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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 February) — Padayon. When I think about this word, I think of him…

Recently, while I was on my way home from school, riding a tricycle as I am used to, I met Manong, a mid-aged tricycle driver, on the front seat. Surprisingly, less than a minute after I boarded his tricycle, he started his small talk: “Kalisod sa kinabuhi karon; nagkataas ang mga presyo sa pagkaon ug gasolina” (Life is difficult now; food and gasoline prices are increasing.)

Not used to this scenario, I felt the muscle in my throat contract and felt like I had no choice but to nod my head in agreement. In the next few seconds, he added, “Bisan sa kalisod sa kinabuhi, padayon lang ko” (Even though life is difficult, I just keep going.) Afterwards, from my peripheral vision, I caught him glancing at me, and then he generously said, “Padayon sa pagtuon” (Keep going [studying]). Of course, I felt the kilig amid disbelief. 

As my response, I rewarded him with a smile. As an extrovert, I asked him the reason why he keeps going on in life amidst the hardships, and as expected, he responded earnestly, “Para sa ako pamilya.”(For my family.) Even if he does not go into detail, I could see where he’s coming from — there’s a hugot. It boils down to his unwavering love for his family, which is why he’s so willing to drive a tricycle on a daily basis, no matter what it takes.

When I got home, capriciously, I was in deep contemplation. I could not help but think of Manong, how invested he was in his resilience stories for that 10-minute ride, and how they echoed in my mind. It has led me to comprehend the bizarre world of a father who has numerous responsibilities, not to mention how difficult it is for him to maintain stability and positivity for his family while sacrificing a semblance of normalcy for himself.

The tricycle driver, who juggles multiple roles every day — from being a husband to his bedridden wife in the morning to a tricycle driver in the afternoon until the evening to support his three high school-aged children — made me realize that, yes, life goes on regardless and that every individuality should keep going on in life too, especially because behind them are their loved ones, their strength.

Looking back, I feel encouraged to thrive and surmount the challenges of life thrown at me, asking the same question that I once asked, but directly to myself: Why do I keep going on in life? Ngano tuod? As easy as 1, 2, 3, “I have dreams.” At 22, I still have a myriad of unfulfilled dreams, be they for myself, for my family, or for the country, and in order to do so, I have to keep going, or, in our language, I have to “padayon.”

Right now, when I think of the word padayon, I don’t only think of him, of Manong, but also of myself and, moreover, of other people — of those working students who vigorously balance work over studies, of those mothers who sacrifice sleep for the sake of their children’s well-being, of those street children who innocently play along the pavements, of those teachers who selflessly devote time to make a difference in the lives of their students, and of all Filipinos who remain to padayon despite all the odds — such Filipino resiliency. 

And while you are reading this, I hope you don’t miss uttering padayon to yourself, especially in your trying times.

Now more than ever, Padayon!

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Contributions from young Mindanawons are welcome in this section. Jhon Steven C. Espenido, 22, is from Surigao City. He is an AB English Language student at Surigao del Norte State University)

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