From Hardships to Gratitude

I grew up in a far province in Bicol. I am the fourth child in the family of whom two are boys and five are girls. As I treasure my memorable experiences of my early years, I feel very thankful. I was exposed to early challenges in life. Early dawn, my father would wake us up to sell fish he got from the sea. He would pay us 10% for every mound of fish we sold. We already knew where to go first: to our teachers who loved to praise us. The happiest part of the job is when the ‘kaping’ or flat basket was already light to carry and empty. That was the only time we could go home to prepare for school. The earnings we received would just suffice our “baon” for the day. I also tried ‘comics for rent’ when I was in Grade VI. It has a double purpose because while I was earning I was learning to read. Perhaps my love for reading started there. I also spent time playing piko and patintero with my friends and taking naps during weekend afternoons.

And life near the sea was unpredictable. Sometimes, we ended up eating rice with only salt to taste, sometimes with coconut meat or sugar, but we still shared it joyfully with my siblings. Since we are a big family, we did not just share our things but we also shared efforts when it comes to studying. We supported each other whenever we joined extracurricular activities like poetry, oratorical contests and scouting. After all the effort, we got our prize, a ribbon. Every year until high school, my mother and father were very proud exchanging their roles on stage to pin the ribbon on me and on my siblings.

I graduated from elementary with full honors and fourth in high school. When I entered college in a nearby city, I worked as a nanny to my nephew to augment my financial needs. I took up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education major in Science. After four years of hard work, perseverance, and patience, I finally graduated and became a teacher. I taught for seven years in the province and nine years in Malabon City. Then for eight years I have served as a school administrator.

“The journey to succeed is hard but when you have a grateful heart it becomes easy.” While my parents were trying to send us all to college, I learned to exercise gratefulness by helping my younger siblings too. It was all worth the effort as my siblings and I began to see the fruits of our labor. We all graduated from college and have our own jobs. I will never forget those experiences I had in my early years. If I gave up during those times of difficulties, I can’t imagine how it would turn out today. That is why, I am grateful to my parents. They model the value of hard work and perseverance.  I have always wanted to play all the time but play has its own time. I learned to choose from the hierarchy of values and priorities to become successful. But most of all I must give glory to God for what I am now and what I will become. Now that I am 49 years old I know God has a higher plan for me than being a School Principal.  I am thankful to my parents, brothers and, sisters for their love and affection, my friends and mentors from different fields in the academe and work, my spiritual leaders and church mates whom God has been using to develop me to have a deeper and intimate relationship with Him. They are the significant people who pushed me up. I cannot forget them. Those who pulled me down are parts of my challenges to become a better person. God has given me a kind husband and three smart children. What will I ask more when God is faithful to me in all things?

About the Contributor

Zenaida Roberto is an Elementary School Principal of  Tinajeros Elementary School. Her interests are Writing and Motivational Speaking.

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5 Thoughts

  1. Zarah zabanal says:

    Hi ma’m zeny .. I am always pleased to hear stories like this and i guess we all are in our generation really saw the hardwork our parents do to raise us and send us all to school. The simplicity of life then is truly a gift…

    1. Zenaida Roberto says:

      Hello Ms. Zara! Thanks for appreciating my story. Truly the simplicity of life has made us focused in reaching our dreams. God bless!

  2. Christelle says:

    “I have always wanted to play all the time but play has its own time.”

    How I wish every person would come to a turning point and just realize this deep inside. And the sooner, the better.

    Thanks for sharing this, Ma’am Zenaida! I am an educator in the making, and this uplifted my spirit and ignited my passion to strive harder. All for His glory!

    1. Zenaida Roberto says:

      Ms. Christell, your hardwork will never be in vain. God sees the desires of your heart. Trust Him in everything.

  3. Cherrie M. Ramos says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Ma’am Roberto. How I wish the youth of today will able to read this and learn from the values and attitude you portrayed from simple childhood up to the successful stage you are in. May you continue to inspire others in all aspects of your life Ma’am.. It’s an honor and humbling experience to read an article written by one of the respected individual in our chosen field. God bless you Ma’am Roberto.