by: Anthony Nash De Leon

Fun memories with my family in a vacation.

In our lives, we have received more than one of everything that has stepped into our doorsteps and knocked on to our doors (and maybe, also into our hearts and minds). True friends may be counted but the laughs, cries and memories we have shared with them are immeasurable. Blessings and graces that we have obtained are innumerable that even the stars in the sky could not be at par with them.  And the love, care, and support we get from our families are unfathomable that even the depths of the sea would not be enough to measure them.

The same goes to chances. They are limitless. We often think that chances in our lives come only once or twice because we tend to categorize them. We separate the chances that arrive in our careers, in our love life, in our academics, and in other aspects. But, in truth, they are all the same.

In my 19 years of existence, I, myself, have experienced infinite chances in my life. I even think that these chances have exceeded my present age. And even the length of my existence in the world would not be enough to be equivalent to it.

Before my first day of stepping in to UE as an official college student, let us push the rewind button and try to look back at who I was.

Who would ever forget about the cartoon series Lupin III? It was about the adventures of a famous expert thief alongside with his friends. Even though he is caught doing the deed, he still is able to escape from the police and continue doing his stealing spree.

I was once a Lupin III.

It was way back when I was still in elementary. I remember having Php 20.00 as my daily allowance because my parents would always ask us to bring baon and we have our service. Surviving a day with only Php 20.00 in my pocket was very difficult, especially, when my baon is not enough for me because I have a big appetite despite, my small stature. And there are sumptuous meals served in our canteen that are better than my baon.

I began stealing small amounts from my father and mother’s wallet like Php 50.00 to add to my daily allowance. At first, my parents did not give much attention to it until I reached grade 5. During those days, the amount has risen from Php 50.00 to Php 1,000.00. I would usually steal from my parent’s wallets or from my older sibling’s piggybanks. They never see me stealing the money because I would usually do the deed when everyone is heavily sleeping n their beds at night or at dawn when everyone is downstairs preparing for school.

Everything was fine. Until, my parents paid more attention to the money in their wallets and with the things they see me bring home after school that would cost more than my daily allowance. Yes, I was caught. I had to bid farewell o those days when I fill my stomach with more food and treat my friends at school during recess and lunch breaks. However, it didn’t stop me. I pursued my stealing spree until one weekend morning, my mom cried in front of me.

I remember how swollen her eyes where and how disappointed her look was at me. I remember how buckets of tears gushed from her eyes. I remembered how she used her new red daster to wipe off the tears in her eyes. And I was there, sitting, motionless; my heart was as solid as a rock. It still was fresh in my memory why I felt nothing. I felt like I was behind all my siblings, that I was inferior to them. However, my mom hugged me and that was when I shed a tear. That was the first time I realized that I cried and that I was wrong.

One of the chances in my life came to me, punched me in the face and said,” It is time to change.”

Me, sleeping heavily.

A few years forward, I was no longer a stealer. Now, I was a sleeper and a sloth. Whenever, the afternoon came and classes would pursue, I was always in my seat with my head bowed down, eyes closed, and I was dreaming. It was not daydreaming. It was really a dream because I would often fall asleep during class especially, during algebra (oohh how I despised that when I was in high school).

I never really believed so much in myself, back then. Besides the fact that many of my classmates were teasing me in high school, I was just quiet hiding behind the shadows of my older brother and sisters who have been known as consistent students from the cream of the crop section. I, on the other hand, was consistent in being among the students in mixed sections because no section was declared the last, second, third, so on and so forth. It was quite irritating to hear your teachers say, “Oh you’re the brother of …” Can’t I be known for my own first name?

I guess that is what prompted me to become both a sloth and a sleeper. I had consistent grades with axes. It even came to a point in which I almost failed algebra. Thankfully, I received a passing mark because it was rounded off and my teacher was very nice.

Again, I was scolded by my parents who were very stern with their look and grounded me from using the computer and the TV.

It was our class adviser that approached me and motivated me to become better. To be released from the act of sleeping and laziness. It was her that pushed me to believe in myself.

This was, again, one of the chances that patted me in the shoulder and said, “It is time to change.”

A few more years forward and I have grown passed the stealing, the lying, the sleeping, and the indolence. It was just I was not yet a firm believer with some beliefs and traditions in my religion. I guess I grew tired of always having to pray by just saying the words and not putting meaning in them. I got tired of listening to our teachers in religion and values education because it is too ideal. I grew tired of waking up early and going to mass every Sunday morning. I, actually, wished it would end. I even questioned the existence of the Divine being, back then.

A heart that was once empty and filled with space.

However, when that fateful day came, it all changed. My sister has been in the hospital for more than a week and her vital signs were not very good. Her blood pressure went to 60/20. Most of her white blood cells were destroyed by the dengue and malaria that have infected her. She was skinny and pale. She needed bags of blood in order for her to survive.

Once again, chance came up to me and just said straightforward, ““It is time to change.”

Among the countless chances that I have encountered in my life, those were the three most important.

The thief that was once filled with anger and jealousy is now a very stingy and thrifty college student who keeps both his eyes on their organization’s funds. The sloth and the sleeper that was once so unsure and unbelieving of himself have become better and is more optimistic. And the curious and questioning follower is now a firm believer and sincere devotee after his sister survived.

Chances besides being inexhaustible, also brings countless lessons in life. Both do not have a definite number. There are no such things as second, third, or fourth. Just chances. Just lessons. Again, it would not be appropriate to count them because every chance and lesson that comes to our life would not fit the number of finger that we have in our hands.

Chances like tomorrows will forever be endless.

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