Jarel Barcelona Tadio, a "proud kasambahay" who finished his college degree with Latin honors, is a great inspiration for young dreamers.
He recently graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in hospitality industry management from the Cagayan State University.
His life was featured on ABS-CBN's award-winning drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya last Saturday, October 20.
The episode reenacted his struggles before he achieved his goals—finish his studies and help his parents.
On June 10, Jarel shared his heartwarming journey in a Facebook post, which went viral with over 300,000 likes and more than 100,000 shares at press time.
In his post, Jarel said he never really dreamed of finishing his studies with flying colors, and just wanted to give his family a better life.
Jarel wrote, "Nagsimula ako mangarap nung mapagtanto kong iba ang buhay na meron ako sa buhay ng mga batang nasa paligid ko—na marangya at di hamak na mas komportable ang buhay nila kesa sa akin.
"All the years I thought I was only dreaming of a very simple dream: to give my family a better life and improve our living status.
"That was the dream I considered my humble dream since when I was a kid."
In his elementary days, Jarel did not have an answer to the question what he wanted to be when he grew up.
He explained in his post, "Ang tunay dahilan kung bakit ganun lang ako sagot ko nun ay kasi alam ko naman na hindi ako makapag-aaral pagkatapos ng high school.
"Alam niyo yung punong-puno ka ng pangarap at pag-asa pero ikaw mismo alam mo yung katotohang hanggang high school ka na lang.
"Elementary pa lang ako, naipamulat na sa akin ang hirap ng buhay."
At an early age, Jarel learned to do farm work to help his parents.
"Sa tuwing bakasyon, pumupunta kami sa Apayao at Kalinga para maki-palay, kasi wala kaming sariling lupang sasakahan.
"Laking putik ako. Laking dumi kami. Nakikisaka lang kami.
"Laking bukid ako kaya alam ko ang halaga ng bawat butil ng pawis na tutulo sa mga magulang ko... alam ko ang bawat sakripisyo nila.
"Hanggang noong matapos ang high school, ganun ang kwento. Sakrispisyo talaga.
"At naniniwala ako na hindi ko lang ito kuwento. Malamang maraming tulad ko ang lumaki sa bukid."
Jarel said he never thought of pursuing a college degree because they were hard up.
"Dahil sa kalagayan ng buhay namin, naging isa akong estudyante na mas piniling kalimutan ang pangarap mag-aral sa kolehiyo at makapagtapos ng Degree, dahil noon pa lang alam ko na sa sarili ko na hindi ako mag-aaral.
"Isang araw, kinausap ako ng mama ko, ang sabi nya: 'Nak susubukan naming suportahan ang inyong pag-aaral anak, gagawa kami ng paraan.'
"Nung sinabi niya yun, alam niyo yung biglang lakas ng tibok ng puso ko, yung tipong gusto ko magsisigaw sa labas ng bahay namin sa sobrang kasiyahan, pero siyempre hindi ang galak ng puso ko ang isinagot ko sa kanya.
"Ang sagot ko nun: 'Wag na ma, malulubog lang tayo sa utang.'
"Pero ang katotohanan, sinabi ko lang yun kasi mas kailangan nila ang pinansyal na tulong. Sa likod ng katotohanang hindi nila ako mapag-aaral, hanggang langit parin yung pangarap ko mag-College.
"May lungkot at inggit, yung iba pinag-aaral ng magulang pero ayaw mag-aral, samantalang ako, gustong gustong mag-aral pero hindi makapag-aral dahil sa kakulangan ng pera."
At 15, Jarel followed in the footsteps of his mom and worked as a househelp to finance his studies.
"My first job was in catering services. Nag crew ako pero on call lang, sobrang liit ng sweldo at kulang talaga.
"Matapos ang dalawang buwan napagdesisyonan kong maghanap ng regular na trabaho.
"Namasukan ako bilang maid. Oo, katulong po, yaya. Kasambahay. Pero taas nuo ako sa naging trabaho ko. Marangal yun.
"At ang masaya dun, libre na ang tulugan, libre pa ang pagkain, libre meryenda, libre tv, libre cable at libre wifi. Saan ka pa!
"Sabi ko nun, hindi man ako masuportahan ng aking mga magulang sa pag aaral, gagawa ako ng paraan para mapag-aral ko ang sarili ko. Hindi ako papayag na hindi ako makakapag-aral. Hindi ako papayag na ganun-ganun na lang. Hindi ko isusuko ang pangarap ko."
Although it was a struggle to manage his time for work and his studies, Jarel used this as a motivation to finish his college degree.
"Nag-WORKING STUDENT ako. Mahirap maging working student, aral sa umaga, trabaho sa hapon, at gabi.
"Puyat at pagod ang kalaban, lalo kung may mga projects (hello catering teachers) at quizzes (hello cost control, bus. mathematics) 'tapos sasabayan ka pa ng teacher mong laging galit (hello maam……...secret).
"At meron pa yung kung magpa-recite kulang aminin naming kami ang bumaril kay Rizal."
At around the same time, he experienced discrimination because he was poor, and even some of his relatives didn't believe he'd amount to anything.
Jarel narrated, "May mga taong hindi yata masaya na makita kang nagsisikap makamit ang pangarap mo. I was discriminated...
"I was belittled, they all judged me because of my financial misfortune, and what pains me most…
"Yung unang hindi maniniwala sa yo, yung nanglalait sayo at yung unang mang-chichismis sa yo ay yung mga kamag-anak mo.
"I suffered first from discrimination, poverty... so I think it is natural for me to use this opportunity to speak for the people who are unable to speak for themselves.
"I would never forget this, I heard them say: 'Sino naman ang magpapaaral sa kanya eh, wala naman silang lupang sakahan. Madi maka-graduate ata, hanggang pangarap lang atan.'"
Jarel ignored the negativity and focused on his goal.
He said, "People may talk behind us, people may not believe in us and people may drag us down but do not be shaken, we do not exist for them; because we live for the people who have faith in us—because this life is for our family.
"I live for my life’s purpose, my purpose as a son, as a dreamer and as a determined person.
"I was neither born to impress nor to please them; much more that I don’t need to be liked by them.
"I was born to be myself, to reach my dreams, and to be the best version of myself—and that is my life's purpose. Anyway at the end of the day, my purpose is my family.
"My purpose is to believe in my dreams, to believe that dreams are whispered plans from the lord. To believe that no matter what my circumstance in life is.
"DREAMS combined with faith and determination DO COME TRUE.
"From the time I started dreaming, my biggest realization is, that I shall never give up on my dreams; I shall never surrender, and never let obstacles weaken and hinder my progress."
Towards the end of his post, Jarel dedicated his diploma and honor, his biggest milestone, to his parents.
He wrote, "Ma, Pa, ito na po ang bunga ng bawat pagod, bawat puyat, bawat sakripisyo, bawat hirap at bawat luha.
"Graduate na po ang anak niyo’ at ito ay dahil sa hindi nyo ako pinabayaan, dahil sa pagtitiwala sa aking kakayahang tapusin ng matapang at tahakin ng may takot sa Dyos ang aking nasimulan.
"You are the very reason in every decisions, plans and actions I make. You are the reason behind these accomplishments.
"Ma, Pa, tagumpay nyo po ito, God just made me His instrument for you to know how successful you are. Ma, Pa lagi niyo pong tatandaan na mahal na mahal ko po kayo.
"Kayo po ang rason kung bakit ako nagsikap na makapagtapos at magkaroon ng pangarap, pangarap sa aking sarili at sa ating pamilya.
"Ma, pa, magtatapos ako at magtatrabaho, ako po ang bahala sa inyo, tutulungan ko po si kuya. Promise ko yan Ma at papa.
"Ma, pa, aggrdauate tuy anak yun oh, adda pay bonus na. Huwag kayo mag alala mama papa, etong speech at yung diploma muna ang tanggapin nyo, pauna palang to, sa susunod may sobre na po."
Jarel also thanked those who stood by his side throughout his journey.
Ultimately, Jarel reminded everyone not to give up on their dreams.
"Friends, just remember to give your best. Believe me, in moments of doubt, remember our family, especially our parents, our friends and love ones, they are always ready to guide and support us.
"Let us not be afraid in facing challenges. Let’s pursue our dreams. Mapapagod pero hindi susuko. Masusugatan pero hindi aayaw. Mabibigo pero hindi bibitaw.
"I WILL CONTINUE MAKING MY PARENTS THE PROUDEST. IT’S NOT THE EASIEST, BUT I BELIEVE IT’S CERTAINLY THE BEST."