Never forget who you are, nor where you came from. One young lady in the Philippines shows us how the privilege of education is one she had to strive arduously for. Thanks to her parents’ support and painstaking sacrifice to help her get through college, she is now doing what she can to repay them.
In order to attend university and finally graduate, Regine Cañete Villamejor—nicknamed Rej—had to work her tail off. Her parents, too, did not have it easy during her studies.
Her father, who is a fisherman, and mother, who is a fish vendor, earn a humble income in their hometown of Cebu.
Sometimes, her parents quarrelled between themselves over finances. Rej recalls that this occurred more frequently during her studies. They were under significant pressure, for it wasn’t just Rej but her two teenage brothers they were supporting.
“My father told me one time that he wanted to sleep more but he said he had to work hard in order for me to continue my studies,” the 21-year-old recalls, reports Definitely Filipino.
Her father wakes up at dawn each day to catch fish.
“Looking back, my father would shed tears while looking at us when we were sleeping. We couldn’t even more because our house was so tiny.”
As University of San Jose—Recoletos is a few hours away from her hometown in Argao, she had to stay in a boarding house. No doubt it would have been hard for Rej to be away from her family, who she knows were working hard to support her back at home.
She recalls her mother telling her, “Education is the only thing you can do to help us.”
With those words in mind, she stayed committed and firmed up her will to succeed.
In order to get a 50 percent discount on her tuition fees, Rej ensured to earn top grades.
She also sold biscuits on the side to earn some extra money.
On weekends, Rej would travel back home to help her mother sell fish.
“It was at an early age that I realized how life was,” she said, reports the Tempo. “While selling fish, I always kept telling myself that I had to finish college to help my family and my siblings.”
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Rej, who owes her inspiration and happiness to her family, had the will to excel at her studies, and the final outcome proved just how much she put in.
After four years, she finally graduated with honors, or magna cum laude, taking home a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Commerce, with a Major in Communication and Marketing.
“As I look back at my struggles, I realize that it made me stronger. And I want to thank my parents. Whatever achievements I have, it’s because of them.”
Her parents couldn’t have been more proud of their wonderful daughter.
Looking back on that period of time, Rej says what’s important is to “just be optimistic, no matter how complicated the situation may be,” reports PEP.ph. “Never give up chasing your dreams.”
Armed with a degree, Rej soon secured a sales job at Virginia Food Incorporated, a food manufacturer based in Cebu.
Currently, Rej works as a Vice President Internal at Liacom Circle, according to her Facebook page.
“I will save money to help my family and for my siblings’ education and, at the same time, I will save some money for myself because few years after, I would probably go back to school and pursue my master’s degree.”
Rej’s journey is quite the inspiration, for it serves to testify that where there’s a will, there’s a way, even during the more difficult of times.
Moreover, she is proud of her upbringing, proud of her beloved family, and is forever grateful.
“I’m not ashamed to sell the fish. My friends know about it but still they accept me for who I am! If I did not go through those challenges, wearing the toga (graduation robes) will not be worth it. We should not give up. Poverty is not a hindrance in achieving our dreams.”
“I should never forget where I came from. No matter how many achievements you have, humble yourselves and keep your feet grounded. I will always be a proud daughter of a fisherman and a fish vendor.”
Now that her parents have helped their daughter graduate, Rej is keen to help shoulder the burden of supporting her folks and her two brothers.
Well done, Rej!