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Dreams Built In The Ocean

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Published by: KEEGAN ZALO

My dream of being a seafarer is drifted in the ocean but it doesn’t mean I can’t dream another dream.

The ocean has always been my favorite view. It gives me the peace, serenity and simplicity I have always wanted. It also laid the foundation of the dreams I have for myself and my family.

I am one of many men who dream of being a seafarer not just because of the financial stability it offers but most of all of the passion to take an adventure in the depths of the ocean.

Being near in a body of water is not new to me because I grew up in a close-knit community and in a loving family sustained by the richness of the sea.

My father is a fisherman. He works tirelessly with other fishermen in our place. While my mom took care of our small business. We had a simple, yet, happy and contented life. We would dine together, talk about our day, and cuddle with each other. Our home was full of happiness. We were not rich but it seemed like we had everything.

But that peace and happiness were disturbed by a raging storm that ruined the image of our happy family. My mom left us for another man. We were devastated. We really did not know the story behind everything because we were young when things happened. However, the only thing that we kept in mind was to keep going, keep going with the tides of life and no turning back. And we did.

Years later, we got used to the life without my mom. It was difficult at first but eventually in time I got used to the pain and the emptiness her departure has created. The “getting-used-to” healed the wounds of her farewell.

I focused on my studies while at the same time doing a part-time job so I could help my father in our financial needs. The struggle was real but it helped me to become more self-reliant, fearless and persevering.

At 18, like all other probinsyanos’ desire to earn more, I decided to take chances, and went to Manila. Manila has always given many Filipinos the promise of milk and honey because of the profuse list of job opportunities for skilled workers. I got a lucrative job with a good pay but the money never quenched the longing for my family. I missed them everyday. I was homesick for the first few months. The feeling was indescribable that was why I decided to open my doors to new set of friends and to new people. In one of our nightouts with my new-found-friends, I met someone. Everything happened so fast. We were carried away and got intoxicated with the night. Something happened. SOMETHING happened that changed the course of my life. I had sex without protection.

I was not alarmed at first after all young people like me are entitled to make mistakes we could learn from.  Life went by and I forgot about that night and refocused on my dreams of becoming a seafarer.

I waited for the result of my entrance exam from a marine academy. Lo and behold, I received the most awaited result. I passed the entrance exam. I was directed to the next step of the process of my application which was the medical examination. All marine academies are extremely strict about diseases and other medical conditions due to the heavy and toxic nature of the seafarers’ job. Their policy clearly stipulated that marine academy applicants should be free from any kind of diseases and medical condition to ensure the welfare of the many.

When I was preparing for the medical examination, I was diagnosed with enlarged tonsils which had to be removed immediately because it causes heart diseases. And so I submitted myself for operation. But after my operation, my doctors further advised me to have myself tested because he found a certain virus in my system and the only specialists who could help me clarify the diagnosis are those in the hygiene clinic. Again, without questions or doubts, I submitted myself for tests. In September of 2015, the result came out. It was tragically devastating.

I am positive with HIV. I never had any broad knowledge about my condition. All I knew was that it could be deadly once someone has it. I didn’t even know that there is no cure for it.

My dreams were taken by the tides! I could never be a seafarer anymore. I was shattered. Just because of one careless night my dream of being a seafarer is forever gone.

I lost my motivation and drive to continue with my own life because things seemed so hopeless and pointless. But in moments of desolation, there are always windows of hope when all the doors have closed.

Finally, I found courage to tell my family. I was overwhelmed with their love, support and acceptance. I realized that it’s not the end. It is never the end. I know that I can still be the person I want to be as long as I set my heart into what I do.

My dream of being a seafarer is drifted in the ocean but it doesn’t mean I can’t dream another dream.

(not his real name. Keegan’s name is withheld for privacy purposes.)

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