Still blessed, and still a blessing even during a pandemic


Of all the things the pandemic taught me, what struck me the most is how we focus on the obstacles instead of the journey.

Two years have gone by, and I still wonder how things would have been if the pandemic did not happen.

I regretted the last day before the start of the two-year lockdown. I did not go to campus that day since our professors advised me they will be collating the final exams therefore, all classes were canceled, and it is not required to come to school.

However, we were finishing up our class yearbook project and our leader asked me to come by the campus after they were done shooting the last batch of people to proofread the yearbook since I was working on the layout of the second half back at home.

I came after our regular class schedule so most of my classmates and friends have gone home. Little did I know that was the last time I could have met them.

Now, my friends and I have jobs and had to plan to go out to match each other’s schedules. Unlike before the pandemic when we can set a gala almost anytime.

Ironically though, I consider the pandemic a blessing in disguise despite having a tough college life. The first few months of being locked up at home caused me cabin fever and after some time, I realized physically going to school is impossible – at least not yet.

Most of my days were spent on social media where I talked with them until I had digital burnout. I no longer felt connected with them, and my body was rejecting digital consumption.

Rediscovering my old hobbies and trying out new ones and creating a schedule of my daily activities helped a ton to bring my mental health back on track. I also tried calisthenics for a few months which gave me a goal for my body.

Freshman year was also something to look forward to, but then I had to work as my father reached the retirement age and that meant no one would support my studies. I earned a job as a customer service representative at a call center company all the while studying at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) – Manila Campus.

Although it was a struggle waiting for the instructional manuals, still, I consider it a blessing that the university had a correspondence mode of learning, allowing me to work full-time while studying.

Attending online class discussions is recommended of course, but it was hard when professors required students, even those under correspondence, to be present and refused to acknowledge that some people such as myself had to work as well.

I can still recall an instructor we had who asked us to choose between working or studying. Nevertheless, I did my best to submit everything on time. Managing tasks was, and is still, very challenging because I had very limited time to do my schoolwork during workdays.

Creating a timetable of classwork and deadlines – like what I did before, helped me become productive.

Maintaining a tight schedule or routine can cause burnout too. So, I learned to take a break from time to time and prioritize my well-being. I also gained a scholarship from our province which granted five thousand pesos once every semester, enough to help with other expenses.

Somehow, the line that separates school and work seems to have blurred in my college life so far. I just hope distance learning will still be an option for working students as educational institutions transition to face-to-face classes.

Over the past two years, despite my regret for that day, I realized things happened for a reason. And even though my friends and I grew our separate ways in terms of career or school, we still support and communicate with each other.

Of all the things the pandemic taught me, what struck me the most is how we focus on the obstacles instead of the journey.

By Kenneth E. Teston


Featured photo courtesy of Edward Jenner/

#collegelife #pandemic #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

A Holy Week reflection: Listening in the stillness

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Twenty years ago, I received a birthday present from an editor friend that I treasure up to this day. It was a small book titled “Women on the Journey: Devotions for Women,” which contains a magnificent compilation of rich experiences candidly shared by women, to women; stories about their real-life situations – struggles, trials, and triumphs – and life lessons that truly touch and instill.

Their stories are a form of blessings from which we can draw valuable insights to help us in our own journey.

This Holy Week, while having my quiet moment at home, I inadvertently open this tiny book and reflected on the topic “Listening in the Stillness.” It was a relief to calm myself down from shock after hearing the passing of a dear friend on a Good Friday.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“Have you ever reached a point when you felt so tired you were ready to give up on life? Have you ever felt that you were a victim of a vicious cycle of despair and frustration? Are you going around in circles, not knowing where you are headed?

In Psalm 46:10, God invites us to stop for a while. God invites us to let go of our struggles and remain in His presence. He wants us to know Him and His love in the nakedness of our souls.

‘Our awareness of God is a syntax of the silence in which our souls mingle with the Divine, in which the ineffable in us commune with the ineffable beyond us.

It is the afterglow of years in which soul and sky are silent together, the outgrowth of accumulated certainty of the abundant, never-ending presence of the Divine.

All we have to do is to let the insight be and listen to the soul’s certainty of its being a parenthesis in the immense script of God’s eternal speech.’” (Heschel, A.J).

Do not let the noise of this world drown out the voice of God.”

Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Week!

#holyweek2021 #reflection #stillness #knowinggod #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Featured photo by Allec Gomes on Unsplash