It is usual to see student gratitude postings on social media during graduation season, thanking their parents and guardians who worked hard to meet their needs, or their friends who helped them get through tough times.
But for Jaynard Tiangco Ronquillo, a 22-year-old U.P. Los Banos graduate of Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, he took the moment to share an unconventional post, which started with a line that no parent would ever want to hear from their children: "Sana hindi niyo na lang ako pinanganak."
Speaking to PhilSTAR L!fe, Jaynard said that he wanted to make this post a wake-up call for future parents, highlighting the challenges of raising a child in poverty.
"Sa una po ay nakaka inspire ang mga gantong storya pero kung iisipin po natin, bakit ganito pa rin po ang sitwasyon ng karamihan sa atin? Isa ba itong patunay na hindi umuunlad ang ating bansa? Kaya ko po gusto ishare ang story ko ay dahil gusto ko pong tumatak sa isip ng mga future parents ang naging karanasan ko," he told L!fe.
He wrote this post as an eye-opener to the current situation of the majority of student-achievers who were deprived of opportunities due to their poor background.
"Gusto ko po silang mamulat sa sitwasyon ng ating bansa. Ang mga ganitong klase ng storya ay patunay na pumapabor pa rin sa iilan ang sistema. Kaya sana, isipin natin na malaking parte ang ginagampanan ng gobyerno para mawala na ang mga ganitong klase ng istorya. Mga bata na sa murang edad ay tila ba pasan ang buong mundo," Jaynard said.
'At an early age, I realized life really is unfair'
Jaynard's father served as a driver and took jobs on the side fixing electric fans, while his mother worked as a helper, sewer, barangay health worker, and sometimes a dishwasher in a nearby catering service. With all of these, Jaynard strived to be that bright, hopeful, and optimistic kid who had a goal of saving his whole family from poverty.
He succeeded and became a consistent honor student since elementary, and joined various academic competitions such as essay writing contests, quiz bees, journalism, MTAP, among others.
However, he couldn't help but compare himself to other students who had a "better" life.
"I used to think it was easy," he said in his now-viral Facebook post which earned 120,000 reactions, 4,000 comments, and 48,000 shares as of writing. "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?" he narrated.
"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 young achiever continued.
The first time he said 'Sana hindi niyo na lang ako ipinanganak'
Jaynard was aware of his family's situation at a young age. He recalled those times his mom would ask him to buy something from the sari-sari store. It would take him a while to return because he was embarrassed to ask the store owner to add to his mom's long list of debts.
But one memory that stood out was during the feast of Brgy. San Jose, in San Fernando, Pampanga. He was 11 years old then and had asked his mother for money for an octopus ride at the fair.
"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 and explained 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." he recalled.
The second time
Reflecting on those words, he deeply regretted his anger, selfishness, and immaturity. However, Jaynard didn't expect to find himself saying those exact words again when he was already in college.
Jaynard's family relied heavily on his scholarship money for their day-to-day needs. And that time, mid-semester, they had no money to spare for rent and utility bills. He tried to ask money from his mother but she wasn't able to give him some.
"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 pinanganak,'" Jaynard recalled while noting that these words came out from his selfless place.
He said those words again, wondering what his parents' life would be like if they didn't bring him into the world.
Growing up, I saw the hardships (my parents) 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.
"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," Jaynard added.
Jaynard said that he wanted to avoid placing blame on his parents or making them feel bad. Instead, he hopes that his experience will serve as a reminder for adults to prepare themselves emotionally and financially before becoming parents.
"Don't let your child be like me," he said.
'It's better to reconsider having a child at all'
Jaynard has accepted that this is his reality. But as an achiever and a dreamer, he said "If bringing a child into this world means subjecting them to similar or potentially worse hardships than I endured, all in the pursuit of success, it's better to reconsider having a child at all."
The 22-year-old Isko also noted the importance of financial stability, emotional and mental readiness before making a family.
"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," he firmly said.
If bringing a child into this world means subjecting them to similar or potentially worse hardships than I endured, all in the pursuit of success, it's better to reconsider having a child at all.
He continued, "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."
Jaynard's mother Jennifer shared her response, saying, she is most proud of her son's accomplishments, despite the state of their lives.
"Minsan sa [b]uhay naten nasasabi natin ang mga bagay na masasakit na salita yun ay dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay natin, stress kakaisip, para tayong aso't pusa," the caption read.
"Ako bilang magulang mo ay nasasaktan din pag nkikita kitang nahihirapan at hindi ko maibigay ang mga pangangailangan [na] dapat sana sa inyong magkapatid lalo na 'pag nag chat ka na 'Ma,Pa di pa ako kumakain, wala na akong budget.' Tila kandila akong nauupos sa isang tabi at umiiyak na lang, at nag-iisip kung saan kukuha ng pera," she narrated.
"Minsan sumasagi sa isip ko na, 'Sana hindi na lang ako ang naging magulang mo o ninyo, sana hindi ganitong buhay ang dinadanas mo,'" Jennifer emotionally told her son, Jaynard.
A message to struggling students
Jaynard is hoping to get a job so he could save up for the board exams. He shared a message of hope to his fellow young achievers reminding them that their feelings are valid.
"Since wala naman na tayong magagawa dahil isinilang na tayo, sana gawin na lang natin itong inspirasyon para mas lalong mag sumikap," Jaynard said.
"Alam ko na mahirap ito. Ang daling sabihin na magsumikap. Pero ang sistema sa ating bansa ay patuloy tayong sinasakal, kaya hindi natin kasalanan kung nahihirapan tayong iahon ang ating pamumuhay. Kung kaya kong yakapin ang lahat ng nakakaranas sa dinanas ko, gagawin ko. Hindi biro ang mabuhay sa kahirapan. Pero huwag tayong mawawalan ng pag-asa. Kakayanin natin to," he continued.