Because of some glitches in life sometimes things don’t happen the way we want them to be. But, if things are really bound to happen, life will find its way.

Our fortune can be changed with perseverance, from angels here on Earth, and, of course, prayer.

Michael OJT
Michael (second from left) poses with his fellow trainees in the guesthouse of Bahay Tuluyan in 2014.

My family

I graduated from high school in 2011. Since then, I didn’t know what would come next and how my future would be because my family can’t afford to send me to university, which is kind of depressing for me.

We live in a small house in Manila. My father is a driver of “padyak,” a local term for customized bicycle with side car, and my mother is a part-time masseuse. Their income is only enough for us to survive a day. I’m the youngest of five siblings. They already have their own family.

Michael Angelo - street education
Surrounded by children, Michael teaches them through drawings on an improvised board in an abandoned building in Malate.

My second family: Bahay Tuluyan

When I was 15 years old, I was out of school and didn’t know what to do with my life. I decided to volunteer at Bahay Tuluyan, which literally means a lodging house. It is a non-government organization that works with street children and those in special needs.

For four years of being out-of-school youth, I made myself productive by attending trainings about children’s rights and teaching those we found on the streets. At Bahay Tuluyan, we tried to help street children and their families in every aspect.  At the drop-in center, we teach children about their rights, facilitate their recreational activities, and serve them food that is usually their only complete meal for the day.

Our location, Malate, known as the red light district in Manila, has lots of malls, parks and bars that attract tourists. Thus, street families, including Badjao from southern provinces, find opportunities to live in the area.

Bahay Tuluyan provides temporary shelter for them, especially children with special needs, and sends them to school.

I also did an on-the-job training at the NGO’s guesthouse that helped me get employed in a fast food restaurant in the city.

My Angels

I’ve thought that I can do better things, help more people and have more opportunities if I hold a degree. Thus, I applied for Peace Corps Alumni Foundation for Philippine Development (PCAFPD) Scholarship. After a year of assessment, I passed and got the scholarship to study a bachelor’s degree at Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

I only asked God for a candy but He gave me a whole cake.

During the middle of my first semester, PCAFPD informed me and my fellow scholar Donnielyn Gamutan that we are going to have a new scholarship and that’s the Hinrich Foundation.

Hinrich Foundation is a non-government organization that promotes sustainable global trade. Aside from the scholarship, the Foundation will teach us practical skills about trade through an internship program and will give us employment in the company or its partners after our successful graduation.

Life is just so sweet

The scholarship now then becomes PCAFPD-Hinrich Global Trade Leaders Scholarship Program. We are provided with full tuition, school related expenses and living expenses.

I thought there wouldn’t be a bright future for me. Thank God for sending angels here on Earth to help people in need. With my new scholarship, there is now a straight path ahead of me that I can use to change myself in every aspect, including my family and others. And, of course, thanks to my organization for giving us hopes.

My father did not show any reaction when I got the scholarship because of what happened to my siblings. But, my mother is so happy that I can study again after nearly five years. Thank you Hinrich Foundation and PCAFPD for the chance!

About the author – Michael Angelo Estuaria

Michael Angelo

Michael is taking up his bachelor’s degree in English at Polytechnic University of the Philippines through the partnership of the Hinrich Foundation and Peace Corps Alumni Foundation for Philippine Development.

Since he was 15 years old, Michael has been volunteering at Bahay Tuluyan, a non-government organization that caters to street children and families in Manila.

He is interested in working for sustainable global trade after graduation.