Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
ANYTHING is possible as long as you set your mind to it. Even if the circumstances seem dire and unpromising; it is always about how you react and cope to it that will allow you to pull through.
A story that beautifully exemplifies this is that of young Evangeline “Gigi” Layan Carton, who has been working as a nanny for ten years, yet never saw that as a hindrance in pursuing her high school education.
Her sacrifice surely paid off, as she recently attained her high school diploma through the alternative learning system of Sacred Heart School – Hijas de Jesus.
We often hear of stories about those who quit school in order to send their younger siblings to school instead, and that is what exactly Gigi did.
What her father earned as a farmer was not enough to send them all to school and so Gigi, being the second eldest child, had to help in. At 16-years old, she left her hometown of Leyte, came to Cebu, with the dream that she would land a job that would allow her to support her family.
Clint and Karen Tio, who were just starting out as a family back then, took Gigi as their child’s nanny and she has been with them ever since. She earned the family’s trust through hard work and by sticking to her principles; and has stayed true to her role of being the reliable and dependable Ate Gigi to the three Tio children.
It was Karen who suggested that Gigi finish her schooling. As a busy working mom, Karen said that she owes it to Gigi for raising her kids well while she and Clint are away. She describes Gigi as a good disciplinarian, who also took on the parental role of bringing up her kids to be well-mannered and benevolent… “And to eat their vegetables!” she quipped.
In the vernacular, Gigi shared her inspirational life story. She said: “Life in our hometown is difficult. My older sister and I left home to work in Cebu so we can send our younger siblings to school.”
“At first, the classes were difficult because it had been a long time since I’ve been in school, but I managed,” she said. “While waiting for the kids from school, I use that time to study. Then at night, the kids and I study together. It’s even Keizia (the Tio couple’s eldest child) who would help me with my spelling.”
Gigi shared that her parents were surprised when they found she had been studying while working. She would work full-time from Monday through Saturday, and then go to school on Sundays. Truly an assiduous young lass, she sends a part of her salary to her siblings also studying back home.
“I’m proud that I was able to achieve this,” Gigi said in vernacular. “I never thought I would be able to finish high school.”
Now with a high school diploma to her name, Gigi plans to pursue either a culinary arts course or short courses in information technology. At the same time, she is also saving up to help her younger brother, who wants to study welding technology.
When asked what habit or trait that she wants to impart to the Tio kids, Ate Gigi simply replied, “I want them to always study their lessons, kanang unahon lang jud nila ilang studies usa mag-duwa (study first before playing).”