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Fun and Fond Memories: Episode 1

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Fun and Fond Memories

Episode 1

My entry and my stay in the Institute of Environmental Planning (IEP), now School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP), University of the Philippines, were full of memorable and unforgettable experiences. Whether you like it or not, I will share with you a few of them.

. . . "unforgettables" . . . "memorables" . . . I can never forget my traumatic experience in my Basic Economics class. I almost failed and had it been so, I would have quit the course. I failed miserably in my mid-term exam. It was along test and as I read through it , I froze. I mean totally froze I could not even move my fingers for a few minutes. All the questions were "filling the blanks, multiple choice, matching type, true or false (right minus wrong). The questions were very tricky. All the answers appeared to be right, and the instruction was to select or give the best answers!

But wait, that's what ECON is supposed to be, isn't it? . . . no wrong answer (only wrong choices, bad decisions) . . alternatives, options . . . no single solution to a problem (you just have to select the best)

But to get back to my harrowing misadventure. I did not prepare for this type of exam. I was expecting an open-ended essay type of discussion requiring situational and hypothetical analysis. I did not memorize theories, laws, who's who in economics (sounds like a famous inventor?). totally devastated by the result of the exam, I almost decided to quit the course, (I forgot to mention that I was taking up a graduate course in Environmental Planning). But when I came back to my senses, i realized that quitting was just one of the alternatives, and the consequences would be terrible. Being a full time government scholar, I have to refund the expenses (tuition, allowances, books, etc.), but more than this, I could end up a psychological derelict, a disgrace to my co-employees and my friends.

There were two other feasible options (that's economics for you, I was learning fast), one, drop the subject and take it later, two, go on and fight to the end, and if fate would have it, die fighting (how heroic).

The problem now is how to choose the best option (ah, the horror of economics --- after looking for possible solutions, another problem crops up).

After cracking my brains, I came to a decision to consult somebody, a friend. Next question. who? I first came up with a long list of "some bodies", then a short list of three choices.

(See the never-ending syndrome --- problems --- options --- choices --- problems . . . it's not only a horror but a nightmare!)

Finally, I decided to ask the help of, not only the best, but the one and only true and faithful friend, the Lord!

Funny, He was not even included in my original list of "some bodies".

Later, I realized why! He cannot be compared with somebody, with anybody, with others. He is never, never, never an option in our life, in anything.. He is imperative in our life, in all and all and everything. He is the only and ultimate answer to any and all problems, big and small, real or imagined.

I prayed to the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Abandoned, patron Saint of our parish, in Sta. Ana, Manila. I presented to her the situation and asked if I should continue with my economics class. After a short silence, I heard a distinct sweet and assuring "YES", just one clear "YES", no more, no less. Ater that, I felt an indescribable peace of mind. In an instant all my anxieties were gone. And surprise of all surprise, before the end of the trimester and several weeks before the final exam our economics professor got indisposed and a substitute took her place. The test was just what I wished --- situational analysis, discussion and open-ended, applied economics.

I passed! Miracle of all miracles, I passed! Oh, what a mighty God I have!

Yes, I passed, not with flying colors though, but that's not important. What's important is I did not get a failing grade. To me it was the best grade I ever got, even better than the rest of my grades (which were very good and excellent), for two reasons: first, it scared me to death earning it, second and more importantly, it was a gift to me by the Lord. I knew it was impossible for me to pass the subject, but God in His infinite love intervened. True to His Word, nothing is impossible to Him.

After this bloody bout with basic economics, I sailed through smoothly with my advance economic classes, under different professors --- I felt at home and comfortable with their styles, especially now that the Lord was with me.

In fairness to the science of economics (or is it an art?), more than the horrors of economics I learned two very important lessons. First, the ironic beauty of economics --- that after going through the rigmarole of economics, you could end up with the best solution that is not even included in the list of your alternatives. Second, the bitter frustration of economics --- the sad reality that after all your efforts, none of your options has been accepted or adopted by the decision makers.

A third, and sadder truth could be added, which I learned later by experience, that more often than not, you have no choice; you are given only one option and you have to put economics into it to justify the decision or choice.

But this is no cause for despair or hopelessness. For the final decision is not with men, but with GOD, our Father in heaven. All things are possible if only we would ask Him. Remember what He said "Until now you have not asked me.".

I did ask Him and He answered me. What about you. Have you asked Him yet? Try Him! And see and taste the goodness of the Lord!

Published: 2006-05-21
Author: Apolo Jucaban

About the author or the publisher
Filipino, male, married,2 children, two grandsons.Education: A.B. English,in Literature; B.S. Geology; Master in Environmental Planning all taken from the University of the Phillipines post-graduate in Groundwater Development, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
Profession: More than 15 years in the government as project manager/director; about 25 years in as consultant,local & foreign assignments. Have various unpublished & published papers, technical reports, seminar papers.

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