Sunday, August 30, 2015

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Mark Anthony Capulong. Credits: Mark's FB account
The following story is the written account of Mark Anthony Capulong about his struggles growing up in poverty. His story was featured in ABS-CBN's Maalaala Mo Kaya aired on August 29 starring Paul Salas, Francis Magundayao and Sunshine Cruz. The story is quite lengthy but it is worth reading and worth sharing. 


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I am Mark Anthony Capulong, 21 years old. My course is Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation. I am a third Year College and I am a nautical cadet. I am having now my one-year sea service as an apprentice on board a Norwegian vessel here at United Kingdom somewhere in North Sea. After this I will finish my last year at the university to have my degree. My life here is full of adventures and surprises traveling different places and meeting different kinds of people and cultures. I still can’t believe that all these blessings I am experiencing now are really happening at this early age of and every time I remember where I came from and my situation in life it’s a dream come true and a great achievement. Fortunately, I never gave up and I trusted God from the very start when I planned my dream and in fulfilling it.

When I was still a freshman in the Sisters of Mary School Boystown (SOM) we have this daily diary and every weekend our so-called mother, a nun who is our loving and so devoted in charge will come to check our diaries. My sister in charge that time was Sister Geraldine Marfa. I can’t forget her and you will learn the reason why. There was a time when she checked my diary she quoted a very important phrase. She wrote this “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”. Since then that phrase had a very significant role in my life. From that time in every thing I do I always put it in my mind as an inspiration. It reminds me to always tell God that I will do my best and I will entrust to Him the rest. In Him I get my source of strength and I felt His presence accompanying me ever since until now. I forget to tell I am a self supporting student since I left SOM. After graduation I started living on my own.

My life story begins here. I was born in Tondo, Manila. I have two elder brothers and a younger one. According to my mother we have different fathers. When I was 5 years old my mother met my stepfather and my step father brought us to his province, Davao City. My mother brought me and my younger brother Michael. Since we lived in Tondo which is an urban place we really find it hard to live in a province. We were amazed of all the things we saw and experienced there. They were very new to us… to see the beauty of nature such as mountains, rare animals and the native culture of the place. My mother didn’t even know how to cook in a stove using firewood as fuel. My stepfather built a wooden house for us. My father left us 7 months after. Mama told me that my stepfather was an ex member of a New People’s Army (NPA). He was afraid if they get to know his return they will kill him because he spoke about them to the Government forces. That is why he returned to Manila leaving us there in his province. My mother that time didn’t know anything on how to make a living for us. She decided that i should be adopted by a leader of a charismatic group so that I can going to school. In my early age of 5 I was separated far away from my mother for 3 years without communication. I worked for my adoptive family as a payment for my schooling.

I started as a kindergarten until the mid of my 2nd grade in primary. I was not able to enjoy my childhood life unlike other kids playing around doing what they wanted and with parents giving them all the love and care. For me after school I worked in the farm and taking care of the animals of my boss. I Feed the chicken, dogs, pigs, pasturing the Carabao, goats and cow every morning and every after school. I was not able to play because I would be scolded and be punished if they caught me. I am being maltreated sometimes by my boss and by my companion in the house who were also workers. There was one incident when I forgot to feed the chicken in one of the cages and suddenly one of my co-workers flashes from my back and throw a solid raw avocado in my stomach it makes me crawl in the ground and cried aloud in pain. The food I eat was not enough and limited so that when I was very hungry I sometimes ate the food for our dogs. When I prepared their food, I separated some and ate it. I was telling myself that it was alright and clean because I was the one who prepared it anyway.

In my innocence, I didn’t mind all of these abuses and loneliness, and later on I become used to being alone and independent. They said I seldom talked that time as if I have my own world. But I can’t remember what I was thinking then. What I remember was that I have dreams and ambitions that I want to fulfill. I also realized that schooling is not easy for me that time. Just remember I was still six years old yet every day I walked approximately 3 kilometers going to school, and the notebooks I used are the recycled notebooks from my boss’ nephew. During my school activities, no one attended for me when there’s a meeting for parents I just take a note and give it to my boss when I got home. Even during my Recognition Days sometimes my teacher will be the one to pin my ribbons and sometimes one of my co-worker will attend and will pin my ribbon. It was very sad but I became used to it. I was so eager to study and not being boastful but I became an honors student. I sacrificed and accepted this kind of life until the 2nd grade in primary. After our Christmas party my mother visited me and I told her that I want to go home with her because I can’t bare anymore the hardship that I am experiencing and my Mama did brought me home.

From that time I lived with my mother together with my brother Michael. My mother was working like a man just to earn money for us to live. She accepted all the discrimination and the insulting words that the people told her specially when she was asking for help or borrow some money or goods for us. My mother accepted all just for us have something to eat on the table. I also became a sort of the father of the family every weekend and during days with no classes I worked with my mother to sustain our living. Most of the work in our place was farming. A whole day of bathing under the heat of the sun and that tiresome work was just equivalent for a small amount of money. I didn’t mind my own personal desire like doing my wants like playing and enjoying my childhood but instead I helped my mother to earn money for our survival.

To make things worse my mother had a tumor on her left breast that made her suffer pain from time to time. There came a time when Mama became very sick and she was laying on bed for weeks and can barely moved. We had nothing, not even a single coin and we were starving in hunger. I thought of something for us to survive because Mama couldn’t even move and kept on crying because of the pain she was experiencing. I couldn’t borrow from the nearby stores to grant some goods for us to eat because we were buried in debt already. What I did together with Michael, we went to the river bank and gather some wild cassavas drifted by the river that was known to be poisonous without me knowing it. I boiled it and since we don’t have even a salt to make it taste better, it was tasteless but it was better for us than dying of hunger. I was crying while we were eating seeing my brother quietly eating at my side and my mother with a pale face in bed. I told to myself that someday I will be successful and we will never experience this again. We lived together until I finished my primary education.

After I graduated my primary education I thought I would not be able to continue into secondary education anymore because my mother told she can’t support me anymore if I want to study farther.
I couldn’t accept that I will stop studying. I wanted to pursue my study. I knew deep within that there’s something I can do. I learned that some people or organization offer scholarship to those who will be chosen but I had no idea where to go and who to ask for. Luckily our catechist told us that there is an examination to be a scholar for free and we will go to study in Cebu. I took the examination and fortunately I passed. Even though my mother was not comfortable for me to be sent to Cebu which is very far from our home and we had no idea what awaits me there but my willingness and determination was stronger and Mama allowed me to be far again because she knew no one could stop my desire to finish study and she just entrusted me to God.

Here starts my enlightenment in life. Here I become mature and I learned the fundamental values in life. Here I realize what life is. I became a scholar in the The Sisters of Mary School Boystown Cebu. We are free of everything from our basic needs, dormitory, food, medical care, spiritual and all other needs. This school was founded by Fr. Al, a saintly priest, to help the poorest of the poor and to give hope to those children like me who can’t afford to go to school because financially incapable. The nuns became our second mothers. They were devotedly molding us to become better persons and fed us with all the values we need in life. They cared and taught us everything without expecting any single penny in return. I learned all the values in life and in here I discovered about God. I became so closed to Him and I learned that in Him I will have my source of strength and He will help me to be able to attain my dreams. My devotion and closeness to Him became more and more strong every single day. I decided to join and became one of the Acolytes [Altar Boys] starting from my second year until I graduated. I wanted to become a priest that time and my desire was so strong that I was so excited to finish my high school so that I could enter immediately the seminary. My development continues as years passes by. We have a vacation every once a year in the late of December, approximately 2 weeks’ vacation. I went home with full of stories I did share to my mother and Michael. I realized how lucky I am to all that I am experiencing in the SOM while seeing the present status of my mother and my brother back home. The reality of our life faces me again. It’s like heaven inside the SOM but there my mother and my brother were struggling to have a living to have something to eat and to sustain their needs. What I can do is to persevere so that someday I could lift them from poverty.

When we have our third vacation when I went home my mother was no longer there she went to manila and she left Michael in my aunt. Michael told me what happened. He said mama told him that she will just visit her father who was sick and in the state of dying that time. She said she will come back after how many days but we lost the communication with her it’s been 5 months after she left when I had my vacation. Since that time we totally lost communication with her for 3 years. Our house was demolished and my brother stayed to my aunt hopeless to what will happen to him but I told him I would get him once I finish my study. We are totally orphan and we don’t have any relatives to care and support us now. When I was fourth year and about to graduate that time I prayed to God and I ask Him what He wants for me. I really want to be a priest but I told him my family needs me. I want an answer from Him I also consulted my mother in charge a nun asking for advices. Finally I decided to pursue my study so that I could help my family.

The day after the graduation my abundant and great life ended. We entered in the real world which is very different from SOM. We went home bringing all the values and skills we acquired from our alma mater. I faced my real life and here starts my journey.

I went home full of excitement and joy I made it to graduation and got an award after spending four years away. But what faces me when I went home was the reality. I went to my Mama who was then staying at her sister’s house as if nothing happened in me in those four years. No one cared about me except Michael. No one met me and congratulated me that at last I made it. We just stayed in my aunt’s house because we had nowhere to go. Even though my aunt that time didn’t really care for us that much she was forced to accept us because the neighbors know we don’t have any other relatives to go to. My mother and my stepfather are not married that’s why we don’t have any rights in his property. I shared to my aunt that I want to continue college and I will take scholarship because I know she won’t waste any penny for me. But she said it’s better to work in the farm to earn money for me and for Michael so that we don’t keep on relying on her, that taking the risk trying to take scholarship has a very small possibility for me to succeed. I told her my disagreement. I promised to try my best. I have taken already the entrance examination and I need to continue it through God’s grace once accepted in the scholarship. I persuaded her many times to grant her support while I was taking the scholarship. I want small financial support in processing my requirements but she didn’t give me. She said if you want to study make your own way on how will you succeed on that. I have no choice but to work to save money. My godmother also gave me some amount of money she wanted to help me but she also have kids and her income is just enough for her family. I have saved money for my fare going back to Cebu because the scholarship that I’ve got is being offered in Cebu.

On the first week of January 2011 I traveled from Davao going to Cebu with a Php 200.00 on my pocket that was the only money I had. I didn’t know what would happen to me next I was just thinking that I will do everything I can. If I could not pass this examination I have nowhere to go. I will not be able to study because I don’t have any relatives to support me. I don’t even know where to stay in Cebu because SOM will no longer accepts us even I tried to beg for me to stay in the school while processing my scholarship but I understand them. They are finished with us and they have given more than enough for us. What I did I contacted one of my teachers in high school I told her if I could stay in their house for a while and thanks be to God she willingly accepted me. She’s so kind to me she even gave me some allowances every time I took the examination and other screening processes. I was her student in social science in SOM before, that’s why she knew a little about me. In their house I am also free even for meals. But after a month staying in their house I felt shy because I was doing nothing in their house even to do the housework I can’t do because they have a maid. I felt shy to her and her family I can’t stand sleeping and eating in their house doing nothing specially sometimes the next screening for the scholarship and the result will be after a couple of weeks and me doing nothing during that time I need also to have a part time work so that I will have money.

Ma’am Marife my teacher also understood me and she searched a part time job for me. I worked as an attendant in an internet café. My duty starts at 8pm until 6 in the morning. It’s an advantage for me because in the morning I could process my scholarship. My priority on this part time job is for me to have a place to stay and food to eat while processing my scholarship. I was just given a small wage just an allowance but it’s ok at least my boss let me stayed in his house and shouldered my meals. My boss was also very kind to me he even entrusted me the money he collected from the computer shop because he knows I graduated in SOM like him.

My health became weaker and weaker after a month of working in the shop due to lack of sleep. I was afraid if I continue this work I might fail in medical examination because I often feel dizzy and having headache. One of the probable cause also is that I sometimes do not eat so that I could save the money I have for the fare going to the university and buying necessary things for the processing of scholarship. I decided to search for another job and my boss also understood me and allowed me to leave. I became an encoder in a private business. They are the supplier of certain products in malls and others big supermarkets. They also have other businesses other than that. My boss and her family are very rich they live in a much secured subdivision, a village I can say that all who live are all rich people. She accepted my request that I needed a place where I can stay and if she could shoulder including my meals. I only received Php 500.00 a month but I accepted it. What is important to me was that I have a place to sleep and I have something to eat while processing my scholarship. I admit I found it hard to be an encoder; paper works all day. After almost a month in this work I left because my processing of the scholarship was affected. I always absent every time the university called me to have a screening and other important matter. My boss was not happy that I always excused myself in the work. That’s why I decided to stop working for her.

I was thinking where to go now that I have no work anymore and I only have Php 700.00 cash in my pocket. I asked for help from one of my dorm mates before in Boystown who are now working as a sewer in a dress factory if he could let me stay in his boarding house, luckily he agreed. I gave Php 500.00 pesos to the owner of the boarding house to allow me to stay there for a month. At this time I have a very small amount of money left. I don’t know where to get money I sometimes skip my meals to save. Instead of riding a jeepney, to save money I walked across the Mactan Bridge going to the University of Cebu were I took the scholarship since I stay at the Lapu-lapu city it is a separate island that was connected by a long bridge going to the other side of Cebu where the university is. I can’t ask money from my batch mates in Boystown who are working now because they are also helping their family. In fact they didn’t continue college and choose to work because their family needed them. Fortunately my dorm mate understand my situation and he paid for my meal if he’s at the boarding house. What I did I am cleaning our boarding house and I volunteer to be the dish washer of their plates and sometimes I fetch and prepared the water for them for taking a bath. As a return they will pay for my food and included me in the budget in their meal. In God’s mercy I found ways to survive until I was qualified as a scholar after the last examinatio… the medical examination. It was a big problem because I needed a big amount of money for medical examination. I tried to contact my aunt to ask for help but still I was not granted. I needed at that time approximately Php 6,000.00 pesos for the expenses for medical examination. I also called my godmother in Davao I explained to her my problem and I badly needed a help. What she did she mortgaged her wedding ring for Php 5,000.00 pesos just for me. She told me that I need to take care of the money because it’s the only money she can help. I was so shy knowing what she did just to help me but I had no choice I needed the money. Some of my mates in the boarding house gave also some money to add for the medical expenses.

Luckily I passed the medical examination I shouted for joy because I knew at last I will be a scholar. But before I entered in the university I was still beset with financial difficulties. I was the one who will pay for my uniforms and some dormitory miscellaneous. I needed approximately at least Php 4,000.00 pesos. What I did together with my other friends who help me, we went to every door of the boarding houses of our batch mates who are working and we ask for donations in any amount some really also in difficulties but I could see their eagerness to help me they still donated even 5,10 some 20 others 50 pesos. But still it’s not enough I am thinking of somebody whom I can even borrow money. Fortunately I contacted and talked to kuya _____. He is also a graduate from Boystown and now he is a professional teacher. I knew him because he is the one who oriented us before we go to Boystown and shared a little background of the life there.

Kuya _____ help me; he gave me Php 3,000.00 pesos for free. Because of that I was able to pay for my uniforms and other payments in the dormitory. I am so thankful to all the people whom I didn’t expected to help me and they believe in me that I can do it. Most especially to God I always feel his presence without him I never succeed it’s only in Him I get my strength and hope. Prayer is my only weapon because I know God will never abandon me.

I am scholar under the Norwegian Ship-owners Association (NSA) program. We are free of everything in including the foods and dormitory except for personal allowances. Being in a level of highly intelligent classmates is not that chocking for me because I was being trained in the SOM to be a competent also academically. My only difference from them and their gap from me is their status in life. Most of my classmates are rich and some belongs to the middle class of family.

As I said our personal allowances came from us. It’s now my problem where can I have my allowances I have no body to gave me. I can’t work outside to earn money because we are restricted to go out of the university as part of our training. I need money to buy my personal needs like my toiletries and for the payment for my haircut and others. Sometimes my friends are sending me money but I stop to keep on asking from them because I can see they are also struggling for themselves. What I do to have money I wash the clothes of some of my dorm mates who doesn’t know how to wash because they are not trained to do so. I also sell biscuits and other snack foods because we are having our semi military training and we are really starving after the training that’s why some of us sell biscuits and other snacks. But not all the time I can sell and have this business. I am really struggling financially. I got an Idea I wrote a letter of request I also attached my autobiography. I stated in the letter that I need help to support me even I will pay it back when I finished my schooling. I gave the letters to some of the instructors in the university I also give my letter to the president of the University. After a couple of days God answer my prayer 3 teachers called me and they are willing to help me. They bought me t-shirts, pants and other basic clothing that I told them I don’t have yet and I needed. They also bought me toiletries and all my necessary needs.

I feel at peace now after receiving abundant blessing from God. A thought cross to my mind I remember my mother it’s been 3 years now since we lost our communication from her. With the help of my senior a fourth year cadet he help me find my mother. During Christmas vacation I’m still a first year college that time. Since he lives in manila he lets me stay at their house while we look for my mother. The only address I know is that we live before in Tondo Manila. What we did we went to Tondo and ask the people live their if they know my mother we told them the complete name of my mother after a long period of searching one person stood in front of us he said he knows her. He said his my uncle he still remember me even though I’m still very young when we left Tondo. He guided us where my mother live I was chock when he brought us to the Manila North cemetery. There’s my mother living in the cemetery she is sleeping at the top of the grave of my grandfather. I can’t imagine my mother was living there. I ask her why she is living there she told me that only on these place she can live free because we don’t have any property left in Tondo, and no one of her siblings accepted her even just to let her stay at their houses. I can’t do anything to help her at that moment because I’m still studying the only thing I said to her is that once I got a job I will get her immediately.

I continue my study in the university until I finished my second year phase, last year. In our curriculum we have a 2,1,1 system it means we study for two years school. One year on board a ship as an apprentice and one last year again to finish our degree. That’s why I am now here on board I am on my third year phase now I will be finishing my one year sea service this coming June. After this I will return to the university to continue my last year in school to have my degree.

My life here onboard from the start it’s really difficult. When my first time here onboard I keep on vomiting because the ship is dancing in the big waves of the sea. All are new and full of excitements and adventures. I deal with people with different nationalities. Here onboard my captain is a Norwegian and some of the crews are also Norwegians. It’s also difficult to deal with some of my companion here onboard knowing that I am a trainee and I am the youngest but later on I have been able to deal with them. I have been to different places like Las Palmas, Spain, some countries in South Africa, United Kingdom, Aberdeen Scotland, Edinburg Uk, Norway, London, Korea and other more places. I also meet different people with different nationalities.

I am so thankful to God I know it’s His plan from the start and I trust and believe in Him. I am also very grateful to all the people behind of my success without them I won’t be experiencing this.
Now my mother was been operated already from her tumor it was shouldered by my sponsoring company all the expenses in the operation. I also rent a small apartment for her to stay in. I am sending her some money to help her in her daily needs but I am also saving some of my allowances here onboard because I still have to study again and I will be spending it for my last year in the university.. – Boystown Minglanilla

This story was also published on November  16, 2014 at The Splendor of the Church site.

Watch the trailer of this story in MMK below:


PAMILYA AT PANGARAP, TITIMBANGIN NGAYONG SABADO SA “MMK” Gagampanan nina Paul Salas, Francis Magundayao, at Sunshine Cruz ang kwento ng isang pamilyang susubukin ng panahon at pagkakataon ngayong Sabado (Aug 29) sa “MMK.”Bata pa lamang ay sadlak na sa kahirapan si Aurora (Sunshine) at mga anak na sina Mark (Paul) at Michael (Francis). Kaya naman noong limang taong gulang si Mark ay ipinaampon ito ng ina sa pag-asang magkaroon ito ng mas maayos na buhay.Dahil dito lalaking mailap si Mark sa ina at kapatid hanggang sa nadestino ito sa Cebu para mag-aral. Sa kanilang pagkakawalay, matutuklasan ni Mark ang pagpunta ni Aurora sa Maynila at iisiping inabandona na nito sila ni Michael. Sisidhi ang galit sa puso niya at sisikaping magtapos ng pag-aaral para mapatunayan sa ina na kayang niyang tumayo sa sariling paa.Hanggang saan kayang titiisin ng anak ang ina? Paano mababago ang kanyang pagtingin oras na malaman ang nililihim palang karamdaman ni Aurora? Alin ang mas matimbang, ang pangarap o pamilya?Kasama rin sa upcoming episode ng “MMK” sina CX Navarro, Nhikzy Calma, Daria Ramirez, William Lorenzo, Carla Guevarra, Pepe Herrera, Mccoy De Leon, Raquel Montesa, at Lui Manansala. Ang episode ay sa ilalim ng direksyon ni Frasco Mortiz, at panulat ni Mark Duane Angos. Ang “MMK” ay pinamumunuan ng business unit head nito na si Malou Santos.Huwag palampasin ang longest-running drama anthology sa Asya, “MMK” tuwing Sabado ng gabi pagkatapos ng “The Voice Kids” sa ABS-CBN. Para sa iba pang updates, mag log on sa MMK.abs-cbn.com, sundan ang @MMKOfficial sa Twitter, at i-like ang Facebook.com/MMKOfficial. I-tweet ang inyong saloobin at opinyon kaugnay ng episode ngayong Sabado gamit ang hashtag na #MMKPursuitOfDreamsSamantala, maaari na ring panoorin ang full episodes o past episodes ng “MMK” gamit ang ABS-CBNmobile. Pumunta lamang sa www.abscbnmobile.com para sa karagdagang impormasyon.
Posted by MMK (The Official) on Friday, August 28, 2015

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