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Never Too Poor or Too Sick to Dream: 3 Remarkable Graduation Stories
One overcame a debilitating disease, one worked odd jobs, while another survived on a P20 baon
IMAGE Geocelle Dela Cruz, Tiffany Uy, Robin Lee Metiam
  1. This student worked eight jobs to finish college.

They say you could never put a good man (or woman) down, and this certainly holds true in the case of Geoselle Dela Cruz, who, despite not having much, managed to send herself to college and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Tourism—and with honors. 

"There are a lot of things I tried just to keep this UP dream going. Lahat ng raket na pwedeng gawin, I did," she writes in an inspiring Facebook entry which has gone viral, and her statement is certainly not an exaggeration. Definitelyfilipino.net reports that from hosting events to being a back-up dancer to peddling "pizza rolls, donuts," etc, this girl has done it all.

It is this perseverance that earned her the moniker "Diskarte Queen," a title she had to live up to especially when, in her fourth year in college, her mom and brother both needed medical attention, which of course entailed expenses. 

In her post, Geoselle recounted her struggles thoughout her five years at the University of the Philippines, and included a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who "helped my family, from daily baon to pambayad sa fieldtrips, to pambili ng school needs." She ended her post by addressing fellow students who may be experiencing similar challenges, "Whatever it takes, wag mong susukuan yan!!! And when battles come, when mountains arise, when hard times happen, please do not escape. Choose to endure, always."

She signed it with a victorious "Sa wakas magmamartsa na, Geoselle Santiago Dela Cruz".

Read her post in full here:

  1. This PWD is now a "person with a degree."

Judging from her appearance, Tiffany Uy would seem like a perfectly able and healthy lady, but in 2010 she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, a condition where the body's immune system attacks even the healthy cells, causing the patient to become debilitated over time. 

After graduating from Manila Science High School, Tiffany was determined to finish her course, Public Administration, on time, but her frail condition prevented her from doing so. In 2013, she had to drop a few subjects because she could no longer walk to class. Tiffany missed more classes as her condition worsened. "I didn't tell one professor about my sickness and he said, 'Bakit ngayon ka lang pumasok?' I felt so embarrassed that I was letting so many people down and I was still too scared to tell them how bad my sickness was getting. I felt like people thought I was a lazy kid who didn't want to go to class and I always felt like tearing up when I wanted to explain so I almost wanted to take a leave of absence."

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But her desire to finish her degree persisted. "Although I was really embarrassed to ask for help, I got the courage to ask my friends to tutor me in subjects I missed out on. I asked for PowerPoints, seat works, and kindly begged for the time to be tutored," she said.

On days when her symptoms were really bad, instead of staying in bed, Tiffany would exercise at the gym. And, as if to tell her body who's boss, she even ran for a position in the student council and was chairperson in her graduating year. Last month, she finally saw the fruition of her dreams as she graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines. 

"I thought of other lupus patients who experience similar symptoms as me and they continue to live their lives to the best of their abilities. These stories serve as a daily reminder of how blessed I am," she added.

Read her story in her own words below:

  1. "Isang basong palamig at isang pirasong kendi."

For many of us, P20 is not a lot of money. It's hard to imagine how newly-graduated student Robin Lee Metiam survived on a measly amount as baon every single day throughout his college life, but he had it all figured out:

P7 jeepney fare going to school 
P7 jeepney fare going home
P6 for a piece of candy and a glass of 'samalamig'

Robin is the third of seven siblings and comes from a poor family. In his first year in college, his father lost his job so his older brother gave way and quit school so Robin could continue his education. Needless to say, there was very little financial resource to go around, so aside from stretching his daily baon, he also tutored on the side. When he started earning a few pesos from his part-time job, instead of adding to his baon, he gave what he had to his parents to augment their budget. 

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After two attempts to apply for the DOST Scholarship Program (he failed the first time) and almost five years later, Robin has graduated from the Tarlac State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. His Facebook post has gotten over 64,000 Likes to date and has been shared more than 17,000 times.

"Pinagpatuloy ko itong lifestyle na ito hanggang sa makaabot ako ng 4th year at 5th year college at ngayon na grumaduate ako last June 15,2017…Grabe kase ang tinuro ng Panginoon sa akin gamit ang 20 pesos na yan...Tinuruan akong magtiyaga, mas lalong pahalagahan ang mga bagay bagay na meron ako, at higit sa lahat ay mas lalo akong naturuang mas Kumapit at mag tiwala sa Panginoon sa lahat ng Oras :)Ikaw…Hanggang saan kaya aabot ang 20 pesos mo?"

Read his touching story in the post below:

This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.

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About the author
Lei Sison for SmartParenting.com.ph
Managing Editor of www.smartparenting.com.ph
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