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Second Chances

People make mistakes. Failure of whatever kind is a basic reality of living. We do fail regardless of position or stature in life. But failure is an opportunity for improvement, of learning to get back up armed with the teachings brought about by failure to be able to finally reach a measure of finite success.

The Foundation

John (not his real name) started out just like every other kid, with playing and school the recipe of his daily living. Like most kids, he preferred playing instead of studying. He was wide-eyed and had grand plans for when he grows up.

John also had the support of his parents and relatives who believed that he can be successful in the future. Like a good soldier, he marched on through the challenges of life and school.

The Swerve

Unbeknownst to him or to his social circle, life’s challenges would veer for the worst. John’s friends whom he considered people he could trust started to introduce him to illicit things. Youthful indiscretion led John to think that doing so would be okay and that he would earn the favor of his friends by following suit, never knowing then the consequences of what he was getting himself into.

John got deep into criminal affairs and though he wanted to stop, the pull of the group and of the illegal drugs he was beginning to take on a regular basis was too much to pass up on. This went on for years and he thought nothing bad would really happen because he was just having the time of his life.

Reality-Check

As faith would have it, life had other plans for John. He got caught in 2012 and in doing so got charged with violating Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Being a minor at that time, he became a Child in Conflict with the Law (CICL) and was transferred to the Cagayan Valley Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (CV-RRCY).

“Hindi ko noon iniisip mga ginawa ko hanggang sa mahuli ako. Mas inuna ko ang barkada at masamang gawain ng hindi iniisip ang magiging dulot ng mga ginagawa ko. Bata kasi ako noon at hindi ko pa alam masyado ang tama sa mali,” John recalled.

The social workers assigned to John took the opportunity to teach him the right ways and correct his path. John initially resisted at the idea of being made to change in such a facility and wanted to get out as soon as possible but he eventually recognized his mistakes and put all his efforts into making his ways better.

“Yung bata, kahit alam mong nagkamali, alam mong kayang magbago kasi nagpursige siya noong nandito siya sa CV-RRCY. Binago niya ang kanyang ugali at pananaw sa buhay. Bata pa kasi siya noon at hindi pa niya alam ang maling ginawa niya,” said one social worker who attended to John when he was at the facility.

The process was long and arduous and there were times when John would resist correction. But as iron sharpens iron, his steely belief in sticking to his bad ways was met with a focused approach by center staff to make him change. Days and weeks went by and changes did happen to John’s ways and beliefs.

John finally straightened his ways after months of stay in the center and eventually got released from the CV-RRCY in 2013. He was then referred to a Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (TRC) in Manila for further rehabilitation. His case eventually got settled and after some time, John was able to finally be reunited with his family.

“Masaya ako noong nakalabas ako at kinuha ko yung pagkakataon para mabago buhay ko,” John said.

Looking back, John was happy that the experience helped him mature and realize what’s wrong from what is right. He said the experience taught him to value life and the changes that such a life-altering experience can give, a priceless opportunity he learned from the missteps of his younger self.

“Natutunan ko simula ng nandoon ako sa CV-RRCY na mahalin ang Panginoon, yung sarili ko at yung mga taong naniniwalang kaya ko pang magbago pati na yung mga pangaral na dapat may pangarap at hindi pa huli ang lahat, na dapat maniwala lang ako sa sarili ko na magbabago ako,” John said.

Looking Ahead

John, now 24, strives to one day protect and abide by the law that he once broke and serve as a policeman. He is now finishing up his degree in Criminology and is expected to graduate this year. His steely determination now shifts into bettering his career and refocusing a life that was once in so much negative pressure.

He now accepts responsibility into the wrongs of his past and aims to use his learnings to shine a light into other people that may be experiencing the same thing and to always hope and pray for the best.

“Natutunan kong dapat sa tamang mga tao sumama dahil kung sila ay mabuti, magandang mga bagay din ang maidudulot nila sayo,” he said.

John also now has his own family, tending to the needs of his 2-year-old toddler along with his wife, who currently works as a social worker. He understands the heightened responsibility being a parent gives and he realizes the need to protect the future of his family by working hard to better himself each day. He also wants to provide as much as he can to make sure his child reaches his potential and to never fall into the trap that once plagued him.

“Gusto kong maibigay lahat ng pangangailangan ng aking pamilya. Hindi na lamang yung para sa akin ang iniisip ko ngayon. Mayroon na akong pamilya at nais kong maibigay lahat ng kailangan nila. Masaya ako na baguhin ang aking sarili araw-araw at talaga ngang hindi pa huli sa taong marunong magsisi,” John concluded.

Indeed, second chance is sweet if there’s a heart willing to change.

This post was written by:

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