Three Modern-Day Filipinos Who Will Teach You About Perseverance

I’ve been always strong in my stand to follow my dreams regardless of the obstacles that may stand in my way. One’s current circumstance is not the hindrance, but more on the will to achieve such goals. If you think it’s unrealistic or it’s a case-to-case basis, think again. I have three amazing stories of modern-day Filipinos who proved that challenges can be beaten by sheer perseverance, no matter how hard it can be.

Challenge of Poverty

Courtesy of Yahoo News PH

Emerson Paguia went to Manila to look for a job, but the ones he have is not enough to feed his family. For additional income, he worked as a Balut (fertilized duck embryo) vendor at night. He saved a few pesos to rent in an internet shop to look for jobs online. That’s where he found his opportunity to land a better job as TESDA in partnership with Informatics provided a Training for Work Scholarship Program (TSWP). There, Emerson learned data programming and PHP server-side encryption. The challenge did not end there. He also needed some money to sustain his studies. With this, he takes a three-hour work from Angono, Rizal to Eastwood to save on transportation expenses. At night, he still sells Balut so as not to cut down his financial resource. He knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He knew that this will pay-off if he can overcome this challenge. By the end of the program, he became one of the top scholars and was hired by Informatics as part of its web development team.

As a DOST scholar and a graduate of Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, I can imagine how hard it is to pursue such study. At times, I rant on how hard it is being a student, but this guy endured difficulties, a hundred-times-fold as mine. The tenacity to look for better opportunities and the willpower to withstand hardships paved his way to fulfill his dreams.

Challenge of Physical Handicap

Courtesy of Reader’s Digest Asia

Maricel Apatan had a very traumatic event during her childhood. She was eleven years-old back then when she and her uncle were assaulted by four men while they were fetching some water. Armed with long knives, her uncle was hacked and died in turn. She got hacked in the neck and both of her arms. After the four men ran away, she got up and ran home, bleeding profusely as her mother saw her. It took four hours for them to reach the hospital, and the doctors thought she wouldn’t make it. Miraculously, she survived but her arms cannot be saved. A distant relative helped them covered the bills and bring the criminals to court. Surviving the incident was not the sole miracle that has happened to her. A non-government organization called Tahanang Walang Hagdan (House with No Steps) helped her finish her studies. She graduated from a course in Hotel and Restaurant Management and even earned a Gold Medal for Arts and Crafts. After that, she continues to study as a chef and was later hired by Edsa Shangri-La Hotel as part of the hotel’s Care for People project. Her fellow chefs are impressed with her performance and would only assist her if she needs to move hot containers from stove or open slippery bottle caps.

I sometimes worry about my shortcomings in terms of skill, but after learning about Maricel’s story, I have no excuse to lose the motivation. She proved that even the physically handicapped people can live normally and moreover, display impressive skills.

Challenge of Standards and Rejection

Courtesy of GMA News Online

Jica Lapeña graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts (Magna Cum Laude) in University of the Philippines, Diliman. However, before she reached such achievement, she failed the said university’s admission test. She was shocked back then since she’s used to getting high grades during her high school days. Furthermore, most of her families and relatives studied and graduated from this university. There was another way to enter UP  and that is to take the Talent Determination Test at the College of Fine Arts. She passed the test, leaving her a dilemma between studying in UP or pursuing a course in Fashion Design and Merchandising in a school which she liked a lot. She can’t recall the exact reason that brought  her choice,  all she knew was that she wants to be a part of UP’s atmosphere so alive with intellect, passion, and creativity. From there, she experienced trials and triumphs just like other students, but it’s impressive how she proved herself that she has what it takes and moreover, excel at her chosen craft.

I have a loosely similar experience when I failed an admission test for a public science high school. I was trying to follow my sister’s footsteps so it greatly affected my self-esteem. My mom thought that it was necessary to pass the admission test for UP, but I passed the exam and graduated in my chosen course. Jica’s story showed us that our planned route towards our goal may not be the only possible path. Sometimes, we just need to look for alternatives and then persevere from there.

I only cited three people, and I know there are a lot more awesome ones that will inspire us more, but my point here is simple. Do not focus on the challenges that come between you and your dreams. Keep your eyes on the prize. Persevere, improvise, adapt, and overcome. May you achieve your dreams in life. (~^_^)~


Emerson Paguia – Yahoo News Philippines
Maricel Apatan – Reader’s Digest Asia
Jica Lapeña – GMA News Online