“I am from a poor family. My Papa is a caretaker of farm animals, my Mama is a housewife,” says Rinalyn. A farmer’s daughter, Gabrielle worked and sold odds and ends at school to make ends meet.

The two girls are the first public school students in Bulacan to earn full scholarships at the prestigious ESSEC Business School in Singapore and France – a dream opportunity given by fashion giant ELLE Magazine.

Yet their dreams are far bigger than getting out of poverty.

We trained to be social entrepreneurs for other people,” says Gabrielle. After finishing high school, she and Rinalyn were able to study at Gawad Kalinga’s School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED). There they began to understand that prosperity is meant for every Filipino family, not just their own.

Rinalyn says, “Sana wala nang American Dream para sa mga kabataan. Sana mabuhay na tayo sa Filipino Dream which is laging kasama yung country para mapakita talaga natin na world-class din yung Philippines.”

Gabrielle points to her mom, a seamstress at social enterprise Plush and Play as her inspiration. “Parang hindi sila napapagod. Sila yung nagluluto, sila yung naglalaba, sila yung nag-aalaga sa mga anak nila... Gaanong kahirap man yung nararanasan nila araw-araw, andun pa rin yung fighting spirit nila para tumuloy pa rin sa trabaho nila kinabukasan.”

Gabrielle and Rinalyn are proof that given the right opportunities, any Filipino can make it to the top – and with the right spirit and mentorship, show the world what genius the poor are capable of.



Rinalyn and Gabrielle at SEED’s Graduation Ball


Rinalyn and Gabrielle with the father of Gawad Kalinga Tony Meloto and friends from Singapore