How a former kasambahay fulfilled her dream of becoming a PMA graduate


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MANILA, Philippines - On Sunday, March 12, a total of 167 new graduates including 63 female cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) vowed to serve the country during the graduation rites for Salaknib Class of 2017.

kasambahay fulfilled her dream of becoming a PMA graduate

Among these graduates is Meriam Nalo Libongcogon, a former Cebuana housemaid who managed to fulfil her dream of graduating from the PMA. Set to enter the Philippine Navy with the rank of junior commissioned officer, Meriam’s life is about to take a 180-degrees turn.

Born to a poor family in Bambalan, Cebu, Meriam is the daughter of Mario, a farmer and carpenter, and Florida, a stay-at-home mother. At a very young age, Meriam and her siblings had to help out their father in his farm since his income was not enough to support the needs of the family.

At the age of 9, Meriam started selling coconut shells, sand and wood as construction supplies to workers to earn an extra income of P20 every week.

"Ang ginagawa po namin, naghahanap po kami ng coconut shells para ibenta. Tapos minsan may nagpapahakot po ng tubig…Iyong kinikita po namin, ilalagay po namin sa alkansiya tapos yung maiipon po namin, ginagamit po naming pangtahi ng damit namin," Meriam told ABS-CBN News.

Despite the challenges her family was facing, Meriam managed to finish as valedictorian in elementary school.

This gave her the opportunity to become a full scholar in a Catholic school in Cebu City. Even if she was working on the side, Meriam graduated high school at the age of 15.

To support her college studies in computer engineering, Meriam decided to work as a housemaid. However, balancing her work and studies was tough as she was also expected to care for her employer’s children. Her job soon took a toll on her health forcing her to stop from studying.

“Mahirap po kasi iyong mga bata, maliliit pa po. Iyong parang pasaway pa po sila, tapos kailangan ko gumising ng maaga para paliguan iyong mga bata [at] pakainin. Tapos ihahatid ko muna sila sa paaralan bago ako pumasok sa paaralan ko,” Meriam recalled.

Following her three-year stint as a housemaid in Cebu, Meriam tried her luck in Baguio City where she met foster parent Nanay Rose.

It was Nanay Rose who encourage Meriam to join the PMA.

Although life as a PMA cadet was difficult, Meriam didn’t even consider quitting as she had been used to hardships even before she entered the academy.

"Hindi ko naisipang mag-resign kasi sanay na po sa hirap. At saka lagi po akong nagdarasal sa Panginoon na tulungan niya po ako,” Meriam said.

After earning her rank, Meriam intends to buy a new house for her family in Cebu.


--Mini, The Summit Express

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