Child who fishes coin under the sea, now a teacher and a Master's degree holder

To study is difficult but to study while working for the family at a young age is much harder. But astonishingly, in spite of the hurdles and tons of uncertainties that life brings, a kid from Batangas has made it possible to achieve her dream of teaching and inspiring kids and many other people.

Teacher Arlene Eje Alex came from her parents who are Tagalog and Badjao. Because of poverty, she knew how difficult it is to live as a disadvantaged individual at a very young age.

According to her, in spite of their financial struggles, her father never wanted her to be a street beggar or to dive for coins deep down the ocean just like any other kids in their area do. But because of unfortunate events, eventually, she was forced to beg for money from people and to fish for coins thrown by people in piers.

"Mula pagkabata ko po, hindi po ako pinapayagan ng tatay ko na manlimos, maninisid ng barya. Dumating lang po sa point na kailangan ko po siyang gawin para po makatulong ako sa pamilya ko. Lalo po nang magkasakit yung tatay ko, hanggang sa mamatay po siya nung ako po ay 12 years old,” she said.

“Eight years old po nag-start na akong manisid sa pier para lang po maka-survive sa araw-araw at may panustos sa pag-aaral."

Although her childhood is full of hardship and sacrifices, she did not regret being a beggar and a coin diver because for her, that made her strong and wiser in life.

Their poverty also pushed her to finish her studies and become a professional educator. Now, she is not only a teacher but also a Master's degree holder at the age of 22. She teaches Badjao kids and other children coming from indigenous groups.

And because of her dedication for teaching, she was awarded one of the natatanging Batangueno 2021 by the Rotary Club of Batangas.

Indeed, success is never elusive for people who strive.

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