I encountered my first big problem when I was 4 years old. My mother, Diosdada Gamutan, left me at an orphanage in Manila “for my own good.”

I grew up in Bahay Tuluyan, which means lodging house, a non-government organization that has a drop-in center for orphans and street children in Manila. It helps send them to school until they decide to leave and become independent.

Donnielyn teaching
Donnielyn teaches children in Bahay Tuluyan as part of her duty as a council member.

My new family

Since I walked into my new home, I couldn’t figure out what happened to me and what’s going on. The only thing that I could do was to cry because I thought my mother did not love me anymore.

In Bahay Tuluyan, I have experienced many trials that made me stronger. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life during my elementary school days. I did not study well and missed classes by pretending to be sick. Consequently, I got very low grades.

My family in Bahay Tuluyan always reminded me about everything, especially my study. Then, I realized how hard they worked hard just to take care of us. I apologized to them, most importantly to my house mother, “Nanay.” They have also their families waiting for them, but they choose Bahay Tuluyan children to spend time and teach us everything.

Donnielyn - friends
Donnielyn (center) poses with her “sisters,” fellow beneficiaries in Bahay Tuluyan.

Dream and succeed

I started to dream when I was in Grade 6. I always did my assignments, project and joined different clubs and activities, such as being a volleyball player. I learned to express my talent because of God and Bahay Tuluyan family.

Then, I got my first medal for being a good student. I was very happy at the time, not because of my medal, but because I saw the big smile in their faces. Bahay Tuluyan staff members were very happy for all the children.

But, the biggest reason for me to be happy was that my mother visited me on my graduation day.

Eventually, I became one of the leaders or council members in the center. I always do what our house mother wants us to do, such as cooking, cleaning and leading the rosary. There’s a time that I got tired but I never told them because I know that it was for my own good.


Making it to the top

When I was in first year high school, I was in section B until fourth year, which they think the students are lazy and bad persons. But in the end, my classmates and I showed to all teachers that we could also do what section A students can do.

I admitted that section A was for very intelligent students, and it was not a competition. I continued to study hard, then, in the end, I got a medal for being the top one in our section. Bahay Tuluyan was very happy for me.

Sad, happy farewell

Donnielyn Australia
Donnielyn (left) poses with fellow volunteers in the Field of Women 2014 in Australia.

But, fourth year high school was a happy and sad memory to me. It was sad because it was the time for me to leave Bahay Tuluyan. But, I was happy, at the same time, because I was so excited to apply all the things they taught me.

Since I left, I’ve been living with my mother with our new father, Benny Gapuz, and five siblings, Sheila Mae, Charmain and Jomela Gapuz, and Danny Boy, John Paul and Joshua Gamutan in San Fabian Pangasinan.

We live in a remote village near the forest and my parents make sticks from bamboo trees and deliver to different places to earn for a living.

Good Samaritans

I really want to have a scholarship when I was in fourth year high school. One of my goals is to finish my study until college so that I can achieve all the dreams that I have for my family, Bahay Tuluyan family and other people who need our help.

When Peace Corps Alumni Foundation for Philippine Development (PCAFPD) informed me about the PCAFPD-Hirnich Global Trade Leader Scholarship Program, I was in Laguna and I needed to submit all the requirements in Makati City. I didn’t have any idea how to get there.

Thanks to those who helped me find my way, I made it. All the hassles I’d been through on that day didn’t matter anymore.

The scholarship program under the partnership of PCAFPD and the Hinrich Foundation will provide our full tuition fees, school expenses and living expenses. They will also give us training to enhance our skills and other opportunities, such as internship to have experience in a workplace.

Here I am now in a good way and I will continue my journey with the scholarship. I know that God knows how blessed I am with my fellow scholar, Michael Estuaria, for our sponsors.

About the author – Donnielyn Gamutan

Donnielyn about the author

Donnielyn is taking up Bachelor of Science and Business Administration major in Management at Pangasinan State University with a full scholarship under the partnership of the Hinrich Foundation and Peace Corps Alumni Foundation for Philippine Development.

Being one of the beneficiaries of Bahay Tuluyan that helps street children in Manila, Donnielyn has been volunteering for the organization and became a council member. She aims to become a business manager someday.