grit and grace. 

I can’t believe it really is all over now.

I’m trying to process the past four and a half years, how pivotal it was and how much I’ve changed. Nothing’s really special about that, everyone changes when you hand them four years so  packed with experience, but hey, allow me to make sense of it.

More than anything , college was God’s answer to my fervent prayer. Let me walk you through that real quick.

In 2013, my brother and I  graduated high school and we quickly came to terms with the truth that our family can’t afford sending one of us to college, let alone two. I got over it quickly and accepted the fact that we are poor, you know, it’s not really a surprise. But my heart refused to accept the fact that my brother can’t go to college, too. 

When all this was happening, I had only turned a year old as a Christian. I coped with it the best way I could, by praying. I did all sorts of bargains with God just so he could send my brother to college. We asked around for scholarships (did you know Jollibee accepts scholars? Now you know), I was 17 years old then so I couldn’t get a job yet. My mom didn’t have a job. We begged our relatives and rich friends. None of it really worked. By the time classes begun, and we were still in debt and out of college, I became so depressed. It was unfair. A lot of people we knew that did not even care about learning got into prestigious universities and  there we were. We couldn’t even afford a haircut for Jerry. It was horrible all around. 

But we kept praying. It was the only sane thing left to do.

Fast forward, a few months. I was in Manila, Jerry was in Cebu (in hindsight that was a pretty clever way of splitting expenses. One less mouth to feed) and we’d call each other every now and then. On one night his voice  was particularly hopeful. He said people in Bradford were interested in sending us to school because they read my testimony. 

Felt like finding a spring in a vast, ghost town of a desert.

I came back home to Cebu. Cut to the hallway outside the old bradford sanctuary, me and Jerry and Ate Jonx huddled in a circle, crying, because we just got the news that the church was willing to pay for our college education, both of us, and in that moment I just knew God kept me waiting for a reason, why He took a while to build up to that moment, and that’s because He wants the fingerprints on this miracle to be indelibly His. It was, all around.

I will never forget how much I treasured that first semester. Since I enrolled a semester late I didn’t have friends yet, I was alone most of the time. But I loved it. I was floating on a cloud of gratefulness. My grades were either 1.0 or 1.1 and I’m not even exaggerating that.

I hate to transition into this part, because you know, I could have kept it up. I could have stayed grateful and giddy. But I didn’t. To be honest, the rest of college is a blur. It was semesters of just trying to get by. I can recall the exact moment it went downhill.

It was a Saturday. I was in class, just staring into space. The previous night was an acquaintance party that I organized, because I was president of our student org. It went fairly well but it drained me, man, all the complaints, all the opposition. My prof noticed it and scolded the class for being ungrateful. But I was just done. The year went by like that. I faced so much opposition from an admin office for things done by previous presidents. I developed so much anxiety and depression. I dropped like two classes. I retreated into a shell, tried to be invisible, didn’t answer my phone at all.

That’s the Krizia most people remember. The Krizia younger batches heard about. I hate it. I feel so ashamed that it had to be that way. I wish I was stronger or more secure back then. 

Why am I telling you all this? I’m not sure. Whenever people ask me about college, my first instinct is to be defensive. Or to feign innocence. Hey, it wasn’t my fault I started late. We’re dirt poor. It’s not my fault I’m too busy all the time, I’m a working student. I have so many reasons in my pocket just in case people even so uttered a word–

But I want to go back to what college really is. It was God’s answer to my prayer, our prayer. All these excuses I hold so tightly in my palms, turns out they are not even mine to hold. God used them for my good, somehow. In my hands they are swords, but in His they are seedlings, for growth. Scepters and a Crown. 

People have been congratulating me all weekend, saying I’ve made it, which is a total overestimation of this scenario because I didn’t make it, at all. Nail-pierced hands had to carry me through it. If Jesus weren’t there I highly doubt any outcome that comes with life or hope or applause. 

People say they are inspired by my story, but to be painfully honest,  the inspiring parts belong to God and His people who did not hesitate in obeying Him. So here’s to the people who helped us financially, fed us when we had nothing to eat, bought us our uniforms, gave us rides to school, prayed for us incessantly, thank you so much. I can never repay your kindness and selflessness. Bradford Church, thank  you so much. To all the people who did not give up on me when I gave up on myself or my dream, thank you. To entrepreneurs who hired me for freelance jobs, thank you. To my friends, who to this day still look at me like I’m polished and beautiful, to my mother, who never wanted me to cry, to my brother, who I fight for and who fights for me – THANK YOU. You are the stars to this story. 

And thank You Lord. For college. Here I discovered my love for stories and film. My passion for creating. For the countless opportunities I had, like shooting documentaries or winning awards for my screenplay. For all the people I met. For falling in love (or so I thought HAHA) for the first time. For all the lessons I had on being a woman, all learned the hard way –  walking home alone, crying, kind of way. For finding people in my tribe. For allowing me to wander and discover but not to my peril. For plucking me out of the darkness a thousand times. For being patient with me in depression. Not one moment were You non-trustworthy. You are so good to me. You love me so well. 

This is how I want to remember college. It was grit, but it was also grace. Thank You Jesus. 

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