Keeping up the fight
When I first entered the University of the Philippines, the cost per unit was P300. So if I had to take 18 units, my tuition, along with other fees, would amount to almost P6,000. My biological parents weren’t there to pay my tuition. It was my grandmother who stretched her salary, borrowed loans from sharks, and did everything else in between just to get me through. We lived in the lowest part of the middle class; we couldn’t be classified as impoverished because despite having barely enough to eat, we had a few appliances, including a TV set and a fridge.
I saw how my grandmother struggled to face up to my financial woes, and there were a lot of instances where she could no longer give me more because all her coins had been swept to pay for my tuition, baon, readings, and projects. Of course, I felt bad, upset, and disappointed, not with her, but with the kind of life we had. Why did she have to bring me up, why weren’t we as well-off as others, why weren’t my parents there? And yes, aside from my schooling, we had other problems at home.
But if there was anything my grandmother never ran out of, it was hope. She’d cry all night in despair, but in the morning she woke up hopeful. She was certain she could find a way to get out of the mess, to continue to live for us. And even if she couldn’t meet all my financial needs, she made me understand that we’d get through this, because life was a way bigger mess compared to what we were having at the moment.
Thus, I found the drive to get my own bills straight. I worked. I went for some odd jobs that pay instantly, for some long projects that were big enough to pay for bigger needs, so that she wouldn’t worry about me anymore. She still did worry, though, because she knew it wasn’t my time to seize the world yet—but heck, I was already there.
Years later, the day of haunting came upon us. My grandmother’s worst fear—of me stopping school—came true. She felt utterly sad, not because I had given up on my education, but rather because she knew I was already burned out.
I wasn’t able to tell her not to worry, because I still have plans of returning to UP to finish what we had started. I want to go back to school for her, and I will, when the time is right. After all, she was the one who taught me that giving up is never an option, and that what doesn’t kill me will only make me fiercer.
And yes, I’ll be forever grateful: I would have gotten the shorter end of the stick if not for her.
Fae Cheska Marie Esperas, 27, writes for 8 Magazine, a travel and lifestyle publication that focuses on Eastern Visayas.
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