by Anthony Capirayan, SSP
"Papasok kang estudyante, lalabas kang mandirigma.” No, I’m neither talking about signing up for the CrossFit gym nor climbing up the Himalayas to learn the secrets of the shaolin monks. This is the caption of a meme spreading on social media that describes the daily ordeal of commuters in Metro Manila.
For four years now that I’ve been commuting to and fro our seminary in Makati and our school in Katipunan, I should say that I have become a warrior in my own right, and the “jam-packed like sardines” trains have been my training grounds.
The train can be wild and unforgiving, and definitely not for the fainthearted. Every day I have to jostle against other hurrying passengers. Most of the time I have to stand in the middle of the train away from the handrails. I also have to deal with diverse commuters: there is the chatterbox who gossips about almost all the people in her workplace, the “The Voice” contestant who sings out a tune without a care in the world, the unfriendly giant who bulldozes his way in, the burglar whose sleight of hand is just exceptional (yes, I lost my wallet and iPod once!), and not to mention the “bomber” whose armpit is just a few inches away from my face. Occasional breakdowns can also be exasperating, especially when I’m running late for my class. Thus, a train ride requires some physical strength, mental toughness, and a saintly patience to keep one’s cool and get to one’s destination in one piece.
Another academic year has just begun for you, dear youngsters. Your school is your training ground. Maybe, it is much less harsh than riding the metro train, but it can also be equally challenging and demanding. You will be juggling different tasks and commitments. You have books to read (or memorize?), examinations to take, school organizations to manage, sports and arts competitions to join, and needless to say, classmates to get along with. Sure, it’s going to be fun, exciting, and thrilling. But there will always be bumps along the way. They are, however, no reasons for you to back down and call it quits. All these prepare you to become a . . . warrior.
Well, maybe not Po the Dragon Warrior, but still a warrior in your own right. Or as Paulo Coelho would describe it, a “Warrior of Light”—someone who perseveres in trying times, someone who faces up to his or her dreams, someone who believes that he or she is capable of growing.