Abbygail Delos Reyes: The Hidden Treasure of Maria Makiling


The legend

Rising 1090 meters above sea level in the island of Luzon is Mount Makiling, a legendary mountain that has spawned many myths about the “lady of the forest” better known as Maria Makiling.

One famous version is that of villagers able to interact with the “lady of the forest” whose residence is well known among them. An assortment of villagers comes to Maria Makiling asking for a cure for their loved ones’ illnesses.  Recognizing that the various illnesses are but symptoms of poverty, the “lady of the forest” gives the villagers some ginger roots which become heavier as they travel back home. Upon reaching their homes, these same ginger roots have miraculously turned to gold.

Located 77.5 km south of Manila, Mt. Makiling is a dormant volcano with hot springs and mud springs. Mt Makiling is now a national reserve, and its foot is home to the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, the National High School for the Arts, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, and various little villages.

Ginger roots

Halfway up the mountain forest lives Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP) Canada scholar Abbygail “Abby” delos Reyes, a 14-year-old grade 10 student of Masaya National High School.

Every day, Abby leaves home at 5:30 a.m. and walks 40 minutes down the road where she catches a jeep for a 45-minute ride to her school.

Kapag umuulan naman po, papasok pa rin po. Mahirap lang po pag minsan kasi po medyo madulas,” explains Abby. (If it’s raining, I still go to school but it’s harder because it’s slippery.)

The walk is less pleasant as the pathways halfway up her mountain home at Barangay Bagong Silang, Los Baños, Laguna are slippery; and going home, the walk back up requires endurance. Abby doesn’t mind the daily grind because she has a dream for her family.

Abby is the eldest among three siblings who live in a hut with their parents. Her father works odd jobs but mostly works as a porter in the market where customers pay a fee that ranges from five pesos to twenty pesos (USD 0.10 to USD 0.40) per load. Her mother helps to make ends meet by selling hotcakes and banana fritters, although not as regularly as she wishes.

Abby helps her mom whenever she can; it is a task she enjoys since she is very fond of cooking. It is a talent she wishes to put to good use as she aspires of being a Hotel and Restaurant Manager someday.

Ang gusto ko pong kuning kurso sa college ay HRM dahil mahilig po akong magluto at gusto ko pong makapagtrabaho sa isang hotel o restaurant,” Abby shares. (I will take up Hotel and Restaurant Management in college because I love to cook and I would like to work in a hotel or restaurant someday.)

Achieving her goal would help her raise her family from poverty. At a young age, Abby has taken on the responsibility of providing for her siblings’ education when she graduates. She intends to provide a home for her family as well; a home that shelters them from the weather and eases her parents’ aching legs from too much walking.

Ginger to gold

Abby works hard in school, giving her best to learn everything she can to get good grades which can be her passport to college for a Hotel and Restaurant Management degree.

This is Abby’s promise: “Ipinapangako ko po sa inyo na sisikapin kong makakuha ng magagandang grades nang sa ganoon po ay masuklian ko ang inyong kabaitan at balang araw ay makamit ko ang aking mga pangarap at makatulong sa aking pamilya.” (I promise to do my best to get good grades as a way of returning your kindness so that one day I can finish HRM and help my parents.)

She dreams of a better future because ANCOP Canada has shown her the possibilities. She knows that without ANCOP Canada, she would be hard-pressed to finish high school with the meager earnings of her family. One or two of the siblings would have been forced to stop their education in order for the other to finish, but with ANCOP Canada, the family need not make such a sacrifice.

To thank her sponsors, Abby sings the song The Journey by Lea Salonga for her sponsors: “What a journey it has been, and the end is not in sight, but the stars are out tonight, what a journey it has been.”

By Arnaldo M. Jara

Click this link to watch her video:

Do you want to help other students like Abby? Contact ANCOP today at Landline (+632)709-4868 local 49, Mobile (+63) 915-118-4552Email: to ask about their Education Programs! Read more about ANCOP at

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