He was the middle child of three. At the age of 4 his parents separated and his father left, leaving the children in the care of their mother. She worked hard as a seamstress in a clothing factory to support her children, leaving them with her parents whilst she worked. She didn’t earn enough to sustain the family, they were deeply impoverished and so the children were eventually split up, with his brother and sister adopted by different relatives located elsewhere in the Philippines.
Living alone with his mother, Alex was able to attend elementary school but his life was tough, he missed his siblings and there was little money for nutritious food or to provide any of the other basics like clothes or shoes. Rice with salt was frequently his only meal of every day and his mother regularly borrowed money from family to meet their needs.
To make ends meet, Alex worked from the age of eight by watching people’s cars in a nearby church and by selling snacks like peanuts and chicharron (a snack made from pig’s skin) .
In 1987, the Sisters of Mary visited his community and with the help of his village chief, Alex and some of the other community children were introduced to them. The Sisters were deeply moved by Alex’s difficulties and eventually able to offer Alex a place at their boys’ school. Alex says “It was like a manna from heaven. My mother knew I would be in good hands. She wanted a very good future for me. The school was an answer to my uncertain future”.
“Studying in the Sisters of Mary school was the most wonderful gift from God. I never experienced sadness as I was overwhelmed of the experience – free and balanced diet, new clothes, new school items, new shoes. For me, they were luxuries“.
Alex did well at school. In the care of the Sisters and Father Al he worked hard and loved his lessons. He grew in confidence and ability and was energetic and competitive in and out of the classroom finishing one of the highest in the final year graduating class.
“My most memorable experience was to jog in Rizal Park with Father Al. I considered myself as one of the luckiest kids on earth for having witnessed his love and warmth”. Together with the Sisters he painstakingly cared for all of us, reminding us to soar like eagles instead of waddling in a mud like duck. This future saint has touched my life.”
After finishing school Alex returned home to help his mother and got his first job selling books but he was resolved on going to university to do a degree. Life was still difficult for them as his mother had lost her job and now made only a little money selling barbecues and holding down a number of jobs. There was little enough for food, let alone a university course, but Alex’s mother was supportive of his dream “According to her being uneducated must stop in her generation and I should strive hard to earn a degree”.
Alex secured a place at the University of the City of Manila and he was offered a partial scholarship for a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering (BSECE). With support from his mother and by working every evening, weekend and holidays, Alex started his studies. “It was difficult at first studying while at the same time working” but a year in, he was awarded a second, full scholarship by the NEC foundation and his troubles were over and in April 1996 he finally obtained his five year electronics engineering degree “from that day on a bright future was upon reach”.
Employed by NEC corporation, Alex travelled to Japan for technical training and sent his first pay cheque straight back home “I wanted to share it with my mother so she could enjoy the fruits of what she worked hard for”. With a good salary Alex was able to renovate their family home and care for his mother so she could give up her work and at last enjoy life.
After three years with NEC, Alex was promoted to a Network and Operations role with Nokia Philippines and today works as an OSS Technical Consultant with Nokia Colombia. He has travelled the world and also set up his own network marketing company in the Philippines. Alex is also active in helping the Sisters with their work and energetic in supporting the alumni of the schools as they graduate ready to find work.
“My life now is far better than before. I can now give comfortable life to my family. My siblings, I just can’t imagine how and what would I be if the Sisters of Mary and its benefactors didn’t come to my life.”