While There Is Life, There Is Hope: From Abandoned Son To Board Placer To  Permanent Government Employee

While There Is Life, There Is Hope: From Abandoned Son To Board Placer To Permanent Government Employee


How would you manage growing up without a father? What would you feel seeing your mother fighting life every day? Would you help her or would you hate him?

I can proudly declare that this story will be worth your time. You know why? Because I’m one of those inspired by Federick’s life story.

 So what are you waiting for? Read until the last word.

derf pic

 Personal Background

In the middle of the night of February 22, 1991, I was born in UP, Sta Clara., Lamitan City, Basilan, Philippines and exactly at the same place I was baptized in the Catholic Church a few months after. My parents are Ernesto Tuga and Rosario Darunday who coincidentally met and had 4 children. Both my grandparents were immigrants in Basilan. Their relatives originally hailed from Zamboanga City and some parts of Zamboanga Del Norte (particularly in the towns of Liloy and Dipolog). I am the second youngest child. My Father abandoned us when I was 6 years old because of another woman whom he chose to be with rather than with his legal family. I don’t think it was a right decision because it was really his foolish decision.

Growing Up Without A Father

All of us grew up with our mother. I believe no other mother could surpass the determination, grit, sacrifices, perseverance, and strong will of my mother when she raised us. Undoubtedly, she’s a woman who’s filled with burning desire and strong faith that she was able to handle difficult situations with tough responsibilities. Imagine she raised her 4 children alone without a single doubt of giving up.

How I wish I possess that kind of character who is very strong despite all odds. In contrast, I felt pity for my father’s decision of abandoning us. It is a lesson for me not to make such fool decision in the future. Because as far as I know, a father should be responsible enough to guide his family towards the right path, a father should be the one to provide the necessary needs of the family including the welfare and interest of his children.

My brother who is the eldest among us chose to become a working student in order for him to finish his Associate Political Science 2-year course. Unfortunately, my two sisters chose to have their own families at an early age thus taking their education for granted. I am facing the responsibility to help my family since it was only my mother who’s supporting us, providing our daily needs and school expenses.

My Mother Is My Motivation

Because I saw the kind of determination and sacrifices my mother has, I am all the more motivated to dream. And that dream is to elevate and improve our current condition. In other words, I saw hope in life when I looked at my mother. There was even one instance during my college days where I was emotionally passionate thinking of all my mother’s sacrifices. When I thought of my mother, I felt more motivated and inspired to work towards my dreams for our family.

Motivation really helps someone to focus on the right things to do and to rethink of the future of his love ones.

The Biggest Challenge

Probably, I consider the biggest challenge of my life is on how to be always optimistic during those times when we’re really struggling financially. Every day we’re thinking about our situation and asking God if until when we’d be in this kind of life. We asked God if He still cares and if He still has a plan for us or we could still survive or not.

Even if we’re so down as a family, still, we have hope and faith that all things will come to pass. We just lifted our situation to Him. We had no one to rely on except Him and ourselves. We kept on pushing forward for the better possibilities that might happen in our lives.

Until one day, I realized that I needed to do something. I needed to take the first step with faith and determination that things will come out better this time. I decided to work after I graduated in high school because I really wanted to help my mother.

Blessing In Disguise

Contrary to what I expect, it was a blessing in disguise. Why? Because out of nowhere, my uncle called and asked me if I wanted to enroll in college and would take BS Forestry and apply for a scholarship. At first, I was a little bit hesitant because of the unfamiliarity of forestry profession. However, looking at the better and bigger possibilities in the future, I chose to grab the opportunity for my family’s sake and future as well as mine. I could not afford to lose this one-time opportunity. I felt so blessed that moment. Finally, the doorway towards my future opened in front of me. I couldn’t just help but thank God for the blessing. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways.

I enrolled BS Forestry in Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) Zamboanga City, and availed a scholarship. While I was studying college, my family is in Lamitan City, Basilan. Despite having a scholarship, still, we’re financially constrained. But with the support of my mother, my brother, my families, my uncle, friends, classmates in the department, and my high school teachers who provided me allowances, somehow I survived and stood the tests and pressures. To cut the long story short, I graduated last March 2012.

Being The 5th Placer Nationwide

A month after graduation, I already started reading books, handouts, reviewers and other related materials in preparation for the Forester’s Licensure Examination in July of the same year. Since I didn’t have enough money to go to the review center, I instead decided to do self-review and spent my vacation through readings averaging 8-10 hours a day. Think of how serious I am.

A month before the examination, I and some of my classmates attended a group review offered by one of our professors in college. I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Professor Almudi G. Lukman for his generosity and compassion. The schedule was scheduled every evening (from 5-9PM) at our Professor’s house in Putik, Zamboanga City. He rendered his time teaching us, sharing his knowledge, sharing some tips on the examinations, and tested what we’ve learned.

During these moments, I had only one goal in mind – to pass the board exam. And right after passing, find a job and help my family especially my mother. My mother ever since is my source of motivation and the exam was the best time I could prove it to myself and to her. I prayed to God and asked for guidance and wisdom especially during the exam proper. Though I’m a bit nervous and shaking, I poured out whatever knowledge and resources I have in mind to pass. I then taught myself to always look at the positive results.

And there it was, I passed the board exam and not only an ordinary passer but as 5th Placer nationwide. The moment I heard about the result, I couldn’t believe how things worked out. That same moment also I prayed and thanked God for guiding me through and never leaving me alone. He’s always present. I felt so blessed and I considered it as an achievement not for myself alone but for my mother who defined me sacrifices, hard work, and determination throughout the years.

Being able to finish my studies and to secure a job are both blessing and reward that paved the way for all of my mother’s sacrifices.

 Again without them, I wouldn’t be able to pass the exam. I’d just like to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude to all my college professors, elementary and high school teachers, classmates from the different levels, friends, relatives, and above all Our Creator who strengthens me every day of my life, facing those challenges and circumstances with a big heart and strong faith. Indeed, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

 The Professional Career

On that same year, I started working at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO) Dapitan, Zamboanga Del Norte until June 2013. In July 2013 to December 2015, I was employed in DENR Central Office in Quezon City, Philippines where I had the chance to work with Lebert and shared him my life story, (in which I consider as the precursor of this article). Fortunately, last January 2016, I was appointed to a permanent position in DENR Region 7 in Cebu City where I currently work. I always consider it a big blessing because with my employment now I am able to help my family, particularly my mother, in somewhat a little way. And as my way of paying back the generosity and help extended by my high school teachers then, I am also now able helping financially other aspiring college students in our place.

It’s Not Yet The Time

These past few months, I tried to enroll for further studies but I found it difficult to do while working. In other words, I decided to withdraw for a while. Yet if the situation allows so, I will enroll again. I vividly regret that decision. However, I’m still looking forward to a better try next time.

Indeed, we cannot always expect a favorable result of any decision we make. I believe that things happen for a reason. There are still lots of opportunities to fulfill my dreams as well as yours and while waiting for that right opportunity, you and I would better be ready, prepared and continue to improve ourselves significantly. You can always apply the lessons you learn so that next time your journey will be a smooth-sailing one.

“While there is life, there is hope”. We should believe in Him no matter what the situation is, no matter what challenges we are facing right now. Also, you have to believe yourself. With the support of your family, love ones, friends and the right people surrounding you, you will build your character; develop your attitude and right perspective in life. Never compare yourself to others. You don’t have an idea what their journey is and they don’t have an idea what is yours. Focus on the things that could go right rather than the things that could go wrong. Be responsible. Winners take responsibility, losers blame others.

Sometimes the situation is not on our side. We experience doubts, imperfections, and other unfavorable situations. It would be good if we allow ourselves to see the good things in every situation. Keep on dreaming, keep on working, keep on pushing yourself for that which you’ve been dreaming for, and building no pain no gain attitude. It’s not only you who are struggling. There are many others who also experience struggles in life; career, family, relationships, and other areas of life.

I’d rather choose to struggle for the better rather than to be stagnant for nothing. Do not allow pressure, stress, poverty, difficulties and other unfavorable situations be a bar to your ambition.


Let me end with my favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’’

God bless you!

Your partner in taking care of the environment,



Are you inspired? Please type your comments below and don’t forget to share this story with your friends. Let’s spread the good news!




Lebert Omac

Lebert is a forester by profession and currently working as a sales associate in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He comes from a simple family of Bohol, Philippines and is the breadwinner of their family. Aside from making sure that his family is provided with all their needs, he is also passionate about faith-building at the same time building healthy and lasting relationships with everyone, especially to his fiancee. On top of all the things he's doing now, he also dreams of building a God-fearing and God-centered family in the future and eventually make it a mission in order to build a peaceful society. Growing up in a family where he feels all the love and support push him to pursue this dream.
  • Thanks for sharing Derf’s life inspiring story, Lebert.

    “We had no one to rely on except Him and ourselves. We kept on pushing forward for the better possibilities that might happen in our lives.” This statement you had written on the first few paragraphs lead to the accomplishments you had right now, Derf. As you said, everything happens for a reason, a good reason in your case. Wow, your life story is not really that far from mine especially on the family side, but in my case it was my ilaw ng tahanan who left us. Well, going back to your now, who could have thought all these would happen noh?! See, if you let God do His way, He will never let you down. You really had put on sleeves the line “while there is life, there is hope”; it may sound clichè but that’s reality, many people are moved and inspired with this. Thank you for sharing your life inspiring story. It was an eye opener to those who maybe are struggling or who may have lost their motivation to move forward. Keep up the fire burning you used for that passion. Keep inspiring 😊😊😊 God bless you and your family! 🙏

    • Hi Sterre,

      I’m one of Derf’s fans. We worked together before and I know that he will be successful in the near future. Derf always put passion and diligence in all the things he’s doing and with that I salute him. Indeed, he is an inspiration for others who are struggling at this moment. I’m more than blessed knowing Derf more. God is in control and I agree with his life’s title, “while there is life, there is hope”. God bless you!

  • bien inspiring gyod kuya .. God is indeed faithful to his child.. for all the trials .. ya dale gad le el reward pra kontgo.. 😃😃 Godbless always kuya tuga 😇
    proud wmsu and cfes alumni here 😃

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