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Badjao Girl Who Used to Dive for Coins at Pier, Now a Teacher and Master’s Degree Holder

A half-Badjao girl who used to dive for coins at the pier is celebrating her success now that she has become a teacher and a master’s degree holder. Who would have thought that she used to do that in her younger days, huh?

Badjao Girl Earns Master’s Degree

Life was difficult for half-Badjao Arlene Eje Alex while she was growing up. Despite being poor, her father refused to let her dive for coins at the pier or beg for money in the streets like other Badjao children.

But her father got sick while she was still young; so, she did those things so they can have some food. They lost their dad when she was just 12 years old.

Photo credit: Arlene Eje Alex

Eight years old po nag-start na akong manisid sa pier para lang po maka-survive sa araw-araw at may panustos sa pag-aaral,” she explained.

“Hindi ko naman po pinagsisihan kasi natuto po ako sa buhay na hindi ganoon kadali ang kumayod sa araw-araw sa murang kaisipan. Kailangan mong mabuhay, pero kailangan mong paghirapan.

Life was difficult but she also knew that if she doesn’t go to school, she’d be stuck in the streets or the pier for the rest of her life. So, she found ways to send herself to school.

Hindi pupuwede na hanggang dito na lang ako. Babalik na naman ako sa lansangan. Parang ang hirap mabuhay na nakadepende ako sa tao. Kaya kailangan kong mag-aral kahit hindi na ako makauwi, basta makatapos ako,” she said with determination.

Photo credit: Arlene Eje Alex

Through hard work and determination, she was finally able to complete her degree in Education. But she didn’t stop there. She continued to work harder and study more – and has now become a Master’s degree holder.

Ang dating maninisid ng barya sa pier noon, Master’s degree graduate na ngayon,” she proudly wrote in her graduation photos.

Why Badjaos Dive for Money in Pier

Badjaos live in the waters, originally in the Sulu Sea. But various problems forced many of them to travel to other places in the Philippines, diving the pier waters for coins that people toss.

It’s unknown how exactly this practice started but it’s common in many piers across the Philippines.

Badjaos are known to have the ability to hold their breath for minutes, making these dives particularly interesting.

Inspiring

City Mayor Goes Viral for Driving Bridal ‘Chariot’ Tricycle for Constituent’s Wedding

A city mayor recently went viral for driving a constituent’s bridal “chariot” tricycle towards the reception venue. The mayor earned praise for being “makamasa,” especially because the bride’s entourage was also riding on “padyak” tricycles.

City Mayor Drives Bridal ‘Chariot’ Tricycle for Constituent

In the Philippines and even in many other places around the world, politicians have a reputation for being snobbish and for only being kind to their constituents, particularly the poor, during the election period.

While that holds true for many politicians, there are also many others who proved that this view is entirely wrong.

One of these kind and down-to-earth politicians even gamely drove the bridal ‘chariot’ tricycle for a constituent’s wedding!

He was identified as Mayor Luigi Marcel Teves Goñi of Bais City in Negros Oriental, Central Philippines.

A photo of the mayor driving the chariot-type tricycle was posted on Facebook page BAIS Public Information Office, with the newlyweds identified as Teacher Jeddedeah M. Capila and Jeramel T. Romano.

city mayor
Photo credit: BAIS Public Information Office

The photo gained viral, especially because the newlywed is a teacher and the photo was posted while the DepEd (Department of Education) is celebrating World Teacher’s Day.

It’s a great way to honor this teacher and also a humble way for the mayor to be of service to his constituents.

According to the post, the newlyweds requested the mayor who was also their ninong to be the one to drive the ‘chariot’ tricycle – and he gamely did so.

When asked why they picked this mode of transportation, the bride and groom explained that they wanted to show that they can still celebrate love and happiness even if they were poor.

The entourage also rode in padyak tricycles, locally known as ‘potpot.’

What’s a Chariot-Type Tricycle?

Most tricycles in the Philippines have a motorcycle and sidecar, but chariot-type tricycles put the motorcycle in the middle and the passengers at the back, like a chariot from ancient times.

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Blind Man Reaches Top of Mt. Apo, the Country’s Highest Peak

A blind man reaches the top of Mt. Apo, known as the country’s highest peak. His achievement amazed netizens who were surprised that this man, who couldn’t even see, was able to overcome the difficult trails to reach the mountain’s peak.

Blind Man Conquers Mt. Apo

Climbing a mountain is no easy feat, especially those that are known for their height and treacherous trails.

Mt. Apo is one of these mountains.

blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy

The mountain’s actual height differs, depending on the sources. But the marker on the top of the mountain puts it at 3,142.79 m (10,311.0 ft). Other sources put it at a height of 2,954 meters above sea level (9692 ft).

What the exact height might be, the mountain stands stately and remains the Philippines’ highest peak. Many avid climbers who have gone to several mountains in the country said that this is really one of the most difficult to climb.

blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy
blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy

Yet Bennie Cambang, a 39-year-old blind man, was able to reach its peak!

His story went viral after it was shared by his guide, Angel Pandoy, who was also quite impressed with what he was able to achieve.

blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy
blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy

As his guide, masasabi ko pong napakatapang niya and impressive,” Angel shared.

Napakaraming beses ko po siyang tinanong kong kaya niya, pero ang sagot niya depende kung saan sya mauubosan ng lakas at saka siya bababa, pero suprisingly naabot po niya ang tuktok ng Apo.

Tied to each for safety, the duo reached the peak through the Sta. Cruz Back Trail (Boulder Face).

blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy
blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy

Everyone also expressed amazement that this blind man was even barefoot when he climbed up the mountain, although this is probably something to his advantage. Since he’s blind, he has to rely on other body parts to “see” the world.

What are the Trails to Mt. Apo’s Peak?

blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy
blind man
Photo credit: Kol Angel Pandoy

According to Mt. Apo Adventures, there are four well-established trails to the top of the mountain:

  • The Sta. Cruz Back Trail (Boulder Face) or Sibulan-Mt. Apo Peak Trail is the shortest trail at 13.7 km, but it’s also a technical trail that passes through a jungle
  • The Ko-ong Kidapawan Trail covers around 19 km and passes through a jungle, river, and grassland before reaching the peak
  • The Kapatagan Trail in Digos, Davao del Sur, is adjacent to the Sibulan trail but is slightly longer by around 2 km and features some obstacles along the way
  • The Tamayong Trail is the longest and toughest, especially because it passes through Mt. Talomo Peak before heading to Mt. Apo
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Former OFW Finds Success as VA in the Philippines after Difficulties in the UAE

A former OFW finds success as VA (virtual assistant) in the Philippines, years after experiencing struggles and difficulties while working in the UAE (United Arab Emirates).

Former OFW Finds Success as VA

So many Filipinos believe that success in life and getting rich or financially stable can only happen if you find a job abroad.

In fact, it is the primary goal of many Filipinos to work abroad so they can provide a better life for their families.

That’s exactly what Paolo Solomon thought when he was younger.

Former OFW
Photo credit: Paolo Solomon

He shared that he grew up in a poor family and had to sell pandesal from a tita’s bakery for his allowance in school. Starting when he was just 14 years old, he would wake up early to start selling at 5AM, allowing him time to earn before his classes start, usually at around 8AM.

His father was in charge of paying for his tuition fee, but his world turned upside down when he lost his dad. He was just 17 years old at the time.

Becoming the family’s breadwinner at such a young age, he had to quit school. He worked at Jollibee, then at a department store where he became a full-time employee. Yet he also wished to work abroad.

Former OFW
Photo credit: Paolo Solomon

After experiencing so many financial struggles and anxiety as breadwinner, he decided to apply abroad – and was luckily accepted. At just 21 years old, he’s the youngest of the batch.

Sadly, he was put down by so many people because he wasn’t able to graduate from college. So many people discouraged him from leaving his job in the Philippines to work abroad.

And when he reached the UAE, though his employers were awesome and he was chosen to serve the CEO, he experienced bullying from his co-workers and roommates.

Former OFW
Photo credit: Paolo Solomon

He thought this would be his ticket to success but he ended up suffering a mental breakdown and was diagnosed with clinical depression and bipolar disorder. He got deported.

But his story didn’t stop there. When he finally recovered, he found a job as VA (virtual assistant). The work-from-home job helped him grow his copywriting career and open his own VA agency.

Today, he’s enjoying the fruits of his success and is finally able to buy a house for his family, something he had always dreamed of when he wanted to work abroad.

I thank God na he blessed me to work as a freelancer. God use my VA work para maabot ko yung mga goals ko,” he shared, while posting photos of their new home on Facebook community, Home Buddies.

Pwede pala na ibless ka ni Lord sa di mo inaasahang way. He make all things work together for our good. Now I’m still pursuing my dreams na kasama ko family ko.

Former OFW
Photo credit: Paolo Solomon
Former OFW
Photo credit: Paolo Solomon

Congratulations po!

What’s the Work of a VA?

A VA (virtual assistant) is a remote worker (usually hired as a part-time freelancer) who offers administrative support for a business. They usually do tasks that are typically done by an executive assistant, including making phone calls, scheduling appointments, organizing emails, or arranging travel.

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