Blog : Stories

JHONREY DORIMON

JHONREY DORIMON

JOHN LESTER ARATEA

Jhonrey’s parents are farmers of rice and corn on land they do not own, and without regular income. Depending on the season, they only eat banana, corn, or cassava. On top of these, he has a younger sister born with hydrocephalus. They did not have enough money to get her proper medical attention and the medicine she needed.

Despite their lack of finances, Jhonrey believes that having education is the way out of poverty. He became a working student in college, reporting to the administrative office during his vacant hours to do office work, cleaning jobs, and run errands. He also drove a passenger motor after class and removed coconut husks with his bare hands, earning 20 pesos for every hundred coconuts. He was this fervent and hardworking because he was not only supporting himself, but also helping provide for his family’s daily needs.

In his first year in college, Jhonrey had a two-hour travel to school everyday, and was constantly hungry in class. He used cellphone light to study at home, since there was no electricity, and studied library school books because they did not have the money to buy his own.

He once said, “I have been so used to having an empty stomach that I could no longer feel hunger. Stomach pain was already normal to me. Everyday I would go home exhausted from juggling school and work. Living in a boarding house near the school was not an option for me. Apart from being an additional expense, I always want to go home so I can look after my sister. I want to see her everyday to make sure she is all right. She cannot take care of herself, we need to take turns feeding her and looking after her. Life is really difficult but my sister’s condition and the dream of giving my family a better future keep me going.”

In his second year in college, a classmate invited him to apply for a Real LIFE scholarship. He said that more than the financial assistance, what he appreciates most about being a Real LIFE scholar is having a renewed hope.

Years ago, Jhonrey said, “When I pass the board exam and become a Certified Public Accountant, I really want to reach a point where my parents will no longer have to work. They are already getting old, I want to provide everything they need and give them a good life. I also really want to bring my sister to the hospital and give her all the medical attention she needs.” And just recently, he passed the board exam to become a full-fledged Certified Public Accountant. He also plans to enter law school soon.

Jhonrey’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.

RISLIE CATAM-ISAN

RISLIE CATAM-ISAN

RISLIE CATAM-ISAN

When she was nine years old, Rislie’s parents separated because of domestic violence. She then had to live with her grandmother’s sister. Her father was a farmer and her mother worked at carenderias.

Right after high school, she had to stop studying because her family could not send her to school. And because she was a minor at the time, she could not find a decent job even though she really wanted to. She ended up working at a bakery near their house, and after some time became a stay-in baby sitter for almost a year.

When she found out that one of her high school classmates, whom she knew also had financial problems, was studying at Cebu Normal University (CNU), she was surprised and thought that may be she too can enroll despite her situation. She decided to go to CNU, but because she did not know where it was she followed students wearing the CNU uniform until she got to their campus.

She inquired and was able to take the entrance exam with her own money from babysitting. However, after not receiving any results for months, she decided to inquire at another university; but the applications period had already passed. Recalling this, she expressed, “It was like my world crumbled.”

She eventually just decided to enroll to a different university despite the pricey tuition. She said, “In my heart, I really wanted to finish college.” But her babysitting employer advised her that continuing in the university is not wise since she cannot afford it in the long run. So despite having already paid the down payment, Rislie withdrew her enrollment without refund.

When the applications to CNU reopened the following school year, Rislie reapplied and got in. She then had to live with her aunt in Mandaue just outside Cebu City. They lived at an ice plant because her uncle was a worker there, and they were given a place to stay.

In her first year in college, one of her classmates sold snacks but she was not consistent in doing so that their other classmates would look for her goods. This inspired Rislie to sell biscuits, chips, and candies herself. She enjoyed earning her own money, and she eventually got into direct selling. It did not take long until she was an agent of five different beauty and clothing brands as well as an agent of a well-known insurance company.

It was in the middle of all these that Rislie’s perspective about managing her time changed. During her vacant hours, instead of resting, she would busy herself getting her clients’ orders and delivering it to them. She admits that at first she felt ashamed having to do all these, but when she saw how her businesses were helping her, she started enjoying what she did.

In her third year in college, she became a Real LIFE scholar. Victory Cebu’s senior pastor, Raymund Cañete, and our Real LIFE team had her transferred to a boarding house because her aunt and uncle’s place at the ice plant was not conducive to live in.

Rislie says that the best thing about being a Real LIFE scholar was “We got to experience so many exciting things. And even though I did not have parents or older siblings to guide me, I had my mentors and leaders.”

Just recently, Rislie graduated Cum Laude from Cebu Normal University with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education – Early Childhood Education. She is now working as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher and is sending one of her nephews to school. At the same time, she is currently reviewing for the Licensure Exam for Teachers that she will take later this year. She also dreams to have her own business someday.

Rislie’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.

JUSTINE GELOCA

JUSTINE GELOCA

JUSTINE GELOCA

At 16 years old, fresh out of high school, Justine came to Metro Manila from Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte to become a housemaid. Because her father is a tricycle driver and her mother a housewife who is only on call for catering services, finances did not come easy for the family. She became a student assistant at the Human Resources office of her school to support herself.

When she became a Real LIFE scholar, she was grateful that Real LIFE not only provides financial assistance for its scholars, but also hones their character. In 2016, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy. The life lessons she learned as a scholar were put to the test when she worked at her first company.

Her manager had extramarital affairs with one of her co-workers. She approached her co-worker to advice her that what she was doing is not right. Her manager later told her not to tell his wife about the affair if she asked. To this, Justine responded, “Sir, we are poor. I only have integrity, and I cannot risk it. If your wife asks, I cannot lie to her.”

One night, the manager’s wife called her up and asked her if she knew anything about the affair. Because of hesitancy, she initially told only half of the story, but by the leading of the Lord, she met with the wife the following day to lay out everything she knew. They continued to correspond after this as Justine continued to pray for the manager’s wife. After some time, the wife told Justine that her prayer for reconciliation might be answered because she was no longer filing a case.

Justine recalled, “It was all painful because I’m not used to having people mad at me. But it’s okay, because God has to be glorified. It can be hard to stand for what is right. It’s easier to just shut up, but there was no peace in me. Whatever the results of standing for the truth, God will be there.”

As everything was happening, Justine was working under a contract and was already up for a regular position once her contract ends. But she chose not to accept the opportunity for regularization to avoid further friction and conflict. She now works for a different company, and believes that for this season in her life, God is calling her in the corporate world to be able to help her family financially. She is currently helping one of her siblings graduate.

Real LIFE teaches its scholars leadership, integrity, faith, and excellence. It is Real LIFE’s desire that all its alumni continue to live out these values long after they have graduated from the scholarship program. And because Justine continues to live a life of integrity, Real LIFE awarded her the Integrity Award of the Alumni Achievement Awards during the first ever Real LIFE Alumni Homecoming in April 2017.

Justine expressed, “When I got the award, I felt pressured that I have to keep my integrity. But God reminded me that as long as He is in me, it will come naturally. People say God gives the hardest battles to His bravest soldiers. But I’m not the one who’s brave. It’s because He is my Lord.”

Justine’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.

JOHN LESTER ARATEA

JOHN LESTER ARATEA

JOHN LESTER ARATEA

Life used to be well for John Lester Aratea when he and his siblings were still kids. Their father had decent earnings so they had what they needed; this was until he lost his job. Their father had a hard time finding a new job because of his age, and without enough savings, the family started to have financial troubles.

At some point, Lester’s family had to leave the house they were renting because they were no longer able to pay rent. He and his siblings would have to go to school without allowance or food. Such financial crisis took a toll on his parents’ relationship. Seeing his parents quarrel often was one of the hardest to bear. He was agonized and frustrated at their situation, questioning why life had to be so hard.

Lester was brought up to be active in church, but he admits he never truly understood why they had to go to church, read the Bible, and attend Sunday school. Yet while in high school, he met an Every Nation Campus Missionary at a LIFE Seminar. The campus missionary preached the gospel to Lester and he, in turn, surrendered his life to Christ.

Lester started sharing his new relationship with God to others and he became active at one of Victory Katipunan’s volunteer ministries. He even encouraged his mother to get involved in the church.

In 2014, he lost his father to hypertensive bleeding. Following a stroke, his father went into coma for three days, and then passed away. Despite this, Lester is at peace because his father received Jesus’ gift of salvation before he died.

Lester recently graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Accountancy, Magna Cum Laude.

Lester says, “Without Real LIFE, I don’t think I would have survived.”

He particularly appreciates that Real LIFE is not just focused on providing for its scholars’ financial needs, but is also very much concerned about their scholars’ spiritual welfare and relationship with Christ.

He hopes to work in the field of accounting and finance, and eventually work in the academe as a teacher. Because of a deep sense of gratitude, he would like to be a Real LIFE coach someday.

Lester’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.

DANNICA CAPIO

DANNICA CAPIO

DANNICA CAPIO

Dannica finished high school while working for her aunt’s sari-sari store in their province. To earn money, she would also make paper roses for special occasions, selling each for Php 10. She made crafts through lettering and drawings, and other projects for people and accepted whatever amount they were willing to give. When she had some extra money, she would buy ingredients for polvoron, maruya, maja blanca, and other delicacies that she can make and sell these for Php 5 each in their neighborhood. Through this, she can earn Php 50, which becomes her allowance for about two days.

Her parents used to tell her that she couldn’t go to college because they cannot afford it. They would advise her to get a job instead to be able to help them out. But this only fanned the flame inside of her to excel in her studies and succeed.

After graduating high school, she went to Manila with her sister in hopes of getting into college. But when their family got hit by yet another crisis, she had to go back to Quezon Province and get a part time job. She eventually found out about our Real LIFE Scholarship Program.

During the application process, she went back to school, but when her father suffered from a heart attack, she had to go back to their province and work as a sales lady at a glassware store while selling rice cakes on the side. In the midst of her bleak situation, hope arose as her scholarship with Real LIFE was approved.

Dannica had recently graduated from the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Psychology, Cum Laude, this year.

She says Real LIFE became an avenue where God provided all that she needed in and out of school, empowered her to be a servant leader, and taught her how to make wise decisions and appreciate others. She is grateful for all the love and support she had received from her coaches and coordinators even through the hard times.

She hopes to get a job in social welfare. She also wants to pursue studies in the fields of guidance and counseling for kids.

Dannica’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.

JOEL PEREYRA

JOEL PEREYRA

JOEL PEREYRA

Joel Pereyra, the second of four children, and his siblings had a comfortable childhood in General Santos City in Mindanao. Their father, who had a car repair shop, was able to provide well for the family. But his parents fought and his father eventually left the house, staying instead at his shop. But Joel continued to regularly meet with his father who did not stop supporting him.

One night when he was in his first year in high school, while he was watching television, his mother received a call informing them that his father got shot. They immediately rushed to the hospital and Joel found his father lying on a bed, fighting for his life.

The family had to choose if they would want to keep or give up his life support. Trying to keep him alive would require the family to pay thousands each day; money they didn’t have.

Because of lack, they had to give up his life support. Joel vividly recalls how the apparatus, on which his father’s life depended, was removed as his father gasped for air.

The family now had no provider because their mother, being a housewife, had no income. As Joel’s family strived to face life without their dad, they received death threats due to his father’s previous involvements. This prompted their family to temporarily move to Davao City for their safety.

Joel was sent to live with his uncle, a move that deeply hurt him. Joel recounts that it was in the privacy of the comfort room that he found a place to cry out and release the pain bottled up inside him.

After a year, Joel and his family went back to General Santos. But he had already lost his confidence, affecting his performance at school, causing his grades to go down. He admits that his identity was founded on his father being able to provide well.

This insecurity caused Joel to become troublesome, ready to hit anyone who would offend him. Their situation at home was no better. Their family often fought, shouting at one another and sometimes even getting quite physical.

Years later, Joel got invited to Victory. He expressed how hopeless he was and saw no point in studying and in life in general, but he was open to whatever he would hear and learn at church. He went through ONE 2 ONE and encountered Jesus.

Joel took a job at a fast-food restaurant, then he was invited to apply for the LIFE Scholarship Program of Real LIFE. He is grateful for how Real LIFE has helped him grow in his relationship with God. He admits that he has been a Christian for five years now yet it was only two years ago that he truly grasped Jesus’ lordship, that He is indeed the Lord and the Christ.

Last year, Joel served as a campus coordinator of Every Nation Campus in General Santos, and today he volunteers as a discipleship admin at Victory General Santos. He recently graduated from the General Santos Foundation College, Inc. with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management – Financial Management.

He desires to help change more lives with the gospel with his heart for full time campus ministry. He says that he received a confirmation of this calling during our annual Prayer and Fasting January this year.

Joel plans to move to Davao City for a time to share Christ to his sisters and get a job before he enters the School of Campus Ministry. He will also be joining a Ten Days Mission Trip later this year.

As he looks back to all that happened to his father, Joel expresses that he holds nothing against whoever took his father’s life and that by the grace of God he has already forgiven them wholeheartedly.

“God is dealing with all areas of my life. Following Christ isn’t just surrendering your vices, but your all—your source of joy, and identity. I don’t want to stop God from what He is doing. I am nothing and I need His grace,” says Joel.

Joel’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.

JIREH BAUTISTA

JIREH BAUTISTA

JIREH BAUTISTA

“The best is yet to come.” These were the words of Jireh Bautista when he gave his Valedictory Address in 2013 as he graduated from Cebu City National Science High School. Besides graduating at the top of his batch, he was also given five other awards. ABS-CBN, Silliman University, Southwestern University, and AMA University also gave him medals.

Just last March, Jireh graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Cebu Institute of Technology – University, Summa Cum Laude – Real LIFE’s first. While in the university, he also excelled at the district, division, and regional levels of Math and Science competitions. But what is more amazing than his awards and recognitions is the story of how he strived to achieve them.

Jireh is fourth of the five children of Pantaleon, a shoe repairman, and Belinda, a housewife. Life was never easy for their family. At times they only had rice and soy sauce to eat. He would walk to and from school because he lacked finances. He would also set aside Php 10 everyday so that he could complete his schoolwork at an internet café until late into the night.

He recounts that when he was in high school, he was not consistently on top. It was only in his fourth year that he earned 1st place, graduating as the class valedictorian. But parents of other students were not happy and commented that Jireh was not worthy of the recognition. They went as far as spreading rumors that he was lying about their family’s financial status just so he could be supported by scholarship programs. He was made to feel that he was not good enough, and that there are others who are better than him.

But he was resolute in his belief that what God wills, that He does. “They can’t stop God and His purpose for me,” he says.

Jireh also admits that throughout his life he had doubted himself. He says that the hardest for him to do while in school was to stay positive and motivated to stay the course and not give up.

Graduating with honors is great, and he understands that this will give him an edge when he’s applying for a job. But to him, it’s not about the achievements and recognitions. He believes that it is one’s life story that truly counts, and how much one has positively influenced others.

He dreams to establish his own company or business someday, and wants to eventually give back to Real LIFE. Moreover, he desires to be able to start his own foundation that will help improve the lives of the poor and the marginalized.

“These dreams of mine may or may not come true but one thing is for sure: I believe God has already laid and prepared a bright future for me and my family. I have dreams that may not be aligned with God’s purpose for me, but I’ll stick to God’s plans,” he says.

Jireh is grateful for the Real LIFE Foundation because the support given to him helped him accomplish his schoolwork well without having to ask for allowance from his parents. He says that Real LIFE has really helped him in his walk with God, and that he was blessed by the lives of his LIFE coaches, as well as the encouragement and support that he got from them, his fellow scholars, and the area coordinator.

Jireh’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin