It is (our life story) after all, the only treasure, the only heirloom we have to leave — our own little grain of truth. Truth that is locked up in the heart — or in a diary is sterile. It must be given back to life.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
You are our living link to the past. Tell your grandchildren the story of the struggles waged, at home and abroad. Of sacrifices made for freedom’s sake. And tell them your own story as well — because [everybody] has a story to tell.
Former Pres. George H.W. Bush, State of the Union address, 1990
Twenty seven years ago, at Nitang Street, Gulod, Novaliches, Quezon City, in a small clinic at the back of Iglesia Ni Cristo church, at exactly 3:30 PM on February 18, 1984, I came bounding into a world of love and laughter. I was the third child in my family but was considered as the second. My elder brother, the second child of my parents died when he was 6 months old. It was a tragic moment for my parents and both my mom and dad undergo a difficult time together. They were both very sad until my mother became pregnant with their third child. And that was me!
My parents were so happy when I was born. My mom told me how my father loved me so much. He even insulted a neighbor who happened to joke on me when my father was carrying me. Being the first girl, my parents are so excited with me. My eldest brother, the first child, my Kuya also loved me so much. She called me “Gang2x”.
All I can remember during my childhood was the love of my parents and my family. We were already 6 in the family. During this time, I already have two younger sisters. The childhood moments I have with my sisters were so memorable. This was the time when our parents have been in trouble. My father was seeing another woman and my mother was so lonely then. My mom needs to find part-time jobs just to raise the four of us. My Kuya, being the only boy, was so kind to help my mother but it was difficult as the four of us are still on our elementary years and were still very young.
It was so hard in my young heart imagining what will happen to my family. It was very hard to accept that my father does not take care of us anymore. At night, I stay awake and cried for the sad moments of our lives. I also caught my mom crying at night. It was very difficult but still, I was so thankful with my mom. She showed strength to us despite the pain and burden she carries. She encourages us to go to school while she find part-time jobs. I saw her when she washed the laundry of different families, cooked on parties, weddings, birthdays and other occasions just to survive her four kids (us).
I was young then but I know how difficult life is. I promised myself to become successful someday. I did everything to make my mom proud of me. I was struggling in my studies, doing everything to excel in all fields and most of all, I did my best to help my mom in all her part time jobs. I followed all my mom’s advice. In my mind, nothing is important but to succeed to and to rise my family from poverty.
My hard work has been recognized then. During my elementary years, I graduated with flying colors. I graduated Salutatorian and was chosen as the YMCA Most Outstanding Student of the Year (2007). I was so happy because I made my mom so proud of me.
I decided to continue on struggling my studies. My mom was so supportive with me. Poverty did not became a hindrance on our dreams to finish my studies. I graduated my high school and rank as 32 out of 712 graduates. My mom was then so proud of me again.
After high school, I never thought I could still make it up until college. We can’t afford the tuition fee and my brother and sisters have their own needs too. I decided to look for scholarship grants in our community. I found three scholarships to choose from. One offers a 2-year grant with cash allowance and a maintaining average grade of 80%. The second offers a 4-year full scholarship grant with just books and uniform allowance and a maintaining average grade of 85%. The third also offers a 4-year full scholarship grant with a monthly cash allowance and a maintaining average grade of 90%.
I decided to choose the second scholarship option. I was so happy that I passed the examination qualification and the requirements. My mom was always behind me and again so proud of my achievement.
I went to college at Asian College of Science and Technology (ACSAT) and took up Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I was so nervous at first as I don’t have enough knowledge about computers. But my teachers have help me on everything. I also learned a lot when I rendered my on-the-job training (OJT) at a very prestigious office. I meet friends and lots of good people who taught me many things about life and career building. They’re in my heart forever.
My college graduation day
We are in a trimestral basis, thus, I finished my four year course in just three years. My graduation day was very unforgettable. I almost did not make it during that very day because my family got trouble. My dad went home that day and my parents have a great fight.
It was a very close friend of us who encourage us to go to the occasion, simply because, she was a witness of my hardships and struggles. I was so happy that my parents became okay in an instant. Both my mom and my dad were there to witness my graduation ceremony.
The most unforgettable part of my graduation was when I received my award as College Honors. When my name was called, I walked up in the stage very proud. At last, all my struggles were paid off. My mother was the one who escorted me to received my medal. Facing the audience, I found my father watching me with tears in his eyes. I can read from the corner of my eyes that he is very proud of me. I don’t know what I feel. I want to tell him I did it without him. But I love my father. All I want to do is to share the success and happiness I felt that day with him. After all, he’s still my father and I know he loves me. Things happen to test me and my family. My dad still deserve to be respected and loved. Without him, I will not be here in this world. Without him, I will never learn what life is. Without him, I will not be me.
After my studies, I already found a job. I have helped my family. And there are lots of things that happened to my life. The trials were not yet over. Last May 16, 2008, at around 4AM, we received a text message from the wife of my brother. It was very unbelievable, but it’s true. My brother has been stabbed to death at around 11PM at Victorias City, Negros Occidental, the place he stayed together with his own family. It was the most difficult and saddest time of our lives. We’ve lost our brother, our only Kuya.
It was hard for my mom to face everything. There are no nights I can’t hear her cries. Our family was reunited in this very tragic moment of our lives. My father was there again, comforting us but also feeling the pain of the loss of my brother. He even blamed himself for what happened. But it’s not his fault. Everything happens for a reason. We loved my brother but we have to accept the fact. He left us with his three kids whom we loved so much too.
We are still in the state of recovery on the death of my brother when another tragic moment happened to my family. I can’t forget it because it was during the New Year’s eve. It was the last day of year 2008. I had rendered overtime and went home at around 7PM. It was raining so hard and I was soaking wet when I arrived home. My mom had prepared for the occasion and have just finished cooking. I ate first because I was really starving after rendering overtime work. I had just finished my meal when our neighbor called our attention.
We are living near a river and witnessing a flood is already normal to us. It was flooding again. But this time, it’s not the normal one. It was just about 30 minutes and the water had already reached our grounds. It was very frightening. We decided to vacate from our house and went on an uphill area where we were safe. Thanks God we vacate as early as we could. The water rise up and reached our house. The first house situated before our house was already taken by the flood. Thanks God our house was left standing, though some parts were broken and the area was full of mud. The day after, the first day of the year, January 1, 2009, me and my sister transfered to a boarding house.
My mom and my sister was left in the old house while we have the house repaired. The repair was almost done but again, another flash flood happened. It was last February 7, 2009, about one month plus after the first flood. It was raining very hard and the whole city experienced the flash flood. Water rise to a high level and our place was declared in a state of calamity. I was at work during that time when I received a message from a neighbor. I immediately called her to talk to my mom. My mom was crying. I was very nervous. She said, the water took our house. Not even a single item was left. The flood took everything. Our house, our things and our dreams. We don’t have a house anymore. But I’m still thankful that the flood did not took our lives.
That day, I was thankful we transfered to a boarding house. I took my mom there with my youngest sister. We stayed there for about a month and look for another place to rent, this time, together with my mom and two sisters.
New life, new beginning
It was a new life to us. New house, new place, new neighbors and a different way of living. We rented a room and shared the whole house together with two other families. We start all over again. Buying household things and everything the flood took away. We decided to forget everything for us to fully recover. I continue working to help raise my family.
I always knew we would survive everything. And surely, we did! On all the things that happened to us, I always knew Someone is there watching and guiding us. He is there, He plans everything, not to punished us, but to make us strong and to test our faith.
Despite everything, we did not forget Him. We talk to Him everyday, and went to church every Thursdays and Sundays. And we’re not mistaken. He really is guiding us on everything. God is good to us, especially to my family.
And hey, don’t think hard on how I have surpassed all these trials. I always have God on my side. From the very start, He already has chosen me as His child. I loved Him as He loves me. Whatever happens next, to my life and to my family, I left everything to Him. I trust my life to Him completely!
And guess what, God gave us our own house and lot 🙂
To be continued…