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BATANG MINDANAW: Everything happens for a reason

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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 April) – As the cliché goes, “everything happens for a reason.” I am sure many people have lost count of the times they have blurted out this phrase. 

In my youthful existence so far, I have had my fair share of untarnished moments as I spontaneously navigate this beautiful yet challenging world. Just like other people, I also had numerous turning points in my life at which I was able to use the phrase “everything happens for a reason,” as a key to gradually accepting circumstances that came my way and also as a coping mechanism.

In 2017, on the late night of February 10, a Magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck Surigao City. It was the most frightening earthquake I’ve ever experienced that almost led to the end of our lives. In a split second, the electricity was cut off, causing almost zero visibility. I prayed so hard as I stepped on our wooden floor, trying to escape by going to the nearest door with my family, a flashlight in hand. While we were outside, we heard hearsays that there would be a tsunami. It triggered our neighbors to walk away from the coastal area where we lived. They moved towards higher ground, and so we were, carrying fear – everything happens for a reason.

In 2019, I made the hardest decision of my “student life.” (I say hardest, as the decision may have crucially influenced my future life.) Here’s why. A long time ago, when I was in elementary school, I dreamed of becoming a geographer, but in high school, I switched on another dream, the more common one, which was to take a secondary education course majoring in English to be an English teacher. But guess what? Now that I am in college, unfortunately, I will not pursue the path of becoming an English teacher, much less a geographer. I probably will not be. Currently, I am taking up Bachelor of Arts in English Language, far from the career path of becoming a geographer, and although somehow near an education course, it is still not my dream course – everything happens for a reason.

In 2020, akin to everyone else, we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The abrupt changes that were imposed in our world in terms of health and, particularly, our education system were quite demanding for (many) students, including me – from modules that only provide scant information, a house that is unbearably full of distractions, an intermittent internet connection and mental health concerns. Exhausting. How does online education differ from what we traditionally had? (Well, they differ a lot.) I mean, being apart from one another was already difficult; how much more when being quarantined? The “new normal” transpired with the remarkable difference of how we used to experience interpersonal communication before between our classmates, our friends and our teachers in face-to-face interaction – everything happens for a reason.

In 2021, on the afternoon of December 16, amidst the pandemic situation, Super Typhoon Odette (the strongest typhoon that year in the Philippines) wreaked havoc in our city. Honestly, I once thought, we would hardly recover after the disaster left massive devastation in houses, buildings, livelihoods, etc. as well as pervasive problems like trauma among us locals. Days and weeks revolved around survival efforts for potable water and food, along with comfortable sleep, which was more of a priority than celebrating holidays at that time. The night turned into dimness among dimness as there was no electricity for light to depend on and no internet connection to utilize for contacting our loved ones, especially overseas – everything happens for a reason.

In 2022, the thought of losing my life crossed my mind as reality slapped me in the form of a medical test result. I was diagnosed with a gallbladder problem and spent almost a month in the hospital waiting for my turn to have my gallbladder surgically removed. It was a grueling journey, and I even sensed some sort of unfairness as I dwelled on my life’s ordeal – everything happens for a reason.

At all my major turning points from 2017 to 2022, “everything happens for a reason” became my go-to phrase. Had it not been for this phrase, I may not have had such vast acceptance of the circumstances that came my way, understood life even more, learned the lessons that can be used today, and most importantly, increased my fervor about living every day, as well as grown my faith in God.

Had it not been for this phrase, I may not have written here. See? Everything happens for a reason.

(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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