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The Long Road to a Better Life: An Odyssey of Hope Amid Struggles

Updated: at 04:12 AM

Seated in our shanty’s chaotic yet familiar tranquility in the heart of the Philippines, I am often caught suspended in thought. My life has been a patchwork of earnest dreams, stubborn hope, and harsh realities.

Growing up silhouetted by the intergenerational shadow of poverty, life was an everyday struggle. Raised by my brave single mother and equally resilient grandparents, every day was a fight for survival, a story of fleeting happiness amidst sacrificing and scrimping. Tears were our night companions, accompanied by dreams of a brilliant dawn.

Fatherlessness marked my formative years. The fleeting fantasies of a nurturing ‘father-son relationship’ were only interrupted by the crushing truth - he wasn’t there. It felt like I was constantly missing a vital piece of my identity, jigsaw.

When I met my father at 19, it was a reunion soaked in silent tears. That day, my world expanded to include a sister and two brothers I never knew I had. Yet, the void left by his absence throughout my childhood remained gaping. After realizing I would soon be a father to my beautiful children, Argi Denise and Desmond Grey, my prayers were tinged with an urgent plea: I wished to be the father I never had.

Life threw a curveball. My partner, Arlene, and our children awaited a different form of freedom, a liberation from poverty. Navigating my way through life as a freelance developer, every paycheck felt ironically like a reward and punishment. Each peso counted as a blessing and a reminder of our ardent struggle.

Though my childhood memories are cluttered with unfulfilled desires, my mother, a public school teacher, ensured I received an education. Today, I see the reflection of my childhood in my children’s eyes and feel a tug at my heartstrings. Their laughter echoes in our small, humble abode, both as a reminder of our struggles and a catalyst for my determination.

With every scrap of resource I save, I strive to provide my progeny a beacon of hope - quality education. It fills me with indescribable pride to see Argi and Desmond attend a private school, their eyes shining with intelligence and innocence.

The strains of debt and the persistence of poverty often catalyze my depression. The challenging rope between providing for my family and battling my ‘incessant inner demons’ often hurts like a tight knot in my chest. But these trials are not the entirety of my existence, and they don’t get to decide my narrative.

I may have been born on September 11, but that date doesn’t define me. Today, I stand on the precipice of a middle-aged crisis, understanding that though trapped in a socioeconomic cage, my dreams are unfettered. I still wrestle with the demons of poverty, depression, and debt, yet every day, I choose to rise again.

My journey is an anthem to the often unsung heroes battling behind society’s curtain. Like an unruly beast, intergenerational poverty hasn’t just eaten away our financial state, peace, and mental health. However, the struggle has fostered resilience - bred in me a fighter who, though cornered, refuses to surrender his dreams.

Life has been harsh and unfair, but I’ve also found strength in the struggles. I am strengthened every time Arlene smiles, and Argi and Desmond excitedly share their day’s stories. I still dream of my “Fast Car,” a symbolic route to freedom and prosperity for myself and my family.

My journey thus far illustrates how burrowed deep intergenerational poverty is within our societal structure. Not merely a struggle of finances but a desperate game of opportunities, dreams, and survival. But then again, the human spirit does not succumb easily. Mine hasn’t.

Although my path has been marred with obstacles, it continues to be lit with hope. My hope resonates the loudest, driving me on and on until I catch my ‘Fast Car.’ Yes, it is this hope that makes us resilient, makes us brave, makes us human.