There was a time in my youth when my hopes for the future were uncomplicated. My world chiefly revolved around my hometown and the towns and cities in its vicinity. I never imagined leaving Marbel for good, much less leave the country altogether. Marbel did not become a city until the turn of the millenium so I figured I would at least go to the next big city for college. I had a perfectly crafted vision in my head of how I would go to the Ateneo de Davao to study accountancy because my grandparents always said accountants make good money and I was better in math than in the sciences anyway. My friends whose dreams more or less resembled mine would also go to Davao for college. We would rent an apartment together because we thought the fun shouldn’t have to end in high school. The idea made us gleam with excitement. Our first real taste of freedom and escape from the invisible leash our parents had us on. Though to be fair, we were always accorded some liberty on account of our being responsible star-section kids. I’d like to think we gave our (grand)parents a fairly easy time. Manila was out of the question. We didn’t have family there, it was too far and my retired grandparents couldn’t really afford it with their modest farming income. Of course, it would come to me later that it really does take a village to raise a child.Ateneo de Davao was an option for me; its proximity was an advantage. Another school was West Visayas State University. Tuition was affordable. If I wanted to become a doctor, I could get a BS Biology degree and study medicine there. It was well within our means. Friends would later tell me they knew of Catedrals from that city—doctors and classmates and friends-of-friends—but I hardly know any distant relations from Panay. Manila was almost out of the question. Like Trisha, I had no relatives in the capital.
Manong paved the way two years ahead of me, so I had my life planned out. He got into UP Diliman, whose tuition our parents could at least afford. Ateneo and La Salle were out of the question; they were too expensive. In those days, one semester in UP cost about 5000–6000 pesos.
Tatay and Nanay didn't have a leash on us—they just let us pursue our dreams. And the Lord so graciously provided. We never lacked any good thing (Psalm 34:10).