by PATRICK V. MIGUEL
THE CLOCK hits 9 in the morning, and Christian Tuaña jolts awake. Upon opening his eyes, he utters a curse before muttering,“Here we go again”.
Inside his closet is an armor he set to wear every school days. A pair of black slacks and the iconic Artlet uniform. Wielding a cane, he can transcend all limits. He prepares himself every morning, filling his backpack with magical instruments throughout his victory on his everyday battles.
He leaves his house around 12 PM with a mystical carriage that will carry him to a place filled with knowledge and wisdom. A venue of self-expression and inclusivity.
There is enthusiasm inside his pocket before entering St. Raymund’s. “Minsan oo, minsan hindi…. Nagiging excited… ako if there’s something to look forward to,” he says. Christian takes a deep breath as he heads to class, withstanding anything that comes across him despite having Cerebral Palsy.
Passionate for a cause
Ever since he was a kid he was absorbed to the beauty of literature. He sees it as a a way to lead different lives—to put himself in the shoes of others. “I chose this [course] …kasi noong bata pa ako, mahilig [na] ako magbasa…. Kapag nagbabasa ako, nawawala ako sa totoong mundo […] Lagi kong nai-imagine ang sarili ko in that situation.” he expresses.
Beyond books, he pushes through everyday to reach his ambitions. He wishes to take up a master’s degree and a doctorate degree in philosophy in the future. Then, he would want to be a professor in UST or in his alma mater, Chiang Kai Shek College. It is his way of giving back to these schools by sharing what he has learned throughout his life.
Driven by his dreams, Christian mentions several people he looks up to. “Si Dr. Michael Vasco kasi kahit gaano kahirap ‘yung [homework na binibigay] niya, nararamdaman ko na training niya [ito] for me in the future. I’m sure na ginagawa naman niya ito para sa amin [na students niya].”
Aside from Dr. Vasco, Christian also reveals that he is deeply influenced by Mr. Raul Roque. He adds “Si [Sir] Raul Roque na galing [din] dito sa UST…‘yung nagsabi sa’kin na magkaroon ng faith in God…and always pray na kakayanin ko ang lahat gaano [man] kahirap ang buhay.”
Conquering a new stage
Just like any other freshman during the first few weeks of college, Christian also fought the same struggles like the others—the trouble of adjusting. However, the ultimate obstacle he has to surpass are the ever demanding requirements in his classes.
Despite the difficult subjects, he was able to put the missing jigsaw-piece in a complicated puzzle. Christian suggests “The biggest factor to adjusting is time management so you have to balance your time with work, [and] time with relaxation. May technique diyan…. Kailangan balanse ang lahat so you can adjust to the classes and the workload.”
Luckily, Christian was not alone in his journey. The summer before classes started, Christian made a new friend. He had met Thomas Qui, his blockmate, through Facebook. After sharing a love for Rainbow 6 Siege, they quickly became friends. As the summer ended and the rain started to pour, they finally met in person and have been attached by the hip ever since.
They have been together ever since their college life started. Thomas remarks “The best thing about helping Christian is a sense of friendship and camaraderie, which are one of the main points of scouting. I always remember that I’m a scout and a scout helps other people. I also think that being a scout helps me be more prepared in helping others just as I’m helping Christian right now.”
In general, adjusting to a new environment is not easy. Despite the culture shock, Christian believes that familiarity of the environment is a big factor in adapting to new surroundings.
For the Artlet community
Christian fights the same battles as the other members of the Artlet community, especially with the trouble of adapting to college life and the stressful assignments. In spite of all these, he still chooses to remain positive. “Lumaban lang tayo kasi… kahit ako na may disability, I am still here, fighting. May times—especially at night [na] nalulungkot ako because I’m dreading the next day—na nasu-survive ko naman siya. Lumaban lang and huwag mawalan ng pag-asa. For sure, nahihirapan tayo for now pero in the future, we’ll say ‘I wish I can relive my college days again’ […] Magiging worth it lahat,” he affirms.
When the day ends and Christian is on the verge of closing his eyes, he likes to count the little victories he made throughout the day. Whether it would be reaching a new level in his favorite game or surviving a particularly brutal exam, he always feels a sense of fulfillment each night. “Everyday, naiisip ko na I’m one day closer to graduation…. Everyday, we’re getting closer.” F