You might have heard a little too many rags-to-riches stories of Filipinos featured on TV programs and posted on social media. Still, it has the same inspiring effect. To see such people rise from poverty through persistence and hard work is beyond admirable.
One Filipina from Ormoc, Leyte has recently gone viral after being featured on Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho. Evelyn Tagalog who was once a bakery attendant in Cebu is now a successful businesswoman in Reykjavik, Iceland. “I try my best. Nagtiyaga talaga,” she said.
While Evelyn now runs a 500-unit strong car rental business, her life back in her hometown was not so easy. With her family relying on her father’s income as a tricycle driver, her parents could not afford to send them to school. Evelyn, as headstrong as she was, decided to go to Cebu where she became a working student to support her studies.
During the day, Evelyn would work in a bakery and at night, she attended the University of Cebu. She landed a job in a furniture company after graduating. Unexpectedly, better things awaited her as she was set up with an Icelander who became her penpal. They kept their relationship for six years until Evelyn decided to fly to Iceland to be with him.
For starters, she had to attend school again to learn the language and juggle various jobs to support herself. But to make matters worse, Evelyn had to endure loneliness after her lover passed away due to cancer. Being with her friends and getting busy at work, she was able to cope up.
After working at a fishery, she met a boat owner named Sigudur and they fell in love with each other. The couple sold the fishing boat to buy a 30-room hotel and after two years of smooth business, they decided to invest their money on car rentals.
Growing from 5 cars to a fleet of 650, their rent-a-car business became a success. The two then decided again to sell the hotel in order to focus on the car business more.
Today, Evelyn helps her family in the Philippines to build their own businesses aside from sending money and putting her nieces and nephews to school. When asked what advice she can give to fellow Filipinos, she said, “Magsisikap talaga at saka matatiyaga. Work hard. At kapag kumikita na, dapat gagamitin nang wasto at pahahalagahan ‘yung paghihirapan. Kapag magsisikap ka, meron kang makakamtan.”