September 25, 2023

Waking up to a bright and hopeful morning, a learner in the City of Baguio prepares to head to his university as he builds a future for himself. He exits his home, walks through the city, and up he walks a gigantic stairs as his route that would seemingly symbolize his arduous climb to success. His university is now at his eyes’ sight, and he enters into the realm of the knowledge-rich and giving premises and through the door, the domain to be nurtured in his chosen forte. This is his everyday life, his usual routine. He plans to achieve a better life, thus he studies and desires to pass his tests and exams. A successful life is his dream. But amidst this seemingly perfectly uninterrupted goal-oriented progress of this learner and his colleagues, a danger lurks from a foreign land that would soon grow to be an invisible juggernaut and overwhelm the nations, including his. It would dramatically change the lives of many with its colossal effect. This juggernaut of an enemy is the novel coronavirus. With this invisible enemy at the doorstep of the learner’s native country, the government issued a national lockdown, which we would commonly know as quarantine. The learner, now stuck in his home, had to continue in his path to success through home study using online means. And so begins his continual tread to his life objective in a phase of tribulation not just for him, but for the entire country.
He wakes up in a still hopeful morning, eats some bread, opens the laptop of his roommate as he does not own one, and heads to his online studies. He reads for a while after checking assignments. He meticulously goes through each question with the review notes and the Internet as his advantage. H reads and comprehends every sentence of every number, as a painter who fearfully makes every stroke with a brush. And like a cunning wolf, he calculates every word to use whenever his professors would require him to write essays. He answers every task he receives. One sentence at a time, one page at a time, and one task at a time just as how a man is told the wise words, “one step at a time”. With one task done after the other like each a stepping stone to his future prize, he gets weary as well. And boredom has become a plague in this seemingly dead society with the stringent lockdown implemented. The learner decides to go out for a walk. He soon discovers an eerie feeling of the ghost town. With the resemblance of a city deserted of hope, he walks on. Towards his university, he reminisces the lively past as he paints images in his head countless students walking by the university to build their future with glee. The learner decides to go home. He realizes that this lockdown is causing him a mental burden, an unexplainable stress that is taking a toll on his studies. He could hardly focus, and it was easily for him to study in a face-to-face manner. This quarantine stress is seemingly overwhelming him. This home study mirrors the struggle he and countless other learners are facing. It was simply difficult to concentrate his effort. But he pushed on. “The root of education is bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” The learner recalls these words of wisdom as the words of this essay are being born into existence with the presses of persistent fingers and an iron will. One day, he messaged one of his professors opening his heart of the burden of this quarantine stress that causes him and many students to hardly focus and with hopes of the government lifting up the lockdown. The professor, with a sorry heart, replied that there is no notice yet to lift the lockdown, but provided encouragement to not give up on his studies. The learner, with a mixture of despair and being uplifted, thanked the professor’s understanding and moved on to the remaining tasks. And true enough, his path to finish his current level was not a walk in the park. He had to channel his strength, his willpower to read and accomplish every assigned task. Failure was not in his option. Nevertheless, a handful of tasks went untouched, but many others were passed as a bountiful of answers were given. This became the usual routine of this learner; an arduous walk to success to be done with one step at a time, and to be armed with an iron will to overcome all odds was a necessity for him.
Today, the learner continues in his march to victory with his eyes on the prize. Whatever the struggle he is facing, the mental or emotional stress caused by the lockdown, he reminds himself that the fruit of education is sweet, that when all this is over, he will look back to his struggle today and say, “It was all worth it,”. I, the learner, typing these very words on an old but working tablet, wishes encouragement to other learners like me amidst the ordeal. (CHRISTOPHER JOHN G. BLACK)