No. 1 Jess Espanola: The Simpsons Assistant Director and Emmy Awardee
Photo by Matthew Imaging
The story of Jess Espanola is definitely something one can draw inspiration from. In his account written by Jeremy Rosenberg Jess Espanola: Hungry in the Philippines, He Drew for Food; Now He Has a Simpsons Emmy, Jess said he was born a poor boy. His mother, who was raped when she was working as a maid in one of Metropolitan Manila’s cities took odd jobs just to raise little Jesus -a name given to her by a friend of her mother's because the little boy was born on the 23rd of December.
Jess Espanola worked as a dishwasher when he was in high school to help make ends eet. Life was difficult for him and his mother but after graduating with a Fine Arts degree from the University of the Philippines, he finally got a job from an Australian animation studio based in Manila. The rest of course is history and Jess won an Emmy last year.
No. 2 Rania Reeda Bahjin: A Princess with a Cause
|The doctor (right) with her mother.|
Medical doctor Rania Reeda Bahjin has been serving as a medical officer in a remote district hospital in Sulu since her move back to Zamboanga --away from the bright lights of the capital where she lived for years.
To be able to get to the Pangutaran District Hospital, the Sulu princess endures an 8-hour boat ride going to Jolo and then another 5-hour boat ride going to Pangutaran, a 4th class municipality in Mindanao.
Patients in the remote hospital are usually already in line just to see the doctor. While there are many critical patients and no proper equipment, Bahjin makes do with what the hospital has. She said it gets worse when the power is out.
Here is the doctor’s account of one of her travels to Pangutaran:
"Just the other night, a 6-year old came in with severe dehydration. I have already pushed 3L of fluid but still his BP won’t budge. When I asked for inotropes, they didn’t have any. Had I not kept my cool, I may have gone crazy. Just thinking about transporting him to a tertiary hospital on a boat for 3-5 hours in the middle of the night is enough to push me over the edge. Complicated of course by the fact that the mere transport could also kill him. Thankfully, with the grace of ALLAH, the child survived."
"Another patient came in with difficulty of breathing for 2 days and I was already contemplating of intubating him. When I asked if he smoked, he vehemently denied and said that he quit. When I asked when – “Dalawang araw na ako hindi naninigarilyo!” Alhamdulillah, frequent nebulization and steroids did the trick."
"It takes much dedication and genuine willingness to go there because aside from the tedious travel, the reputation of Sulu precedes the place. This is the reason why for many years, there was only one doctor in Pangutaran."
"Someone asked what possessed me to go to such a place. The dean of our college then offered “Nah. You’re just lost. I know.” Well, there may be some truth in that. But while searching, I’ll just “lose” myself in the service of my people and hope that I’ll never tire of it."
"I came back to Zamboanga just in time to celebrate my birthday and I thank the almighty ALLAH for giving me another year to accomplish this deed. ALLAHUAKBAR!"
No. 3 Rio De La Cruz, A Runaway Success
Photo via Runner’s World
The Bato, Camarines Sur native Rio De La Cruz was only 9 months old when his mother left him and his 14 siblings. Life in the countryside was difficult and at a young age, Rio learned to exchange menial work for nilagang saba or kamote among other things. Rio started early with his entrepreneurial skills but his business sense did not define his success. His potential as a runner was seen in Grade 5 when the family was already living in the capital.
No. 4 Angelo Valencia: Lawyer, Construction Worker
|Angelo Valencia with one of the kids from Mt. Pulag.|
Photos via Yahoo! News
When one thinks about Mt. Pulag, one would think of a nice place to go to for mountaineers but the highest peak of Luzon is not just a mountain to climb for lawyer Angelo Valencia, it’s a community that needs schools. The lawyer who refers to himself as a social climber said, “It was not an overnight thing, the plan to create a school.” Now there’s a primary school on Mt. Pulag and Valencia, after successfully building a school on the said mountain, said he has plans to build schools in other far-flung towns of the Philippines.
No. 5 Josepine Erece: Savior of Sultan Kudarat’s Prostitutes
Photo via Yahoo! News
For many young girls living in Sultan Kudarat, the conflict in the south is not only a part of life but has also caused many of them to lose their parents at a very young age –leaving these girls to fend for themselves just to survive. Josephine Erece is tired of this sorry situation so she took matters in her own hands –she took these young girls home. That wasn’t all though, even though Erece got harassed by the bar owners, she continued providing a home to the girls while she looked for jobs for those who could already work. Later on, Erece set up a mission home and linked the home to a charity organization in the United States.