I grew up in poverty, and it was not easy. By the time my mother was pregnant, my father had left us with nothing. When I was five years old, my mother decided to marry so that she would have someone to share with, and thanks to God, He has given me a very responsible father.
He raised me like his own; we are poor, but we are happy because he taught us to live with a rich heart rather than a rich pocket because, for him, what is the use of money if you have no heart yet you are still poor in the eyes of God.
I did not experience life as a child because, when I was 10 years old, I needed to get up early and help my parents. And when I graduate high school, I face another challenge: do my parents have the money to send me to college? I never ask them; I find ways!
I became a working student in my father’s sister’s home. I helped them with their household chores; both my stepfather and his sister had helped me finish my college degree. However, it was not that easy, but I kept striving until I finished college. Nonetheless, graduating from college is not the end but rather the beginning of life, and there will most likely be more fighting and striving if you live in my country.
When I started working as a social development practitioner here, I totally understood the true status of my country. People become poorer as they work harder, the opposite of what happens in other countries. What we did to help our countrymen was educate them, but not all understood; they did it now and forgot later, then went back to their usual habits. As John Maxwell said, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” If you want to arrive at a new destination, you need to take a new path.
My company’s advocacy, where I am currently working, is to eradicate poverty, as our boss always reminds us, and that is the reason why the company exists. We help our clients. We let them borrow small amounts of capital to start up a small business, but most of them failed. Because you can start a business in my country, but “Pahirapan” (in Tagalog) and most government employees are not so accommodating that you feel like you are going to retreat when you see their angry faces, which is why most people are not interested in business and only a few have tried it.
In some countries, the government will help you until you make the stand, but here it is different; you will get what you want, but in the hardest way, and if you already passed the test, well, congratulations, but be careful; if the fruit of your labor shows up, someone will stone you down. That is what we called “crab mentality.” That is why people stay where they are because, according to a Filipino saying, “Life is a wheel; sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down.” The problem is, when you are down, the wheel stops spinning.
I want to share what my mother said to me when I questioned her during those times I faced difficulties. I say to her, “Mom, maybe if you are rich by now, your children will not suffer as much as what we are facing right now,” but she just gives me a simple answer. “Son, if you do not strive hard right now, your children will ask you the same question.”
Each one of us is responsible for our life; we cannot blame God, our parents, our country, or our government for what happens to us. Remember, you will harvest what you have planted. Someone asked God. “God, give me everything so I can enjoy my life,” God replied, “Son, I give you life so you can enjoy everything.”