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Ms. Jac Gatbalite – Domingo

(4th year Guidance Counselor)


            As a child back in grade school, I always had this somewhat natural fear of guidance counselors.  I saw them as teroristas.   They seldom smiled and it seemed they had an extremely awful sense of humor in general.  It was like having this set of rules about smiling and laughing – about humor.  And those rules stated only one thing:  no to be affected and involved at any level and in any way by all life situations.  As if they ought to remain unaffected by life’s concerns, worries and troubles.

            That was back then.  But now let me retract the impressions I had with counselors when I was younger.  Not that I am now a guidance counselor myself; but because I have friends who are counselors and, in one way or the other, inspired me to be who I am as a counselor.  I am a witness of who they really are and I learned from them – how they selflessly give their time and selves to simply, yet totally, listen empathically, and how they can laugh and smile and simply be themselves.  Moreover, I have a glimpse of their life’s concerns and worries, and even their hurts and pains.  And I have seen how they have set aside their own life issues to be truly present to me and to their counselees.  I also found out that they are not numb and indifferent to the wounds and pains of others as I thought before.  They were and are always affected by the life-sharings of their counselees.  They are affected and allow themselves to be affected because they know the pains and hurts of people.  They know because they have allowed themselves to feel their own pain.  They have allowed themselves to be vulnerable and because of this, they discovered that even in their vulnerability they were not allowed to be crushed and destroyed.  They were and are continually held and sustained.  They can be vulnerable, but this condition would not leave them weak but rather the opposite – they became stronger. I remember a song, “Holy Darkness” by Dan Schutte.  It is a song of hope amidst pain and confusion, amidst darkness and emptiness, a song about faithfulness in times of trial and suffering of self and others because there is someone greater than ourselves who is more and ever faithful.


Holy darkness, blessed night

Heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.

As we await You, O God of silence,

We embrace Your holy night.


I have tried you in fires of affliction;

I have taught your soul to grieve.

In the barren soil of your loneliness,

There will I plant My seed.


I have taught you the price of compassion;

You have stood before the grave.

Though My love can seem like a raging storm,

This is the love that saves.


In your deepest hour of darkness,

I will give you wealth untold.

When the silence stills your spirit,

Will My riches fill your soul.


Holy darkness, blessed night

Heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.

As we await You, O God of silence,

We embrace Your holy night.


            I guess these counselors I am talking about hold in their hearts this mystery of hope and faithfulness.  They hold on to this mystery because they know that they too can be signs of hope and faithfulness to others.  This is how they become very effective counselors.

            Is there an easy way to be an effective counselor?  Yes, indeed, one can get a degree in counseling and get licensed after passing the board exam and can be an instant counselor. Yet, they would live only by the theories and techniques taught in school.  Easily, one can be a counselor; but to be really an effective counselor, one must really plunge into life with its joys, hopes and dreams and especially its anguish and struggles, its wounds and pains.  One must allow himself to be held and sustained and to be taught by Life itself.  I also realize that there is more to memorizing what the books teach us.  There is a different way of knowing which is required – not from the head but from the heart.  I heard from students this very popular dialogue they come to be fond of saying, “Nasa puso, at isapuso…” Indeed the heart has a different way of knowing.  I also remember the lines from one of my favorite books, The Little Prince:  “One sees well only with the heart.  The essential is invisible to the eyes.  The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.”  The heart has its different way of knowing, especially the heart which knows the meaning of the pain of others and yet remains faithful and in communion.


“Deep wounds leave a mark, but those marks are reminders of strong one have become.”


La Consolacion College Manila* Guidance and Counseling Center* 8 Mendiola StreetManilaPhilippines * 1005