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  • With No Diploma of Her Own, Sister Sends Two Siblings to College for the Ultimate Act of Sacrifice

    The eldest of six gave up her own dreams so her younger siblings could pursue theirs.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
With No Diploma of Her Own, Sister Sends Two Siblings to College for the Ultimate Act of Sacrifice
PHOTO BY courtesy of Ghel Martinez
  • There's more than a handful of reasons for Ghel Martinez, 26, of San Pablo, Laguna, to quit on life — but she didn't. The eldest of six siblings had wanted to pursue a degree in Criminology, but circumstances put her in a bind. In a Facebook post dated May 8, 2019 that has since garnered 27,000 Likes and more than 7,200 Shares, she chronicled her unlikely success story.

    "HINDI NAKATAPOS pero NAKAPAG-PATAPOS," she began her long caption for a photo of herself and two of her five siblings: Abigail, 23, who finished a degree in Architectural Drafting and Designs at the Laguna State Polytechnic University in 2018, and Vergel, 20, who graduated cum laude in BS Accountancy at Dalubhasaan ng Lungsod ng San Pablo this month.

    Ghel, however, has no college diploma of her own. She had to discontinue her studies so she could work and give her younger siblings a chance to follow their own dreams.

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    Having no college degree, companies rejected her, and if she did get in, her co-workers would frown upon her credentials (or lack of it). She parted ways with the person she loved after a five-year relationship. But Ghel's story proves, you can never put a good woman down.

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    "Namulat kami sa isang pamilya na salat sa kayamanan pero punong puno ng pagmamahalan. Walang permanenteng trabaho ang ama ko, taong bahay naman ang aking ina. Panganay ako sa anim na magkakapatid. Kaya simula elementarya pa lang natuto na akong dumiskarte sa buhay," she wrote.

    At 16 years old, she began working odd jobs just so she could send her siblings to school. She tells SmartParenting.com.ph that she started out as a store helper at the market in Calauan, Laguna, but she dreamt big and wanted to experience what it was like to be employed in a corporation. She applied in one of the biggest fastfood chains in the country, but failed in her first attempt. But, she wasn't one to accept failure easily — she tried again and got in the second time. Then, Ghel gave her studies another shot.

     

    Ghel says she does not tell her parents her struggles to make ends meet, because she doesn't want them to be burdened by it.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Ghel Martinez
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    "Sinubukan kong mangarap uli para sa sarili ko, [pero] hindi madali [ang] pagsabayin ang pag-aaral habang pagod ang katawan mo sa trabaho, at mas lalong hindi madali pagkasyahin yung sinusweldo ko na Php 2,400 kada buwan para sa pag-aaral ko at sa pang-suporta sa pamilya ko.

    "Mahigit isang taon lang ang lumipas isinuko ko uli yung pangarap ko, hindi dahil sa nahirapan o naging mahina ako, kundi dahil naging malakas at matapang ako para magparaya para sa mga kapatid ko.

    "At the end of the day, alam kong mag-fail man ako sa buhay ko, hindi man ako maging pulis, mananatili pa rin silang andyan para sa akin. Kaya ginawa kong pangarap ko ang matupad ng mga kapatid ko ang mga pangarap nila," she continued.

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    She tried her luck next by working in a call center. "Sa unang mga araw ko sa call center, halos pasuko na ako dahil nahihiya, pinagtatawanan ako ng mga katrabaho ko dahil sa accent ko, sa way ng pagbabasa ko, at hindi ako makabenta. Pero mas nanatili yung determinasyon ko na kailangan kong mas tatagan dahil kailangan ko ng trabaho." Even then, her Php 200 a day pay did not suffice, so she did other jobs on the side, and even tried joining contests.

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    "Tandang-tanda ko pa na kaya ko naibili ng T-square ang kapatid ko na nag-aaral ng architectural e dahil nanalo ako sa pageant. Sumali ako kahit wala akong talent, and ang ipineresent kong talent ay bumuga ng apoy. Uminom ako ng gas para lang magka-talent ako," she wrote.

    To make ends meet, Ghel would also walk 3 kilometers daily from her office to the city to save on fare. "Iniipon ko [din] yung mga bottled water and juice [botles] ng mga katrabaho ko. Itinatago ko sa likod ng office, naka-sako lahat, para every Saturday naibebenta ko sa magbo-bote para may extra pang budget."

     

    "Gusto ko nababayadan ko yung bills nila sa school ng sakto sa deadline o minsan advance pa. Gusto ko nakakasali sila sa mga events. Gusto ko nabibili ko yung kailangan at gusto nila, sapatos man o damit," wrote Ghel.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Ghel Martinez
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    More opportunities opened up after she moved to another call center. She got promoted to Team Leader, then to Quality Analyst.

    "Halos lahat ng oras ko binuhos ko para lang mapatunayan ko na hindi sila nagkamali sa pagpili sa akin. Pumapasok ako ng 7pm sa trabaho at umaawas [umaalis] naman ako ng 12 ng tanghali [kinabukasan], then byahe pauwi. Halos talong oras lang yata sa isang araw naitutulog ko, dahil lang sa kakaaral ko paano maging maayos na quality analyst." She eventually got promoted yet again to Product Trainer.

    However, the Php 12,000 she was earning that time still was not enough to send her two siblings to college and support the rest of her family. Add to that the pressure she was getting from her partner who complained that she was too generous with her family, so Ghel had to give up her own happiness. "Mas nanaig ang pagmamahal ko sa mga kapatid ko."

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    On the side, Ghel tried to augment her income. "Habang trainer ako, suma-sideline ako magbenta ng kung anu-ano sa mga katrabaho ko: mga sapatos, lotion, shampoo, sabon, mga pagkain na naka-repack, may maipang-dagdag lang."

     

    Happy faces on Abigail's college graduation in 2018 -- the first one in the family.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Ghel Martinez
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    Thankfully, all of Ghel's sacrifices and effort have paid off. Her sister Abigail now works as an architectural designer, while brother Vergel just graduated from college with flying colors — thus the Facebook post and photo that has gone viral.

    Now a home-based call center agent, Ghel still does everything in the name of family. In her post, she said, "Wala man akong diploma basta kayo meron, solve na ako don, dahil kayo ang kayamanan namin nila Inay at Tatay. Kayo ang maipagyayabang ko."

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