CEBU CITY, Philippines – Laughter is a gift and even during the hardest times, there is so much for you to enjoy when you learn to appreciate the little things.
This is one of the life lessons that led 23-year-old Razjenne Chloie Pahilan to land at the 7th spot of the November 2023 Pharmacist Licensure Examination.
Pahilan, a native of Don Carlos, Bukidnon, moved all by herself to Cebu years ago to pursue her dream of entering the field of pharmacy.
While she describes herself as an introvert, Pahilan has a favorite hobby that has became her trademark during her college years.
Staying true to her passion, Pahilan is known as the classmate who makes pharmacy puns that are most of the time corny, but effective in producing smiles.
As an example, she shared a joke she likes to tell using the medicine for monkey pox called tecovirimat.
The joke starts with the question: “What do you say to someone who did something nice for you?”
She would then say: “Tecoverimat, which sounds similar to thank you very much.”
From her corny jokes to her positive disposition of life, it’s clear to see that Razjenne Pahilan is someone who knows how to appreciate the small things that make life enjoyable even if it seems impossible.
Dream inspired by family
Being a pharmacist was not Pahilan’s original goal in life.
When people asked kindergartener Pahilan what she wanted to be when she grew up, her constant answer was “a dentist.”
But as years went by, her ambition changed, which was partly influenced by her family of medical professionals.
Her mother, Cecile, and second sister, Rozjanne, work as pharmacists, while her eldest brother, Ritzjerald, is a doctor. Her father, Roleto Pahilan Jr., is a councilor and her third brother, Ranzjee, has a global developmental delay disorder.
Despite having three medical professionals in the family, Pahilan was never pressured by them.
Nonetheless, Pahilan was able to draw inspiration from her family who liked to talk about medicines at the dinner table. Because she was curious and wanted to understand what her family was conversing about, her interest in pharmacy was piqued early on.
And so, she decided to pack her bags and come to Cebu to take up her dream course in the same school her family previously went to.
Feeling happy and at the same time home-sick, her four years of college life began and she took her first step to becoming a pharmacist.
Pharmacy pun master
Studying pharmacy was hard, according to Pahilan.
With the many tests, activities, performances, and projects, it was a rough road even for hardworking Pahilan.
But then, she came up with the simple idea to incorporate a little bit of fun in her study routine which greatly helped her retain the lessons better.
Pahilan began telling little jokes or puns about pharmacy that also enabled her to enjoy during her tedious study sessions.
While her friends described her jokes as jokes those that can only be understood by smart people, Pahilan had fun memorizing terms in a funny way. And this laughter spread to her classroom, which earned her the reputation of pharmacy pun master among their class.
Even with her happy and positive attitude, Pahilan did not escape from the feeling of being lost, just like other students experienced.
When the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted their first year of face-to-face classes, things got even worse for Pahilan, who was, by then, struggling to stay motivated.
She felt as though she was losing her optimism to learn and grew tired of her tedious routine.
“Having to learn and study pharmacy like everything was okay, it was hard. I was really struggling. I felt like nothing was going in my brain when I studied. I felt like I was studying just for the sake of doing it,” she said.
But with the thought that she could only offer help to those in need by gaining the necessary knowledge and skills, she pushed through every pain and disappointment.
Coupled with the strength drawn from her family, her efforts were proven to be worth it when she graduated as magna cum laude in May 2023.
Topping the board
After graduation, Pahilan knew that there was another challenge she had to go through before reaching her goal. And that was to take the licensure examination.
And because she started to prepare a year before the exam, she took the exam knowing that she had the capability to pass.
Her prayers and efforts paid off when she saw her name in the list of passers when the results were released months after.
Out of pure joy and excitement, tears began running down her cheeks and she immediately called her family, who were attending a wedding at that time.
When they answered the call, her first sentence to them was “Ma, pa, ate, kuya, pharmacist nako.” (I’m a pharmacist now.)
And like an afterthought, she added – “Ay naa pa diay bonus, Top 7 ko.” (And also there’s a bonus, I am Top 7.)
Her family then began to cry and proudly relayed to other guests that their youngest did not only pass but also emerged asa topnotcher in the boards.
Looking back at her struggles in school, Pahilan said that she was heavily motivated by her Kuya Ranzjee, who always offered her a hug and told her that she was capable of doing everything she wanted.
Pahilan referred to her Kuya Renz as her number one fan and expressed that she is thankful for his support and of the whole family.
Now that she’s a certified pharmacist, Razjenne Pahilan is planning to work in the pharmacy in their little community. Another plan she is also considering is taking up medicine in the future.
As a professional, she is passionate in her advocacy to promote the rational use of medicines and to raise awareness on the contribution of pharmacists to the society.
“As a pharmacist, I really want to change the perception of people that pharmacists are just those who get medicines from the shelves. Actually, we can give medicine advice to patients and I really want to advocate also the proper use of antibiotics,” she stated.
As a strong and independent woman who worked her way to becoming who she is now, Pahilan advised those who wish to study pharmacy to go for their dreams and to remember to have fun with it every once in a while.
“Go for it. It can be achieved. I’m not going to sugarcoat pharmacy. Pharmacy is not easy but it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance,” she stated.