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These powerful words have gone viral from a student of the University of the Philippines (UP) who, despite extreme poverty, has graduated cum laude.

Rene Principe, who came and grown up in “extreme poverty,” shared his struggles and explained that he refuses to glorify them.

photo Rene Principe | Facebook

“Just little backstory of how my life was so hard back then. I used to eat restaurant leftover scraps for breakfast… and lunch… and dinner. It’s painful to see my classmates have chickenjoy while all I had in my lunchbox was a half-eaten, reheated drumstick from people I never knew and met. We just migrated to Cagayan de Oro after we lost our home in Compostella Valley from fire. We’re left with nothing, as in WALANG-WALA. Education was our only way out of extreme poverty, but even that was hard”, stated Rene in his lengthy post on Facebook.

photo Rene Principe | Facebook

Principe was one of the 2,892 graduates of UP’s first virtual commencement exercises last July 26.

 “Contrary to popular belief, dyeing your hair is not a hindrance to success, but poverty is,” Principe said in a now-viral post on Facebook.

Principe clarified that while his success should be celebrated, it should also make others face the “enraging” truth about the education system.

photo Rene Principe | Facebook

“I refuse to glorify the extreme poverty that I went through,” he said. “Because the same poverty that everyone might think inspired me to make it all the way is the same poverty which hinders millions of Filipinos access to quality education.”

At the age of 8, he wanted to leave the planet for good because of the many hardships that he and his family have encountered. But what he meant is that he wanted to be an astronaut; that is why he took up Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

photo Rene Principe | Facebook

“I am with the poor, and I know what it’s like to lose your spirit over a hungry stomach. I refuse to believe that poverty is NOT a hindrance to success because it is, my victory is an exception, but it is not the norm”, expressed Principe.

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