Continuing My Journey

A desktop with an open laptop computer and coffee cup
My Life’s Vocation as a Guidance Counselor

By Marilou Borje

Something people would be surprised to know about me is that I was a Columban lay missionary for three years in Peru. It was there that I was able to discern my vocation which is to become a counselor.

My story of becoming a counselor started in high school when I was interviewed by Ms. Faith Mabutas. That routine guidance interview made me realize that it was nice to have someone to listen to you without being judged and without having to give you a sermon.

Marilou Bonje, former Columban Lay Missionary
Marilou Borje

Coming back to the Philippines after my term as a Columban lay missionary in Peru, I got more training in counseling at the CeFam (Center for Family Ministries), a place where I met wonderful people who took the risk to share their life stories. While studying at CeFam, I was also involved in REPRO (Resilience Program). This is a program that teaches resiliency skills to rescued street children. This was another rewarding experience for me to interact with rescued kids who hunger for connection and understanding. Whenever time permits me, I still join the REPRO team in going to centers for rescued street children.

Now, as a school counselor for sixteen years, I love seeing my counselee’s growth, their “AHA” moments, and just being the person who simply listens to their journey. A message that I would want to extend to our students is this: honor your feelings. There might be more to that. Your counselors are just a message away to help you discover what those feelings might be telling you. Please know that our office is open to all students who want to talk about their different concerns. Pre-pandemic, our office was not just a safe sanctuary for students who wished to be helped to process their thoughts and feeling; but to some students, our office was also a safe sanctuary to lie down, to sleep, to doodle, and simply to lounge around. Post-lockdown, we hope to bring back the dogs that students can interact with, and once again serve hot soup during midterms and finals week to soothe the students’ stomachs during these busy times.

A colleague muses, “A missionary by heart, Bordj, has sought her calling in so many ways and has been affirmed in all those as well. Her dedication of taking care of people can be seen in her care for her mom and her students. The missionary in her at times does not count the cost of the mission but continues to give service for she serves not just humanity but God. With this grace bestowed upon her, she stands as someone who will do her best to give the kind of service due to the people that are assigned to her. It extends to tasks beyond the call of duty.” And so, the mission continues…

Marilou – fondly called by many as Bordj – was a Columban Lay Missionary in Peru from 2001 to 2004. Currently she works as a guidance counselor at Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines.