After working as housemaid for five years, Meriam Libongcogon will finally start a new career as 2nd lieutenant, after graduating from the prestigious Philippine Military Academy.
Libongcogon, 25-years old, is the second child of Florida and Mario Libongcogon. Her parents and six siblings live in Bambalan, Cebu.
Her father is a farmer and carpenter, while her mother stays at home to take care of their family.
Her father’s income was not enough to sustain their family, so she had to help him farm rice at the age of six.
By the age of 9, she started collecting and selling coconut shells, wood, and sand, as construction supplies to workers. She earned 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,” she said.
(What we did was, we searched for coconut shells to sell. Then we fetched water…We put what we earned in a piggy bank, then we used our savings to sew our clothes.)
Despite of hardship, Libongcogon managed to finish elementary as class valedictorian.
She then entered a Catholic school in Cebu City as a full scholar, and finished her high school at the age of 15.
She started working as a housemaid in order to fund her college studies in computer engineering.
However, she did not finish her degree due to health problem, as she also need to take care the children of her employer while studying.
After being a housemaid in Cebu for three years, she transferred to Baguio City, where she met foster parent Nanay Rose.
Nanay Rose encouraged her to join the PMA, and helped her enroll in the academy.
The hardships she overcame before enrolling at the PMA gave her the strength of mind and body to finish her schooling at the academy.
Libongcogon is set to enter the Philippine Navy, and said she plans to build a house for her parents. /Mariz Orocio/
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