Viral: UP grad’s Facebook post a meditation on parenthood 2
Jaynard Ronquillo finished Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in UP Los Baños. (Right) With his family on his graduation day. Photos courtesy of Ronquillo
Culture

The last time UP grad told his parents ‘Sana hindi na lang ako ipinanganak,’ it was a selfless act

“Maybe in that world, I wouldn't even exist, but I found myself contemplating if that might have been better for everyone involved,” says new UPLB graduate Jaynard Ronquillo
JAYNARD RONQUILLO | Aug 19 2023

New college graduate Jaynard Tiangco Ronquillo’s Facebook post to mark his graduation has gone viral. The lengthy essay from the new UP Los Baños degree-holder—he just finished his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering course with flying colors— has clearly struck a chord among many netizens, especially those who faced many struggles just to make it through school. 

College graduation posts are usually, among other things, an expression of gratitude to parents, but Jaynard’s message goes way beyond that: it’s a meditation on parenthood and growing up poor, but mostly the former. Here, the young man, the first college graduate in his clan, celebrates his folks and his own achievement while throwing it back to the days when money was especially difficult to come by even with multiple scholarships, when it would take him forever to muster the gumption to approach the sari-sari store owner with another “Pautang muna po si Mama,” when he would ask himself, “Bakit yung almusal ng kaklase ko marami, pero kami ng kapatid ko wala o kaya naman ay kailangang maghati sa iisang itlog?” In the end, Jaynard expresses his great love for the people who raised him, voices out a wish not for himself but for parents and children of the future, and why his opening line “Sana hindi niyo na lang ako ipinanganak,” can come from a selfless place. 

Here’s Jaynard’s graduation post which he allowed ANCX to share here in full:

Jaynard Tiangco Ronquillo
"At an early age, I realized, life really is unfair. May mga batang tulad ko na subsob sa pag-aaral at tila ba ‘di alintana ang kumakalam na sikmura dahil wala namang choice," wrote Jaynard.

“𝗦𝗔𝗡𝗔 𝗛𝗜𝗡𝗗𝗜 𝗡𝗜𝗬𝗢 𝗡𝗔 𝗟𝗔𝗡𝗚 𝗔𝗞𝗢 𝗜𝗣𝗜𝗡𝗔𝗡𝗚𝗔𝗡𝗔𝗞”

Most of you might wonder why would I start my message with an awful, disturbing, and heartbreaking line? Because as we know, graduation posts usually show how grateful you are for the people who have helped you along the way such as your friends, and family. Unfortunately, I choose to unveil the other side of the story too. I still remember the two scenarios where I uttered this line to my parents. But before going into these scenarios, just a quick (or not quick) background about me. 

As cliché as it might sound, I am one of those typical honor students. Panganay na lumaki sa hirap at sa angkang walang college graduate. Isang consistent honor student simula elementary na suki ng mga contests gaya ng essay writing, quiz bees, journalism, MTAP at iba pa. May tatay na naging tricycle driver, family driver, business driver, at suma-sideline sa pagkumpuni ng mga sirang electric fans. At may nanay na naging kasambahay, mananahi, barangay health worker, at tagahugas ng mga pinggan sa isang catering service. I used to be that bright, hopeful, and optimistic kid who had the goal of saving the whole family from poverty. I used to think it was easy.

Growing up, I started to question life. Bakit sila may ganito pero tayo ay wala? Bakit sila may pambili pero tayo ay wala? Bakit yung almusal ng kaklase ko marami, pero kami ng kapatid ko wala o kaya naman ay kailangang maghati sa iisang itlog? (Ibo-bombastic side eye ko pa yung kapatid ko ‘pag kinuha niya yung mas marami ang yellow part). Bakit yung kaklase ko may service pauwi samantalang ako walang choice kundi maglakad araw-araw kahit malayo? Bakit yung kaklase ko nakakabayad agad ng PTA? Bakit sila may handa lagi sa birthday pero ako ay wala? Bakit wala akong baon? Bakit sila mayaman tapos tayo ay mahirap? Bakit ganito ang buhay? At an early age, I realized, life really is unfair. May mga batang tulad ko na subsob sa pag-aaral at tila ba ‘di alintana ang kumakalam na sikmura dahil wala namang choice. 

The usual response from optimistic Filipinos like my parents is, “𝘋𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴.” O kaya naman ay “𝘗𝘢𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘵 𝘬𝘢 𝘯𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘯𝘢𝘬𝘢𝘬𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘬𝘢, 𝘺𝘶𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘣𝘢 𝘯𝘨𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘺𝘢𝘯 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘢.” Don’t get me wrong, but I think comparing your life to others is valid as long as you’re doing it to identify your needs. Also, we shouldn’t always use the misfortunes of other people to make us or others feel like the problem we are experiencing isn’t really so hard. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I realized that some of the coping mechanisms of Filipino people are rooted in toxic positivity. 

Jaynard Tiangco Ronquillo
"While I wanted my parents to know that I love them deeply, I couldn't help but reflect on the circumstances of my existence and the world in which we live," Jaynard's post reads. 

Going back to my journey as the first college graduate ng buong angkan, I didn’t grow up having role models, mentors, tutors, or someone in our family who is successful that I can look up to. I grew up having people I didn’t want to be like and seeing situations I’d never want to be in. And speaking of situations, I can still remember one of my memorable experiences as a poor kid. I was in elementary and ako yung laging inuutusan ng nanay ko para pumunta sa tindahan. Lagi akong nasesermunan ng nanay ko dahil ang tagal bago ako makabalik ng bahay. Little did she know, kaya ako natatagalan ay dahil nahihiya ako. I was shy because instead of having coins and paper bills on my hands, I was bringing a long vertical strip cut-out from a Marlboro Red packaging with the name of my mom at the top and a long list of unpaid items. Ang ginagawa ko noon ay tatambay muna ako sa tindahan, papaunahin yung iba at kapag wala nang tao ay saka ko kakausapin ang tindera gamit ang paulit-ulit na linyang “𝘗𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘢 𝘳𝘢𝘸 𝘱𝘰 𝘴𝘪 𝘮𝘢𝘮𝘢.” That was my daily struggle back then. 

Another significant memory from my childhood as a poor kid stands out, and it's the first time I unintentionally uttered the words, “𝘚𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪 𝘯𝘪𝘺𝘰 𝘯𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘬𝘰 𝘪𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘬.” I was just 11 years old, and it happened during the feast of Brgy. San Jose, CSFP. The event had thrilling rides, especially the octopus ride, which piqued my curiosity. All my friends decided to try it, but I was hesitant because there was literally nothing in my pocket. Despite knowing my mother's likely response, I still tried to ask her for money. At that time, she worked as a kasambahay and had just finished doing laundry. She faced me with her lightning-fast rapper-spitting-out-10-syllables-per-second explanation that the money she had left was for our food and that her boss hadn't paid her yet. Immature and frustrated, I threw a tantrum. She disciplined me with a stick, which brought out my main character side, and I blurted out those hurtful words for the first time, “𝘚𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪 𝘯𝘪𝘺𝘰 𝘯𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘬𝘰 𝘪𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘬.” I saw the shock on my mom's face as she hit me with the stick once more, expressing her concerns about the financial burden of raising me. Looking back, I deeply regret my anger and selfishness during that moment.

Reflecting on those words, “𝘚𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪 𝘯𝘪𝘺𝘰 𝘯𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘬𝘰 𝘪𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘬,” I understand that they often emerge from our mouths due to selfishness and ingratitude. They become a manifestation of our frustration when our parents can't provide the things we desire. Regrettably, these words can feel like a thousand sharp knives piercing our parents' hearts, a painful reminder of our unappreciative attitude. I must admit I uttered those hurtful words when I was merely 11 years old, a time when immaturity clouded my judgment. It's crucial to recognize that these outbursts are driven by momentary emotions and fail to capture the deep love and sacrifices our parents make for us.

But can you believe that even as a grown-up now, with supposedly increased maturity, I found myself uttering these hurtful words to my parents once more? Yes, this marked the second and final instance when I voiced this painful sentiment to them. To provide some context, I was fortunate enough to have scholarships supporting my college journey. However, the stipends I received often ended up being used for non-academic expenses. These scholarships were used to fix the house (tiles, ceilings, etc.), repay debts to neighbors, cover electricity, water, and internet bills, assist relatives, and more.

Previously, I faced criticism for having multiple scholarships, yet few understood how much we truly relied on them. My parents' income simply couldn't sustain our daily needs. Hence, despite having multiple scholarships, there were still instances when financial struggles persisted. We lacked relatives who could lend a helping hand, as they were grappling with similar circumstances.

Returning to the second and final scenario where I spoke the words, “𝘚𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪 𝘯𝘪𝘺𝘰 𝘯𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘬𝘰 𝘪𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘬,” it was triggered by a delay in receiving stipends from my scholarships, leaving us without any source of income. We were already midway through the semester, and the mounting debts were becoming overwhelming. I reached out to my mother for financial assistance, as I needed the money for rent, internet, electricity, and water bills. Unfortunately, we were left with absolutely nothing to spare, and there were no options for borrowing either. Regrettably, driven by sheer frustration, I let those painful words escape my lips once again, “𝘚𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪 𝘯𝘪𝘺𝘰 𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘬𝘰 𝘪𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘬.”

Hear me out, the initial instance I voiced these words out was rooted in selfishness and ingratitude. However, this time, it was different. I spoke these words from a selfless place. They emerged as a result of my contemplation, pondering over countless “what ifs.” As I sat there, lost in my thoughts, I found myself overwhelmed with emotions that were hard to put into words. While I wanted my parents to know that I love them deeply, I couldn't help but reflect on the circumstances of my existence and the world in which we live. Growing up, I saw the hardships they both endured to provide for me, and I was grateful for the sacrifices they had made. But I couldn't help but wonder about a different path – one where they had the chance to pursue their own passions and dreams without the burden of poverty.

Jaynard Tiangco Ronquillo
Jaynard shares his foremost goal: "I will strive harder to break the cycle of poverty and create a better future for my family."

It saddened me to think that they might have missed out on the opportunities and joys that life could have offered them if circumstances were different. Maybe they had dreams of becoming artists, musicians, or explorers. Perhaps they had aspirations to travel the world, discover new horizons, and embrace the beauty it had to offer. What if my father, with his exceptional mechanical skills, and my mother, who stood at the top of her class, had followed their passions? What if they decided not to have me and instead pursued their college dreams?

However, the weight of poverty pushed my parents into a constant struggle for survival. They had to prioritize putting food on the table and ensuring a roof over our heads, leaving little time or energy to chase after their own dreams. I couldn't help but wish for a reality where my parents both had the chance to flourish, to pursue their passions wholeheartedly. Maybe in that world, I wouldn't even exist, but I found myself contemplating if that might have been better for everyone involved.

Please understand that my feelings weren't meant to blame them or make them feel guilty. I knew that the decisions they made were out of love and a desire to provide a better life for our family. It's just that sometimes the weight of these thoughts becomes too much to bear. This post is not intended to blame my parents. It’s crucial to acknowledge that during their time, they were hindered in their pursuit of dreams by a system that unjustly favored a select few. So, while working hard on our own can totally improve our lives, we can’t ignore the need to fix the system too. That way, more Filipino people can get a fair shot at opportunities. Bilang isang Iskolar ng Bayan, sisiguraduhin kong magiging parte ako ng ganitong kilusan. As I navigate through life, I hope to honor the sacrifices my parents have made for me and make the most of the opportunities that come my way. I will strive harder to break the cycle of poverty and create a better future for my family.

So, as I celebrate this milestone, I want to take a moment to inspire future parents who might come across this post. Please listen to my story and let it guide you on your journey toward parenthood. 

 

𝗗𝗢𝗡’𝗧 𝗟𝗘𝗧 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗖𝗛𝗜𝗟𝗗 𝗕𝗘 𝗟𝗜𝗞𝗘 𝗠𝗘. 

It may sound harsh but that’s the reality. If bringing a child into this world means subjecting them to similar or potentially worse hardships than those I endured, it's better to reconsider having a child at all. 

Raising a child demands not only financial stability but also emotional and mental readiness. The world is full of challenges, and as parents, you'll be the guiding light for your child. Take the time to nurture your own mental well-being and create a supportive environment for yourself and your future family. 

Parenthood is a significant responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly. Ensuring financial stability before having a child will provide them with the opportunities and resources they deserve. It will alleviate some of the struggles and allow you to focus on creating precious memories together. 

Pursue your passions and dreams before starting a family. It's essential to find fulfilment in your own life, for that happiness will resonate with your child as they grow up. Remember, your aspirations don't need to be abandoned; they can become a source of inspiration for the next generation. 

I'm not sharing this to blame anyone or harbor resentment. My story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of unconditional love. But it also underscores the importance of setting the stage for a child's life in the best possible way. To all the future parents out there, I implore you to reflect on my words. Your child's future is shaped by the foundation you lay for them. I hope my journey can serve as a reminder to prioritize mental and financial preparedness before embarking on this beautiful yet challenging path of parenthood.

Kahit alam kong mahirap, imposible o tila isang suntok sa buwan, hindi pa rin ako mawawalan ng pag-asa na sana balang araw, wala nang mga batang tulad ko na sa murang edad ay tila ba pasan ang buong mundo. Sana sa paglipas ng panahon, wala nang mga batang magsasabi sa kanilang mga magulang na sana hindi na lang sila ipinanganak.