Ronibats.PH Stories of a Filipino neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer

Be Like That


We all have this “thing” in our lives. One “thing.” That’s how I’d like to call it.  It’s the “thing” we particularly work hard for. The “thing” that makes us do other things we did not think we would ever do. A “thing” we enjoy, despise, laugh at, cry for, and worry over in our lives.

My “thing” is something that has influenced, controlled, manipulated and directed my life; it practically is my life.  Yet now, when the pieces of my life are supposed to be falling into their proper places, it feels like everything is starting to fall apart.

I think we all come to that point when we begin to ask ourselves: “Is this the life I wanted to live?” We ask this question, not really wanting to know the answer, because it sucks to realize that all your life has been devoted to some “thing,” which in time you come to think is of no worth at all.

The decision to live the “academic life” had come naturally to me, a personal choice since time immemorial. I don’t recall anybody, especially my parents, forcing me to prepare for an exam, submit a project or do my assignments.

Not a single time.

Nevertheless, I studied.

For the past fourteen years or so, that’s what I did with my life: study. And I didn’t just study. I did my best.

While my classmates played basketball all week, my time was spent on countless adventures with Frank and Joe Hardy. Magic did not mean a card game to me in elementary. It was discovering a shortcut way of finding the product of a number and nine. Having fun was not malling and arcade games. It was enjoying the latest John Grisham novel given to me as a Christmas present. I did not even find the time to learn how to ride a bike! In high school, I was never “one of the guys” — they who learned to smoke, get drunk and brag about their sexual escapades while I learned to derive my own formulae for math contests, deliver extemporaneous speeches and name organic compounds.

I am a boring guy. I guess you could call me that.

I must admit that there have been countless times, like today, when I wish I did not do the things I did. When I wish things had taken a different turn. When I wish my “thing” had not been academics.

I’d wonder how my life could have been, had I become a basketball pro. Or the drummer of my own band. Or an expert in billiards. Or a feared terrorist in Counter Strike. Just like the rest of the “cool” guys to say the least.

My usual escape mechanism is to sour grape my way out of self-induced misery.

That if things were the other way around, then I probably couldn’t have passed the UPCAT. Or finished high school (and hopefully, college) under academic scholarship. Or written the essay that won me a book of short stories in a youth congress. Or solved the math problems that gave me trophies, medals and cash prizes. Or delivered the speeches that earned me “Congratulations” from people I did not even know. Or witnessed the joy in my parents’ faces when they attended my high school graduation. (You probably would not be reading this article now!)

Still, I wonder how it would feel to be somebody else. Somebody almost like me, just better. I think there’s nothing wrong with that. Rather than repress my regrets, I’d feel better admitting them.

Too bad, turning back is no option. To turn back would be to make nightmares out of dreams that had once given me direction and pushed me to the limits. It would be deconstructing a past of certainty, falsely hoping that out of the bits and pieces some sort of bigger-better-brighter-grander future would emerge. It would be living a lifetime hating my self, for the decisions I made and the person I wanted to be.

I would not want that. I will never want that.

After all, I’ve already come a long way trying to be good at doing my “thing.”

No, not just good.

My best at doing “my thing.”

About the author

Ron Baticulon

Ronibats is a pediatric neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer. In 2018, he won a Palanca award for the title essay of his first book, "Some Days You Can't Save Them All," published by The University of the Philippines Press. You can follow him on Twitter @ronibats.


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  • Hi! This one is so great. This is so me. I realized a lot while I am reading. And I learned a lot. I learned to express myself and be myself. Thanks 🙂

  • i have yet to find my ” thing ”. i always felt like everything was laid up in front of me. i was forced to study and i turned out hating school works. not to brag or anything but i think innate intelligence has kept the academic thread i hang on to unbroken. (i actually am in the second section this year for the 1st time in my life because learning without sincerity, i told myself, wouldn’t be learning at all)

    i have always been different from the other guys too. i am always the biggest and tallest in every class i become part of but i was always teased to be very wimpy. i had been lost and in trying to find my ”thing”, i have become a master of nothing.

    i’m 16, 6 feet tall and in no ways going to receive a scholarship in sports, not even in academics… you can say my world is a place of mediocrity but i figured comparing myself to others and impressing people who wouldn’t care is a very useless thing.

    i know i will find my place… i am a step or two closer to my ” thing ”. more college entrance exam results will arrive soon ^_^

Ronibats.PH Stories of a Filipino neurosurgeon, teacher, and writer