INSPIRING: This street vendor who sold sponges, recently graduated!

Victory tastes a whole lot sweeter once you’ve tasted what’s bitter.

It may take a couple of steep steps to get to the top, but the triumph brought about by your blood, sweat and tears makes everything worth it. Despite all the trials, boulders and troubles street vendor Melvin Chua had to go through, he happily and humbly shares that he finally earned himself a degree.  His adamant drive towards his goal proved his hardworking, persistent and determined character.

He recently graduated from the University of Makati, majoring in Bachelor of Science in Office Management.

Rough translation & gist of his post:

My dear, loyal customers! I’m finally graduating! Thank you, everyone! I love you all! God bless you all. Because of my job of selling on the streets, I finally finished college – now the first college in the family. Thank you Lord!

If there is one thing I take pride in, it would be the number of years I spent selling in the streets to help my family and at the same time, support myself in school.

My heart filled with so much love and joy after hearing all my customers’ “Congratulations!” and “So Proud of You”. I know I was able to thank them and show them my gratefulness for their kindness. I felt touched with all their warm wishes. To the point, they looked after my welfare as well – they’d usually tell me to go home even if I was out late at night still selling or if it was raining hard.

Every time I’d sell, I did not think that I need to do this in order to survive but instead, I am happy with what I do and I am happy that I am able to help my mom.

And as I end this remarkable journey, this is the day that I will never stop sending my thank you’s – from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU VERY VERY VERY MUCH. Because of your support from buying from me, a day, a week, a buwan and a month gets added every time so that I can continue my studies and help my family.

Whatever achievement that I’ve reached in life, I will always be proud of it. My heart will always be full of gratefulness for you all. I hope there will also come a time that I will be able to help others as well, just like how you’ve helped me.

Chua happily shares to WHEN IN MANILA more of his success story.

I’ve been selling sponges for dishwashing on the street for 13 years.

My heart is indebted to the kindness and generosity to many people because during the times of trial and hardship, they did not think twice about helping me. They became my friends. When I was in elementary, I will never forget the time that I nearly couldn’t join my field trip because I couldn’t afford it but my friends saved enough money and took care of it. I remember too that sometimes, they’d invite me to go with them to the mall and one time they gifted me shoes. I will not forget that.

When I reached high school, those same friends helped me.. I am grateful that I was part of Pilot Section. A lot of times they continued to extend the same help – from treating me food in school, [once again] field trips, and would even surprise me with a small celebration when my birthday would roll around! And to my Signal Village National High School Teachers in Taguig, they also helped me enter college. I was determined to finish my studies because of the generosity showered by my high school teachers. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to go to college, but because of them, they shouldered funds for my enrolment.

Chua as a high school student with his classmates. Photo provided by Melvin Chua

Chua shares that other than being a street vendor, he did his “absolute best” to go through college by taking in other jobs – some include a service crew in a fast food restaurant, a call center agent, an encoder and a wedding coordinator.

All of those jobs, I did it happily with hopes that someday, I will be able to repay those who helped me with their kindness. Even for my family, I am really thankful for their help. Now that I’ve graduated, I really dream of paying them back one day too, for being successful and their willingness to help others as well.

Chua attended his university’s commencement exercises last April 12. He shares that during the march, someone called him out, snapped a photo of him, and to his surprise, it turns out to be one of his loyal customers (suki).

That day, I was so happy that I had a customer whose child was going to graduate with me, too. I knew that it validated the fact that I finally done with school and they witnessed that. I will always be grateful to all of them as they were one of those selfless persons who helped with all the hardships my family and I went through. I hope they know that the kid that would often bring a big plastic bag, a basket, that contains sponges for selling, is now working in a multi-national company.

I never thought all this would happen. I am really thankful to God because He did not leave me despite everything I’ve been through.

Chua only hopes that this story would serve as an inspiration for others.

Life is indeed hard, and we should continue to keep chasing our dreams despite whatever life throws on our way. We should always be thankful to God and to everyone else who helped us along the way.

Congratulations and more power to you! Keep inspiring! <3

What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments below!

(Editor’s note: This interview was originally conducted in Filipino. It has been translated.)


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