Do you remember Francis Jan Ax Valerio, the Grab delivery rider who went viral in Sept. 2020 for attending online classes by the roadside in between orders? Well, he just graduated magna cum laude as a communications student at Adamson University in Manila.
In a Facebook post on July 13, the 23-year-old looked back into what contributed to his recent feat, from selling snacks to doing his classmates' assignments.
He also worked as a service crew for a popular fastfood chain, a virtual assistant for a private company, and took on several odd jobs just to see another day.
"Hindi naging madali ang lahat," Francis said. "Mag-deliver umaraw man o umulan, mapuyat sa gabi para pumasok sa isa pang trabaho, sabay na din dun 'yung paggawa ng mga schoolworks."
Francis told PhilSTAR L!fe he had to do all these as they always get evicted from the apartments they're staying in after failing to pay rent.
"Tinulungan ko ang papa ko na magtinda ng suman para may pangbaon ako sa eskwela," he said. "Eventually, naging service crew, call center agent, at delivery rider na rin ako."
In previous interviews, he said he worked even harder when his mother, a government employee, had to quit her job to tend to his father, who suffered a stroke.
He said he also has a relative working overseas chipping in to help tide everyone over.
Asked how he pulled everything off, Francis said it's all about time management. While he attends classes at noon and processes deliveries shortly thereafter, he also works as a virtual assistant with a graveyard shift from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
"Kapag may mga kailangang ipasa sa school, ginagawa ko agad on the spot para mabawasan ang workload ko," Francis shared, as he recalled the grueling instance of being awake for 48 hours during his thesis days, all while typically reporting for work.
"Iyon ang pinakamahirap na pinagdaanan ko noon," he said.
That's why after all that's been said and done, passing his degree with flying colors is the much-desired fruit of his many labors.
"Kaya 'nung nalaman kong ga-graduate ako ng may latin honor eh hindi ko talaga napigilang umiyak dahil alam kong naging sulit lahat," he said in his Facebook post.
"Sulit ang pagbibilad sa ilalim ng tirik na araw, sulit lahat ng luha kasabay ng pagbyahe sa gitna ng malalakas na ulan, sulit lahat ng puyat maipasa lang ang mga kailangan ipasa sa eskwela."
Moving forward, Francis expressed his interest in pursuing a law degree, if not carry on with his communications background and delve into the world of filmmaking. Though he said he's still quite on the fence, choosing either career path only shows one thing: His desire to be of service, whether it's helping people in court or depicting gritty realities onscreen.
"(Para ito sa) unfortunate nating mga kababayan na nakakaranas ng kawalan ng hustisya," he said.
Francis also dedicated his achievement to his parents, as he encouraged all students, working or not, to value their education.
"Tuloy lang tayo sa pag-abot ng ating mga pangarap," he said.