Read This If You Feel Stuck or Are Unhappy With Your Course

"I thought myself to be a failure, that I couldn't make myself like what I was doing, or that I was simply not good enough for the field I had chosen."
IMAGE Claudine Allyson R. Dungo

Some people are lucky enough to know what exactly they want to be while others try and figure it out along the way. Claudine Allyson Dungo experienced both: she was sure she wanted to be a doctor since she was very young but somewhere along the way, things started to shift, which left her lost more than ever.

"Claudine Allyson R. Dungo
BS Biology, Class of 2015

...would've been the caption of this graduation photo if everything went as planned. But if you've been around long enough, you'd know that that's rarely the case.

"I was always going to be a doctor. I was made for it, they'd say.

"I was born into a family of medical practitioners. I grew up surrounded by doctors, and at the age of four I could identify the different parts of the female reproductive system. I knew names of diseases that some people, even in their adulthood wouldn't hear of. Everyone would tell me that I would be a brilliant doctor one day, just like my parents. All my life I believed that and everything I did was to work towards that goal.


"In grade school, I was a tomboyish, shy and awkward obese kid whose only redeeming qualities were her grades. I attended an all girls' school and was never really made to feel like I was good for anything else, so I hinged my self-worth on my academic performance."

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"I worked to get awards every year, so that I could come on stage and be noticed, even for those brief moments. My efforts eventually got me into one of the country's most prestigious high schools: Philippine Science High (Pisay)."

Contrary to the preconceived notion people have of Pisay students, Claudine said she didn't do so well in her Science and Math subjects. She was great though in PE, English, and the Arts. But that didn't stop her from working hard for the UPCAT and eventually got into UP and her dream course, BS Biology with a DOST scholarship to boot!

Everything was happening according to plan and Claudine could already see the bright future ahead of her. But not for long. Somewhere along the way, she started to feel uninspired to the point that she failed a few subjects and got low grades.


"During the first semester of second year, the pre-med org I was applying to conducted a Med school campus tour, and I was exposed to what my future academic environment would be. Instead of being thrilled and excited, however, I was left with a sense of dread. The thought of working in the hospital, surrounded by the sick and the dyingwhich is inspiring to others—depressed me.

"Despite that, it didn't occur to me to change my plans. It was too late. I owed so much to my family and the government for subsidizing my studies for so many years. I was bound to dedicating my life and my talents to science. I had spent all my life working to become a medical student, and back then, being a doctor was the only career that I thought would make me worth something. If I didn't become one, I was a failure."


"It was the only way I could give back to the country. My parents and their colleagues would always tell me that money came easy when you were a doctor, and the sense of fulfillment when you help save a life is unparalleled. It was something I told myself every day to keep me going.

"I spent the entire semester acting like a robot—I'd go to class just for the sake of it, do my work dutifully so that I could live out my 'lifelong dream.' I slaved in the laboratory, working for the impeding future that I dreaded. It began to eat me away. I started hating microscopes, I started hating test tubes. I started hating the seats in the lab, the old, broken projector, the books, the preserved animals in the bottles, my professors. I started hating plants and animals. I started hating life.

"I thought myself to be a failure, that I couldn't make myself like what I was doing, or that I was simply not good enough for the field I had chosen. Though I was finally getting good marks on my requirements, it took everything in me just to keep it up, and I became miserable."


"It came to a point that I knew I couldn't do it anymore. I purposely stopped coming to class and failed core subjects and got 3.00 in others. I lost my scholarship. I was done. I was one of those 'promising kids' who eventually became bums."

"I didn't know what to do with my life."

She then spent the next semester taking General Education subjects so she could easily shift to a different course. Those subjects helped her slowly figure things out and explore a world outside of medicine.

"Watching my batchmates graduate and getting jobs for two years now and seeing younger and younger students each year while I stay stuck has been painful, sure. Looking back however, it has all been worth it. Two extra years is a small price to pay for the all the new things I've experienced, for the wonderful people I met along the way, and the realizations I made about myself that I would never have had if I stayed on course. Though I am not graduating with honors, I am happier and more fulfilled than I have ever been in my life."


"I've come a long way from being the girl who only found worth in her grades, and now I know that I am so much more than the 2.38 GWA on my transcript."

"So to all of you who feel stuck, to those who believe they aren't happy where they are, what I can tell you is take a leap of faith. You'll never know what is for you until you try. Things eventually fall into place."

For real this time,
Claudine Allyson R. Dungo
BS HRIM, Class of 2017
Incoming freshman at the UP College of Law

Read Claudine's full story here.

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About the author
Mara Agner
Assistant Lifestyle and Features Editor

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"Bloodlines are nothing when you don't know how to fulfill your responsibility as a parent."
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Today, I am sharing my mother's story. I wish my mother was a constant in my life, like an angel who guards you to sleep and comes right there when you called. But angels come back home too, in heaven where they always belonged, and my mother went back a little early. My mother died when I was 13 years old. My last memory of my mother: Letting go when you are not yet ready is a very cruel thing that one has to ever experience. It is a sudden wave of total sadness and desperation crashing into your very core.

On the 28th of July 2013, we went to a resort in Bataan for the employees’ getaway. My parents own a 7-11 franchise, and it had always been a tradition to give their store clerks a get-together every year. I remember very well the last breakfast I had with my mother. The Sunday morning sky was clear and sunny, and the sea was calm and tranquil as we ate our breakfast on a cottage under the tall palm trees. She shared with us a strange dream she had the other night. She dreamt about an unknown woman holding an ice pick chasing her down on a dimly lit street, then she woke up just before the woman could grab her arm. We never knew what that dream exactly meant and now, I wished I never knew its meaning. After breakfast, my family and our employees decided to take a swim at the beach. The day was nice. The morning air may be chilly but the sun’s kiss on our skins gave us warmth. It was perfect. Everything is fine and the tides are low which made it very enjoyable to swim. We swam a little farther from the shore and we stopped to the point where the water reached our shoulders. We were talking about the good things in life and reminiscing the good old days. Those are the things that I’ve always loved about my family because I never had a meaningless conversation with them.

A few moments later, we heard a panicking call for help from one of our store clerks. It was Rachel. She was struggling to keep her head above water. She was already drowning but the odd thing was, she was only a few feet away from us. At first, we thought she was just playing around until we felt the sand in our toes dissolving like powder. It felt like as if the seafloor submerged deeper. I remembered sighting the shore and it seemed so close yet very far away. We were all panicking at that time. No one knew how to swim except my mother so without having second thoughts she swam towards Rachel and called out to my father, “Yung mga anak mo! Dalhin mo sa pampang yung mga anak mo!” and I never thought I already heard my mother’s last words to my father. I was paddling like a dog, gasping for air, as I say a little prayer to God to take us all back to safety. I felt my father grabbing our swimsuits, trying to lift our bodies so we can breathe even though he was also struggling to keep himself alive. Once I felt my toes touch the ground, there came a veil of relief that covered my whole body. As soon as my father and my sister made it to the shore we started calling out for help. There were no lifeguards on duty at that time, no personnel, nor guards. I saw my mother already floating in her stomach. We sighted a boat sailing nearby, we waved our hands and called for their attention. They almost ignored us because they cannot comprehend what we were trying to relay but the good thing was a passenger in the boat noticed my mother and Rachel in the water.

My mother’s body was laid on the shore. She was unconscious and her whole body was pale as white. My father performed CPR but my mother couldn’t get the water come out of her mouth because the food she ate earlier got stuck in her throat and blocked the passage. A concerned tourist offered his car to deliver my mom in a nearby health center or a clinic of some sort since the hospital was miles away from the beach and she needs immediate care. My father told us to stay in the hotel room and prepare mom’s belongings so that if she wakes up she has fresh clothes to change into. My sister and I finished packing our things and waited for our father to pick us up from the hotel. I was crying and I couldn’t stop myself because I was afraid to lose my mother. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be if I lose her that day. Moments lasted until we heard a knock on the door and it was my father, crying, and apologizing to us. He hugged me and my sister tightly and saying, “Sorry, anak, sorry hindi na uuwi si mommy, sorry hindi ko nasagip si mommy”. And that was the moment I felt sinking into the ground. I never knew what to feel at first. I was numb because my worries were now actually a reality that I have to live in. I was at shock because I am now one of the kids in those cliche teleseryes who lost a mother at an early age. We went to the health center to settle everything. The clinic was very small and it sure did lack equipment. He told us to stay in the car. I wanted to see my mom, but I know he never wanted us to see her like that. I didn’t know what to feel. I was having high anxiety levels that my stomach is churning and I wanted to vomit. I got off the car and entered the health center to find the restroom. When I was finding my way around, I passed by the emergency room. I saw my mother lying in a foldable bed, lifeless, her hands dangling from the side of the bed, she has violet bruises on her skin, and her body was partially covered with a white towel.

That is when it sunk into me that she’s dead and never coming back. My father asked the others to just commute back to Manila because what we need right now is comfort from our family. The drive back home was one of the most painful memory I had as a kid. My father was in the steering wheel crying his eyes out. We drove from Bataan to Pampanga. We went home to my grandmother’s house, the nearest house that we can call “home” because how are we still going to be “home” without her?

Once we reached Pampanga, we stopped over to the gas station and my father made some calls to our loved ones to tell them that my mother passed away. He then called my aunt to help him arrange for the funeral. We got home and my grandmother hugged us and told us to get some rest. Already tired of crying, I went to sleep for a while. I woke up and for a second, I thought everything that happened the other day was all just a dream. That she was there in Manila, sitting on the couch reading some furniture magazine, waiting for us to go home. But that’s how cruel life is, right? I got up and weirdly, I felt sands in the bed. It was gray, just like the ones on the beach. I thought maybe it was just dirt but it was a fair amount to believe that maybe she visited us before she left. - ?

- The part of how I conquered the grief of her passing is shared in my personal blog. I felt the need to share my story with everyone since she's the woman I look up to. Feel free to visit my personal blog too when you have the time. I love writing my stories. Thank You! link: http://qkathreece.wixsite.com/kathreecequizon/post/breaking-waves

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