(Ronnel sells treats in the campus to support his financial needs. Here, he shares what he's learning.)
“We bake the products at home. I bring them to school in the morning and sell them around campus in between my classes during my free hours. During my classes, I leave the boxes at the lobby and my friends would sell them for me. I feel very grateful to have such amazing souls around me.”
“I started selling around late last year after I had my newborn. Her name is Zayn Reika. She’s turning two this year.”
"Having a family – it changes you in many ways. It changes you the minute you figure out the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore. It’s a game-changer. Your priorities change, your ways change, and you become humbled."
"Before, I would often laze around. On money, I would buy things I don’t necessarily need. Now it's completely different."
“After Reika’s mom gave birth, I left school. I did some selling. I also worked at a fast food chain. Reika’s mom had to stop in her studies, too. I’m back now, thankfully. I hope to graduate next year. The plan is to let me finish my studies first and then she can eventually continue with hers.”
Tell us about one of those sleepless moments.
“So I went home from school. When I arrived home, I found Reika’s mom slipping into a nap – I knew she was tired and exhausted from the day’s chores. So I did the cooking for dinner and we had our meal. After she tucked Reika in, we worked on the macaroons and tarts that I would be selling the next day. When we were finally done, it was 5 o’clock in the morning. Right away I had to prepare for my classes for the day."
“But if you ask me about having regrets, I don’t have one, and that’s an honest answer. I love my family so much, and despite the hard times, I feel blessed."
"I'd say this still: It’s still better to finish your studies first before engaging in the serious stuff. While some couples find their happiness in each other and make it out of the complexities of having a family at a young age, some don’t.”
You named your little bundle Zayn Reika. What does it mean?
"'Zayn' is of Hebrew origin; it means beauty. 'Reika' is Japanese; it means flower."
"I could have waited until I graduated from college, but I rushed into it and I learned from that. In facing the days ahead, I find my every inspiration in my little girl.”
Text by JAN FITZ BULAYUNGAN
Interview by RONA LIN & JAN FITZ BULAYUNGAN
Photo by RENE PASCUA