The mother who sold turon to send her 4 children to college
MANILA, Philippines – A group of eager Ateneo De Manila University students listened with rapt attention as turon vendor Lorna Tambaoan narrated her success story in one of the rooms at the university’s Rizal Library.
Though they were laughing and nodding, the students were in awe as Nanay Lorna sprinkled with jokes and streetwise advice her tale as a small-scale entrepeneur who sent all her four children – 3 daughters and a son – through college.
The 56-year-old Tambaoan was among the featured extraordinary Filipinos in the Istorya ng Pag-asa (Story of Hope) photo gallery that was launched in Ateneo on Wednesday, September 13.
The mother from Quezon City was able to make ends meet for her family by selling turon (banana fritters). In fact, she even brought a basket of her products to the Ateneo event. The basket went empty in no time.
Her eldest daughter finished with a degree in political science in the University of the Philippines Diliman and was now taking up law as a working student in Ateneo. Her second daughter was a nurse, while her was a teacher.
Her youngest and only son was now a part of UP College of Medicine’s intarmed program.
“Talagang alam ko na 'yon lang ang maibibigay ko sa mga anak ko. Ako kasi 'yong nanay na hindi talaga nakapagtapos dahil sa hirap. Pero naisip ko na hindi pwedeng 'yong hirap ko, pagdadaanan din ng mga anak ko," she said. (I know that’s all I can give to my children [hardwork]. I was not able to finish my education due to poverty. My children do not have to go through the same thing.)
Tambaoan’s husband died in 2013. Life became harder but she persisted.
Life’s hard knocks did not stop her from providing for her children beyond what she was capable of. Nanay Lorna said her only dream was to send her kids to prestigious schools despite poverty.
For them, she would do everything.
"Dapat bigyan ng lakas ang anak na kaya. Huwag laging iaasa sa anak [ang kinabukasan nila]. Ikaw ang nanay. Basta ibigay mo ang best para maging mabuti sila," she added. (We should encourage our children if they want to study. Parents should not depend on their children for their future. You are the parent. Give your best for their welfare.)
Istorya ng Pag-Asa was a photo exhibit, initiated by the Office of the Vice President. It is “an effort to present an alternative narrative to the prevailing trend of negativity and hate through stories of hope, optimism, and inspiration.”
"In spite of differences, we can build bridges of understanding, rather than walls. And so Istorya ng Pag-asa was born," Vice President Leni Robredo said in her speech at the launch of the exhibit.
The photo exhibit has collected inspiring stories of ordinary Filipinos in Quezon City, Baguio City, Naga City, Cebu City, Cagayan De Oro, Palawan, and Dumaguete City. The Office of the Vice President also intended to go to more places.
"Everywhere we look, there are extraordinary stories of ordinary people," Robredo added.
Nanay Lorna was only one success story out of the probably millions of other untold stories of hope in the country. In these trying times, the photo exhibit aimed to inspire Filipinos to live and conquer the divisiveness, negativity, or hatred they face every day. – Rappler.com