The boy was sweating profusely. His arms and legs were aching.
He stood up and took a shade under the tree. His mother trailed behind. The scorching heat of the sun shone brightly on the fields, all white and bowed. The harvesters were called for a halt.
The boy took off his hat and looked up. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and face.
Ah, what a farmer’s son life of being locked up in the fields until sundown. He looked at the fields. The area was still wide considering they were only 4 which include his parents and his brother. All the other farmers were busy with their families harvesting their own fields, too, that’s why he knew the job was still far from over.
Several birds were swooping up and down the fields, in search for insects. Some darted directly in front of him and he could clearly hear their wing flaps. Then, they would immediately join the group as they flew in triangular shape.
“Someday, I will fly like you and I will fly around the world,” he muttered to himself.
Waren, that’s his name, was only 9 years old then. He was born of a poor family of farmers who must go to the fields early in the morning to work so they could earn money for their daily food and school allowances.
“You are a talented kid, Waren,” his father once said. “You need to study well so you can graduate, land a job and help our family.”
Waren had been first honors in his classes since Grade 1. His teachers noticed his brilliance and they encourage him to dream high and create his own bucket list of goals in life. The word “bucket list” kept on ringing in his ears and so, he wrote his first goal for his bucket list: to graduate in college with honors.
The sun was now almost halfway in the sky.
Looking around, he saw the bamboo trees adorning the edge of the brook where the wide fields were covered with white and golden grains.
“Someday, I will be standing not in front of tall bamboos like these, but in front of tall buildings, even in front of skyscrapers that reach up the sky!” he said to himself.
And so, he started to work on his first goal in his bucket list.
He studied so well that he became 1st honors from Grade 1 to 6 and took up BS Biology, cum laude, the first cum laude in his barangay.
He was later hired as a medical representative and became an outstanding one. He reaped honors for being a top salesman and was given a car, granted trips abroad as incentive for a job well done and was promoted again and again. He enjoyed the trips here and abroad. He had good pay, but while enjoying his present status, he suddenly came out with his second goal in his bucket list of dreams. He wanted to go abroad to pursue his American dream! He wanted to fly like the birds in the fields and to stand in front of big buildings and sky scrapers!
He suddenly found himself acquiring his passport and applying for a tourist visa. Then after 11 years as a medical representative, he suddenly found himself flying like the birds to pursue that American Dream!
But he found the place a wide field where one must work, too, in order to survive.
And so, he started looking for a job in the land of apples and pears, but he found those apples and pears difficult to gather like those golden rice grains in his native barangay in Sagayaden, Ilocos Sur.
Then, his third goal in his bucket list came out: he wanted to fly around the world.
After lots of failures, frustrations and disappointments, the gods finally smiled on him and he was given what was due to him: to fly as a flight attendant aboard the biggest airline in the world, the American Airlines.
After another 11 years, he was able to acquire his own house, lot and car in Florida, USA. He was earning a sufficient amount per hour and was enjoying his job. The stars were shining on him brightly.
Then, the unexpected happened, fellas.
While I was taking pictures for my documentary reports in one of our recognition programs, a colleague introduced me to Waren.
“Remember him, Waren? He worked in your school when you were in high school,” he said.
Then he started to tell stories of his teachers when he was young and one of them was a great teacher whom he said served as his inspiration to strive hard and create his own bucket list of goals in life.
“Her name was Ma’am Lourdes,” he said.
My eyes became moist as I remembered that old woman who died four years ago, a kind and brilliant old teacher who carried me for 9 months in her womb – my own mother. And her memories returned as Waren told stories about her.
Waren became a guest in our weekly TV program and told his story so as to serve as an inspiration to the young in the same manner that Ma’am Lourdes served as his inspiration when he was young.
“I failed many times, but I must not give up because if I do so, I will be failing the people who expected much from me which include my farmer parents, my siblings and Ma’am Lourdes. It is not the worst thing in the world to fail. The worst thing is not to try,” he said as he emphasized that nobody progresses in life unless he takes the risks.
Before he flew back to the United States, Waren phoned me to say that he just fulfilled another goal in his bucket list.
“I just visited Ma’am Lourdes’ grave in the Independent Church cemetery. I felt she was there and was very happy to know I did not fail her. Thank you, sir, and thanks to Ma’am Lourdes,” he said.
And so, the boy who wanted to fly like the birds when he was just 9 years old and I crossed our path with Ma’am Lourdes between us. What a coincidence, fellas.
‘Til we meet again…#