Stories like these remind us that life is never a walk in a park but a journey that should be enjoyed, regardless of the kinds of circumstances that come our way. Ariestelo Asilo is one classic example.
Education has always played an important role in his life and is proud to have finished two different degrees – first in nutrition, the second, business management. That’s not all! He also graduated from the University of the Philippines as a scholar, and is now a registered dietitian nutritionist. To add to his list of achievements, Asilo is also an author, having published an autobiography of his life, entitled “Anak ng Jueteng”.
The post’s rough translation:
I thought I wouldn’t be able to go to college that time because we really couldn’t afford it – according to my late father who was a collector of jueteng. My mother is a sweepstakes ticket vendor like my grandmother. I was able to experience both, too. As young as five years old, I already learned how to sell. My mother would often tell me to study hard – ‘Yan! Because of all that stress from studying, I lost my hair. Hahaha!
My teachers and classmates would laugh at me back when I was in elementary because they know my father’s job was different, and they know also know that I sell tickets after school. There was one teacher that remarked in my report card back then – “helps mother sell ticket” – and she gave me a high grade in Self-Reliance. That inspired me to study harder. Science became my favorite subject – that was what she taught.
When I reached high school, I studied harder and did better in school because I wanted to get a scholarship in college. I graduated with a leadership award and salutatorian. The road wasn’t easy since I tutored kids back then so that I have money for myself. Sometimes, my dad didn’t earn enough for the day either so I don’t have money for the week. During the weekend, I’m at the library located at our place in Bauan since I do advanced reading. The library is no longer there, sadly.
It was in 2002 that I felt I wouldn’t be able to go to college because we were not able to prepare for it. My teachers in Bauan Technical High School were supportive then, as well as my intelligent classmates. I joined them in taking the UPCAT. I was happy I passed! However, my parents were worried about the expenses in UP Los Baños, where I qualified.
I guess I could consider myself lucky. I received news from Mrs. Jen Dumadag Arada the application form for the scholarship at the US Peace Corps Alumni Foundation for Philippine Development. Mrs. Cely Abela Agdan and Mrs. Lena Marie helped me fill out those forms, and I submitted it on September that same year. I prayed fervently that I get accepted because that was my only hope for me to study. [I remember] how many times I visited the post office to ask if a letter arrived for me. October passed. Then came November, December and January. Email and Facebook weren’t popular then. I got nervous all the more, but I somewhat accepted the fact that I didn’t get the scholarship.
Until one day in February 2003 – a letter for me arrived at the post office from the Peace Corps! The people in the post office were overjoyed that they no longer had to deliver it to my house. Instead of opening it there right on the spot, I went to church and prayed. I didn’t want to open it yet.
On the way home, that was the time I opened the letter slowly.. nervous but crying! I found out I got the scholarship! I was jumping and shouting with joy. I told my parents the news, and the rest is history.
I entered the University of the Philippines – Los Baños in 2003 and graduated in 2007. I was also a working student then.
This photo of me wearing the sablay reminds me a lot of what I went through since high school. I just wanted to finish college but I didn’t expect I’d be taking my Masters, too!
I want to apologize to the people I’ve let down along the way, I did not want to intentionally commit mistakes. I do have difficult times, too. I continue to improve myself – and you all really help me grow.
Other than the trials he went through his academic life, Asilo also shares other personal problems and shares some bits of advice for those who are going through similar situations.
At one point, I also got depressed, but I kept fighting. I felt lost, too. But I realized that when you feel lost, you look at what remains – your loved ones. When you feel down, look up and seek Him. And when you feel okay, look at both and you’ll feel fine.
Find happiness, and if you make mistakes? Accept it and be better. I am trying my best now to prove my two degrees. It is not only about the intelligence and tenacity, it is also about your strategies, humility and patience.
Congratulations to you and more power!
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: WheninManila.com does not own the images above. Photos provided by Ariestelo Asilo.