MANILA - In an ideal world, a student is expected to finish college on time.
But Derick Gernale’s life was not ideal; it was real.
He was a singer and dancer who lived a life on the spotlight, with showers of confetti and a swooning crowd.
But in college, he was doing poorly. He spent 7 long years beset with failing grades. He made it to 3rd year in a psychology course at the Manila Tytana Colleges (formerly Manila Doctors College), but suddenly shifted to the newly-introduced communication course.
“While going to school, I still accept gigs from time to time that became the cause of my constant absences at school,” said Gernale.
He continued: “After a while, I failed many units that had me shift to a course that’s related somehow to what I do. I had to go back to zero.”
Gernale is a member of dance group Manoeuvres, performing on noontime television shows. He is also part of singing group Freshmen. His life revolved around rehearsing then performing, one after another.
They say you can’t have best of both worlds so his grades continued to plummet as he juggled work and studies.
He could have stopped performing and focused on school, but he said his pursuit of his passion was more important.
Was it lost time?
There were regrets and envy, he admitted. A later graduation date left him at a disadvantage compared to his peers.
But he made the best of his years in school without much resentment.
“The painful part was this was also the time when I saw my batchmates wearing academic gowns, graduating. It was mixed emotions. I felt I was left behind, ‘Here I am, still studying and still have to endure many years in college.’
“But at some point, I realized. Alangan naman na tumunganga at mag-maktol lang ako ’di ba? Na lamunin ko ’yung mga sinasabi ng ibang tao at tulungan sila patunayan na hindi ko na dapat pa pinagpatuloy ’yung pagkanta at pagsayaw ko kasi sagabal lang sa paga-aral.
(I cannot just be idle or have a fit about it right? Or just swallow what others say and help them prove that I should not continue with singing and dancing because it disrupts my schooling.)
"Kaya sinabi ko sa sarili ko na this time, kailangan mas committed na ’ko. Binalanse ko na ’yung time ko sa school at pag-perform (That's why I told myself that this time, I need to be more committed. I balanced my time in school and in performing). I had to step up. Because if I didn’t take a step forward, I’ll always be at the same place. And I don’t want that, I don’t want to be a loser,” he said.
Gernale finally marched and earned his long-overdue diploma in graduation ceremonies on April 13. He was not among the top students, but his experience made him feel ahead among his new batch mates.
“Well, it could be true that your grades are the manifestation of your effort and attitude at school. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be grade droller; it is more important to crave for what we really want in life so we won’t waste time and chances in bringing real happiness to our lives,” he said.
For Gernale, finishing school late doesn’t make him less of a graduate. He is even more proud of what he has learned and experienced outside the classroom.
“Male-late pero hindi mabibigo. Hindi pa sa kolehiyo ang sukatan ng pagiging matagumpay,” he concluded.
(I might be late, but I won’t fail. Finishing college is not yet the true measure of success.)