One question that changed my life

This is the draft of my Opening Remarks for tomorrow’s Career Celebration 2K18: Millennials Shaping the Future here in Notre Dame of Cotabato.

January 22, 2018

Good morning everyone,

One reason why I was asked to give the Opening Remarks is because I am a millennial. I can still remember that I once was a high school eleven years ago. We don’t have these model ramps that often before in Marist School, Marikina where I spent my high school. As an exclusive for boys’ school, we only have the Mr. Marist contest every two years during the Marist Fair. (For the record, I did not join.)

Given my surname Timola, which is a cause of being bullied sometimes, I was always asked to seat at the back of the classroom and mostly at the corner beside the window. There, I spaced out; stared outside the windows and daydreamed. Sometimes I draw doodles on my notebook or write a list of my favorite songs. In the early 2000, there was a famous song by Switchfoot with the title Only Hope. The lyrics would haunt me until now.

The lyrics go like these : “There’s a song that’s inside of my soul. It’s the one that I tried to write over and over again.” 

(Sing this if I have the guts to sing in front of these 2,000 students)

That song is a constant companion of my restlessness during college. It took me years to decipher the meaning of that song. We all have that song inside us. That song inside our soul is our personal mission. It is a God-given personal mission. How do we discover that mission?

The short answer is that we discover our mission in life by discovering about ourselves. High school life is a perfect time for us to discover about ourselves. It starts with discovering your talents.

Who are those good in Math? How about English? How about Science? How about basketball? How about computers? How about painting? How about singing?

But still, even discovering our talents will still leave more questions about our own selves. That is the question we have to live the rest of our lives; that too, is the tension we have to live the rest of our lives. And this tension will only end when we stop living. Thank God we have that tension; it means we are still alive. It’s okay if we try to write that song inside our soul over and over again.

It will be an unending search for an answer. To paraphrase Maria Rainier Rilke, let us live the question.

I hope that the Grade 12 students will learn the most from this Career Celebration. Grade 12, I dare you to ask questions about college, about work, about your future. Start asking us—your advisers, your teachers, our guidance counselors: Mrs. Casiano, Mr. Ade, and Mrs. Sobrepena.

Dear students (yes, all of you), I dare you to ask questions. Curiosity is an evidence of one’s willingness to learn. Learn by asking questions.

Before I end, I’ll leave you with a question that changed my life: “Sa paghahanap-buhay, mahahanap mo ba ang buhay mo?”

Good morning everyone.

Br. Allen Timola, FMS


Vacation to vocation: An effect of a month-long break

Being a teacher has its perks. One of them is the long vacation in between the school year. Since I’m still on a vacation mood, I will continue musing here and this time it will be about schooling, education, career, vocation, heartbreaks, intimate celibacy, and dreams.

A career or calling?
To be honest, I never dreamed of becoming a high school teacher when I was still a child or even a teen. The closest would be my dream of becoming a professor in college. Now one of my college pals just finished his master’s in Clinical Psychology. I could not remember if I mentioned that being a Marist Brother was one of my dreams as a teenager but anyway I’m telling it now. And since I am already a Marist Brother, I still dream of becoming a professor. But if I would do that, would it make my religious vocation not as a vocation (i.e. “a calling”) but as a career? Well, I would not really pursue it and just make it happen when I am told to teach in college. That’s out of the equation at the moment since I don’t have yet a master’s degree. I had some post-graduate units taken last year but that’s all I have. So that’s just one of my many desires and I am just being honest by writing it out.

Schooling and education
Seven years ago, I don’t even have the financial means to enroll in a post-graduate school before I entered the Marist Brothers. That time, I thought of going back to school again right after graduating in college. I still wanted to study. I was still unprepared in the transition of working right after college graduation. Just like my long break now, right after my college graduation, I was so restless in having a break in studies, thinking on my bed, and playing computer games. I had lots of exercise though. I was tired in studies but I want to keep on going. Mark Twain said he would not let schooling interfere with his education. I too had to keep that in mind. I was too selective in accepting job offers. I had my options: study again and/or work. Out of the blue, I entertained the thought of joining the Marist Brothers. They invited me when I was in second year college; I am Marist-educated; I am single; I know the life of St. Marcellin Champagnat; I lived with the Brothers in Mindanao for a week when I was still in high school; and I dreamed of becoming one. So, why not become a Marist Brother?

And these thoughts occurred to me so I contacted the Marist Brothers and told them that I am interested to become one of them. And they gave me one year to decide if I am serious with my decision or not. That’s why I worked as a property consultant and as a technical support representative even though I was underemployed as long as I can save money for my future trip to Mindanao.

I don’t even know if my close friends know about this. Maybe they just thought I was heart-broken. And if their reason is true, I should have been out a long time already. Or maybe that’s part of my unconscious motivation of joining religious life.

I remember in a dream six year ago in the Aspirancy House that I was being chased by some hooligans and I was shot dead. I woke up in the middle of that night and even posted in my Facebook status that I was thankful to be alive. The only explanation I can come up with that dream was that I was eluding something that I can’t accept or I don’t like and that my death was a reminder of my spiritual death since I was not a practicing Catholic when I was in college. So maybe the heart-broken part is true based on that dream but I would deny that consciously of course. Or am I running away from something other than that?

Intimate celibacy
The problem now is that I learned in religious life how to love many without being exclusively in a relationship with a woman; that I can be intimate while being celibate. (I will tackle this in the future.)

A recurring dream
But my death in my dream? I cannot really make sense of it. That dream recurred a few days ago. Again, I was riding a vehicle and I was being chased by some hooligans. But on this second time, I am alive. What does that mean?

And that’s it for an episode of my free-writing. Thanks for reading.

Please pray for me and my companions for our tomorrow’s trip to General Santos City. I would be there for a two-week training.

And that means a hiatus.

Again, let us pray for one another.