December 16, 2010. The commencement of the nine-day luminary. Nine days of sacrifice in attending the Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi. My custom in attending the dawn masses every year was not followed this year because December 16 was also scheduled as my travel to Baguio City. Of which I am one of the delegate of our university, Ramon Magsaysay Technological University, in the 48th National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute Conference.
Exactly 3:00 in the morning when I arrived at the terminal. All my co-delegates were in the victory bus already. Thankful, I made it to the trip for few seconds after I arrived, the bus departed. As we were traversing, I can’t help but to think about the Misa de Gallo for I wasn’t able to attend. Good I have my friend, Ate Ronz, who told me in a text message that I should not worry for GOD knows my purpose.
7:00 in the morning. We were still on travel. I was awakened by the gleam of the light peeping through the window of the bus. Then I looked around. All were awake. Suddenly, I heard a ring of a phone, it was a call for Sir Daimiel. After some minutes of conversation, Sir Daimiel handed the phone to Sir Jerry, my adviser. The flow of their conversation in the phone was starting to stir my curiosity. And I found myself listening to their conversation. The talk made me astonished. I wanted to shout that moment but I can’t for I might cause a big trouble. Then Sir Jerry gleefully said “Congratulations Dan, you and Sonny (my colleague) made it to the Ayala.” I just smiled but deep inside, my intestines were jumping in gladness. And I whispered, “Thank you Lord!” It was a great morning; GOD has listened to my prayers. Congratulations have been given to me by my co-delegates and even from Sonny. After the rigorous screening process, a simple DAN made it to the elite list of the Outstanding Ayala Young Leaders in the Philippines. It was indeed a great gift for Christmas.
After that blissful scenario, I and Sonny kept on talking; dreaming of what will be the next things to happen. We shared our thoughts, our feelings regarding the “good news.” And I said to Sonny, “GOD gave me this gift, a consolation to all my leadership sacrifices… for my endeavors as a leader do not wait payment in return.” After that, I got my phone from my bag, started to scribble a message to send. And I wrote, “Thanks GOD I have received a greatest gift ever this Christmas.” I decided not to reveal the “good news” to my friends and teachers yet.
Exactly 9:00 in the morning when we reached our destination. After the registration and billeting, we took a rest in our designated quarter. I was still overwhelmed that time, I can’t believe that I have made it to the AYLC, the most prestigious search for the outstanding young leaders in the country, not to mention the sacrifices I made during the panel interview… the story of the button of my polo shirt and the zipper of my slacks. Well, it made the panel interview more challenging! After some time of reflection, I got my phone and opened my Facebook account and wrote my status:
“Now here at Baguio City, arrived safe and sound from the long journey! Am very grateful to the LORD, i just received the BEST Christmas gift in my entire life! To GOD be the glory!”
After that I started setting up my mind for my contest. I was tasked to represent the university in the National Rizal Essay Writing Contest. I kept myself occupied reading and reading until night time. My adviser told me that he is expecting a lot from me so I really pushed hard to prepare myself for the contest the following day.
December 17, 2010 at 1:00 in the afternoon. I was at the contest venue already with the other contenders from the different parts of the country. After the judge read the mechanics of the contest, I whispered a prayer and worked on my piece. After an hour and a half, I submitted my two-page essay to the facilitator and went out. I was welcomed by Sir Jerry outside and asked me how was it went. I told him about the outline of my essay and said that I was not expecting so much from it. I did my best in the contest but I was not expecting to win. The fact that it was a national contest and the fact that I believe I was not that good enough to make it in the Top 3. Only three will be given recognition in the different competitions.
After submitting my essay, all in my system changed. No more worries, no more burden, ready for relaxation and rest. After our dinner, I checked my FB notifications and I am very overwhelmed for the congratulatory messages flooding my FB wall. Only that time I learned that Sir Jerry informed our school regarding my achievement in the Ayala. I was really so touched reading the messages. Here are some:
“Congratulations for making it to the elite list of national ayala young leaders 2011! thanks to sir jerry for sharing the great news… i’m glad he mentioned about it and thanks for willingly going through the long process and successfully hurdling the many tests and challenges.. the long wait is finally over so just like a bird that returns to its nest from its flight to the great horizon may you have a safe journey back to your home while everyone waits with excitement and just as you said ’twas indeed a perfect gift this christmas!” – Sir Ferdinand Tamoria.
“Congratulations !!! as usual , that was expected.” – Ma’am Milmore More
“My congratulations to you… Keep on aiming… Am proud of you. Galing galing talaga… Do remain.. Am always at your back kasi love kita…. Merry Christmas!” – Ma’am Karen Andres
I did not know where to put my overflowing joy that very moment embellished with the cold breeze and the pine tree-scented ambiance of the place. I can’t do anything but to sing my praises to HIM for the blessing, for an early Christmas gift!
December 18, 2010 at 8:00 in the evening. I was lying in my bed at the quarters. I just had our dinner that time. I was so tired the whole day and I wanted to sleep. I started closing my eyes when Sonny and Sir Jerry called me and told me to prepare for the awarding and closing ceremonies. Awarding? I did not feel like going, I told myself. Then I found myself sitting at the hall waiting for the start of the awarding. I was really not thinking of the events, I just kept pressing the keypad of my phone, exchanging text messages with my friends.
After the announcement of winners in the Essay Writing Contest for High School Level, my heart beats ran haywire, I didn’t know but I was uneasy that time. Then suddenly Sonny grabbed my camera and said, “Iprepare ko na para pag akyat mo sa stage ok na,” he jokingly said. I just smiled. Afterwards, the announcement for the third place went on… “Third place… Essay Writing Contest… College Level… from Ramon Magsaysay Technological University… Danilo V. Rogayan Jr.” I was very much astounded with the announcement, I won, I made it. I stood up and went up the stage with Sir Jerry. My adviser was so happy and I felt it that very moment. After I received the medal, certificate and the cash prize, Sir Jerry embraced me and I felt his gladness as overflowing as I had.
I remembered telling Sir Jerry, “Sir, di ko po ineexpect un, grabe ang bait ni GOD!” Yes, GOD has sent me another blessing, another gift for Christmas. After the photo op with other winners, I and Sir Jerry went down the stage. And as I reached my seat, my co-delegates – Sonny, John, Christian and Jessu – congratulated me. And I saw to their eyes the joy for my victory.
Still shocked, I opened my phone, I received a message from my friend Edjohn, asking updates. And I told him the good news. He was the first to know my victory in the essay contest. And he sarcastically replied, “Wow, congratz, galing naman. Di ka na talaga mareach haha.” I also informed my friend James the result of the contest and he sent me this message:
“Good evening. Give Mr. Danilo Villar Rogayan Jr. a big round of applause for he won in the national essay writing contest… 3rd place!”
I was enveloped with delight as I was reading James’ message, I thanked him and he replied: “You’re welcome Kuya Dan, galing mo talaga, kahit kalian, kahit saan. Haha.” Then his message followed by other messages:
“5, 000 Congratulations! Nice Kuya Dan.” – Manuel Garcia
“Congratz, you really make us proud!” – Sir Bernard Cambe
“Wow! Congratulations Dan. Grabe, ibang level you na talaga.” – Arianne Eugenio.
“Congratulations! Ang galling Maagang Christmas gift to sa iyo! Above others, always be thankful to Him! Kudos! You deserve all of these successes!” – Sir Eric Ebro
“Ang galing! Wow naman, how advance Christmas gift from heaven, Congratz!” – Patrick Jordan Paz
Few minutes after exchanging text messages, somebody called me all the way from Zambales and it was James. He congratulated me and we talked for about 15 minutes. I was really happy that time for I really needed someone to talk with and shared my joy.
December 19, 2010 at 11:00 in the morning. We were at the bus terminal then. After finding my seat, I checked my FB and wrote my status:
“Is now traversing back home in Zambales. Thanks GOD for the guidance in the four-day NYRLI Conference in Baguio City. Thanks as well for another GIFT, 2010 is indeed a fruitful year for me. To GOD be the glory!”
Afterwards, I scribbled a text message informing my friends, teachers and classmates of my two national achievements:
“Thank you LORD for the gifts You’ve given me this CHRISTMAS SEASON. First for being part of the 13th Ayala Young Leaders Congress come February 2011 as one of the OUTSTANDING YOUNG LEADERS in the Philippines & second for being THIRD PLACE WINNER in the National Rizal Young Leaders Institute Essay Writing Contest, besting other universities & colleges in the Philippines. GOD, keep me humble despite of these accolades.”
After sending this message, overflowing congratulatory messages flooded my inbox.
“Congratulations Dan! Double treat for you this Christmas. Ayala & essay writing. Well done!” – Ma’am Lorina Bundang
“Galing naman talaga oh, kabelieve ka Kuya!” – Divine Valencia
“Congratz, Edtsip! You totally made it. God is so good to you!” – Marianne Brillantes
“Wow, congratz Dan!!! So proud of you!” – Ronz Epiz
“Congratz Dan, you really deserve it! Agang Christmas blessing yan ah! Hay ang swerte talaga ng mga parents mo ang bait bait mo na matalino ka pa. Sobrang daming blessings. Dan, hope you’ll always keep your feet on the ground. Wag lalaki ulo ha. I’m very proud of you.” – Ma’am Marites Abelon
“Congratz for a job well done! Keep it up Dan! God bless you always!” – Lhea Garcia
“Congrats SK, I’m so proud of you. Just keep your feet on the ground.” – Ate Anna Lissa Mendoza, Brgy. Treasurer
“Congratz Dan. Big blessing yan for you and for your family this coming Christmas!” – Sir Charlie Agustin
“You deserve it! God bless u boy.” – Cristina Fantone
“You are truly blessed…keep it up and be humble wherever you are:)” – Ma’am Lucy Morales
“Congrats Kuya, talagang para sayo po yan, gift pos a iyo ni God sa pagsisikap nyo po.” – Patricia Balaoing
“Dan, congratz sa iyo. Sabi ko na nga eh, mananalo ka. Malupetiks ka ah grabe! Sana wag kang magbabago. Youre still the good friend na nakilala ko nun. Don’t change it!” – Monina Joy Ico
“I knew you’ll make it. You’re being flooded with blessings talaga this time. Hope you can now take a break!” – Dr. Jo Espiritu
“Congrats! You’re mom will be surely proud of you! You’re a GOD’s best creation. Bilib na talaga ako sa iyo! Lose ka man sa election, win ka naman sa lahat. GOD had a best plan talaga for you. Our school is truly blessed having you!” – Ma’am Reyna Lyn Sahagun
To end, I would like to express my profound gratitude and sincerest appreciation to all who have shown their support and trust to me all through out! The two national achievements I got are not solely mine; these are also your achievements for you have been contributed a lot for me to achieve such! GOD is really good all the time!
To all who sang their music of your congratulations via call, text message, FB posts and personal, my lips will keep on singing the melody of my gratitude! To the LORD, I will forever sing high praises to your glory!