FOR the past several days, our office entrance was filled with people, waiting around, milling, chewing on food, leaving empty water bottles in scattered litter along with candy and chichirya wrappers and corn husks.

There must have been hundreds of them at one time since the guard at the entrance of the office next door was announcing through the megaphones priority numbers by the 25s.

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"Three hundred twenty five to three hundred fifty," he said as I squeezed my way out to puff on my poison.

Our office is right next door to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and last week was the schedule of the nurses' board. It was a crush, and that was just for Southern Mindanao.

Thousands more must be similarly sitting, chewing, and littering in other PRC offices nationwide, thousands hoping to pass the board and find work as a nurse.

How many of them will not make it? Who among the sitting, chewing, littering crowd would get his license? Who among the licensed ones will get a job as a nurse? Who among them will just twiddle their thumbs afterwards or cajole their way out of the profession that most likely wasn't their real choice?

Hope wasn't quite apparent in those crowds. There was trepidation, there was impatience. Maybe hope had to take backstage as the wait can tax anyone's patience. Our office faces the east, so you can imagine the sun's rays in the morning. The overhang that provides some shade does so only at past 9 a.m. But these same people arrive as early as dawn, in rented vans, by big groups from all over Southern Mindanao.

They start out milling outside the PRC's door, waiting for the numbers to be given out. And then they peter out along the length of the huge building, the first ones finding space on the flowerboxes, the rest having to make do with th floor.

How many of them will have to come back to try again? How many will just give up and be listed among the millions of unemployed?

The answers to these questions will be a reflection on the quality of education they have paid for; and we know there is now a very low passing rate among the nursing graduates.

How sad indeed for the young to lose that glimmer of hope in their eyes as they come face to face with the realities of the world we have crafted for our children. A world where there are people who just lust for money, shortchanging all those who dream but can barely afford the superior quality of top-performing schools and universities. A world where a good number of children are sent to nursing school to fulfill the dreams of their parents of landing a job abroad.

But that's just how it is, and the young once, who are on their first step into real adulthood will just have to hack their way through all these and hang on to the hope they all started with, and to most of them, not much else.

After them, those aspiring to be physicians, master plumbers, electrical engineers, and a hundred thousand more hopefuls.

In a world where businesses are encouraged to provide for their own power supplies with incentives to entice them to invest in such, and where some sectors are pushing that journalists be armed so they can protect themselves, people only have hope to hang their dreams on. Not much else.