LAST Tuesday, I had mixed feelings about attending the 3rd International Conference on Translational Research: “Resiliency and Caring: Strengths-based Anchor in a Post Pandemic World” at Zuri Hotel, IloIlo City, Philippines, because of the many deadlines I have to complete. But I was glad that prior to my flight for IloIlo, I was able to finish all my tasks. And so, when I was at the airport, I am excited to meet new friends, see the new place, and hear new research results vital to the nursing profession. I have not much focused on my task to disseminate my research dissertation entitled “Diaspora from drug addiction–sobriety–recovery: An inclusive caring framework for drug reformists”, which I completed last 2021.

While inside the plane, I checked on the conference objectives. By coincidence, my expectations as to the conference's aims were the same as what I expected, and that is to gather leading academic scientists, researchers, and scholars in the nursing and allied health sciences field to exchange and share experiences, research results, and quality improvement policies and initiatives in improving outcomes of care.

During the first day, I would say that the plenary speakers were all brilliant. And I was amazed much of the presentation of Dr. Glenda S. Arquiza, former Chairperson of the Professional Regulatory Board of Nursing (PRBN) on how teachers can create meaningful, teaching and learning engagement with their students. But they were all able to discuss topics like nurturing empathy, nurse leader resiliency, creating synergy, technology for teaching in the 21st century, PEACE model, etc. The knowledge I have gained from them, made me feel I am ready to best help other nurses, clients, and students how to provide nursing and teaching in this challenging world, with a touch of 21st-century skills. Then came the schedule for the research presentation in the afternoon where Dr. Liza Floresca also presented her meta-analysis confidently. At first, I am saddened to know that I am not on their list for the podium presentation face to face but was expected to do a recorded presentation, but God is always good. Later, I was informed that I will be the 5th presenter. Honestly, when I saw and heard how the other research presenters were asked by the intellectual judges critical questions, I felt nervous but, in my heart, I know God will be with me. It was tough!

When I finished the presentation and heard the voice of Dr. Arquiza I composed myself and listened carefully. But when I heard her “napaiyak ako sa study mo”, I knew that I was able to communicate the crying voice of the drug reformists, my research participants. And my heart jumps when I was told that people must know about my research results! And the judge shared my vision which is to continually implement the inclusive caring framework for drug reformists.

Oh, it is so heartwarming to be appreciated for my advocacy for almost 25 years of fighting for the rights of people struggling with substance use and abuse. And it is more humbling to be awarded by the Central Philippine University (CPU) on its 3rd International Conference on Translational Research with the “Best in Podium Presentation”. Honestly, I did not expect the award, because I did not even know that there was a competition.

But even before its announcement, Dean Liza G. Floresca already told me “If this is a competition”, surely you will win. What a very positive and supportive Dean! But I guess Dr. Floresca is my angel because the following day, I received the award. And my friend Grace Guitguiten, whispered to me “you deserve it!”. Thank you very much, Dr. Teodoro C. Robles‒ CPU President, Melba C. Salle ‒ OIC Dean of the CPU College of Nursing. What a lovely and unforgettable experience in Iloilo! But indeed, Ilonggos are inspiring, lovable “malambing” and very accommodating!