Rabiya gifts viral Cebuana working student with laptop

Vanessa A. Balbuena (The Freeman) - April 14, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — In the second episode of Rabiya Mateo’s Instagram series called Stories of Hope, the Miss Universe Philippines (MUP) 2020 title-holder paid it forward by helping a working student from Cebu.

Joyce Baluran, a 20-year-old fast food chain crew and an Early Education major now on her third year, went viral in 2020 when someone posted a video of her attending an online class while on break during a shift.

The video inspired many, including Rabiya, who was also named Ambassador for Education by MUP and who herself struggled as a working student back in Iloilo before she became a full-fledged Physical Therapy lecturer.

Conspiring with Baluran’s manager and fellow crew members, Rabiya surprised the aspiring teacher by revealing her identity after she took her order and asked if they can sit down for a chat. Baluran shared to Rabiya that she began working at 18 years old to finance her studies. Her parents used to be food vendors and they were not as hard up then, until, during her senior year in high school, someone ruined their family’s livelihood.

Baluran would study from 7 am to 4 pm, then report for work from 5 pm to 12 am.

“Your course is not easy, it has so many requirements. Isa kang mabuting anak. Saludo ako sa iyo dahil naranasan ko din yan noon,” Rabiya told her. “Pero hindi naman gaya ni Joyce na ang tindi dahil araw-araw niya ginagawa. I remember, kunwari my fashion show, I’ll have my makeup done, I’ll take the exam with full hair and makeup, then I’ll return to the fashion show venue kasi kailangan ko ng pera pambaon.”

Rabiya, who is currently in Los Angeles, California in a bid for the 69th Miss Universe crown, hopes students who have it easier will realize how privileged they are and not let their opportunities go to waste.

“They have a laptop, internet access, hatid-sundo. Wala ng poproblemahin, pag-aaral na lang,” she pointed out. “Tapos may mga kabataan tayo tulad ni Joyce na ang daming dapat isakripisyo – time for themselves, time to rest. Kaya sana pahalagahan niyo ang pag-aaral.”

Rabiya then asked Baluran what she needed at the moment for her studies. Saying a laptop would be helpful, but her cellphone will do for now as she has yet to save enough for a major gadget purchase, Rabiya then promised to buy her a laptop right after their video shoot.

“After nito, bili tayo,” she told the now sobbing Baluran. “I have been so blessed kasi. Ang daming tumulong din sa akin. When I took the board exam, it was sponsored. Now it’s my time to give back.”

Adds Rabiya, “My story is a reflection of your story. So when the time comes that you encounter someone in the same battle, it will be your turn to help.”

MUP, in its Facebook account, wrote that the organization is in awe of how much Baluran values education. “Your hard work and determination to send yourself to school against all odds are truly inspiring. May Queen Rabiya’s gift help you reach your dreams,” its post read. “We salute all working students!”

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