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SERVANT Leader

This is the first time I’ll be talking about the crystal things that I’ve been through during my years in student service. I have always kept this part of me in reserve. Writing and reading this over and over again makes me feel so, naked. People may don’t know half of the story but I feel generous today, so I’m giving them free tickets. Here,

All I wanted is to graduate college, pass the board exam, become an engineer, find a job and live my life the way I wanted it to be. But when I entered TUP, my supposedly quiet and plain life goals started to change.

I met different kinds of people with different personalities from different cities and municipalities in Negros Occidental. I met terror teachers and funny teachers. I met manongs and manangs who treated us nicely. I joined active student organizations and attended tutorial sessions. It was still plain, but it was way fun than I expected.

And then I joined our University’s official dance troupe, the Bailei. And it was so awesome. Having friends who share the same passion as you. It was really cool. After a couple of performance, people started to notice me. Notice in way like “Yeah, she’s a Bailei member, she can dance.” And I really thought it was awesome. Enjoying school and dancing. I get all excited everyday, knowing that I’ll meet my crew and practice.

But on my second year, another organization asked me to join them. The University Student Government of my school selected me to become an Engineering Council Secretary. I was so excited so I agreed without hesitations. It was a quick way though. I didn’t expected it. I was appointed by the USG President during that time. I didn’t saw that coming. I was just an ordinary student back then. This is were it all started.

I get to know and befriends with really sikat people at school. Some are the talented and good looking manongs and manangs and manghods whom everyone knows, USG officers, Administrative Staff at school, guards, etc. I also get to know first hand some chismis from the most controversial students. Well, I’m a keeper so I don’t usually talk. I just want to know what’s juicy and be content with ‘Yeah, I know better.’

And the work came, it was really a tough job balancing academics, student service, dance, church responsibilities, etc. So at some point, I have to give up something. It was very unfortunate that I was the only one on my batch (Engineering) that was initially introduced into student service. I guess most of my batch mates aren’t really interested to that field. So with a heavy heart, this is the time that I should give up being a full time Bailei member. To accept the fact that I cannot dance and join the group anytime I want because I have a greater responsibility ahead of me.

The next school year, I really thought that I should quit being an officer. I really like to perform, join and compete during University Intramural. I made up my mind, but someone told me, if I won’t run, who would? And here comes sacrifice again. I totally quit being a Bailei member. I get to dance once in a while, like once or twice a year.

I run for Engineering Council Governor and I lose. I didn’t really treated that as defeat. In fact I was relieved that I didn’t won, I thought it was a sign. But then, Club Organization encouraged me to run as ACSO Governor, the one holding the activities of the clubs. And I agreed. I run and I won. That moment I thought, Clubs at school are few in number so the lesser the population to handle, the lesser the work.

This is the turning when I started to love my position as a student officer. I get to call and preside meetings, post announcements, and I like how ideas pop up in my mind. The chance to lead people is so overwhelming.

I had my Supervised Industrial Training at Cavite for six months and it was really a break for a stressful term at USG. But on that span, I am really asking myself whether to continue or stop serving my University.

I came back. Before I could even step into my classroom, some friends would ask me if I’d like to run. I don’t really have an answer at that moment. I mean, if I’ll choose, I won’t. But then, more students started to encouraged me. They would even invite me on their platform meetings and ask for my opinion on certain matters. Many had assumed that I would probably run. And here goes the pressure of expectations. Some people would just ask for my minute and throw up a planning conversation for the next school year. I mean, hello, this school year had just started and here we are really planning for uncertain things. This type of convos really annoys me. I always try to find reasons to escape or hide at the RWSO office or at the library.

People assume. What makes me sad is that, no one, not a single individual from school asked me if this is really what I liked to do. But then, situations at school begun to sprout. I couldn’t just stand in the corner and wait for some hero to appear to initiate fixing and controlling those situations. I can’t help myself and my conscience won’t give me peace. I know I am able to lead and I can generate ideas for student friendly activities. So, I run. I won and I think I am part of a group who really would want to make a difference. Stressful and depressing it is, but I feel so fulfilled.

I was busy all the time. I feel like I don’t have a life anymore. I get to school early to guard the gates and collect IDs. I depart late just to finish all paper works and/or meetings. I even skipped classes to attend meetings. I ran on hallways to catch University officials and let them sign memorandum and resolutions. Sometimes, I feel like a dog sniffing around the campus trying to catch bones for my kids. The thought is exhausting.

And fifth year is approaching. It was February of 2014 when I really took time to explore the things I want. I’m going to have my last year in college and I would like it to be something worth remembering. Elections for student executive position for next school year is coming, I did wait for possible presidents to run, but no one showed up. I asked myself sometimes, do my batch doesn’t really want to be a part of this thing? Or maybe they had in mind that I’m running for the position so they thought I deserved to be president because of the background I had in years of service? Either way, there’s no one to run, so its gonna be me.

If you notice it, I complain a lot. But that complain never pass through my mouth. I keep it within myself because I don’t want to turn down the people who believed in me first before I could actually believe in myself. During those years, I know it could never help me. So I shut my mouth and I continue to do the best thing that I could using my position.

So I won. I felt really happy knowing most of the student populace believed and trusted me. So I say, I’m gonna make those votes count. Well, this could be something worth remembering.

The moment I won as president I knew there’s no turning back and I have to push this thing through. This maybe the first time I totally accepted the power I have as a student officer.

Summer of 2014 was a heck. I applied for a program, the National Youth Commission’s 10th Parliament of Youth Leaders. I was accepted and I’m really excited about it. It wasn’t an easy way because the search was nationwide. I was one of the lucky 200 young Filipinos to be selected. And I’ll be meeting prestigious personalities up there. Unfortunately, the schedule for the parliament was also the date of Student Regency Turnover Ceremony. I had to choose.

I took every way possible to change the date of the turnover, but I can’t. My adviser won’t let me because of the mere reason it doesn’t fit on her schedule. And I can’t argue with that, she needs to be there and she’s old, I don’t talk back to elders.

So I cried. I cried a lot. I remember I cried to almost all restrooms at school while staring at my reflection on every stained mirror. Self pity is overpowering me plus the fact that I don’t look good when I cry. I can’t help my tears. I just can’t accept the fact that after all those years, after all the sacrifices I have made, after believing that this year is gonna be my year, I was wrong. I still couldn’t have the things I want. But what’s even more hurting is that, I didn’t let the parliament go just because I chose to let it go, I gave it up because someone told me to. And it hurts. It hurts more knowing that she is right. I should choose what is needed rather that what I wanted.

During the Turnover, I was really intimidated. There are delegates from Manila, Taguig and Cavite campus and I know they expect a lot from me. What is more intimidating is the incumbent student regent. He speaks really well and he has this aura that really makes you want to disappear. I was really scared.

The first time I presided the federation was a mess. I don’t know what I was doing. I mean, I have some ideas but I couldn’t let it all out. I still have something that’s holding me back because I am allowing it to hold me back. I don’t believe in myself. My whole being tells me that I can’t do this, that I don’t even deserve to be here and I’m such a lame. I really felt humiliated and I was ashamed of myself. I can’t do better. I tremble all the time but I kept it in. There are moments I wanted to be a crybaby and asked for pity but then I looked at my friends from USG Visayas who were there with me from the
moment the sun sets and as it rose up again. They don’t sleep when I don’t sleep and they didn’t stop even when I’m about to stop. Simply because they believed in me. I couldn’t let them down.

After 26 hours of being awake doing our PPMP’s, I told everyone to take a rest. That was my calling. I couldn’t let these people down just because I have troubles fighting my demons. They have their troubles too but they are willing to take mine. I took a nap and I promised to myself, the next time I’ll be holding that microphone again, I will prove that the students made the right choice for entrusting this position to me, that I am suitable to be called their President.

And I survived my doubting-myself-moments. That was the hardest part of this journey. The position and responsibilities were overwhelming but I was sure I’ll make it.

Twice a month I need to travel to Manila for meetings I should attend. I have to ask make up quizzes and self study to cope up with the lessons I have missed. I have to ask my professors to grant me late and/or early exams for Mid terms and End terms. I have to study on the plane so that when I land on the airport I could just go straight to school to take my exams. I have to sleep at Ninoy Aquino International Airport to rest my body because I need to catch the first flight so that I could be in time for my first class the next day. I have to prepare extra clothes, underwear, uniforms, etc. at my locker so that I could take a bath at the gym’s restroom to save time and be ready for the day. I have to accept the fact that my classmates hated me for being so MIA. I have to accept the fact that people where annoyed of my existence because they think that its me whose keeping them from breaking the rules. I have to be KJ. I have to be prompt every Monday during Flag Ceremony and stand in front so that students will take me as an example to be early all the time. I have to cut my hair short to get rid of the colors. I have to put off my extra piercings. I have to be well behaved all times possible. I have to be someone suited to be called an Example. I played my role to the best that I could, I hope I did well.

Board Meetings. Administrative Council Meetings. Finance Meetings. Student Dialogue. Student Regent Reports. I pulled all of it off. Sometimes I tap myself to wish a good luck or a job well done. I smile in the air in the thought of Did I really made that happen?

Students looked at me as their leader, but half the time of my stay at TUP, I was more of a  servant. So I prefer calling myself a Servant Leader. I was seated on that position not because I wanted to stand out, I was there because I wanted to serve.

No regrets. That was the thing this journey taught me the most. Do all the things in your power to enjoy everything that life has to offer. Take risks and believe in yourself. I couldn’t be the person I am now without the things I wrote above. I still can’t be those skilled people whom I wished I am but I know I am better than who I was. I am authentic and I know I am special. I am happy and I feel fulfilled. Thank God it was over and Thank God I brought home the bacon.

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