My Yuppie Story 4: The Cloverleaf of Dreams: Going Back to Manila

I graduated with a degree of BA Political Science from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, back in 2003. I started working in June 2003. That means, I’ve been in the workforce for 11 years. So, I decided to look back at my yuppie story and share it through this blog. This can be a pretty long series, so I hope you join me in this ride.

Part 1 is here: Into the Unknown
Part 2 is here: Into the Province
Part 3 is here: First Job, First Salary, First Phone, and Other Firsts

In the quiet town of San Manuel, Isabela, nobody could hear the anxious screaming inside my head. At times, I couldn’t even hear them, myself.

After resigning from my teaching job by April 2004, I looked at several opportunities in the province. My father, who was assigned to a church in Quezon City offered to take me with him. I’ll have a house to stay in, food, and a couple of other amenities if I agreed.

I told him no.

I thought I could easily find a job in our province. But towards the Christmas season of 2004, my prospects of landing a job was getting dimmer and dimmer by the minute.

Waiting for some calls.

My friend, Angel, who was working at the DILG Region 2 office prompted me to apply at two government offices in Tuguegarao, Cagayan–at the National Economic Development Authority, and Department of Interior and Local Government.

I took the exams and passed. With good results, if I might add.


But the call for interview never came.

After some months of waiting, I decided to try another avenue. I applied as College instructor at two campuses of our State University. Did my teaching demo and had some interviews.

In both cases, I knew that I performed well in the exams, in the demo teaching, and even in projecting a confident and competent professional. I’m a UP graduate, after all.

So I waited, and waited… and waited some more.

In the lull moments that I was waiting, I had to keep myself sane. Good thing, we had cable TV! I watched a lot of documentaries on Discovery, some movies on HBO, and Star Chinese movies.

Yup. Star Chinese.

I mastered the art of reading sub-titles while totally enjoying the unfolding scene before. Truth is, I already watched Shaolin Soccer even before it was shown in Philippine theaters.


Thanks to my mother, I didn’t need to worry about the food I’ll eat, and other stuff I needed.

I did some odd jobs, like editing documents and silk screen printing of t-shirts for some friends I knew. Because I had a computer I also accepted some lay-outing and printing jobs.

Because of my church involvement, I also helped out in our youth ministry. So, I needed additional money to cover my fare when I went visiting churches and places for youth events.

Boy, was it difficult!

All those time, self-doubt assailed me. And that cynical voice within me kept telling me this was all a mistake.

Should I hold out and wait for the calls that would tell me I got accepted for a job in the province?

Was it time to throw in the towel and seek greener pastures back in the big city?

Decisions, Decisions

My mother and brother went to Quezon City to celebrate Christmas with my father, and my sister and her husband. I was left behind. Being an officer in our church youth organization that covers half the province of Isabela, I had to attend two Christmas camps. It was fun. But it was definitely a lonely way to celebrate Christmas. I swore to never do it ever again.

During those camps, I had conversations with friends about my plans, my employment, and what I wanted to do with my life.

When you’re in your early twenties, people generally expect you to start something that could potentially last for the rest of your life.

I was 22 at the time. If I based my life based on my parents’ timeline, I would be married by age 24, I would have my first child by age 25.

What the heck? I didn’t even have a girlfriend by that time.

And so the questions came. Not just from many people. The anxious voices within me kept screaming, and I badly wanted to silence them.

The clincher, though, came in January 2005.

My mother and I talked.

About family, and helping out financially. My sister and her husband haven’t graduated by this time. My mother’s income was enough for her, my brother and I. I wasn’t contributing anything to the family finances at all. She also reminded me that I was a UP graduate. That I deserved something better than staying at home all day.

It wasn’t exactly a slap in the face. I understood her concern–for me, and for our family.

And so, that evening, I texted Ian, one of my best buddies in College. Good thing, he had a friend, Ken, who worked as a training officer in a call center, and their company is hiring.

See, the best way to look for a job is to ask for referrals from friends. But then, that also meant that I better made sure I performed well in the company. But I digress.

So I got to work. I updated my resume, got a 2×2 ID picture, sent my resume, and hoped for the best. But I also wanted to cover my bases. That’s why I also updated my

That same week, I packed my bags, got myself a bus ticket going back to Manila.

When I graduated from College, I knew for certain that I’d be in Isabela to make a difference, to change the world, even. Read about that here.

But a year and a half after, I had to swallow my words, admit some kind of defeat and go back to where most of my batchmates decided to make a living.

Was it only about making a living?

Applying to a call center was the farthest thing in my mind. But that was a quick solution to my predicament. I needed a job and soon!

So I found myself boarding a bus once again–but this time, I was back where I started from. I had to go back to Manila.

At the Cloverleaf of Dreams

Normally, I could sleep in a provincial bus the moment my back meets the reclining seat. But no matter how I tried to sleep in the bus that night, I just couldn’t. My eyes were closed but my mind was wide awake, listening to the questions, trying to understand my directions.

Where did my plans go? So much for idealism.

Is this how the real world works? Does this mean shelving my dream of making a difference in the world?

After a long journey through the night, I circled the cloverleaf and my bus entered EDSA at Balintawak, together with the trucks and vans that delivered fruits, vegetables, and meat at the Balintawak market.

It was early in the morning and traffic was bad.

And I wondered if my career was also stuck because I refused to move or because I didn’t know where I was going.

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