In retrospect, four years ago to be exact, I never could have imagined my life to be how it is now. Life is indeed mysterious. God is full of surprises, more so. No one told me that I won’t be practicing the degree I’ve earned for four years. No one warned me about the very complex life of a working young adult. To be fair, my mother did but I honestly never imagined it to be this competitive. I’ve always held the belief in college that having exemplary grades and academic performance will earn you the job you covet, not who you know. Predictably for those who have tried and tested the “real world”, I was SO delusional to have nurtured that belief because it was so much the other way around.
After college and taking the board exams, I had to wait for the results. That meant two months of staying at home and practically doing nothing. I wasn’t used to that. As a college girl and a nursing student (at one of the top performing nursing schools in the country at that), free time was a new ground for me. I was so used to having my timetables set for each and every day. Two months was just too long of a rest for me. One week could have been a luxury already. But freaking two months? You get the point.
In those two months, I have spent most of the time doing research on my prospect hospitals to apply in, preparing my resume, making a list of the training I had to take and where (as that matters also in the nursing industry in the Philippines!), the exams I have to take to be qualified to work abroad and dreaming about my life as a working adult. It was all colorful for me. The world was full of possibilities for my nursing career and it was finally my time to chase after them! I was too enthusiastic and excited for words.
When the results came out, I shared the joy of it with my family and boyfriend. I never thought that feeling to be fleeting. As I said, I had grand expectations.
I immediately signed up and took the training to fatten up my resume regardless if it meant that I had to ask for more money from my family post-college. They were expensive, I tell you. One without financial support couldn’t simply take those. So that was how I was for the few months after I got my license as a registered nurse. I took the Basic Life Support, Standard First Aid and Intravenous Therapy training. I absorbed as much as I can as I knew everything will come in handy in my practice.
I’ve tried applying in the hospitals in our province for the position of staff nurse but it turned out that the rumors I’ve heard were true. They weren’t accepting applicants for the staff nurse position but volunteer nurses were accepted. It was the same case for almost every hospital I’ve asked about except for one wherein the case wasn’t really different from being a volunteer nurse. Sometimes these volunteer nurses get paid for a very meager amount or they don’t get paid at all. That is because they just want the work for experience to be able to go abroad. Again, talk about fattening our resume. I was so shocked to finally learn it myself. That wasn’t something I wanted to endure. For one nurse to be able to work abroad, he or she must at least have two years of hospital experience. Two years with that kind of pay and life wasn’t something I wanted to put up with. I had too much reverence for my school and too much self-respect to accept that fate. Plus, I knew I had to take care of my family. I graduated from college and earned myself a diploma to be able to have a secure job and provide for my family. That was one of my greatest motivations for working, honestly. I wasn’t gonna give that away just because of the unfortunate system we had for hospital nurses in the Philippines.
Hence, when one family friend told us of the need for nurses for the Department of Health’s new project, my hesitations were only brief. I went for it even if I knew how different my life is going to become. For me, it was so much the opposite of the sheltered life of hospital nurses. Being a community nurse meant trekking, dealing with very rural people, living with them and in a way, adapting to the rural life. So many simple joys like buying yourself a bottle of Coke has become a luxury when I entered this government program. Mainly, I accepted it for the salary. It wasn’t all too high but it was something. With the amount I get monthly, I could say I was earning for myself and my family. I also learned to love the job especially because I was certain I was doing something good for the world. Satisfaction was being able to relieve one farmer from his headache that has kept him from doing a three day’s job. Happiness was seeing little children gather around you with the curiosity of what’s in your vaccination box. Relief was knowing one patient transferred to town for an emergency procedure was well and is on the road to recovery. But I’ll be a hypocrite if I say that that’s all there was to my life as a public health nurse. There were also times I cursed (dauntlessly) the bad luck that befell the nursing profession that led me to be cornered by stray dogs on my way to one of the communities I was assigned to only to be saved by a passing community woman who was on her way home from doing her laundry or that time I was crossing a river neck-deep while trying my best to keep the vaccination box from getting wet and forgetting for a second that I don’t know how to swim. These frustrations piled up and caused me to daydream and question what was really for me in this world. I have decided it was enough and stood firm on my ground that this wasn’t the life I imagined for myself. I will always be grateful for the colorful experiences I had working as a public health nurse but I was certain I had enough of that. It was time to move on.
I tried my luck in Manila and braved an interview for one call center company. Imagine the transition from the mountains to the city and working in an industry that required you to speak English every time! Back in college, I have heard of so much negativity happening in the call center industry like failed marriages, vices and the like that for a while I hated myself for being in the industry. I wouldn’t say I was at my proudest every time someone asks me where I work. That changed though when I got my first promotion. I’ve been with the company for almost six months when that happened. Being a newbie in the industry, it meant so much to me to be recognized and appreciated for my efforts. I respected the company for that realization. And then came two more promotions. I was happy with my colleagues and the work especially with the last position I held but I honestly felt I was missing so much. For some months before I left the company, I tried applying for a couple of hospitals in Manila with the aid of someone in position. I honestly thought it was gonna work and I’d be using my professional license again very soon which is why I turned down another probable promotion. But it didn’t happen. I was unhappy.
One random shift, my colleagues were talking about their travels and were mentioning different airlines. I remember vividly that I was in the computer then and just searched in Google for every airline that they named. You see, I haven’t flown anywhere in the Philippines at that time. I was clueless about air travel. So there I was, just checking out the websites until I came across this local airline that was recently acquired by a foreign airline. What had me interested in this airline was that when I searched Google and clicked on the first result, the page said something about being redirected as they have changed their site. Curiosity just had me click the ‘here’ hyperlink. And there I was looking at the site of utter red and streaks of white. Again, random curiosity had me click ‘Careers’. I was in a frenzy when I saw that they were going to be conducting an Open Day in Manila in a month. Having applied and failed in the final interview of another airline almost a year ago, I actually contemplated going. I also considered it my way out of that feeling of missing out on the world. So I kept that information in mind.
For the following weeks, I prepared my resume and the other requirements, squeezing it in the crazy schedule of a call center employee. Right after my shift, no matter how tired I was, I would go to SM North Edsa or Trinoma and wait for them to open to have my picture taken or my documents printed. I was fortunate to have my closest friend, Kevin, accompany me in the waiting and accomplishing the requirements. It wasn’t just once that I had to do these errands and so remembering that now, I am sincerely grateful for how he put up with me dragging him with me every single time even if that meant lesser hours of sleep for him. Sometimes, we would even do it before our shift. And he was with me all throughout.
Allow me another post to go through the screening process of cabin crew for this company. But for now, let me just tell you that I was one of the fortunate ones to be selected. The experience was nerve-wracking but glorious! I was so happy to share the good news with the people who believed in me when I got the email two weeks after the final interview. Plus, I even got selected for the brand that does the international routes. It was a very sweet success.
Since the job would require me to be based in another country, I immediately resigned from my job to spend more time with my family before I leave. We were told that we were going to leave in less than a month. So I wanted to make the most out of my final days in the Philippines. Until the ‘less than a month’ stretched for five months.
During the waiting, other airlines have been conducting recruitment events in Manila which led me to second-guess my choice. I am definitely not the role model of the virtue of patience. When I want something, I wanna have it WHEN I want it. That is why I do most of the things in my life. That way, I can have control over when I can achieve it. That wasn’t the case with waiting for my working visa. The five months were boring most of the time and I honestly regretted resigning that early. Five months without pay and just staying at home was CRAZY! I could have earned more in that span of time. But anyway, at least I got to spend more time with my family. My mother just had to endure five months of my rants about waiting. Lol. She’s well aware that isn’t my best trait anyway.
So when it was finally time to leave, I was just so happy. I finally felt that everything was coming together and I was on my way to realizing my goals – that finally, this is the break I’ve been waiting for to make my name. I am darn ambitious and I was certain this was gonna change everything in my life. EVERYTHING.
And it did.
I honestly think that I could never be grateful enough to the Lord for the blessing of being here. Being a flight attendant wasn’t in the slightest of my dreams as a child but here I am seeing the world, providing for my family, having a great life and being able to bring my family and loved ones to places and have them experience the beauty the world has to offer. I feel that now I am truly independent. The achievement of being a flight attendant and stepping in so many foreign lands have also earned me the confidence that I can take on any new challenge in my life. It has also led me to thirst for more. It has led me to claim that the world really is my oyster and that with God, nothing will ever be impossible.
Until now, let’s say when I walk the streets of Australia or savor the delectable sushi in Japan (their rice is just so good!) or see the sea of clouds from my crew seat window, I just can’t help but thank Him again for what a wonderful life this is, for what a generous God He is and for how exciting my future (and yours) is still going to be. #
Registered Nurse. Flight Attendant.
Writer. Reader. Dreamer. Believer.
Daughter. Sister. Auntie. Wife.