This is no ordinary “trapal boy”

February 2,2018

“When life throws you lemons, make a lemonade.”  In other words, we don’t get to choose or pre-plan our circumstances but we can decide what attitude to have under such circumstances. Through all of life's ups and downs, we can always choose how to respond. How we start in life is never assured, but we have the freedom to influence where our life will lead us to.

I cannot completely say I’m already successful. There are still many challenges that I must surpass and endure.  Looking back though, I like to think I’ve already gone far from where I started.  Some of my dreams have been fulfilled and I’m positive that by having the right attitude, I can still accomplish more and make the most of my potentials. Once dirt-poor, I’ve managed to improve my situation.  And, as a dreamer and doer, I believe I can achieve more not just for myself but also for others.

My journey was not without its share of pain and frustration. I’ve been belittled many times.  Life has thrown me more than my share of lemons – enough to make me quit. 

But I did not let that happen.

While in college, I had to study and work at the same time because I began raising a family of my own at a young age. I matured and learned to be independent early in life. To make ends meet, I had to juggle between being a student by day and a laborer at night.

In 2013, I worked at Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC) initially as a sample preparatory aide and then as a barge cargo utility man – the latter more commonly known as a “trapal boy”. Trapal boys are tasked to protect the mineral ore against moisture.  They cover the ore with tarpaulin or “trapal” when necessary, especially during downpours.

It was considered a lowest-ranking job but I kept going because finishing my studies and supporting my family were, for me, non-negotiable. My income then wasn’t adequate to support our needs but it definitely provided a lifeline for me and my family. Despite my financial difficulties, I gave the job my 100% knowing I could not afford losing such opportunity and seeing my wife and children go hungry.

Sometimes I couldn’t help but be emotional when I recall all the things I had to go through to survive being a working student; taking every chance I get at work to study my lessons and then squeeze catnaps between school breaks to compensate for my lack of sleep from my graveyard shifts. When I miss the free shuttle to the town proper, I would walk long kilometers to get to school because I didn’t have enough money for the fare. By the time I reach my destination, I would already be so exhausted.

Perhaps one of the most painful moments I had at work was when a passerby yelled at us one day while we were performing our duty.

“Bira mga walay grado!”  (“Pull, illiterate peasants!”)

It was uncalled for. Nobody deserved to be insulted that way even if there was some truth to it. Those words could have sucked the motivation out of someone of weaker stuff.   They struck me hard alright.

But then I remembered that I should consider myself lucky that I had a job when others had none; that we are working for a company that values our importance.  

I took those words as a challenge to myself, to become the best that I can be.

I studied harder.  Worked harder. Prayed harder. That one incident became my driving force. I also imagined myself talking to that passerby, “One day when we meet, I’ll make sure you’ll never look down on me again.”

Things fell into place when I finally graduated from college in 2015. After I obtained my BS Business Administration major in Financial Management degree from Surigao del Sur State University, I started working at MMDC as a billing clerk at the Mine Engineering Department in the same year and then became the mine statistician in the same department a year after.  I am now an auditor at the Internal Audit and Risk Management Department. I’m also pursuing an MBA degree, another dream that I hope to realize soon.

I owe MMDC a lot. I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for the company that enriched my values and enabled me to succeed. It is thus fitting that I give back, in my own small way, by showing the same dedication and passion I demonstrated as a trapal boy, albeit now in a position with wider responsibilities.  Under the expert and kind guidance of our mentors at work, my skills and knowledge continue to be honed and polished. I thank MMDC and its leaders for not only helping me change my life for the better but also for constantly giving me the chance to become a better person every day.

My story also reflects the stories of many people in our community who continue to benefit from MMDC’s help. The company has uplifted the lives of the people in our province in so many ways, and I take pride in being a part of this company.  As in me and my family, growth and development can be seen in the daily landscape of MMDC’s host and neighboring communities.

Indeed, MMDC has given the community, especially its youth, the chance to dream and the means to pursue that dream. Because of the many doors MMDC helped open for us, we learned to believe in ourselves. We may be poor, but living in a responsible mining community made us realize that we can be who we want to be if we put our hearts and minds into it.

So when life throws you lemons, make a lemonade.  Make sure it’s a real good lemonade.