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The road to success: a Filipina graduate's story


Wonder supports students at Anihan Technical School in the Philippines, which trains young women to enter the culinary and hospitality industries. The education they provide is valuable in many ways, but importantly the program has a solid track record of leading graduates into professional employment. From this they can build a successful career, with good conditions, prospects and salaries, helping to lead their families out of poverty.

Anihan school held their 29th commencement (graduation) exercises last month. Ms. Maria Vilyn So, an Anihan alumna, gave the inspirational message on that special day. Below are excerpts of her speech from the event. 

Students at Anihan school. 

"I was in 5th grade when I first dreamt of becoming a chef… I recall that when I was in my 4th year of high school many different institutions came to my school to talk to us about enrolling with them for college. Anihan Technical School was one of these schools. After hearing about Anihan and how they offered scholarships for culinary courses, I was overjoyed that I would not have to spend money I did not have to study something I had always dreamed of. I went through so much before finally enrolling at Anihan, and what became my most important hope was God. I prayed for guidance, courage, and strength so that I be accepted as a student at Anihan, and true enough a few months later I got a call from the school asking me to prepare my requirements to enroll as a student.

I am deeply grateful to Anihan, as they played an instrumental part in achieving my dreams. At Anihan I did not only learn how to cook, but I learned about myself, and my faith in God as well. Here, I learned to value time, and how every minute and second of my day should be dedicated to things of importance. As a student here I learned to value what was given to me whether these may be material things or lessons that I learned. But most importantly, here at Anihan I learned to make decisions for myself.

"It is because of my education that I now have a good job that allows me to earn well enough to help my family live better. I even help pay for the tuition fees of two of my siblings- both of whom are in high school."

However, more than for myself, I am able to share the fruits of my education from Anihan with my family. It is because of my education that I now have a good job that allows me to earn well enough to help my family live better. The job I now have allowed me to make a down payment on our family home that my parents slowly pay for through the Philippine PAG-IBIG housing loan system. My job also allows my to pay for monthly utility bills at home, I am able to contribute to our daily household expenditures, and I even help pay for the tuition fees of two of my siblings- both of whom are in high school. I’m also happy to share with you that my job has allowed me to buy a house of my own too. It is because I am employed that I was able to take out a housing loan from PAG-IBIG. I first took out this loan when I started working, and it has been nearly two years that I’ve been making payments towards my own home. All this would not be possible if not for the support and guidance of my instructors and mentors at Anihan, the love of my family, and of course God.

My first work placement was as a server at the Wild Flour Café where I worked for a month. With my second work placement I was fortunate enough to become a part of the kitchen team of Rambla, another smart Spanish restaurant in Makati City. It was because of my work placement at Rambla that they decided to hire me full-time as a line cook. I worked here for a year and a half before taking the job I now have as a kitchen supervisor at Dean and Deluca, and international café chain.

It is true when people say that there is no such thing as an easy job. We all start from what we call the bottom, and here we experience many challenges and obstacles. But it is important to remember that through all our struggles we have to persevere and strive to learn. We must never give up. That’s why graduates, if you allow me to give you advice right now it is that in our chosen profession you must be courageous. Be strong, and never let your emotions get the best of who you are.

They say that the secret ingredient of every chef is love, so be steadfast and love the work that you do. Even if you work hard, if you don’t love what you’re doing then this will reflect in your work. If you don’t love your work then there is definitely something lacking, not only in the dishes you cook as a chef, but in yourself.

Maria giving her speech last month. 

In everything, we have to start at the beginning, at the bottom. This is necessary so that when arrive at the top, when we are the bosses and heads of all these different restaurants, we will better understand the needs of those we are leading. After all, their frustrations, obstacles, and the lessons they are yet to learn were once ours too. Never forget that with every trial in your life, turn to God for He will help you get through the obstacles you face and never leave your side. Congratulations batch 2016 graduates!

Thank you! See you guys! Our world is small so we’ll see each other again. I hope all of you had a great experience here in Anihan because as graduates, you will now all go to THE REAL WORLD of the food industry. Good luck!"

Read Maria's original speech here.