The Stradbroke Connection: Study with my father again

09 Dec

“It is said some lives are linked across time, Connected by an ancient calling that echoes through the ages”

— From the 2006 movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time


NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND, Queensland— The day for our trip to an island fell exactly on my birthday. It was the 10th of May 2012 and I was even more excited knowing that I can once again find myself on a quest to go on a soul searching of some description.

Photo by Shao Cheng Heng

Photo by Shao Cheng Heng

Another year has passed and I had a difficult juggling act of completing few academic work loads whilst battling with the tyranny of distance, being away from few family members back home. Plus keeping track of some priorities in life including most especially my faith, friends and university—so I have to make sure I have time to get a little time off and break away from the normal routine.

Little did my companions of that special trip know that after their singing of ‘Happy Birthday’, I was bound to entertain the idea of just sitting alone on a distant corner and engage on a peaceful relaxation and just forget about studying, while basking under the Aussie sun.  Despite the short break in between the next itinerary in the island, just around lunch time, oh boy was I lucky to take time drawing in the sand!


Personal reflections

Since it was my birthday it was an opportune time for me to reflect on what I have done so far in my life, particularly from the time I had to pick up myself after that tragic family event when I was nine, involving my mother’s vehicular accident—which led me to an awakening that I have to move on (hence, the theme of my very first post).

To start off, I guess I have constantly seen myself as a work in progress. Having to also endure the pain of the loss of my father due to complications of a health disorder, then to some of my own personal heartbreak stories and what not, sometimes I found that in nostalgic moments I clearly do not want them to be a usual refrain anymore.  Yet I know it is a part of my life and I am happy to rise and fall each time, and learn every step of the way—albeit those were all the source of my inspiration and definitely where I draw confidence from.


Seeking now for some connection whilst looking back to my timeline, allow me to start by remembering what my old man wished for in his own life. I have learned from my sister that it was my father’s wish to also study abroad—and he was nearly close to that as he was no doubt a brilliant guy who sought for possible opportunities in life to better the way of living after marrying my mother. I knew there was a sort of scholarship which he got qualified for, to study in the US during his early days.

Not only did he not have enough financial means to process his papers, he also did not get the much needed support from family members on his side including my mother’s—merely because of his imperfect health condition.  Early on, his life was a constant combat with life-threatening complications; heart-attack plus all the added misery and suffering caused by diabetes.  Particularly to his family and relatives, this meant that overseas travel would perhaps only worsen this.

But I’d like to believe that anybody who knew him well can easily get an impression that he is likely to set this plan in stone. But despite that sheer determination, he later believed that chasing this dream of furthering his studies abroad—as a conduit for escaping poverty—would only remain his one elusive dream.


Following Papa’s footprints 

Fittingly enough are the words spoken by the wife of the current US president, quoting the words she herself borrowed from her parents: “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dream, but maybe my children will, maybe my grandchildren will.”

And today I figured on my own that it’s as if these very words were spoken by my own father himself, and together with his constant encouragement and inspiration after all those years, continued to carry me through. He was this beacon of light that guided every path I tread on.  There were little disappointments on my part of course, but he continued to have that faith in me.


Like my mom, his attention to details was microscopic.  His mark of discipline for studying I have well-indoctrinated myself with, to an extent where—and I could still remember— I would sometimes blame him for not waking me up earlier than what we normally agreed to, sometimes 3, 4, or 5 o’clock in the morning.  Just so I can study well for exams back in high school/college in the Philippines.  Mind you, he would even feel sorry as if it was an important obligation as a father to me.

Photo by Leong Ming En

Lunch at Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island with student ambassadors Nathacha (Venezuela), Ali (Qatar), myself (Philippines), Guillaume (France), Shao (Malaysia) and Yoshiaki (Japan)   | Photo by Leong Ming En


No longer his unfinished business

Being on Queensland soil and soaking up on a brief island stint at North Stradbroke, quickly it came to mind that soon in December 2012 will be my graduation, I wish I can tell him that “what remained only as a dream for you Pa—to go overseas and study, has finally been realized by your own son, so thank you for giving me life.”   I have a strange feeling that his father (my grandfather) had the same aspirations for him.  True enough, my father’s life and my own are indeed interwoven by our common dreams and aspirations echoing through the sands of time. Needless to say that I love him even more, as besides our blood this is our connection.

How I wish he will be there in the audience clapping and saying, “I’m proud of that small guy right there. That’s my son!”

Not that he ever let me feel that he was not proud of me when he was alive. I know he is, but it’s a different feeling to get on stage being called with the surname we both share and to have him see that event unfold in his very own eyes.  This I’m sure—and many of you would agree (about your parents) that this is such a rare occasion that would serve as recognition of how much I value every bit of his legacy. For he once taught me how to pray, how to be humble, how to stand up for what I believe in, and he is one person I can show my genuine child-like character.  There would be no son in this world who will not be happy seeing a father happy and—most of all—proud of whatever that son achieves in life.

Aboard the Big Red Cat (catamaran vessel) off to North Stradbroke Island| Photo by Kritika Bansal

Aboard the Big Red Cat (catamaran vessel) off to North Stradbroke Island.  | Photo by Kritika Bansal

“Pa, I may not see you with Mama while I grab the parchment on stage but do know that this one’s for you both.  So here I am, finally did what you wanted to do in your life. Your words continue to carry me through and are much appreciated even to this day.”

This gave me a conclusion that my own father’s ‘American Dream’ has already become my own ‘Australian Reality’.




Article dedicated to Dionisio G. Villagonzalo (1935-2007)

Related Post: An Ambassador: The Child I Was


Summer is here in Brisbane. It’s the best time to embrace the beach culture of Australia’s sunshine state, Queensland. The Student Ambassadors (especially the birthday boy) just enjoy the treat from Redland City Council Tourism, a day at North Stradbroke Island is certainly the way to go when it comes to breaking the monotony of studying.

And finally the most awaited interview with Miss Tourism Vietnam 2011 Huynh Thi Ngoc Han. She shares about her life as a student in Brisbane & why she is proud of her roots.

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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Study Brisbane


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