Nanay Lorna

Quezon City

“Gustong-gusto ko yung mga anak ko bigyan ng mga ganito, bilhan ng ganito, kasi alam ko kailangan nila eh. Sige lang ako, trabaho ng trabaho. Nagsasari-sari store ako. Tapos nung nalaman ko na hindi pa din sapat sa mga anak ko, kahit sa pagkain nila, lahat na pinasok ko.

Sabi ko, ‘Anak, kung ano man ang problema sa pagbayad sa school, wag kayo magpa-affect, dahil ako ang parent, akong nanay ang haharap niyan. Problema ko yan. Basta mag-aral kayo ng mag-aral.’ ”

Lorna is a mother of four accomplished children— a lawyer, a nurse, a teacher, and an INTARMED student in UP College of Medicine. She owns a sari-sari store with her sister, where she also sells her famous turon and banana-cue.

Manong Pilo

Pasig City

''Pilitin ng pilitin. Kaya nila basta't kakayanin nila. Talagang mahirap sa umpisa. Hanggang malakas ka, pilitin mo lang magtrabaho. Hindi yung pagka mahirap na, surrender na kaagad.

Naisip ko nung una, paano ako kukuha ng pang almusal ng pamilya ko? May trade ako sa umpisa. Ginawa ko, nagtinda ako sa Divisoria ng gulaman. Pero hinuhuli kami. Tapos nagtrabaho akong cooker sa restaurant. Hindi nanaman kasya. Tapos nun, nagtinda ako ng taho. Yun! Nagtitinda ako ng taho hanggang ngayon. Kasya na yun. 1997, natapos bahay namin. Sabi ko sa anak ko, swerte kayo, hindi na kayo magbabayad ng bahay.''

Panfilo has been selling taho for 17 years. His two sons and only daughter are already working professionals in Saudi. He enjoys playing chess, cooking in his canteen, and walking to control his diabetes.

Jessie Lacuna

Pulilan, Bulacan

“What inspires me to swim right now? The youngsters. Mga youth ngayon. Yung sumusunod na pangalan ngayon is Sacho Ilustre. Sobrang galing niya. Nai-inspire ako sa kanya kasi yung goal niya is to race the time, to catch yung time ko. Parang ako naman, “Okay, habulin mo ako!” Lalangoy pa din ako until sa hanggang saan kaya.

Pag pumupunta kami sa mga meet, makikita mo yung mga bata. Sobrang pursigido sila mag-swim. Yun ang nag-iinspire sa akin.

Just keep swimming. Dadating ytung time na maghi-hit ka na doon sa plateau. Kailangan mo lang ng patience. Stay happy.”

Jessie is a swimmer and an Olympian. He has represented the Philippines in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the Youth Olympics, the SEA Games, and the ASEAN University Games. Jessie is also currently the National Record Holder of the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 100m butterfly for men’s swimming, and has a total of 51 gold medals (35 National titles, and 16 International titles).

Rogelio

Brooke's Point, Palawan

“Isa po akong katutubo na mababa ang pamumuhay noon pero sa ngayon iba na ang takbo ng buhay ko kaysa sa dati. Yung pamumuhay nila bumabago na rin po kasi ginagaya nila ako, lalo na yung mga kapatid at kamag-anak ko, hindi na tulad ng dati na hirap sa pagkain. Sumusunod na sila, pati yung mga kapwa kong natibo, ginagawa na rin nila kung ano yung nakikita nila sa akin. Kailangan lang talaga wag sumuko, tiyaga at determinsayon.”

Rogelio is a member of the Pala’wan tribe and a scholar of Shell Foundation in 2001. He studied Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Western Philippines University and graduated at the top of his class, with honors. After graduation, Rogelio went back to his community and started to make a living for himself as an agri-entrepreneur. He now works 5 hectares of land where he provides seasonal employment to his neighbors and serves as a mentor in vegetable and crop production to his tribe.

Magdalena

Pinili, Ilocos Norte

''My hopes for the Abel industry is what everybody was telling me. That it should be developed, and we train more weavers so the tradition will not be lost. We should involve the younger generation because we are getting old and the youth should take over. Sadly, there are only a few young people who are interested because they are always on their cellphones or watching TV.

We have only one youth trainee, Ara, and she is in grade six. That's why the loom beside me is small. We only have one. Ara still goes to school and comes over during the weekends or when there are no classes. She is young and strong so she can work the loom well.''

Magdalena was granted the Gawad sa Manlilikhang Bayan or the National Living Treasure in 2012 for her work in weaving. Her prized design, ''Inubon a Sabog'' (String of Flowers) was first conceived in the 1950s. At 93 years-old, she still works at the Manlilikha ng Bayan Weaving Center.

Jamil Montibon

Tondo, Manila

“Before ako nag-ballet, isa ako sa mga bata na nakikita mo lang na mahirap, nangongolekta ng basura. Ganun po yung buhay ko dati. Sobrang hirap din ng pamilya namin, minsan lang kung kumain. Kaya sobra po talaga yung binago ng Ballet Manila.

Pero mahirap din ang training namin. One time, nag-give up na po ako kasi ibang klase rin yung hirap. Halos one year din ako nawala. Pero sobrang na-miss ko yung ballet. Lumapit ako kay Ma’am Lisa, sabi ko, “Ma’am, pwede pa po ba akong bumalik sa ballet?’ Ang sabi niya sakin, ‘Jamil, welcome na welcome ka sa Ballet Manila. Tomorrow pumunta ka na dito.’ Tomorrow, ganun. Grabe, sobrang blessed ko, welcome na welcome ako kahit na ganun yung nagawa ko.

May mga mabubuting tao talaga na handang tumulong sa atin. Lagi nating isipin na may pag-asa tayo sa buhay, na kaya nating magbago at hinding-hindi tayo papabayaan ni God.”

When he was 14 years old, Jamil was handpicked by Ballet Manila’s Artistic Director and CEO, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, to be a part of Project Ballet Futures, Ballet Manila’s dance scholarship program. Before going into ballet, Jamil used to pick trash to help feed his family. He and his family would only have enough for one meal a day, but there were also times when they didn’t eat at all. Since becoming a company member, Jamil is able to support his whole family and earns more than enough to provide for their daily needs. (Photo courtesy of Ballet Manila)

Khay Ann Igle

Santa Cruz, Manila

“Naranasan ko na yung ibat’ ibang klase ng hirap, so balang araw iniisip ko na kung sakali man magkaroon ako ng sarili kong pamilya, ayoko pong maranasan nila kung ano yung naranasan ko, yung pamilya ko at nung ibang tao dito. Gusto ko po na sakin magmumula yung pagbabago sa pamilya ko.

Yung mga pamangkin ko dito, yung ibang mga bata dito, balang araw gusto ko rin silang matulungan makapag-aral. Para po sila mismo maisip din po nila na umalis dito. Mangarap din po sila.

Ako po hindi ako matalino, madiskarte at marunong lang po. Ginampanan ko lang kung ano yung part ko, yung kaya kong gawin, bilang isang scholar. Kasi kung hindi ko gagawin, sasayangin ko lang yung pagkakataon at yung tulong na binibigay nila sa akin. Minsan lang dumating yung pagkakataon ng tulong, bakit sasayangin pa. Kaya ng ibang tao, syempre kaya mo rin yun.”

Khay lives in the Manila North Cemetery with her family. As a child, she begged and sold sampaguita in the streets, the church and in the local market. After selling sampaguita, Khay would participate in outreach programs for street children conducted by ChildHope Philippines. She became a volunteer for the organization and eventually was chosen to become a ChildHope scholar. Just recently, Khay graduated from EARIST with a degree in Tourism. She is currently looking for work and dreams of finding a stable job that would allow her to support her family and move out of the cemetery.

Alexander

Butuan City

''Ako sumasayaw dahil lang masaya ako. Noong una malungkot yung sayaw ko kasi nagkaroon ako ng love life tapos nahiwalay kami dahil nag-abroad. Kaya binuhos ko sa sayaw para makalimutan ko. Kaya ayun, sa sobrang sayaw di ko namalayan na marami palang napasayang tao. Yun ang pinakamagaling na nagawa ko. Kaya nawala rin yung sakit na nararamdaman. Ayun, nagbago lahat. Kaya ito, naka-duty, kahit pagod at least masaya. Kahit malungkot yung nakaraan, at least nawala dahil sa ginawa kong pagsayaw-sayaw.

Kaya, giling ka ng giling.''

Alexander was a traffic enforcer in Eastwood known as the Dancing Guard. Originally from Mindanao, he grew up in Tarlac before moving to Manila. He is now happily married and working for the Civil-Military Operations Regiment of the Philippine Army.

Sabrina Ongkiko

Quezon City

“Their faces, their hopes, their dreams, yun yung fuel mo as a teacher, to continue and to commit yourself to make things better for them. Parang dati ang pangarap mo lang ay maging teacher. Nung naging teacher ka na, biglang ibang pangarap na ang tinatrabaho mo—yung pangarap nila. So parang may shift, may transformation dun in some way that it’s not about you anymore, but it’s about the lives of these children that you are in charge of. And you continue to hope that after being with you, they will pursue their dreams, continue studying and lead better lives. Mostly because alam ko yung konteksto ng buhay ng kids ko. Alam ko kung gaano kahirap yung buhay ng magulang nila, at yung pinaka wish ko ay sana yung buhay nila maging mas maganda kaysa sa buhay ng magulang nila, para yung anak din nila mas maganda yung buhay. Mas umaangat nang umaangat nang umaangat. Diba! Nai-imagine mo ba yung ganung progress sa buhay? And if I can begin that now, go.”

Teacher Sabs graduated with a degree in Biology from Ateneo de Manila University and was planning to go to medical school after graduation. However, when she took a year off to volunteer for Jesuit Volunteers Philippines, she was assigned to teach at a public school in Iloilo where she discovered her love and passion for teaching. Teacher Sabs has been teaching in Culiat Elementary School since 2009.

Romualdo Cabalona, M.D.

Tacloban, Leyte

''When times are difficult, in my case, being Catholic, there is no other way but to turn to God. And with the help that we have been given, anonymous and unnamed, there really is still hope because the goodness of man is still greater than the evil. So you should always look at the positive side, just be true to your faith, and hold on to that. Although sometimes, my children say that I can be a little negative, of course, after what I've gone through. When you expect from people who are supposed to help but do not deliver, you can become a bit disappointed. But because others also come to help when you don't expect it, you feel that there is hope. The hope is in the goodness of men.''

Dr. Cabalona, 78, is an emeritus pediatrician and family physician specialist at Bethany Hospital. He is also a Typhoon Yolanda survivor. For three days, he shared his food and water with neighbors and three other families until he ran out of supplies. With his housekeeper, Dr. Cabalona walked for 5 hours to get to the airport to meet his daughter and son-in-law.

Hermione

Quezon City

''Gusto ko maging, yung magpintura. At gusto ko maging doktor. Papagalingin ko yung mga bata, yung may sakit sa puso.''

Hermione underwent open heart surgery when she was just 2 years old in order to correct a defective valve. Now, almost 8 years old and a first-grader at the Project 3 Elementary School, her family is preparing for a second heart operation. She lives with her mom and her great grandmother, who works as a caretaker and a laundry woman.

Ding

Puerto Princesa, Palawan

“Maraming mga PWD na kung minsan, yun bang sarili nila halos pinababayaan na nila. Umaasa na lang sa iba. Sabi ko hindi ganun, binigyan ka ng biyaya ng Diyos—ng karunungan, lakas, talino—kaya mo. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, ako makikita niyo, isang kamay na lang naiwan sakin. Pero kaya ko. Hindi hadlang yun.

Basta magsumikap tayo anumang gusto natin. Kaya natin yun, maging PWD man o hindi. Wag mawalan ng pag-asa at magsabing, ‘Ako napabayaan na.’ Hindi. Nilikha tayo ng Diyos na may buhay, may pag-asa.”

Ding suffered from polio when he was just 5 years old, which left him without the use of one hand and both legs. In spite of this, he was able to establish himself as a TESDA-certified electronic technician and set up his own electronics repair shop in Puerto Princesa. Ding is also a regular volunteer at the Bahatala Rehab Center where he designs and assembles special customized wheelchairs to fit the needs of other persons with disabilities. Ding also serves as a trainer and mentor to newcomers at the rehab center.

Ida Anita del Mundo

Taft Avenue, Manila

“When I first encountered the T'bolis of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Mindanao, I was fascinated by their vibrant arts and culture, especially their tradition of dreamweaving. I felt a deep connection with them and knew that this was something that more people should know about— a new perspective of Mindanao, its people, and our shared heritage as Filipinos that few are aware of.

My first film is a testament to my hope that indigenous cultures be preserved and the lumad people be respected in our modern world. The most rewarding feeling is hearing young T'bolis say that watching the film makes them proud of their culture. They realize the beauty and importance of their identity as indigenous people. Now, my film is being shown all over the country and has received recognition abroad. Each screening is a fulfillment of my promise to the T'boli people to bring their culture to the world.”

Ida is a writer and musician. She wrote and directed K’na, the Dreamweaver which premiered at the 2014 Cinemalaya Film Festival and received the award for Best Production Design and the Special Jury Prize. It has been shown around the world, including the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto, Canada where it won Best in Show.

JV

Parañaque City

“iRun started with our family. My son is visually impaired, he's totally blind in both eyes. That's why I decided to form this movement. After that we decided to expand to Kythe Foundation and seek the help of Ateneo Taekwondo as well.

For this whole movement to be successful, we need people to believe. So I hope that more people would believe in our cause and more people would support these kids because they are the ones who need the attention the most.''

JV is currently a basketball coach at Camp and Play, OB Montessori and Ateneo Grade School and Junior High School. He is also a sporting events organizer with an advocacy to involve every youth in sports. His first organized run was called iRun: I Give Hope to the Young Blind, which benefitted the Parents Advocate for Visually Impaired Children. iRun also supports foundations for children with cancer and other health issues.

Jenny Cortes

Antipolo City

“I grew up during the Martial Law years and my mother was a political prisoner. While she was incarcerated, I was allowed to spend time with her inside her detention cell. To pass the time and to bond with her, we would make paper flowers, crafts and drawings. I guess it partly nurtured my interest in the arts and working with my hands.

Woodworking is a very old craft. Kung gusto niyo maging woodworker or karpintero, you have to apply yourself. It’s a skill. It’s not something that happens overnight. You have to train, you have to practice. The thing with artists is just to practice your craft.

I only use second hand lumber, or retrieved wood. The practice my mentor instilled in me was not to be privy to the cutting of trees. With new labor, with new work, with inspiration, you can put new value in things that have already been discarded.”

Jenny is a sculptor and woodworker working with retrieved and recycled wood. She grew up during the Martial Law era and is the inspiration behind the award-winning children’s book Isang Harding Papel by Augie Rivera.