Serendipity and Positive Outlook
By Apolinario Villalobos
I have friends who confided that in the course of their travel, sometimes, they have a feeling of having been in a certain place that they are visiting for the first time. Some claim to have already heard the conversation they are having on a certain time with an acquaintance.
Still others say that they are familiar with some persons introduced to them for the first time. They insist that it could not just be luck or coincidence because similar incidents of familiarity keep on happening. This coincidence or luck is also referred to as serendipity, kismet, or chance.
Another medium of manifestation of serendipity is the dream. Some friends claim that they keep on dreaming of incidents until they finally happen. In my case, I foresaw three deaths in our family. The first when I was about five years old during which I kept on dreaming about an elder sister who had been living with our aunt for more than ten years. One day, while playing in a park several meters from our home, I saw a guy who handed an envelope to another elder sister. In a flash, I thought of my sister in Manila – dead, but I did not entertain such idea, being a young boy. When I went home an hour later, I found my sisters and brothers crying. My premonition about my sister was true! She died of ovarian cancer.
The second incident happened one year after the death of my sister. It was about the death of my father. I dreamed that he was bidding us goodbye and with him were old people not familiar to me. He was wearing white trousers and white long-sleeved shirt. My father that time was strong, although, he developed the habit of drinking coconut wine even in the morning. I saw the dream several times. Several months later, my father got sick while suffering from a bloated stomach. Two months later, he died, caused by the cancer of the liver.
The third incident happened a little more than one year after the death of my mother. Several times, I dreamed about talking with my father. I even asked him innocently, why he was not yet in heaven. He told me that he was waiting for someone. In my last dream, he told me that he was waiting for my mother. I did not know that during the time, my mother was already suffering from ovarian cancer. We thought all the while that the abdominal pain she was suffering, was caused by hyper-acidity as she had the habit of skipping meals , being a busy single mother who was single-handedly trying to raise nine siblings. She was brought to several quack doctors as we had no money for the regular and licensed ones. One month later, she died.
When I was in third year college, I was a student assistant in-charge of cleaning the seven rooms of the Training (elementary) department of our school. I had to wake up as early as three in the morning to start cleaning the rooms and premises using a kerosene lamp. The rooms must be ready by six in the morning during which the teachers would start coming in. I was always praying then, that I could find another job so that I would have more time for studies as I was maintaining an academic scholarship. My work as student assistant provided me with the cash allowance, being on my own, having been orphaned years earlier. While cleaning the rooms, I comforted myself with the imagined office job that would finally come my way. Just before the end of our second semester, the newly-opened Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in our town hired me as a Welfare Aide which was later upgraded into Youth Development Officer. The agency’s head did not settle for anybody else because I was the unanimous choice of people whom he asked for recommendations. During the interview, I honestly told him about my being a fulltime student. As a compromise, he asked me to work on weekends – Saturdays and Sundays, till late at night if necessary. That time was the height of evacuation of uprooted families from neighboring towns due to Muslim-Christian conflicts. I worked on reports as basis for the issuance of relief goods by the Regional Office. The job developed my familiarity with office work as I was forced to learn how to use the typewriter and prepare reports.
I still had dreams which later included those about my travel to far-off places. I did not give them much attention, though. When I graduated I tried my luck for a job with an airline. Among the more than sixty applicants, I was fourth from the last in line. It was almost dusk when I was interviewed. Fortunately, I was among the four who was taken in. Although the branch office where I was interviewed lost my documents, I went ahead with the panel interview which I passed. My first assignment was a not-so-interesting station in a far-off island province. I chose it at the instigation of one of the airline’s lady official. Never did I know that she was giving the opportunity to have more chance of learning the ropes of airline station operation while in that small station. My chance of exposure to different facets of operation was greater than those in bigger stations where my colleagues got stuck with just one particular job. When I applied for a different and a higher position in the head office, my documents again got lost by the office which was supposed to endorse them. I practically wrote another resume while being interviewed for the job. Weeks passed, and as my habit, I imagined myself to have been called by the Manila office to fill up the new vacancy. It happened exactly three weeks after I was interviewed.
Looking back at those episodes in my life, made me think that it seems, anything that happens to us is not pure luck. There are contributing factors that are difficult to understand. As among these factors, however, we should not count out His “influence”. Negative incidents such as death and accident could be part of His design of man’s fate. For the rest, however, that will have to come yet, we should look at them with positive attitude, buoyed by our self-confidence.