From the Editor-in-Chief: Sacrifices & Success in Life
There are many words but only one could best describe my early life being the son of a struggling family of seven children whose only hope for survival is ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence through hard labor day-in and day-out: POVERTY.
How we survived this deep-seated poverty through the years that impoverished our lives as a family working together under an atmosphere of sufferings, helped us surmount the seemingly indestructible odds with faith in our hearts, was a story in itself.
I was born poor and miserable from a family whose roots were among the poorest of the poor, my father being a sickly calesa driver who could hardly earn enough to meet our daily meals, most often had to skip one or two meals a day, thus often dubbed “one-day-one-eat”.
This demeaning situation, however, has challenged us all to work as hard as we could, often defying the pangs of an empty stomach if only to earn a few cents for a few grains of rice, kernels of corn to eat and keep our body and soul together in a day. That pitiful way of life we endured for years, doing odd jobs harvesting palay in rice fields and sugarcane farms with meager income despite all of us working together doing every dirty jobs available, including planting cane points in sugarcane fields, harvesting during December, scavenging for anything to sell from garbage heaps, selling paper bags to people buying fish in the markets, anything at all just to earn a few centavos to buy food, going out fishing by the seashores, etc.
All these we survived as a family, but the difficulties also fired our desire to keep our inner wish to improve our way of life by saving something so that someday we could go to school, obtain an education, find decent jobs and get proper employment opportunities.
Of the seven children in our family, I was the most persistent and unstoppable along this line of thinking, going to school despite all the obstacles like hunger and lack of any amount for transport fares or for meals. I was willing to walk the distance of several kilometers to reach our school with just an egg, camote or root crops for the day just to attend classes and luckily passed all subjects, ending up as honor student when every school year came to an end.
The sacrifices paid off handsomely by graduating among the top as Valedictorian in Grade V, Salutatorian in Grade VI and second honorable mention in high school, aside from being a Bacolod Jaycee scholar when I finished secondary education, then getting employed by a top ranking city official who was president of a prestigious housing subdivision and who also headed a popular civic organization.
I was enrolled in a two-year vocational school and was then offered a job in a sugar hacienda, then later moved to another field of endeavor as newspaper reporter, which became a stepping stone to my promotion as managing editor, eventually going upward as editor, to editor in chief and at the same time as provincial news correspondent of the Philippine News Service, later as Bureau of Chief of the government-owned Philippine News Agency with a wider area of coverage comprising not only Negros Occidental where I started and worked for several years, but later going places here and abroad, to cover four more provinces in Western Visayas as Bureau Chief of the same news agency in the island of Panay including the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Antique and even Guimaras.
After 30 years, it was time to retire having reached 40 years in government service. By that time, my ten children have all completed their respective college courses and are now mostly employed, four of them working abroad – a ship captain in Japan, two in Sydney Australia and the youngest among my four daughters is now a Doctor of Medicine from Far Eastern University in Manila and is also slated to move to Sydney, Australia after practising her medical profession in Metro Manila for almost two years now. My second wife who worked for 20 or more years abroad was responsible for my youngest daughter becoming a Medical Technologist at UNO-R before shifting to Medicine at FEU.
My other children from the first wife, the late Mrs. Nelly Pelayo-Toga are Arman, a full-pledged journalist, La Salle Bacolod, now editor, Negros Daily Bulletin and like myself is a former president, Negros Press Club; Malou Toga-Esmeres, La Consolacion College; Malou Toga-Esmeres, LCC graduate and now Regulation Officer, Bacolod Housing Authority (BHA); Ruperto Toga, Jr., John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation, ship captain in Japan; Ana Marie T. Garrucho, La Consolacion College, NDB managing editor; and Anthony Toga, UNO-R College of Criminology, circulation incharge of NDB.
Pert’s five other children with second wife Cecille Garaygay-Toga now based in Los Angeles, California are Ellen Grace T. Jamora, USLS Bacolod, Mass Communications; Henry James Toga, Computer Science, USLS, Sports writer, NDB; Kristofer Noel Toga, Agri-business, USLS, based in Sydney, Australia; Joey Arnold Toga, Computer analyst, USLS now working in Sydney, Australia, and Lady Doctor Christine Jane Toga, UNO-R and Far Eastern University (FEU) now on her way to Sydney, Australia.
What more can a poor man like me aspire for after seven and a half decades of sacrifice and hard work in this world?
Peace of mind, thanksgiving to the Lord for all the strength and perseverance He has given me to fulfill my dreams of hurdling all the difficulties and sacrifices that have tested my tenacity and strength with blessings from above.
Even when I was still young and struggling, He helped me because I never doubted nor did I complain. I was willing to carry my cross and spent some time in my school days selling newspapers, magazines and anything of value. Now I and my wife own a daily newspaper outfit for 57 years and still counting.
From a news boy, I became a newspaper executive and heads Negros Daily Bulletin as its President and Editor in Chief. Time to retire and reap the fruits of my labor. Thank you, Lord! Merry Christmas everyone.*