Tarnished Medals

Just last November 2013, I and Francis were playfully mocking each other of whether or not we’re ready to step down from our imaginary royal seat of pride and be forgotten along with our ephemeral achievement: obtaining 3rd and 7th place, respectively, out of 5163 examinees of the Civil Engineering Licensure Exams in the Philippines in 2009. The local four-year reign was over and a new tarpaulin for a second-placer devoured the facade of the university. That’s just the tip of the fleeting-fame iceberg because the Professional Regulation Commission releases a new set of top-notch civil engineers biannually. At least twenty new CE licensees celebrate the fresh and sweet fruit of burning eyebrows each year while our certificates get tattered over time.

Whenever I glance at my medals hanging quietly with those pale green and dark brown patches of rust, I remember how everyone in the family used to cherish them when they were new and polished. But no matter how you are celebrated, complimented and applauded for an achievement, accolades will come to pass swiftly and a new and better someone will always steal the spotlight. Even the first-rate achievers face the reality of dying applause.

Name ten Grammy Award winners for Artist of the Year, a dozen recipients of an Oscar trophy for Best Director, and the first ten astronauts who went to the International Space Station. Hard? They are the cream of the crop yet their headlines were soon forgotten.

These ain’t the things that carve timeless memories and influence the people around us in a deeper level. Excessive pride is futile. The chase for the transient spotlight is vanity. An egotistic heart is empty. More than striving for academic excellence, wealth and good credentials, I think caring for the people around us makes the difference.

Name ten people who helped you get through tough times, the top six people you can rely to the most, and five brethren who strengthened you spiritually. Much easier. 🙂


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