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Norman King, the first Aeta UP Graduate, and the words of wisdom that helped him succeed

11:00 AM June 19, 2018

The moment Norman King claimed his diploma wearing the traditional Aeta bahag (loincloth), he made history. Norman is the very first Aeta to graduate from the University of the Philippines Manila who – just like his own father, a tribe leader – vows to become the voice for our Aetas and other indigenous groups.

Along with a degree in BA Behavioral Science is a story filled with discrimination, poverty, and natural calamities. Norman King was born in 1988 at the foot of Mount Pinatubo, only three years before the deadly eruption. He was the eldest of seven siblings and worked at an early age to help provide for the family.

Below is an inspiring video of Norman King, his story, and how he has achieved what he has today:


Ang taong madumi ay taong hindi malinis ang puso. (The unclean person is one whose heart is not clean.)

Behind Norman’s success is a figure to which many of us owe our lives: a mother. Warlita King was Norman’s voice of reason during trying times. It was she who had told him that “the unclean person is one whose heart is not clean.” Without her wise words to live by, her “pabaon sa buhay,” Norman King probably would not be the intelligent, firm, and strong man that he is today.

Alin ang karapat-dapat hangaan? Isang taong madali ang buhay? O isang taong dumaan sa matinding hirap? (Who is worthy of admiration? One who has led an easy life? Or one who has overcome extreme hardship?)

There is a part in the video when Norman asks his mother for a fresh set of uniforms, comparing his old, worn shirts to his classmates’ brand new ones. To this, Warlita asks, “Do you want to hide the fact that we’re poor?”

Norman’s life was filled with the struggles of poverty but his mother reminds him that he owes his growth to all the hardships he has faced, that a man who has fallen and risen is someone who commands respect and honor.

Kailangan ba talagang magbago para lang matanggap ka ng ibang tao? (Do you really need to change to be accepted by others?)

Just like every adolescent growing up amidst peer pressure and the desire to fit in, Norman King wanted to be accepted by the environment that he was in. That didn’t stop Warlita from telling her son what he needed to hear. Because all the greatest life lessons begin at home.

“Ang turo sa’kin ng nanay ko,” says Norman, “‘pag natanggap ko na kung sino ako, mas malayo ang mararating ko.” (Ma taught me that only when I have accepted who I am, will I go further in life.)

Just like Warlita King, mothers give their children what they need to take on the world, making sure that what they take from home will protect them in life. Safeguard supports every parent who strives to provide the right pabaon at home that will protect their children as they explore the world on their own.

Safeguard believes in the power of these different “pabaon sa buhay” or life provisions that will set their children ready for life. What kids learn at home protects them for life (ang natutunan niya sa bahay, proteksyon niya sa buhay).

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