The Pay Cut I Gladly Grabbed
by Oliver Carlos
Would you trade your job for another one that pays just half of what you’re getting? I can’t believe I did just that 28 years ago! It’s one of the biggest and most important decisions I ever made in my life, and I’m very happy with it, up to this day. I’m not bragging or telling you to follow my example to the letter, I’m just sharing one of my life-defining moments, the day I became a teacher.
When I was nearing my college graduation, I wanted to become a teacher. So after finishing my studies at age 19, I applied in around a dozen colleges, universities and high schools. I got rejected in as many attempts. No school administrator would entrust their students to a young, skinny, bepimpled, and inexperienced dude. I was unemployed for a year.
My first real full-time job came when my alma mater, the UPLB College of Human Ecology had a job opening. It wasn’t a faculty position that was available at that time, they were looking for a research assistant. Although it’s not my dream job to do research, I had no choice but to apply for it, and I got in.
For more than a year, I did field work in various communities, and wrote reports in my little nook at the office. I cherished these experiences, but I felt that I was not very happy with what I’m doing. I knew I had a teacher’s heart. I was itching to be in the classroom, in front of young people. I wanted to share all the knowledge I have to the young minds. I was bursting with so much teacher’s energy, but this energy was pent-up or trapped deep inside. I knew God gave me this passion to teach, and also the skills to do it. I just needed some school to trust me and give me a chance.
In 1994, a new school opened in my hometown of Los Banos. It’s a small privately-owned college named after the town. It’s located along Lopez Avenue. They had an elementary school and a high school years before, and now, they’re expanding by adding a college department. I had no hesitation in applying there.
When I submitted my requirements to their front desk officer I said, “Good morning Ma’am, mag-aaply po ako.” The lady looked at me and replied, “Totoy, sorry, tapos na ang enrollment ng high school.” Oh my! She thought I was a high school freshman! I got nervous, maybe this would be another school that would reject me because of my physical appearance.
But God’s will is God’s will. Nothing can block it. Things rolled on beautifully since then. I became a college instructor teaching Environmental Science and Social Science subjects beginning SY 1994–1995. My salary then was less than P200 per unit. On semesters when I had a 21-unit load, which is the max I am allowed, I’d net P3,500 per month. That’s just about half of what I used to get as a research assistant. But I was extremely happy during those days. I didn’t care too much about money, I just wanted to do the stuff I believe I was created for.
Today, 28 years later, looking back, I don’t regret that decision. I’ve been in the teaching profession ever since. I never earned mega bucks compared to my peers who pursued a different field and profession, but I’m happy that God provides my needs and at the same time allows me to have fun in my work.
It’s not a perfect or fairy tale type of a story though. I had my ups as well as my downs in my career, but those stories would be in some other blog episode. For now, I just want to share to you the truth behind Ecclesiastes 3:12–13 (ERV) that I have experienced:
“I learned that the best thing for people to do is to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. God wants everyone to eat, drink, and enjoy their work. These are gifts from God.”
My dear reader, my prayer for you today is that you’ll find what you really want to do in life. May you get that job that you are made for. God bless you always.