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A story of hope

by Charina Echaluce

Francis Tirso Sinaban

Francis Tirso Sinaban

A 25-year-old man endured washing used glass bottles at P2 per 24 pieces at age 12 to graduate cum laude several years later at the University of La Salette in Santiago City, Isabela.

“Pinakamahirap po na trabaho na pinasukan ko ay ang paghuhugas ng bote. Dalawang piso po kapalit ng 24 bottles na hinuhugasan ko. Kapalit ng mga bubog na sumusugat sa akin kamay at binti,” Francis Tirso Sinaban, 25, and a laundrywoman’s son.

The psychology graduate also had to endure several trials that came along the way.

In 2004, two months before Francis graduated from elementary, his father, Francisco, suffered a stroke, forcing him to stop going to school. But Francis was able to join the graduation after passing the special examination given to him by his teacher.

In high school, he had to stop studying again to take care of his father each time his mother had to leave for work.

In 2009, Francis’ father died. He and his mother, Nida, had to face the world on their own.

“Marami pang trabaho ang aking nasubukan. Ang pumasok sa paniderya, maglabada kahit ‘di gawain ng isang lalaki,” he shared.

After his father’s death, Francis’ mom told him that he will soon go back to school. “Saktong magpapasukan ng mawala si Tatay, pilit akong kinukumbinsi ni Mama na mag-aral. Sa una nahihiya ako dahil alam kong tatlo hanggang apat na taon agwat ko sa aking mga kaklase. Ilan sa abuloy na aming nalikom sa pagpanaw ni Tatay ang aking ginamit para sa aking pag-aaral,” he said.

In school, he was been mocked by some of his classmates because of his age but he did not let them define him as a person. “Tama si Mama kailangan ko mag-aral, kailangan ko magtapos para sa naudlot na pangarap. It’s not too late for me to win this race,” Francis said.

In high school, Francis graduated with three Excellence Leadership Awards and Best in Filipino.

In college, his mother enrolled him to a school that she believed would give him a good education. She had to work harder to finance his school expenses.

Francis took multiple jobs and applied to a number of scholarships. He got three scholarships. He also never thought of entering a romantic relationship so he can focus on his studies.

“Dumating ako sa mga panahon na sobrang grade conscious ko. ‘Yong tipong magkaroon ng 85 na grade ay pwede ko ng iyakan. Para sa iba OA pero hindi e, hindi nila kasi alam ‘yong hinahabol ko. Kapag full academic scholar ako ay sobrang laki ng aking natitipid. Uuwi na may dalang bigas o ‘di kaya ay groceries,” Francis recalled.

Seeing how hard his mother works for him, Francis started dreaming for a Latin honor. “Hanggang sa asamin ko na po na sana mag-cum laude ako para kay Mama, dahil isa siya sa naging inspiration ko para dito. Dumating pa sa mga oras na hindi na kami kumain basta may mai-project ako,” he said.

Francis admitted questioning God why He poured all those problems to their family all at once. “Dumating po sa mga panahon na, kinuwestyon ko Siya, kung bakit kami. Bakit ako? Bakit ako nahihirapan ng ganito, sabay ang aking ama at ina? Bakit kami pa na salat sa buhay? Bakit kami pa na walang tirahan?” he said.

But in the end, he found His purpose for allowing bad things to befall. “Alam ko na po kung bakit sa amin binigay, dahil ako at kami ‘yong taong kinaya ang lahat ng pagsubok na ito. Ang mga naging pagsubok ko, ibinigay lahat ni God sa ‘kin para ako po ang magsilbing inspirasyon sa iba.”

And if he would be given a chance to choose a family, Francis, an only child, would still choose the same family. He said his family taught him to be strong and determined; his parents were not able to give them a lot of material things but they gave him so much love; they did not finish their studies, but they raised him well and taught him that he should always believe in God.

“Walang pamilyang perpekto pero ang pamilya na ito ang ipagmamalaki ko,” he expressed.

Now a degree holder, Francis aims to achieve a few goals: To give his mother and 96-year-old grandmother a house and to give back to others the help that he got from the “angels” that were sent to him by God when he needs them the most.

“Bahay at lupa po talaga dahil sa buong buhay namin ito ang wala sa amin, sa tuwing bagyo nakikisilong kami sa kapitbahay. Last year, birthday ko pero sinasalanta kami ng bagyo kasama ang bedridden kong lola,” he said.

“(Tapos) ako naman po ang tutulong sa ibang tao na gusto mag-aral gaya ng mga ginawa sa akin. Gusto ko isa rin ako sa magsilbing hagdan nila.”

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