Like a bamboo, they bent but didn’t break

Trite as it may seem but it is true that poverty is not a hindrance to success. This becomes truer when two graduates of University of Antique surpassed the tribulations of being raised in a poor family. One raised by a fisherman, another became a sailor.

Nessie Kaye Cortejo, a daughter of a fisherman, decided to stop schooling after finishing secondary school. She took a job and supported her family’s needs. For two years, she did what she could to provide and through this time, the interest to go back to school diminished. Until one day, her former high school teacher persuaded her to go back to school; her teacher brought a torch for Nessie to clear her path.

“Walang salitang mahirap, sa taong may pangarap (there is nothing difficult for a person with dreams),” these are the words of Nessie’s Filipino teacher who pushed her to pursue college. But she knew very well that in reality, the word “difficult” is an understatement.

Fifty pesos. Everyday, she would eke out the fifty pesos allowance for her fare, lunch, and handout reproduction. Sometimes she would borrow money from her classmates just to get by in a day. It was embarrassing for her but she did though. She was lucky enough to have patient and generous friends who helped her when she needed them the most.

“I thought I was going to stop schooling again because of poverty but my father did his best to support my needs. He put shame aside to find someone who can lend us money for our needs,” Nessie Kaye shared while recalling another financial problem she encountered during her sophomore year in college.

Nessie Kaye was a government scholar yet her assistance is just enough to pay off her debts. When Republic Act 10931 was enacted, she was full of gratitude. Tuition fees were no longer a problem. All she had to worry were the cost of her projects, researches, printing fees, internet. But despite the fact that she’s struggling financially, she did not allow herself to stop and give up.

“I thought of stopping and giving up but what about the efforts that I have already exerted, right? Sometimes, the only person preventing you to continue is yourself,” she said.

Nessie Kaye stood tall on her ground like a bamboo and chose to face the wind that tries to bend her. She fought hard. Every opportunity she sees, she grabs and makes a way to earn. She helped her father who is a fisherman to earn the extra money she needed.

“Pamaon” and “husay lugway”are ways of fishing. Pamaon is fishbaiting. In a wooden box, nylon strings are attached with hooks at each end. Husay lugway is a way of pulling the strings and getting the fish out of the bait. She was born in this kind of living so she embraced it. Pamaon was her way of earning which supported her college education.

But COVID-19 pandemic happened and Nessie was thankful because as classes shifted online, she could have all the time in the world to focus on her livelihood. But it also posed another problem. She needs a smartphone to keep up with her teachers and classmates. Luckily, Nessie used her savings to buy a new phone for her online classes. Despite another challenge, she managed to crawl her way out and this year, she graduated her course, Bachelor of Science in Office Administration Major in Office Management with flying colors.

“I was called by our dean’s office. I was nervous about it. I did not expect that they called me to tell me I am graduating Cum Laude. I did not expect it at all,” Nessie Kaye glared in excitement.

It was her moment of validation of all her efforts. It was all paid off. She kept her distance from those who try to belittle her ambitions.


Aside from Nessie, another graduate who persevered through the challenges is Jasper T. Silava, 25, a resident of Bia – an, Hamtic, Antique who just graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) degree.

He took BSMT because he saw it as an opportunity to rise out of the quicksand he’s in — poverty. He believed that being a seaman would help him improve his financial situation.

“I chose to study BSMT not because of the common cliché, (to travel the world while earning dollars) or (to taste girls with different nationalities). My dream is to become a ship captain and provide a better life for my family,” Jasper said.

Like Nessie’s his parents are separated. His father is financially unstable and finds it difficult to send him to school but he never surrendered.

“My father is a source of motivation for me. Despite his poverty and lack of education, it is his ambition for his son to complete his studies and obtain a better profession. The desire to enhance one’s life is what motivates me the most,” Jasper shared.

He spent his childhood with his grandmother. His aunt financed his elementary education; his uncle, his secondary education; and another aunt, his college education. While struggling for money while in school, his cousin who’s an OFW supported him. He strived hard with all his might to make them all proud.

“I managed to have high grades despite everything because I focused on my goals. I refused to acknowledge unnecessary habits like drinking and smoking. Above all, because I have faith in the Almighty God,” Jasper shared.

He said that having excellent academic performance is a great advantage in applying for jobs. For him, based on experience, theoretical knowledge is very useful onboard ships.

“Finding a job after receiving my completion of academic performance, my onboard training (OBT)is significantly difficult. I spent several months working on a domestic vessel. However, the working conditions are difficult, and a trainee’s monthly income is low. I was fortunate enough to be hired by Anglo Eastern Crew Management Phil. Inc”, he added.

After many years of completing his onboard training, it was this year when Jasper finally claimed his bachelor’s degree.

“Never give up is my message to students who are still trying to finish college. Make an effort to go above and beyond what is required of you. You aim to be a better person, one who is better than you were yesterday,” Jasper said.

These two success stories really dismiss poverty as an impediment. It only takes a brave soul. It requires resiliency. Like a bamboo, Nessia nad Jasper bent as rough winds blew their way. But the bounce back and stood up to keep reaching for the sun.

Written by Ma. Stephanie Kate Balboa and Marianne Palcat

Author: theprismdaily

The Official Student Publication of University of Antique Main Campus

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