the lessons learned from a can of sardines

i never wanted to be rich; i really just didn’t want to stay poor.

a can of sardines made to be eaten by five or so people by turning it into a soup through addition of spices and Misua (a thin salted chinese noodle made of wheat flour) was the picture of poverty i swore off. it really wasn’t that bad, i know of families who have to settle with rice and soy sauce. until the bankruptcy and the fire that took everything we had, we were doing okay. but the years following that was very difficult that at my young age and that of my sister, we know there are some things we just couldn’t get.

the amazing thing about those years though was how my parents have managed to pull us through. when i got older, i have learned of the many nights mother succumbed to crying because she just doesn’t know how to make both ends meet. i have heard stories from other people how father could sit outside a placement agency for a day without a meal. but they have put me through college, and at a very good school at that. and had secured enough money to send me off to Manila for the review and eventually the board exam.

my parents never treated me as an investment (sadly, a common occurrence in the Philippine setting where parents sends their kids to school and then demand or expect the same kid to return the favor when s/he eventually landed a job). there was never a pressure to give back or to return the gesture. not being able to finish school, they look at education as a means for their children to lead a financially better life than they had. they sacrificed a lot for me not to secure their future but to establish mine. but the good thing about selfless sacrifice is that blessings given always come back a hundred times fold. i do not know when it started but things eventually became financially better for us and for my parents, too.

i do not know about you, but i am so blessed for the kind of family that i have. my family is my ultimate wealth. i am worthless without them; they are the reason i am where i am now. they are the gas to my fire, they are the fuel to my car, they are both the sugar and caffeine to my Coke. they are the driving force behind why i want to be able to earn more, save more. they are my wealth-generator because without them, trekking the path out of poverty would be less fun (i fancy it would otherwise be all about greed).

as for the can of sardines, i never got to the point that i had too much of it. i still ask mother to make me Misua soup sometimes. and it wasn’t so much for the remembrance of how life was before it got better. for some reason, i actually like eating it.


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