It was a long, cool February night here in the bustling streets of Manila.
Once again, I looked up at the star-filled sky above me. I noticed something that looked like a big spoon but was larger and more distinct in size and brightness despite the presence of thousands; no, millions of stars above me.
The Big Dipper stared at me like a big ladle, ready to take me along on a journey towards destinations unknown.
For reasons that I cannot comprehend up to this very day, I cannot help but smile at the beauty of the constellation at night.
Most probably, it is because I had beautiful memories in life under the light of these stars.
The year is 2006.
I was lanky and tall for my age.
In addition, I was extremely curious about the world around me.
It is the final year of primary schooling at a public elementary school in Zamboanga City, a lively commercial center with an estimated population of more than a million people, give or take, at the western tip of Southern Philippines.
At the time, I never knew what a telescope looked like or what astronomy was all about. After all, our economic status did not provide us the means to buy astronomical equipment or to even buy materials for a full-fledged experiment.
Luckily, my science teachers held a camp in September of that year and they brought their precious telescopes with them.
Under a clear, picturesque sky and with a smooth, light breeze coming in from the sea, we peered upon the telescopes and identified different constellations as our teachers relayed their positions to us.
It was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot about astronomy within that night alone, probably more than what I would have learned inside the classroom or by reading these constellations in books.
However, as with many things in this ephemeral world, life has its own way of stomping through the past and erasing it into oblivion.
As such, I forgot all of them as the years passed by, except for one.
It was the Big Dipper.
Looking at the Big Dipper gives me hope that I could chase my dreams and reach them no matter the odds that I face currently.
Yes, I do face many challenges of varying complexity and novelty, stretching my faculties to its full extent.
Sometimes, the going gets tough.
There are indeed times when I thought of lifting the white towel in order to just get away from all of it.
But as with many of the best things in life, hope is the torch that keeps me moving forward.
As far as this age is concerned, we are living in a state of a partial darkness where wars, dictatorships, deaths, and calamities have become commonplace to the point that they are turned from newsworthy phenomena into an integral part of life.
They have seeped into people’s psyches to the point that hopelessness about the prospect of having a constructive, productive, and inclusive future has become the norm instead of it being the exception.
In this age, hope is a highly-esteemed currency that is held preciously by people who know the value of it.
After all, wasn’t Hope the last thing to stay inside Pandora’s box after sickness, death, turmoil, famine and all the other evil qualities went out of it?
This shows that as long as hope is alive inside a person’s heart, the keys towards a brighter future are always open for exploration and completion.
As I look back towards the ground, I realize something.
At the end of the day, the Big Dipper reminds me about a truth regarding life.
No matter how harsh and cold the night may seem to be, sunlight always follows in its path, rising to the top and eradicating the darkness and fear that is present inside our hearts, minds, and lives.
Most importantly, even though the evenings may be dark, the stars are always there, piercing the veil of darkness and serving as a beacon of hope.
A hope which states that the best things in life always come in the best way possible, regardless of how bad it was in the past.
After having that long gaze, I continue my way home with a smile.
Because I know once again that the night is always the beginning to a brighter morning and that the stars are there to remind me of that fact.
With newly found strength, I trace my steps back home and get ready to face another day in the roads of this journey that is called “life.”