Born to a poor family, Jonny Viray experienced a lot of hardships while growing up. He became a ‘kargador’ (stevedore) at the port after graduating from high school because his parents could not afford to send him to college. Yet he persevered – and is now a Doctor of Education!
So, how did he do it?
In a post that inspired so many people on Facebook page DepEd Open Educational Resources (OER), Viray shared his inspiring life story.
He recalled how he would walk an hour each day just to study at Marulas Elementary School in Valenzuela City, Metro Manila. Their family was so poor that his baon was only enough to buy porridge. Despite still being in grade school, he would be the one to cook dinner because his parents were still busy selling at the public market.
He didn’t think he was particularly smart as a kid. In fact, all his grades were line of 7s. He was able to get a grade in the line of “8” but it was just an 80 – in Values Education at that! According to Viray, never did he experience celebrating his birthday or graduation day.
In high school, the family moved to their original hometown, Masantol in Pampanga. He thought he was to study at Masantol High School, a public high school, but his father wanted him to enroll at a private school, Pampanga Institute, even if that meant paying Php244 per month.
But this choice also meant there was less food on the table so that there were countless times that Viray would collapse in school due to hunger. It seemed to him like no week passed that he did not pass out. Too embarrassed to be constantly fainting because of hunger, he thought about quitting school.
“Kung titigil ka kase gutom ka, lalo kang magugutom bukas kung hindi ka mag-aaral; may pag-asa pa,” advised Mrs. Juliet “Jhet” Jimenez, his teacher in Filipino.
These words of encouragement gave him the strength to go back to school. Mrs. Jimenez also made sure to bring extra food so that Viray had something to eat in school.
Their school uniform required black leather shoes. Because his parents couldn’t afford to buy a new pair, he was thankful to someone who gave him a pair. Though the shoes was actually for girls, he swallowed his pride. What’s important is that he can go to school.
Just like in grade school, they didn’t have any party even if he graduated as salutatorian.
From ‘Kargador’ to Doctor of Education
Instead of going to college, however, Viray became a kargador right after high school because his parents couldn’t afford to send him to school. He would hide from his classmates out of pride, knowing that they will be shocked to learn that he wasn’t able to go to school even if he had so many amazing dreams for his future.
As luck would have it, his former Economics teacher Ms. Mafalda L. Manansala rented a house near their home. She met Viray’s mother and was surprised to learn that he quit school. She asked whether Viray was willing to go back to school as working student – and he happily agreed!
He juggled his time in school and working at Ms. Manansala’s office. He often had to walk about 17km from Masantol to Macabebe, then another 17km vice versa, but he was so determined to finish his studies that he did not complain at all.
Though there were people who looked down at him for being “just a servant”, he graduated as Magna Cum Laude!
In 2013, Viray found a job as teacher in DepEd. Even now that he has a job, his quest for learning did not stop. He took up Master of Arts in Education Major in Educational Management at Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University, then immediately proceeded to take his Doctor of Education.
What an amazing life journey! Who would have thought that a ‘kargador’ would become a Doctor of Education? Congratulations, Sir Johnny Viray!