Luab: One determined Juan-A A +A
Saturday, February 2, 2013
JUAN is not his real name but his story is true, and very uplifting and inspiring. Juan belongs to a family of 12.
According to him, they were so poor that there were times when they had nothing to eat. He is the ninth child.
They would just scrounge around for whatever food they could find. Sometimes they had really no food.
Juan was the only one who tried to get educated. When he was 11 years old, he walked all the way to school, barefoot and in tattered clothes and approached a teacher who happened by God’s grace (his words were kaluoy sa Diyos) to be a grade one teacher. He told of his desire to study. This kind-hearted teacher took pity on him, asked him to be her helper and enrolled him in Grade one. He did not receive any money but he was fed, clothed and sent to school.
Upon reaching Grade six, his classmate’s father offered him a job, helping make hollow blocks before 7:30 a.m. After school, he would also help in the delivery of the building materials. He would be paid P50 a month. He told his teacher of the offer and she agreed to let him take the job.
He told me his life was difficult. He had the household chores plus his hollow-block making job, plus his studies to handle. He graduated from high school at the age of 20.
This time, he asked permission to leave his two jobs so he could seek employment in the city. He got a job at a forwarder firm at the pier. He was paid P75 pesos a month. In order to save, he slept wherever he could at the pier, scrimped on food while trying to survive. By this time his eldest sister married a vendor who works at Carbon Market. But according to him, “Haskang laoga (She was so selfish).” He couldn’t even eat with her or stay with her. At the forwarder firm, he learned how to drive. He tried borrowing P2,500 from his sister in order to get a professional driver’s license but again she refused.
He started jumping from one job to another whenever there would be an increase in salary. He actually went into a gamut of back-breaking jobs, sleeping wherever he could, skimping on food till finally he was able to get his professional driver’s license on his own savings. This took a long time. Not once did he think of giving up his dream of getting a good income. He eventually became a taxi driver and that’s when I met him.
Juan has been driving a taxi now for nine years. He is one of the few who makes a clean minimum of P4,000 a week if he can drive three shifts from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. in a week. He always strives to do this. I asked him if he was happy. He answered with a gleeful laugh saying. “Maayo na kong pagkabutang. Kalayo sa akong gigikanan. Ang akong ubang igsuon waa gyud katungha. Naminyo na ko maam. Duna na koy usa ka babaye nga anak. Usa pa ka tuig (I’m very comfortable now considering my background. None of my brothers and sister have gone to school. I got married and now have a one year old daughter).”
He added that his wife was preparing her papers to leave for Dubai because a relative needed a helper. The contract would be for two years. His mother-in-law would take care of his daughter with his help. He said that with her savings and his savings they still intend to make a better life for his future kids. There was no bitterness at all in his narrative.
Actually, his sense of humor is great. When I asked him if his wife was good, his answer was: “I am the underdog.” With a grin, he then added, “When she quarrels me I just hand her a yellow pad and a pencil and tell her to write down all you wants me to do and I will do it.” This usually ends the quarrel because she laughs.
Looking back at his simple tale, I marvel at God’s amazing grace. I marvel at what man has, to be willing to go through to get out of the dire poverty line. Best of all, I marvel at man’s faith for throughout the whole narrative, Juan kept repeating the phrase maluoy man gyud ang Ginoo basta paduol ka lang niya (God is merciful if you just stick close to him).
If one man can do it, there should be others who must be willing to walk the same path. If you have read Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s autobiography and believe his narrative, he became very comfortable after a long hard climb! Faith, gut level grit and God’s amazing grace can be a powerful combination!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 03, 2013.