INSPIRING: This guy graduated magna cum laude & survived college by traveling to & fro Laguna – España EVERY DAY

If we knew how far Moana can go, we also know how far this fresh graduate from University of Santo Tomas traveled throughout his journey in college.

Mark James Operiano Capulong recently finished his undergraduate studies with Latin Honors, majoring in Economics. Other than his academic achievement, he happily shares that another achievement of his during his stay in college was being able to survive four years worth of commute – Laguna to España to and fro every single day.


Capulong, who was born and raised in Laguna, shared his commute challenges to WHEN IN MANILA.

I started collecting tickets when I’d ocassionally hide them for safe-keeping in my bag. Sometimes, the bus conductor asks for the ticket. But when I saw some graduating students posting their graduation pictures with their own niche and creative concepts, I thought, “why don’t I do the same?”. This time, I decided to use the accumulated tickets during my 4 years worth of commute. Come to think of it, no one has ever done it before. It became a habit until I collected a huge amount of ticket already. It already came to the point I joked to myself that it could form into a gown already.

A day in the life of Capulong – looking for a bus from España to Laguna and vice versa

He was supposed to be a dormer but he had to meet responsibilities at home, as two members of his family work abroad. Being one of the eldest kids, he helped his mom around the house.

In the span of my stay in the university, there are times that discussions arise about (me) residing in UST. They were frequent during my first two years. However, when my older sister left to work as a registered nurse in Abu Dhabi, the topic gradually become one of my family’s least priorities. I am the second child and the eldest boy at home. There’s four of us – two girls, two boys. My dad only flies home to the Philippines sometimes because he also works overseas in Saudi Arabia, so I’m the only one my mother can depend on when it comes to managing the household.

As the eldest one at home, other than helping around the house, I became the one responsible sibling in assisting my younger sister and brother with their academic endeavors. If my younger sister needs help in writing her thesis, or our bunso with high school works, I help them out.

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TheCapulong siblings. Photo from Mark Operiano

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The Operiano siblings with their mother. Photo from Mark Operiano

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The Capulong siblings with their mother, at the airport. Photo from Mark Operiano

Time management was greatly difficult for Capulong but he managed to adjust.

I really needed to learn the concept of time management. I have to plan what I need to do, and accomplish it on time or specific time. Usually, I always lack sleep. It was a staple observation for my blockmates and friends to see me as someone always lacking sleep, with heavy eyebags or simply tired. In order to go on time, it was inevitable for me to study my lessons and readings during my bus rides. I cannot stress enough the difficulty of doing this since I also try to catch up on sleep at the bus. Sometimes, the conductor forgets to ask for my fare or give me a ticket because I couldn’t wake up because I was having a good rest, haha!

One memorable ride was that one time that he got drunk when he was in Manila and but had to go home to Laguna.

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Catching up on rest. Photo submitted by Capulong himself

“I had to travel from UST to Laguna drunk and dizzy because I had no place to stay in Manila. Those are actually pretty memorable times and I think my friends would agree with me!” he laughs.

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Photo from Mark Capulong

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“Nahulog ako sa manhole sa kakahabol sa isang bus”, Capulong shares. Photo from Mark Capulong

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Photo from Mark Capulong

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Photo from Mark Capulong

Many netizens sympathized with Capulong because they also traveled great lengths going to and from school. But Capulong encourages those who have the similar situation as his’ not to give up.

No matter how heavy the obstacles and impediments are thrown at us, if we equip ourselves with a steadfast attitude of perseverance, hard work, dedication, and compassion, we’ll achieve greater accomplishments and successes our minds never even fancied. Nothing is impossible if one puts his mind and heart on the goal. Even if we go to faraway places, our hearts will perpetually seek the distinct comfort and convenience our homes provide. In our homes, we only experience a strange yet fleeting feeling of solitude, and I believe people who have the same or similar experiences would agree with me.


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Photo from Mark Capulong

Congratulations for making it this far! 😉

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