"What you are is God's gift to you, what you make of it is your gift to God."
These are the words that I used to see everyday from a poster hung by my father on the wall. I did not know these would stuck in my mind for the rest of my life. All of us have dreamed of becoming rich at some point. There are some who were born with ’silver spoon', but many were destined to be born poor. I belonged to the latter.
My name is Bombitz. Now, let me tell you my story...
My humble beginning
I was born in a small village in Samar, Philippines. I had 3 siblings, and was the second in line. Having grown up from a humble background, I know how it is to be poor. For 15 years, I used to sleep with a ‘banig’ on a wooden floor in the living room together with my grandmother and siblings. Everyday, I had to feed the pigs; I had to fetch water from a distance and carry two big water containers on both hands. We had no TV just a radio, no telephone, no running water or indoor bathroom. Luckily, we had electric lights.
Sometimes, we used to have a game during dinner. My father divides the dish among us children, and whoever can prolong the dish with the rice wins. That was smart! But I can’t blame him, we had to share two small cans of sardines among seven family members. Thinking about it now, one can is not even enough just for myself. I also remember there was a point in my childhood when I used to take a mango fruit as a dish during the meal, just mango and rice and I was already happy. If there's no mango, then I would spread out some milk powder and milo on top of the rice and that was all for my meal. It was delicious though.
Despite the simple childhood I had, I never complained. We had little money, but I always felt loved. I was poor, yet rich.
At 16, I had to move out to pursue my college education in a far place. My father managed to negotiate with a restaurant owner, I became their regular customer. All I had to do was to list down all the meals I had and my father would pay them at the end of the month. First bill arrived and it was PHP500! It was worrying for my parents, they thought I was not eating properly. My father was jobless so I tried to save as much as I could, eating only vegetables (the cheapest) most of the time. No wonder I was really skinny. On weekends, I would work in a hardware as a salesboy and a ‘kargador’ (porter) at the same time which paid me PHP50/day. It was a small amount, but it helped somehow.
On that same year, a big misfortune occurred to us. Oppressed by a wealthy and influential family, our home got demolished. The memory of me walking back home, seeing the house debris on the street is still fresh in my mind. When I saw my parents that day, I could see the pain through their eyes. This tragedy bred a burning desire for me to become successful; I told to myself: one day I’m gonna build my family a new home.
The following year, I decided to move to Laguna to pursue my civil engineering degree at the University of the Philippines. Life has become more challenging. At this moment, I did not want to ask anything from my parents anymore. Fortunately, my aunt used to give me PHP350 allowance each week. Taking away the transportation cost, I only had PHP250 left per week to live as a student. I lived in a dormitory with three other students in a small room. One of them was so kind enough to give me his pair of shoes and a rice cooker. Perhaps he took pity on me for wearing the same old worn-out shoes given to me by my cousin.
My family was my inspiration. They were the ones who pushed me to be the best in everything I did. I worked so hard on my studies, and all my efforts paid off when I succeeded to secure two scholarships in the university. Finally, I got my first taste of independence. At a young age, I was able to support myself and my younger siblings as well.
With Success Comes Responsibility
I’ve felt a sense of achievement on my graduation day. It’s a dream come true for me and my family. The happiness and smile on their faces, so priceless. Soon after, I became a licensed civil engineer and had my first job in a real estate development company. But not long after, my ex-professor offered me an opportunity to join the academe, so I became a university instructor at UP for two-and-a-half years. I then decided to do masters so I went to Europe with the help of Erasmus Mundus scholarship. For two years, I lived and moved around France, United Kingdom and Germany. After completion of my masters, I landed a job in an engineering company in the UK.
With all that, you might think I should be well-off financially or I should have been a millionaire long time back. Not really. You probably know why. Soon after I entered the corporate world, I’ve came to realise that my parents had a huge debt. They kept this secret so that we won't be demoralized and we could focus on our studies. It was hard to understand in the beginning but I'm sure they did that for our own good. They are the reason why I am the person I am today. Helping them back is the least I can do. So each month, I would give them a significant portion of my income. It was not easy, I had to sacrifice many things. Instead of living a lavish life, I chose to help. They are now debt free after many years.
And another thing, with the help of my siblings, we’re finally able to build a new house for my parents. That, I consider a success.
The Journey to Financial Independence
Year 2014, everything was going well until one day my boss told me I had to leave the UK due to visa problem. I was crushed. It was so sudden and unexpected. I was helpless, I’ve got no choice but to accept and move on. Fast forward, I now have a new job in Malaysia. But there’s one thing I realized, the corporate world cannot provide us the job security at all. So I thought I should plan ahead and invest for my future, after all it’s me who can provide the security that I need. I decided to challenge myself, I should be a millionaire by 30. The thought of having a passive income excited me. This is how I started investing in the stock market.
Going back to the quote I mentioned in the beginning, no matter how we started, I believe that we can choose our own destiny. And we can give back something more than what has been given to us. I hope this blog will inspire you to keep dreaming, and hopefully we can inspire each other to greatness.
Thanks for reading,