(Photo by Juan Lim)

Rhyan Christian Rodrigo belongs to the Tagbanua indigenous people (IP) and wants to become a doctor.

Rhyan Christian is so determined to go to college and become a physician someday. Once, he pleaded for a job so he could pay for his schooling.

“I want to eventually finish medical school and help my family and my community,” he said in the vernacular.

Eldest in a brood of three, Rhyan Christian’s father, a government employee, is said to be the descendant of the 16,500-year old Tabon Man, while his mother, a teacher, is a Palaw’an indigenous people.

“I ascribed myself as a member of my father’s tribe,” Rhyan Christian said, stating that in Brgy. Cabayugan where they live in a Tagbanua community, his family is considered “privileged.”

Their popularity was a contribution from his mother who was a scholar and the first to finish college in their tribe.

Rhyan Christian said that he could be the next if he graduates, receives a degree, and if he becomes a doctor.

Because of his dream to become one, Rhyan Christian took up biology at a university in Puerto Princesa. But as he reached second year, he began to struggle financially.

“I have to find a job, even a part-time one so I would not have to stop,” he said.

He went to where most struggling college students usually go—wait tables at fast-food stores.

It wasn’t an easy job and the pay, while coming regularly, was just not enough to cover all his personal and school expenses.

A friend had told him about the Yamang Bukid Healthy Products, Inc. and its need for sales assistants.

“I’ve been hearing how the company generously pays its employees so I tried my luck,” he narrated.

Resume tucked in his arm, Rhyan Christian went to the company’s Puerto Princesa office to apply.

There, he met the company’s bosses.

“When I told (them) that I wanted to work because I needed to pay for my schooling, I was turned down outright,” he said.

Rhyan Christian wanted to cry because of the refusal. As he was about to walk away dejected, a company officials stopped him and offered him scholarship.

Before he could further react and gather himself upon hearing the good news, the company also offered for him to stay for free at its staff house in Puerto Princesa, saving him much money that could have been lost to jeepney fares.

“Of course, I was happy. So happy, I could not thank the company enough,” he said.

Apart from free tuition and lodging, the Yamang Bukid Healthy Products, Inc. also provided Rodrigo a laptop computer which he can use to make school projects.

He was also allowed to work part-time as a sales staff during his free days and weekends, giving him the opportunity to earn.

His hard work paid off when he graduated BS Biology in March. After four years, as a Yamang Bukid “baby,” 23-years old Rhyan Christian is now setting his sights on how to save up for his medicine course proper.

He was grateful for the huge opportunity the Yamang Bukid Healthy Products, Inc. had given him.

If he can continue his studies and end up becoming a physician, he said he would love to return to his community and help his tribe.

Rodrigo plans to tap his community’s traditional medicinal herbs and plants and make these effective medicines. He said he wants to become a catalyst of change for the better health of his fellow indigenous peoples (IPs).

But before that, he has to look for a job to finance his new dream.

“I might work again as a sales staff to save up and pay for my medicine degree,” he said.