Leaving your mark

Juan Magdaraog
Making a mark in the world doesn’t have to be grand. Big or small it still counts. We can all be people who make a difference in someone’s life.

I wanna do something better with the time I’ve been given

I wanna try to touch a few hearts in this life

And leave nothing less than something that says, “I was here.”


JUAN MAGDARAOGThose lines come from a beautiful song called “I Was Here,” sung by a popular country group called “Lady Antebellum.” Yes, I do like country music. A friend of mine introduced me to that song. I immediately loved that song. It described how I felt about my life and what I wanted to do with it.

Asked about what my greatest fear was, my reply was that I’m scared to leave this world without leaving my mark. Leaving without making a difference. That really scares me a lot.

I’ve always believed that a life worth living is a life lived for others and not just for yourself. It’s not as easy as it sounds though. Parts of society teach us to put ourselves first above others, given that it’s a “me first” kind of world. It shouldn’t be that way.

I recently turned 35. Not really that old by today’s standards. Given my circumstances, it’s a big milestone. I was diagnosed with Pompe disease when I was 16 but had it since I was 10. Doctors told me that I probably would not make it past 30. Here I am 5 years more than what I initially thought I’d live. It should have been a time of great celebration. I wasn’t feeling happy, truth be told.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I wasn’t grateful. I was. I am. Each day I’m around I thank God I am alive. I guess I was feeling that at this point in my life I should have done more with it.

I look at some people I know and I’m simply amazed by what they’ve done and what they continue to do. One such person that I really admire and look up to is Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga. The work he’s done together with the countless volunteers and partners of Gawad Kalinga has definitely changed lives in the Philippines.

That does not only go for the beneficiaries and the communities they’ve helped but also the people who have volunteered and donated to their cause. They have left or continue to leave a mark in this world.

Another person I admire a lot is my mother. I love and respect her not just because she’s my mother but because of the work she does now and the kind of person she is.

She is currently the President of the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders. It’s a non-profit organization that helps people, especially children with rare diseases. This group was formed together with doctors and other concerned individuals who, in someway, have been touched by people with rare diseases.

In my mother’s case it was because she had a son who suffered from a rare disease. Realizing that our family was blessed to have had the chance to meet doctors and find help, she knew that we had to give back.

Personal mark

It has been a struggle the past 6 years but slowly the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders has helped a number of patients and their families. While not to the same extent as Gawad Kalinga, the PSOD has made its mark in this world by helping people who have been left on the wayside.

Both Tito Tony and my mother do not have riches to their names but I’m quite sure they are richer than most in other ways. When their time in this world has come, they would have made their marks in this world and made a difference in people’s lives.

Making a mark in the world doesn’t have to be grand. Big or small it still counts. We all can’t be people who make life-changing differences to thousands or millions but we can all be people who make a difference in someone’s life. The important thing is we try to find a way to leave our mark in this world.

While I do some good in this world, whether it be pitching in and helping my mom with her work for the PSOD or simply talking to people and sharing my story, I still feel that it’s not enough. I’m still desperately trying to find a way to leave my mark in this world.


I saw this quote on the Facebook page of a friend. It reads, “If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.” It’s by John Irving.

It struck me in such a way because sometimes knowing the kind of life that you would love takes courage to live it. I know a lot of people would like to do good in the world, join non-profits and save the world, but they are restrained by other things.

It might be a fear of not making money to get by, or living a life that is less comfortable, it really does take courage to go out and make a difference, something that I am also trying to gather enough of. It’s hard to leave the comfort of what is safe and secure.

I don’t know how I’ll leave my mark in this world, but I will continue to look for it. I encourage you to do the same. I think the world will be a much better place if all of us think of a way to leave our mark in it.

Oh, give that song a listen to. It’s a great song and I’m quite sure it will inspire you to do something with your life. – Rappler.com



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