On June 28, a student at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman shared his story with the world on Facebook where he talks about having to work six different jobs to make a living while he studied at the university.
Having graduated with distinction or Cum Laude, Leo Jaminola took on a total of six different jobs while he studied for five years, “I was an encoder, a transcriptionist, a library student assistant, a tutor, a writer, and at one point, a food vendor at the dormitory manning my own little sari-sari store,” he wrote on his Facebook profile picture caption.
Jaminola shared on his Facebook post that growing up, he lived in a small town on the Eastern shore of Mindoro. Like the usual child, he loved to play around but the normal scene he had were esteros and makeshift houses made of tarpaulin.
“These were everyday scenes in my community—a community where most members grapple with the everyday reality of poverty. My family was part of this struggling community,” he mentioned. “We were, and are, part of the section of society that does not have their own homes, that fails to pay their electricity on time, and that struggles to survive from paycheck to paycheck.”
As he shared that his father worked as a messenger, his father’s earnings were insufficient for him to afford three meals a day in UP and that he had to rely on his relatives for income from part-time jobs and that would always prioritize work above his studies so he could survive.
“While my classmates were busy preparing for exams, I was coming home from tutoring sessions. While my friends were sleeping soundly, I was finishing transcriptions for interviews. While my colleagues had finished submitting their semester term papers, I was concluding articles for clients,” he said.
“I failed a few subjects and settled for a passing grade for some others. It wasn’t about thriving and excelling anymore; it was just about surviving,” he added.
He further shared that there’s no assurance on how the poor will make it past the structural inequalities we have and that his success does not mean hard work leads to success.
“My own small success does not mean that all it takes for poor people to succeed is hard work. While hard work is important, it does not guarantee success as much as privilege does. For although my family was poor, I still had access to privileges that other children did (and do) not have,” he said.
The experiences Jaminola had has made him understand why he wants to pursue his career in development research and has motivated him to use his education and learning to help the masses.
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