#TatagPinoy: Life beyond teaching
by Maria Nicole Dominique Dimayacyac
A houseboy, a caretaker, a caregiver, a janitor, a vendor, a sales agent - all were Melecio Balero, and now, he is a teacher.
Growing up, Melecio never had a comfortable life. He was the eleventh among his father and mother's twelve children. Remembering his childhood, they never even had a proper meal and a proper shelter.
"Hindi talaga enough ‘yung kinikita nila for us. As far as I could remember, five or six years old nagsimula na ‘ko magtinda ng gulay," Melecio recounted.
With hopes of having a better future and fears of being deprived forever, he left home to work and study. At a young age, Melecio already had a taste of loss, hard work, and responsibility. He had to work different jobs to support himself and his education.
Due to circumstances, Melecio never had a permanent home, but that did not stop him from making his dreams come true.
"It was very devastating kasi hindi ko alam kung kaya ko pa ba ipagpatuloy 'yung pag-aaral ko. 'Yung buhay ko, hindi ko alam kung saan papunta. I just thank God for giving me the wisdom, for giving me the strength, for giving me the courage, kasi naka-survive ako," Melecio stated as he recalled his past lifestyle.
With his experiences of poverty as his driving force, Melecio strived hard to continue what he started to reach his dreams.
In 2014, Melecio finished his degree in Secondary Education at Polytechnic University of the Philippines and now works at Muntinlupa National High School - Tunasan Annex.
Despite what he had gone through before having the life he has now, he still felt the need to pay back with love and share his blessings with others. After experiencing how difficult life was for him as a student, Melecio decided to help students, even in small ways, with their needs to continue studying.
However, as the pandemic continued, schools were closed, and many Filipino students were left behind. Melecio, now more than ever, had to stretch his resources. Thus, Melecio established his business, "Mele Tea," through which he raised funds to help him support his struggling students in the new normal education setup.
"Mele Tea is an income-generating project. Para sa mga estudyante kong less fortunate individuals at ‘yung mga walang pang-load sa kanilang online class. Sobrang saya ko kasi ang dami nitong natulungan when it comes sa online class," Melecio shared.
Despite the grave impact of the community quarantines, particularly for small businesses like Mele Tea, Melecio perseveres even further for his students.
Aside from teaching and managing his business, he also started delivering the food he sells on his own to maximize his income. For Melecio, his hard work for his students is worth it.
"Gusto ko na makita ‘yung mga estudyante kong nagsa-succeed in life. I’m doing this kasi once you show little hope sa mga bata, talagang it drives them. It motivates them na ipagpatuloy ang kanilang pag-aaral," Melecio said.
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