Wow, 2014 really is turning out to be a great year! I am particularly happy of the achievements that my friends and my nieces have gained. So, forgive me for carrying my chair (as the Filipino idiom goes, pagbuhat ng sariling bangko). In no particular order:
1. Trisha Palero
My niece graduated from grade school with flying colors! I just can't believe that time flew by so fast. But then, she's been this tiny kid who can knock some sense in her elders, so her high grades shouldn't be much of a surprise. Next school year, she's joining the ranks of kids taking up 7th grade... And I'm not sure if that counts as primary school or high school.
2. Ara Calabinhi
My other niece is graduating from college!! She's taken up BSc Biology in UPLB. I am a particularly proud tita because she's graduating from the same tough general program that I finished in 2002 (but I think she pursued a different specialization). But boy does her graduation remind me that I am getting old!
3. Kathy Ramos
A friend since nursery school. I really believe that the school where we went for primary education introduced me to lifelong friends. The funny thing is, she's the friend who remembers more about what I had to go through orthodontically than me! Perhaps I was in pain much of the time to deal with the details or she really took note of the procedures when I had explained them in graphic detail. She finished BSc Nursing this year and is prepping for the board exams in May. I'm particularly happy because she has gone through challenges in the past. Getting that degree shows that nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop her when she has set her eyes on a goal.
4. Noan Pagdanganan
My bestfriend since grade school. Proof, again, that Christian School International introduced me to people who have become my lifelong friends. Not everyone can say that about their classmates. She graduated from her Medicine course and is now a step closer to becoming a bonafide MD, a goal we both had as kids. Well, I opted to do a 3605-mile "course correction" along the way so this achievement feels like a graduation for me too! I have an idea how challenging the ups and downs of Med school were for her because she shares stories about them with me. To see her reach the finish line (of Med coursework) reminds me that the cookie jar/ pot of gold at the end of the road can make us continue on despite the numerous reasons to turn back... but there should always be time to stop and smell the roses along the way.
5. Mark Vicente
A friend since college and a fellow AKR baby. Despite his crazy schedule and challenging patients (and patients' bantays), he'd have time (albeit very few hours---yes he's that busy---a year) to touch base with me to update each other about our lives. We'd also given each other advice and encouragement when we had to deal with troublesome youngest siblings (both have graduated from college already, thank goodness). And he was present over the phone, listening to me, during Lola Estay's last days. He's finished his fellowship and is now prepping for the Cardiology board exam that is coming real soon.