I come from a family of seven kids: Tristan, me, Rae, Mario, Ysa, Jr, then Angel. My mom has been divorced twice, and my grandmother stood in as a second parent for most of my formative years. People, things, and ideas have come and gone in my life, but my family has always been there for me. Supporting them has been my biggest commitment I have ever made.
I grew up in a small rural town in the southern island of the Philippines. My mom and my grandmother believed that a good education was essential, so in 4th grade, my brother Tristan (who is three years older than I am) and I moved to Manila. We traveled 700 miles from home because Manila had better schools with more structured curriculum. Unfortunately, my mom worked for the government in our rural town, and her salary was the sole source of income for our family. Therefore, she could not come with us, so my brother and I were alone in Manila for three years, with occasional visits from Mom. We figured out how to get around and budget our weekly finances. When I was in 7th grade, my mom was able to move herself, my grandmother, and my other five siblings to the city.
The move was a great shock to my family because the way of life was different and the school was significantly advanced and more rigorous. I wanted my younger siblings to do well in their classes, so I helped them complete their homework and learn Tagalog, the local language. My mom was busy trying to find a new job; even though she never asked, my brother Tristan and I took on the responsibilities she did not have time for. We brought our younger siblings to school and picked them up, attended parent teacher conferences, and helped them study for their quizzes. Sometimes it was hard to balance; I remember a night I needed to prepare for my final exams, but my sister Rae needed help finishing her science project. She wanted to understand the effect of guava leaves on blood clotting, so we purchased pig’s blood from the market and performed an experiment. Afterwards, I studied all night for my exams.
Looking back, I am thankful for the values my mom and grandmother instilled in me. Looking out for my siblings made me independent and driven. In order to help them, I had to do better myself: I learned to write; I became more understanding of each sibling’s learning style; I learned to look towards the future and to plan next steps.
Two of my younger siblings are now finishing college, while three will finish high school in the coming years. Soon, I want to go home. I am hoping that with my undergrad education, current work experience, and by pursuing a Yale MBA, I will gain the skills in finance, business strategies and management that I need to lead and grow my family’s bank in the Philippines into a Southeast Asian force. I hope that with this, I can continue to help my siblings and family pursue new opportunities.