When I was a kid, I used to tell my father that I would like to have a taste of the enticing food shown in commercials whenever we watched the television.

My father would tell me to study hard so someday, I can have a decent job… earn… and buy the things that I longed for. He would tell me that education is important because it will open doors of opportunities for one to prosper in life.

He used to tell us, his kids, that our life should have been different and it should have been better if he had just obtained higher education. Young as I was, I can’t grasp what my father meant by higher education and its connection to comfortable living.

My parents both finished high school education but their desire to attain an improved quality of life was not hampered by the challenges of life.

Though their income was low, they worked hard – day and night – to ensure that they earn something so we can eat at least three times a day and their children can go to school to learn. As their reward, we do our part as students and gift them of our scholastic achievements.

My father was a former security guard but after a tiring shift, he will not sleep yet not until he had helped my mother in preparing the goods she would sell to people in the cockpit. They cooked lumpia, empanada, turon and prepared ice candy, peanut butter and roasted peanuts to peddle to sabungeros. I would also sell some to my classmates who like my mother’s empanada.

When income is difficult and its examination time, my mother would line up at the registrar’s office for a promissory note so I could take the test. Luckily, the government has a scholarship for the poor youth so it somehow eased the family’s burden of trying to complement the small earnings with the big needs. 

Life was so hard then, that we can only cling into our hopes and dreams and the hard work of our parents as inspirations for us to hold on and continue struggling to have a better living.

I finished my college education in 2008 with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in English and had worked as a teacher, molding the young minds of students to become the country’s future. As an educator, one has to continue enhancing his knowledge so he can impart something relevant to students. Deep in me, I also want to pursue higher education as a realization of my parents’ dream for themselves.

In 2010, I took units in Master in Education at the Pangasinan State University but I had to stop since I became the family’s breadwinner. My father, who has a regular salary as a security guard, had ceased working because he underwent operation on his lungs. I had to set aside my education because my salary would not suffice the needs of my family and I had to send my two siblings to school.

I resigned from my teaching job in 2011 to try other employment that offers a higher pay so I can sustain the needs of my family. I landed as a call center agent in Pampanga but it didn’t last long because the high salary in the BPO industry demands a lot from its employees. Fortunately, I was hired at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in January 2012 and got an item in November that year.

Working in the agency was a dream-come-true for me because when I was a kid, I have always wanted to become a reporter. I remembered that when we wrote an essay in high school on how we see ourselves 10 years after graduation, I wrote that I see myself working as a reporter at the age of 25. 

My job at PIA helped me and my family a lot. Having a stable profession, I thought it was about time to go back to school. So in June of 2013, I enrolled Master in Public Administration at the Lyceum-Northwestern University in Dagupan City. 

After three years, I’m at the university again and attending school every weekends. Juggling time between work and study is quite exhausting. Work demands full attention and so is study. Sometimes, the scale between these two is not balanced and the other has to compromise. Of course, I had to prioritize my job because it’s my bread-and-butter.

Despite of busy schedules, I am on target with my production in the office. For almost three years in the Agency, I performed well enough and granted with recognitions by the regional office as best in the production of news and situation reports.

The hardships did not dampen my spirit and I was able to finish my master’s degree on April 25, 2015. I think that was the best gift I received two days after my birthday. Now, I am happy that I have attained something for myself and for my parents.

I was also grateful when the agency recognized my feat when I became one of the Special Recognition Awardees during the PIA PRAISE (Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence) Awards in December 2015.

Pursuing an advanced degree is quite expensive and time consuming, but the rewards of self-improvement, character development, and social improvement are what satisfy the eager one. I believe that self-improvement could also contribute to the betterment of the agency and the community I served.  

At present, I am taking up my doctorate degree and looking forward to completing it in 2017.

Guided by the maxim: “"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall," I hope that this not-so-extraordinary story will inspire others to dream big, work hard for it and make it happen.