Wenceslao: Footsteps

Candid Thoughts

AS A father, I am not dictating anything to my sons. I want them to go where they want to. So before the older one graduated in senior high school, I never interfered with his choices. I would have wanted him to take the University of the Philippines exams when his batch was given a chance to apply but he declined when he found out that the Cebu campus does not offer a civil engineering course.

Yet he could have chosen a mass communications course. I actually didn't encourage him to write so I was surprised when he asked me to offer a lecture on editorial writing for the public school he was in. He eventually joined one of the annual writing competitions that the Department of Education sponsors.

I wanted my son to discover the love for writing the way I did: on his own. In that sense, I want him to develop the craft the way I did: on his own. I am willing to guide him only if he wants it. The rest of the way, he can blaze his own path. And he is doing good so far. I became a member of the staff of our campus publication in my first year in college. Thus it warms the heart to read a Facebook post with his name among the writers of the Technologian, the publication of the Cebu Institute of Technology-University.

If you love writing, what a campus publication does is to reinforce that love. Of course, knowing the economics of journalism as a profession, I would prefer that my son becomes a civil engineer first and foremost. But knowing how to write could help him become a better engineer. He just has to understand what his priorities are.

I got lost during my time because that wasn't a normal one. I had wanted to become a chemical engineer but got absorbed in student activism. I joined rallies and when the balancing act became difficult, shifted to a political science course. In the end, I left the real university for the university of hard knocks: the countryside.

There were times when people questioned the choices I made in life. I was the high school valedictorian and scholar who failed to graduate in college. I could have been a chemical engineer now or even a lawyer. But if there was one thing I did good, it was to never let go of my dream to become a writer. I wrote, whether I was in the countryside or in prison.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the failings of the Duterte administration, our country is still generally in normal times. There is no reason for my son to follow my footsteps and their deviations. I want him to graduate in college and realize his dreams. If he wants to do that by becoming a writer on the side, good.

Let it not be said, though, that I have misgivings about the choices I made when I was younger. I still have to bump into my batchmates in school who know more about people and society than I do. I just say that I learned from the" hard knocks" university well. And if made to choose between country and profession again, in that same past circumstance that I was in, the answer would be a no brainer.


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