship. That was in 1997, a year before my dad passed away due to fire accident. 

At that time, I was 18 years old and working at United Laboratories and PHILUSA Corporation as a factory worker. But faith changed the situation, I was accepted and received a full scholarship from PAFCPIC. I decided to continue my nursing degree and enrolled at the De Los Santos College entering sophomore.

Nursing Capping Ceremony
Nursing Capping Ceremony

Nursing Candle Light Ceremony
Nursing Candle Light Ceremony
It's not easy to maintain the scholarship. I had to keep up with the high grades, enduring few hours of sleep. I'm so tired with aching body after hospital duties and school in between. But one of the turning points in my life happened when I was sent to Nueva Vizcaya for a Community Health Nursing. I stayed and lived in a kagawad's house and their family for almost a month.

We live in a far flung area, more than an hour from the city. There's no television, refrigerator, electric fan. The five of us, students shared a room. One of the challenges we had to face was the accessibility to facilities like toilet. I cannot forget how far the toilet and bathroom from their house, about 1 kilometer away. We saw children going to school without slippers, uniform even school supplies. Most of them don't have money to buy their baon. It breaks my heart and I realized how fortunate I am. I also realized how important education is.

Chasing Dreams And Life Lessons
Community Nursing Immersion. That's me cutting nails and teaching them self-care.
Together with fellow nurses, we created several outreach programs including health teachings about family planning, health and prevention of diseases, nutrition and a lot more. We rendered nursing care to children as well.

Oath-taking ceremony
with grandma, Violeta during the Oath-taking ceremony
Nursing Oathtaking
with mom
After a month, we went back to Manila and finished our thesis. I graduated with honors. The graduation was just the start of another journey though. To practice this vocation, I need to pass the Nursing Board Examination. I felt I'm not yet ready so I decided to delay it for six months and took the December 2001. The hard work pay, it was a big surprise when the result came out and I was included in the Top 20. At first, I prayed to be in the top 10 but I prayed right after day 1 exam and just asked the Lord to give me a passing grade. Lesson? Ask and believe it will be given to you.

Chasing Dreams And Lessons Learned Along The Way

Success begins when you dream and believe in yourself. You need to be determined and stand-up after falling repeatedly. Learning comes when you step out of your comfort zones. Success is sweeter when you learn to share your blessings to others.

Chasing Dreams And Life Lessons
Our side trip to Banawe Rice Terraces 2001 opened my eyes to the beauty of traveling.
MV Doulos Ship in Manila 2010
MV Doulos October 2010, same time I started blogging.

International Women's Day 2016
March 2016, City Garden Grand Hotel Staycation

I owe whatever I have now from all the special women in my life. My mom and grandma were both supportive and I'm grateful for the love they gave me. There are women I've met along the way - my professors, classmates, even patients. The people from PAFCPIC as well. They imparted lessons in life which I will never forget.

If your passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what others would think and say. To all the women out there, Happy International Women's Day!


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