If I can have a conversation with myself in high school, I would tell her this:
Dear young Jaenara,
(Jaenara is the name my classmates and teachers call me in high school)
I know how hard life for you is during your high school years. You were the eldest among your siblings and your parents got separated. You felt the burden of being the eldest. I know that you got disappointed too of not being able to take your entrance exam for Philippine Science High School (your dream school) because your family was struggling financially. I know that you have prepared for it. You studied for it during your summer enhancement classes after you graduated grade school with an engineer tutor. But, I know that you know during those times, you can’t afford to study in Manila because of financial reasons.
There were unanswered prayers. I know how lonely you were because your mom was not living with you during your high school years in Bicol. But, I know even when your mom was afar; she was working for you and your siblings, since she was the breadwinner in the family. She loves you so much as much as she loves your siblings. I know that you felt saddened also that your father is always drunk during those times. Though, your papa had vices, he was always there to support and encourage you. I know that you love your parents no matter how imperfect they were because of their weaknesses. Although they were imperfect, they were the perfect parents for you. They have their strengths too which added to how you grew and was raised.
On your first day of high school, you were not the girl who gets the most attention. But, I am proud of you because you were open to be friends with your other classmates too, who were achievers (honor students, athletes) in their previous grade schools. You did not let it hinder you to do your best to achieve your goal to be first honor.
I know how hard you worked for it. You studied and read your books instead of watching TV, you made your assignments with out delay. You slept late reading and there were times that you slept on your study table at night. You even rose early because you need to commute from your home in Baao to Iriga City.
I am so proud of you that you did not let all your problems and challenges consume you. Instead you rose up to face them all. You even balanced your extra curricular activities and your academics. How were you able to do that?
Although, I know also that you were also a teenager that time, you also had crushes. Your crushes were not attracted to you because you were a nerd. hahaha. But it’s okay. They were not Mr. Right. I am glad that you did not let your other friends pressure you in delinquency and vices.
You were just a silent girl who was always sitting in the front row. You were not a wall flower because you were a confident competitive student but you were a late bloomer.
I am so proud of you that you graduated Valedictorian. It was one of your best achievement so far. Other than being a Valedictorian, you were also an Editor in Chief of your school publication, and recipient of so many awards and recognition.
Jaenara, God is so good in your younger years! He enabled you to accomplish all those things. God is so faithful and gracious to you. You are a blessed and beloved child of God.
I am glad that you did not give up despite the challenges that you faced. I love you! No matter what challenges that I may face in the coming days. I will always look back to how God provided for you as a scholar in high school and how He was faithful to you that He is indeed a rewarder of people who are patient and who perseveres despite trials in life.
With love and care,
Ma. Jaenara M. Bitao (29 years old)