Conversion story of Fatima Aiza “Faith” Medina (BS Ps ’06 and CE ’07): Finding God amidst the devastation of Honshu earthquake

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

From left to right: Clint Bennett, Fatima Aiza Medina, Lindon, and Ramon

From left to right: Clint Bennett, Fatima Aiza Medina, Lindon, and Ramon

Last Friday, 11 November 2011, we celebrated a Despedida party for Joel Maquiling who will go to the University of Padua this Tuesday for his 10-month dissertation work. The party was held at the Klima Conference Room at Manila Observatory.

In the party, I met one of our alumni, Fatima Aiza “Faith” Medina (BS Ps ’06 and CE ’07).

“O, Sir Pope,” Aiza said. “I remember you. You were the one who sat besides my parents during a dinner after the orientation of possible applicants to the Department of Physics. I was still thinking of going either to UP or Ateneo. Then I chose Ateneo.”

“So I convinced your Dad?” I said.

“Yes,” she said. And we both laughed.

Then Aiza began to talk about Japan and her work as software engineer.

“Wait, Aiza,” I said. “I am the editor of Ateneo Physics News. Would you like to tell your story to the whole world? We are publishing feature articles about our students, alumni, and faculty once a week. We shall feature you next week.”

“What will you ask?”

“Nothing much. I shall only ask what happened to you after college. I can type your words as you talk.”

“Ok, sir.”

We grabbed some food and went to the table.

Question 1: What happened to you after college?

A girl cries to God for help

A girl cries to God for help (Faith Medina)

I worked at Canon Information Techonologies Philippines, Incorportated. I worked there for thee years as software engineer. The projects are about mostly printers, desktop applications, applications for network cameras, DLNA, that connect to all gadgets. But you can make your laptop connect data with tv and other laptops via wireless.

After that I worked in a startup, I-Bridge, as software engineer. We pioneered the use of Android in the company. After a few months, the management sent me to their main company in Japan. I arrived march 3. Then I experienced the Earthquake of March 11. Bad luck. But after that I enjoyed Japan. I worked with network printers and programming.

After four years of working, I went back to the Philippines this July. I got sick. My family took care of me. Now, I join Church activities. I help in my family business. I take care of my nieces and nephews.

Next week I shall start to work at Oracle as Senior consultant. We are working on SQL, business solutions, hardware, and software. Actually everything is new to me.

Question 2. What was your most memorable experience?

Japan is very clean. Different. There are many things that can only be seen there. The train system is crazy. It is so confusing. I cannot read Kanji. If you search the train system in Tokyo, you will be overwhelmed. I always got lost.

The Japanese are so rich. There are too many varieties. I can see softdrinks. They are so many. There are even some crystals in softdrinks. When drying clothes indoors after swimming, I put my clothes in this little box and after 10 seconds it is dry. Internet is too fast.

The architecture is also great. When the March 11 earthquake struck, no building crashed; they only swayed. I thought I was going to die. Near Tokyo there was earthquake for five minutes. We are at the ninth floor. The Japanese are crying. Therey are used to earthquake. If they are crying, it is now different. I panicked. During earthquakes, you cannot use elaevator. So I do exercises by climbing stairs in preparation for earthquakes.

The best season in Japan is the Spring. I saw many flowers. There were tulips. I enjoyed them. The Japanese boys are are taught to be responsible even if they were still toddlers. The Japanese are very responsible. There is no tip. Even at 12:30 past midnight, you can go home without fear. if ever, I want to go back to Japan.

Now, I came back here in Ateneo to get my transcript. I sat on one of the benches and reminisce. I went to Faura. I met Sir Guerrero. Then Sir Bennett.

“Take graduate studies,” he said.

“I shall see.” I said. ” I am still single. I have lots of time. I have many free time in Oracle. I may have time. I am ok to become an assistant.”

I have many free times. My father is proud of me saying that I am a scientist. As an undergraduate student, Mr. Bennett knows my grades. Can I do it? I can teach. My undergraduate research partner before, Edgardo Gueuvarra, is taking up Masters in UP. He was my classmate.

Question 3. How did the Japan earthquake affect you?

A million roses for the world

A million roses for the world (by Faith Medina)

During the quake, the buildings are swaying. There are casualties. There was a building whose long tip only bent a little, but it was already restored. There were almost 9 earthquakes. That was the only ones recorded. There are too many aftershocks in the following months.

I wish to go home, but I was just looking for a sign. Because of my near-death experience in Japan, I felt it was the start of my spiritual journey as Catholic. Before I was not into spiritual life. After that experience, I found God. It was the best thing that happened to me. I experienced perfect day and I let it all go to Him, and that was the day before I left. I have two roundrip tickets: December 24 and July 30. I have a two-year contract in Japan. I arrived on July 1. I was unsure in life.

My resignation letter I wrote four drafts. The president cannot take them. In my last letter. I wrote that my country needs me. At that time I really meant it. There are callings like this. If I work in Japan, my taxes go to Japan. Why not in Philippines? In the Philippines there is corruption. But I can contribute, even if small. It is still do my duty. It is true. Our country is sick. I am making their country rich. Everything is documented in my resignation letter.

There are many of my batchmates who went to Singapore. They asked me to go back to japan. I have these Bennetton friends of different nationalities. I have Church friends. They found me jobs. But no. I shall go home whatever happens. Then I went.

I received blessings . I was able to rest. I recommend Alex Lacson’s “12 little things a Filipino can do to help his country. “ Follow the traffic rules. That is the basic thing you can do in the Philippines. In Japan it is go if green and stop if red. But not here in our country. If you are driver in the Philippines, you can drive anywhere in the world.

I planned to get married. Everything was already set. But something happened. In exchange, God gave me faith. God showed how I can help the community. There were old ladies in the Legion of Mary. Many of them are 70 years old. I join them in prayers. I teach children. They were lively. I am glad that I like to draw and I teach them how to. I was inspired to attend.

My drawings are my outlets for my pain in Japan. I try to make something beautiful out of my pain. I have not much money left, but I decided to give a tithe. I tested God. I wish to go back to drawing. A week after I gave time, barely a month after I arrived, my friend in the church said that somebody is looking for somebody to draw for him. There is a payment, she said. I shall accept whatever amount.

It feels natural for me to draw. My sketches are simple. It started there. I received 5,000 Yen which is 2,500 pesos. Then my benefactor made it 8,000 Yen. The good thing is that he will publish my drawings in a book. It will be in Japanese and English. It was about development studies.

By Autumn I started drawing again. The theme is spiritual. When I came here, I showed my drawings to my parish priest. I talked of Alex Lacson. The priest saw my drawings. He said he will put a prayer for each drawing. He will make it into a book.

There are still many things that needs to be done. There are many things that were lost. But God returns the blessings. Just sway with the wind. I am happy if sometimes we are nearly broke, because there are eternal things. Nobody would believe me. But I am happy that God was added into the picture. It was different. I feel that I am truly beautiful.

Question 5. What are the things you miss in Japan?

I have flowers in Japan. I have basil, parsley, and tomatoes. My basil is has flowers. It is already big. I also like biking. The food is healthy there

In the mode of transport, you have to have license to ride a bike. They check your plate number. You cannot easily get a bike. Bikes have no ordinary lights; they are mechanically powered. There were bike lanes. In the train stations, about 100 bikes were left. There are too many. They are not even locked. Even the people there do not usually lock their doors

Ateneo Physics News: Thank you, Faith, for the wonderful interview. You are really living up to your name.

Faith: I was named after Our Lady of Fatima. But my grandmother wishes to call me Faith.  And the name stuck.  People can follow me in my blog: My Journey With Him.

Ateneo Physics News: See you around.

Faith: Is that a sign?

And we laughed.

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About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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