After years of perseverance as a student scholar, Abner Saimodin finally achieved his dream of sailing the seas. 

The young man, who belongs to the Samau-Bajau community, is now part of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) as an Apprentice Seaman (ASN) assigned at the BRP Tubbataha. And his inspiring story of hard work has melted hearts all over the country after being shared on Facebook through PCG’s ‘Kwentong Coast Guard’ series. 

Kwentong Coast Guard: Dating Batang Bajao na Scholar, Ngayon ay Isang Coast Guard Personnel

KWENTONG COAST GUARD: Kilalanin ang DATING BATANG BADJAO NA SCHOLAR, na ngayon ay isa nang ganap na COAST GUARD PERSONNEL — siya si Apprentice Seaman (ASN) Abner M Saimodin. Pinatunayan ni ASN Saimodin na hindi hadlang ang kahirapan sa isang taong may pangarap at puso para tumulong sa kapwa, sa kabila ng mga pagsubok bago maging isang Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel. Sa ngayon, si ASN Saimodin ay patuloy na nagsisilbing inspirasyon sa mga kabataan na magsumikap at hindi basta-bastang sumuko para maiahon ang sarili at ang pamilya mula sa kahirapan, sa kabila ng kinakaharap na pandemya. #DOTrPH 🇵🇭 #CoastGuardPH #MaritimeSectorWorks

Posted by Philippine Coast Guard on Sunday, July 11, 2021

In the video, Saimodin shared the struggles he had to endure while growing up in Davao City. 

“Nakatira kami sa isang village na may squatter’s area sa Sasa .. malapit kami sa dagat. Bata pa ako naglalangoy na kami. Yung isang parang tito ko, si Sir Ismali, kumukuha siya parang dinidevelop niya yung mga bata doon para matutung lumangoy para madevelop yung skills nila as swimmers,” he said.

According to him, the only source of livelihood available to them at the time was fishing and they had to do it to earn money despite being illegal. 

“Yung hanapbuhay namin sa Davao nagbebenta po kami ng isda, nangunguha kami ng isda, minsan nangingisda kami, which is illegal man sya pero kailangan namin para may makain kami,” Saimodin said looking back. 

“Minsan may nakukuha kami, minsan wala. Minsan nahuhuli pa kami ng mga coastguard. Kaya sabi ko sa sarili ko gusto ko maging coast guard para at least maturuan ko yung ibang mga bata na ma-inspire sila na mag-aral sa lugar namin,” he added. 

Saimondin noted that everything changed for him when he became part of a swimming varsity team from elementary to high school. 

“Simula elementary hanggang high school naging varsity ako ng swimming and meron school na kumuha sa akin na maging varsity and yun yung isa sa malaking tulong para makapag-aral ako kasi walang-wala kami sa amin,” he recalled. 

Saimodin attributed his success to his collegiate swimming coach Vasit Venturillo, who’s also the Officer-in-Charge of the Civil Relations Services of Coast Guard District Southern Mindanao.

“Siya yung nag-ga-guide sa akin para maging matagumpay sa buhay. Ginawa nya akong instructor. Tinuruan niya ako paano magturo. Sinasahuran niya ako. Hanggang sa nag-apply ako dito sa coast guard,” he said. 

In an interview, Venturillo said he saw potential in Saimodin – describing him as a ‘hardworking and smart student.’

“Smart sya, not that intelligent in terms of academics. But smart enough na kaya nya pangitaan og pamaagi ug maminaw ug advice (smart enough to find a way and listens to advice),” he told Manila Bulletin

Saimodin said he wants the young people of his community to use his story as inspiration to keep challenging themselves to be better and to reach their dreams.

“Although makikita natin yung mga kababayan natin dyan na nahihirapan hindi yun babag para hindi tayo makatapos tayo ng pag-aaral. Dapat hindi tayo magsisi na pinanganak tayong mahirap dapat habang tumatagal tayo icha-challenge natin yung sarili natin na kung kaya ng iba, kaya natin,” he empahasized. 

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Image credit: PCG’s Official Facebook Page