At first I thought that “ang AYLC ay isang malaking opportunity para makasakay ako ng airplane”. I was a childish, ignorant moron noon palang. I got 18 years of twist and turns as many of you are experiencing but I can say that somehow mine’s different. I dared to dream joining AYLC as early as I enter college kasi yung na nga, gusto kong makasakay ng airplane and that’s the sole reason. I live my life as a typical college student or so I thought. I joined my first college organization kasi we were required. Never did I realize na dito magsisimula ang magulo pero Masaya kong buhay bilang isang leader. For the time being bago nagkaroon ng application for AYLC, I was enjoying the fact that I have participated in many organizations. I was not really aware that simple things like collecting funds, making a plan for a very simple parlor games or even contributing write-ups in the school pub is already a form of service. I was not really aware and I did not have any chance to appreciate myself in doing such.
Late July 2010 na ata noon ng may nagsabi saaking open na ang application for AYLC. Nung una parang “ow, talaga? Sige try ko kung hindi busy marami kasing sulat-sulat yan ‘diba tapos busy kami sa college council”, verbatim , yan ang sinabi ko sa taong yun. Actually, talagang nakalimutan ko na ang idea na sasali ako sa ganyang mga events kasi I was so overwhelmed by the many demands of the many orgs that I joined. Nakalimutan ko na rin ang airplane.
July 28, 2010 nang mag-conduct ng AYLC Caravan sa school namin kasabay ng Student Organization Recruitment Day (which I spearheaded) at kasabay din ng 38.6 degree Celsius kong lagnat. However, I managed to get up of my bed para ‘dun sa Recruitment (not for AYLC. Haha). But I guess AYLC have its way of choosing those who would be a delegate, when I say “way” I mean “mysterious way”. Would you believe na isa sa mga co-officer ko ang nag-volunteer to take over sa role ko sa program para lang maka-attend ako sa Caravan? (hindi niya alam kung gaano kaganda ang naging epekto nun sa buhay ko ngayon, I thank him a lot) Bottom line, nalaman ko nalang na ang submission ay one week nalang pala. Sa pagkakataong yun, unti-unti nang na-enlighten ang utak ko to join. Una dahil gusto ko ngang makasakay ng airplane at pangalawa maganda naman ang pagkaka-explain nung dalawang AYLC Alumni sa “magaganap” kung sakaling palaring makapasok.
Hindi talaga ako recommended ng Dean namin (haha). During that time, 4 days nalang at deadline na nang mga papel. Hindi niya raw kasi ako kilala sa tunay kong pangalan at akala niya first year lang ako (at busy daw siya to check). Pero, sabi ko nga kanina, meron ngang “mysterious way” itong AYLC sa selection. Mahirap sagutin yung papel, as in! Lalo na yung nakikita mo yung papel ng iba na halos mapuno na yung Top leadership positions and etc., MY GOD! At one instance, napanghinaan ako loob kasi akala ko about ‘dun na lang pala yon. (so, hindi na ako makakasakay ng airplane dahil kulang ang leadership position ko.) Gayunpaman, nagcontinue nalang ako, sayang naman kasi yung assessment ng friends and mentors ko, napagod pa sila.
October 28, 2010 nang pinapunta kami sa OSAS (Office of Student Affairs and Services). Siyempre, kadalasan ang pinapupunta lang doon ay ang mga may bad record, may offenses, nawalan ng I.D. o naglaban sa security guard. I don’t remember doing anything of those pero kinabahan talaga ako. To cut the story short, three of us qualified for the interview. (yey! Ito na talaga ang siguradong airplane ride). I never thought na ganon pala ka-pangit ang experience sa airplane, though.
November 23, 2010 ang scheduled interview ko. I met some friends na na-meet ko ulit sa congress. Ako ang last interviewee that afternoon and you could just imagine kung paano nagkukwentuhan ang mga katabi ko about sa kanilang “mahirap masyado ang interview, teh”. So, na-pressure ako katulad ng pressure sa loob ng airplane. Meron ting lumalabas na “madali lang pala silang kausap” ang remarks. Any of those two remarks, hindi nakatulong saakin. So, mamamatay na ako sa kaba. Si Papa Monch, Si Mabait na Maam at si Masungit na Kuya (I really forgot their names pero I thank all of them a lot) ang panel ko. In fairness, madaming pagkain sa mesa nila pagpasok ko, pero hindi yun nabawasan hanggang lumabas ako. “Screw this, AYLC was not meant for me”, ang nasabi ko lang sa sarili ko.
December 17, 2010 ko natanggap ang pinakamahalagang regalo ko noong 2010. Ang sulat kamay ni Jaime Agusto Zobel de Ayala and a resounding “Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you that you have been chosen as one of the 81 delegates to the 13th National Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC 2011).” (third airplane ride!)
February 7, 2011 nagsimula ang masasayang araw ng buhay ko. The rest was history!
February 23, 2011. There is a day in your life that you can say it is a good day, until another day came and prove to be better or best. For me, that day is when I became part of the 13th Batch of Ayala Young Leaders. Imagine the people waving outside the bus welcoming you. Kahit nga ung mga caterer and cooks. Imagine 80 promising and hopeful youth na makakasama mo for 4 days. I was silent during workgroup discussions, but in silence I learned a lot. During outdoors, I did things I never thought I could like shouting “1,2 Left… 1,2 Right…” and traversing a rope 30 feet high.
More than the pleasure of riding an airplane, more than the pleasure of eating dishes I never imagine I could, more than the pleasure of having varied frills, more than the pleasure of doing outdoor stuffs, more than the pleasure of hearing leadership issues and helping to solve them, more than the pleasure of meeting new people, more than the pleasure of hearing from different insights in the panel discussions, more than the pleasure of having a family, I found myself. I found myself and learned to appreciate it. Kung noon hindi ko naapreciate ang mga bagay na nagagawa ko, after jumping climbing that high ropes, “I swear to God, I would be proud of myself”, this is very symbolic for me. Ang swerte ko pala, ang swerte pala namin. Hindi mo lang basta itatapon yung mga starfish mo. I guess starfishes would be so much happier if they know that you are proud of throwing them.
We all have different stories, we came from different strata of life weaving different kinds of threads but AYLC binds us in one goal, to be a servant leader. This is not a challenge but a vocation, a passionate vocation para magbigay Kislap sa iba sa ating sariling paraan. AYLC was way more than an just airplane ride. “May natagpuan ako sa AYLC at habang buhay ko siyang pasasalamatan dahil dito”.
Eira Feri is an 18-year-old Philosophy major at the Notre Dame University. He is fondly called “Peeboy” by his friends.