Chin and I share a common struggle give years go. She used to depend on a corned beef value pack worth Php7.00 as an employee earning minimum wage while I had survive with instant noodles as unemployed. I tried selling siomai, pizza roll, hotdog bun on the sidewalk for a living while finding a decent job. People were laughing but we didn’t really care. We started as a team and we made it through life’s battles as a team. Some think we’re lucky to be living the life we have now but the truth is, before we were able to enjoy the finer things that we have today, we’ve had to go through the worst.
We were not successful when we met back in 2012. In fact, we’re two struggling souls who were going through our own personal battles. I was an unemployed who was struggling to pay off a Php2 Million debt from a business venture that collapsed, trying to make both ends meet. Chin on the other hand was a hotel employee who was earning minimum salary.
We were kicked out of the home office that we rented because of missed rental payments. All we had left were a few clothes when we transferred to a boarding house. For six months, we lived in a small room without a window and a common bathroom for twenty people. We slept on the floor. We could hardly eat three times a day. We had to survive week after week with instant noodles and canned goods.
Life was so difficult back then that Chin had every reason to leave. But she chose to stay. She crawled when I was crawling. She cried when I was crying. She went through all the troubles of being with a failure like me. I thank God for my wife. If not for her support & encouragement, I won’t be where I am today. If you’re going through struggles in your relationship today, choose to support each other no matter what happens.
There are times when you will see the worst in each other but no matter how ugly life can look like, choose to stay. Remember that the battle can only be won when you work together as a team. And most Importantly, put God at the center of your relationship. Only God can help us see the best in each other during the worst times and still believe in faith that life will get better.
“We were stingy in terms of our expenditures. I’m just lucky to have married a wife who doesn’t have a predilection over branded stuff, luxury handbags and shoes. Her happiness and simple joy is a trip to Ukay-ukay on a Sunday. Honestly, I consider it as one of the foundations of our success over the years. Those sacrifices: saying no to promo fares, online shopping, 3-day sale, impulsive financial decisions and more, have somehow led us to a comfortable life today.”
The big question should the call for such support be approved: Who are the middle income earners? How much are they earning? Are you one of them?
Due to the drastic effect of COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines, the Government has released a total of Php275 Billion to help support Millions of Filipinos who are directly affected economically. The Social Welfare arm, DSWD is tasked to distribute cash assistance to nearly 17 Million poor families ranging from Php5,000-Php8,000. This is on top of the relief packs distributed by the local government units utilizing their respective funds. But as the extended lock down of most cities and provinces in the Philippines is being strictly implemented, that also entails continued closure of companies & MSMEs which account to 99.6% of the establishments in the country.
It is noteworthy to point out that the middle class population comprise of small and medium business owners and employees of big corporations whose operation has been halted if not limited since the enhanced community quarantine was in place. Thus, there is a growing public clamor for the government to allocate support for the middle class, which is about 46.8% of the total household in the Philippines. The call became even more palpable when Cavite Governor Remulla wrote a letter to President Duterte making know his sentiments on the importance of providing cash aid to middle-income earners which was verified by the President himself during his address to the Nation.
The big question should the call for such support be approved: Who are the middle income earners? How much are they earning? Are you one of them?
According to a study conducted by PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES in 2018, the middle income has an important role to play in the country’s socio-economic and future developments. The study defined the Middle income class according to their monthly family income between PHP 38,080 to PHP 66,640 per month, computed between four to seven times the poverty line. There are three different levels of Middle class subsequently: Lower middle income, Middle middle income, Upper Middle income. It is not yet clear if these three strata shall be combined to make up the total number of milddle income households that will be qualified should the proposal be approved by the government, as to which the Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez has cast doubts on. He however mentioned that there is a Php35 Billion support for MSMEs in the pipeline. In a very conservative estimate, should there be 7 million qualified middle class households who will receive at least Php5,000 each, the government has to source out another Php35 Billion.
Do you wanna know which Socio-Economic class you belong to? Below is a screenshot from the said study available for public verification. If you are earning at least Php190,400 on a monthly basis, consider yourself rich.
While the rest of the country is in an uproar because of the delays in medical equipment, testing kits & relief goods to combat the COVID-19 crisis, Ilonggos step up their battle plan by protecting and helping one another.
Even before the national government implemented flight suspension on international carriers, Gov. Toto Defensor and Mayor Jerry Trenas sent a letter to the management of Cebu Pacific to halt direct flights from Hong Kong and Singapore. The preemptive measure was beneficial in controlling the transmission of the virus from overseas, given the high volume of Ilonggo OFWs from these Covid-hit countries.
The Province of Iloilo and Iloilo City government did not wait for the aid coming from Imperial Manila. They immediately mobilized their local funds and distributed relief goods to respective barangays. Community kitchens were opened so that not a single Ilonggo goes to sleep hungry. People from Iloilo felt secured. I haven’t seen a single complaint in social media about their local leaders, but rather all praises and support.
When people feel secure, they’re not afraid, they don’t panic, they begin to feel the need to look after each other. This is probably the reason why many ordinary Ilonggos have taken the challenge to do their part in helping the community. OFWs from the United States and other countries despite being greatly affected by the crisis never failed to send their help. On top of that, millions of donations coming from Ilonggo businessmen poured out like heavy rain; from testing kits, masks, PPEs, food supplies, services, and among others. A group of young designers responded with a heart to serve by making special PPEs for hospital frontliners that come in different relevant themes; such as the Money Heist inspired PPE on the photo, which made the gesture even more personal.
Iloilo today is dubbed by many as the “Wakanda of the Philippines” for being a stronghold in this war against COVID-19. Some netizens call it “another country outside the Philippines”. At times like this, it is inspiring to see how one community has united to fight a common invisible, dreadful enemy. Just as people from Iloilo fondly cry: “Bato Iloilo!”.
Five years ago, we rented a small two-bedroom house for Php3,500 (Left photo). That was the most we could afford since we just opened our small business in March 2015. In that same month and year, Chin gave birth to our daughter Gabbie. Our finances didn’t look good. We had to live within our means and prioritize the needs of our newborn baby and, the newly opened business.
We had a rough but fresh start. We’re just blessed to find a decent place at an affordable rate. The location was prime due to its proximity to a nearby supermarket. Even though we were just renting it, it felt like our own home. In the next few months, Chin and I kept working hard to make our small business grow. We had to endure sleepless nights and forego expenses that were not necessary. We never had a single trip abroad or bought expensive stuff. Our focus was to build a successful business and put our hard-earned money where it could grow.
We were stingy in terms of our expenditures. I’m just lucky to have married a wife who doesn’t have a predilection over branded stuff, luxury handbags and shoes. Her happiness and simple joy is a trip to Ukay-ukay on a Sunday. Honestly, I consider it as one of the foundations of our success over the years. Those sacrifices: saying no to promo fares, online shopping, 3-day sale, impulsive financial decisions and more, have somehow led us to a comfortable life today. One ordinary day, a pastor whom we didn’t personally know came to the house we rented and declared that God will pour out blessings and provisions in the coming years to our family. He declared that we’re gonna own the house (we were surprised coz nobody told him that we’re renting it) and our business will grow (Nobody told him that we had a small business). That didn’t make sense until one unforgettable event happened.
In 2016, the owner of the house we were renting arrived from Australia. It was our first time to meet the couple. They were in their early 50s. Chin was 22, while I was 25. We had a pleasant conversation sharing our stories. At the end of our delightful exchange of pleasantries, they told us they wanted to sell the house because they were migrating to Australia for good. At first, we felt a little uncomfortable. “Where are we gonna move?”, a silent question that popped in my head all of a sudden. We’ve felt so much at home for a year in this place. But we were surprised when the husband said: “This is our first home and this is where we started to build our dreams”, Mr. T narrated in a nostalgic tone. “We want you to have this house”. We would love to buy the house sir, but we don’t have the money to pay for it as of the moment. He smiled at us and said: “Don’t worry, George & Chin, It’s payable when able”. We would never forget that fateful conversation!
Our business was doing well at that time and we had enough savings to pay them Php250,000 as a down payment. Thankfully, Chin has always prioritized saving money. We also focused on growing our business more than the luxury and immediate gratification. When a rare opportunity came, we were ready to grab it. It took us nearly two years to finally pay it off. We couldn’t believe we already own the house that we were renting a few years ago. After a year, we renovated the dilapidated house and gave it a fresh and modern design. We eventually bought the vacant lot right beside it and in 2019, in faith, we built a 3-story, 200 sq.meters house with a sunset deck & jacuzzi. It’s just unbelievable to think that we’ve built this house without a single loan. Indeed, God poured out His blessings and provisions to us exactly what the pastor declared a few years ago.
I hope this story will inspire young couples and even those who are just starting at life to keep dreaming, that your dreams are possible because we have a God who can make the impossible, possible. And most importantly, that we can do our part in making it happen by being responsible stewards of God’s blessings. What we have is not ours, it is God who gave us the ability to produce wealth and we have to be responsible in spending it wisely. It started from saving a small amount intended for the future. We don’t know when the perfect opportunity knocks at our door, it’s important that we’re ready when it comes.
We found love in the most unexpected and complicated moment. I was a 23-year old unemployed struggling to pay off a Php2 Million debt with a commission based career while Chin was struggling with her minimum wage job only to make both ends meet week after the other. We had a rough start and we experienced the lowest of lows. We were not successful when we met each other. We were two struggling failures who came together and worked our way out to succeed as a team.
We made it through the most terrifying moments of our life because we chose each other even when life wasn’t beautiful, even when we weren’t lovable, even when we got hurt, even when we had all the reasons to let go. We chose each other over pain, over the nasty words, over pride and ego.
Love is a choice. It is not surprising to know that most couples who stay together for years aren’t the sweetest or successful. A lasting relationship is not composed of two perfect people, but rather imperfect people who choose to love even when it hurts, to forgive even when it’s hard, to forget even when it’s painful, and to believe in each other even when it doesn’t make sense anymore. It is a choice that we make every day of our lives.
Celebrate each other’s season. Be there for each other’s struggles. Support each other’s dreams. Let your love bring out the best in you and God be the center of everything that you do. Marriage isn’t always about winning but choosing to stay even when we know we’re losing the battle. For richer or poorer, For better or worse.
Our story may be different from yours, but we wish that you always choose each other no matter what happens. If you’re meant to be together, you will stay together. But you can’t stay together if you don’t choose each other. God bless your relationship ❤️
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