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From Where We Sit

That voice in your head

Ramilito L. Nañola Ramilito L. Nañola

One casual Sunday afternoon at my parents’ home in Davao City, my Dad and I had a chat. “I wish your Mom and I could renew our marriage vows in a church on our golden wedding anniversary,” whispered my dad. “This is my dream for your mom.”

They had told us they never had a church wedding.

It was in 2007 when Dad first told me about his church wedding plans. He said to me, in jest: “I’m telling you now, four years in advance so that you can prepare for the expenses.” We shared a laugh but deep inside, something told me that he would not make it to the day.

Fast forward to 2011, I flew to Davao one Saturday and informed my parents that everything was set for their church wedding, a week in advance. I even surprised them with their new wedding rings.

Dad could not contain his excitement while Mom was in her usual quiet and reserved self. I told them that my siblings from abroad (Canada and Australia) were also flying in for the big day. I left for Manila the following day but promised to be back two days before the most awaited celebration.

Monday morning while I was driving to work, I received a call from my aunt. “Your Dad is finding it difficult to breathe,” she said. She gave the phone to my Dad and we talked briefly. “Take care, Dad,” was all that I could say to him before putting down the phone. “Not now, please!” I prayed as I gripped the steering wheel tightly. An hour or so later, I received another call from my aunt: Dad was in a comatose. I felt numb. I went directly to the airport and headed to Davao City. Seeing Dad unconscious at the hospital drew flashbacks to the time I first felt that he wouldn’t make it to their dream wedding. He passed away the day after their golden wedding anniversary.

A year later, I experienced an unexplained weight loss; losing 35 pounds in a span of six months. I needed to undergo a series of lab tests because my hematologist suspected I had leukemia. I was not allowed to travel as I must undergo further tests; however, I felt that I had to spend that Christmas, possibly my last one, with my family in Davao City. A few days before Christmas, I was hospitalized due to fibromyalgia. The pain was unbearable. I could hardly stand and make a step. All the signs were pointing to my demise but that little voice in my head was telling me otherwise. I was discharged on Christmas Eve.

Punongbayan & Araullo extended my sick leave indefinitely in order for me to recuperate. Slowly, I regained my health with the help of the team of specialists and the support of my family, friends and colleagues. But while I was still recovering, my Mom complained of an upper abdominal pain.

Though she blamed it on indigestion, I had a strong feeling that she had to visit a doctor. My worst nightmare became a reality: the doctor diagnosed her with stage 4 cancer. She was given only six months to live. I asked for a second opinion from another specialist, hoping for a more favorable diagnosis. It was worse.

He gave my Mom only three months. For three weeks, only I knew about this. I didn’t know how to tell her. But she felt it. She told me, “I know I’m sick and will not recover, but I’m okay. I’m old enough. What’s important is your health.” Mom passed away two months from diagnosis.

Have you ever wondered for whom is that inner voice you were hearing when you are about to do or say something? Some call it intuition while others call it gut feeling. Whatever, it is that feeling that tacitly guides us when we are making a decision without the benefit of analysis.

At work, we can sometimes sense this when we are about to embark on a difficult task, meet a prospective client or read a report and sense that something is amiss. Maybe this inner voice is the result of the “cache” of information stored in our mind that allows us to have that “quick diagnosis” of a certain situation or event.

According to Dr. Geil Browning, there is no such thing as a purely rational decision. The brain uses a combination of logic and emotion when making decisions of any kind. That specific emotion, innate to us as humans, is intuition. We possess the capacity to feel, and thereby the ability to know things without consciously reasoning. The “gut feeling” is real, and we use it all the time. A word of caution, though: gut feeling, if influenced by biases, is dangerous as well. It should flow freely without you being conscious about it.

Though I hope that I can still reverse the outcome of those undesirable gut feelings in my personal life, I’m still grateful for these. If I did not pay attention to my gut feel, I might not have been consciously more willing to give my best for my Dad during his last four years. I also might have been caught unprepared if I did not let my Mom visit a doctor for a simple stomach pain. I couldn’t fight fate but that voice in my head helped ease its painful arrival.

Ramil Nañola is a partner, Audit & Assurance, of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and more than 850 staff members. For your comments, please email or For more information about P&A Grant Thornton, visit our website


As published in The Manila Times, dated 23 August 2017