This was how Ghel Martinez began her viral Facebook post on Wednesday, May 8, as she shared her story about how she supported the education of her two younger siblings who graduated from college.
Martinez told INQUIRER.net that her sister Abigail graduated last year with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from the Laguna State Polytechnic University. This year, her brother Vergel graduated with a degree in Accountacy from the Dalubhasaan ng Lungsod ng San Pablo.
She said that as she looked at their photo holding a note with the course they finished, “the memories just came rushing back.”
In the photo, she held her own sign that read: “HINDI NAKATAPOS pero NAKAPAG-PATAPOS.”
“Walang permanenteng trabaho ang ama ko, taong bahay naman ang aking ina. Panganay ako sa anim na magkakapatid (My father don’t have a permanent job while my mother is a housewife. I’m the eldest among six children),” she said.
Growing up as the eldest, she took on various jobs right after high school.
Alhough she wanted to take up BS Criminology, she postponed her studies to support her siblings who were also going college.
“Ayokong maranasan nila yung mga naranasan ko na ni palamig, pang paxerox sa school [wala ako],” she said. “Kaya ginawa kong pangarap ang matupad ng mga kapatid ko ang mga pangarap nila.”
(I didn’t want them to go through my experience of not having money for a cold drink or for photocopies. That’s why I made it my goal for my siblings fulfill their dream.)
With that in mind, Martinez took different kinds of jobs. She started as a service crew member of a fastfood chain and when she realized that the salary won’t sustain her sibling’s studies, she applied as a call center agent.
“Sa unang mga araw ko sa call center halos pasuko na ako dahil nahihiya. Pinagtatawanan ako ng mga katrabaho ko dahil sa accent ko.”
(On my first day at the call center, I almost give up because I was embarrassed. My fellow employees laughed at me because of my accent.)
Martinez met the challenge by studying and learning call center skills.
While working as a call center agent, she took different sidelines like designing event places and recycling bottles and then selling them at the junk shop. She even joined office contests to boost her budget.
“Tandang-tanda ko pa na naibili ko ng T-square ang kapatid ko na nag-aaral ng architectural dahil nanalo ako sa pageant. Sumali ako kahit wala akong talent. Ang na-present kong talent ay bumuga ng apoy. Uminom ako ng gaas para lang magka talent ako.”
(I remember well how I bought my sister’s T-square for her architectural studies. I won in a pageant even though I didn’t have a talent. I did a fire breathing presentation.)
She moved to a bigger call center company which offered a bigger opportunity. She got promoted to team leader, quality analyst, product trainer, then to assistant manager.
She said it wasn’t easy, but she made sure that her siblings were able to pay their school fees on time and at time ahead of deadline.
All the sacrifice of Martinez paid off when her siblings graduated, with one even finishing as cum laude.
“Napaka swerte ko sa mga kapatid ko at hinding hindi ko pinagsisisihan na kayo yung pinili kong prioridad ko (I am very lucky with my siblings. I will never regret making you my priority),” she added.
“Wala man akong diploma basta kayo meron, solve na ako, dahil kayo ang kayamanan namin nila inay at tatay kayo ang maipagyayabang ko.”
(Even though I don’t have a diploma, as long as you do, I’m okay with that. You are our family’s wealth and I am proud of you.)
As of writing, the post had garnered more than 18,000 reactions and 5,000 shares online. (Editor: Cenon B. Bibe Jr.)