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How I Learned To Be Grateful To God

A young college student talks about the three most important life lessons that he has learned, while growing up in America with immigrant parents. This is an excerpt. Please watch the full 3-part Faith Speaks Global Event series on the INC Media app.


How I Learned To Be Grateful To God 

Percival Parlade: So when I was younger, during long car rides, my dad would tell me about the struggles that he and my mom went through as they were growing up in the Philippines. Mom had to wake up super early to sell mangoes at the local market down the street from her house when she was a kid, just so she could have lunch money that same day. And Dad, he used to walk for miles just to get to school. Or so they say. Honestly, I think this is a Jedi mind trick that every immigrant parent uses—I actually think Dad shares these stories with me so that I’ll know exactly why I should be grateful to God. 

They probably don’t realize it, but one of the things I’m most grateful for…is them, and the lessons they’ve taught me.…Ok, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that my story will be the most unique one you’ll hear today. Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with my extremely good looks, or my charm. Seriously though—it’s because I don’t usually hear people my age talk about their parents. Even my friend group and I, we like to talk about Kpop, sports, and share TikTok videos.

Lesson #1 – Cooking Delicious Adobo Taught Me Responsibility

When I was 7, my parents already gave my brother and I chores around the house.We were a team, of course I had to help my team. They taught me how to cook. And in case you’re wondering, my specialty is chicken adobo! The trick is finding the right amount of soy sauce! If you add too much it’ll be too salty; if you don’t put enough, it’ll be bland! And there’s no flavoring if you don’t add bay leaves and peppercorn. Trust me, I know!

Since they made me responsible for small, everyday things, I was able to feel a sense of accomplishment. I became more confident to tackle my other responsibilities….like finishing all my work in school, and studying on my own. 

As I got older, I learned how to be more independent; I learned how to prepare my own meals, pay for my own car, pay my own bills. Being responsible for the small everyday things taught me how to be accountable for the big, adult things.

Lesson #2 – The Importance Of Hard Work

Ok, maybe “taught” is a mild way of putting it–Mom and Dad actually hammered this lesson into me.

You see, Mom is a teacher. And as a teacher, I wasn’t allowed to hand in assignments that were just ok. “Only A’s are allowed. B’s and C’s are not accepted.” I knew Mom only wanted what was best for me and so I did what she told me to do. Now, every self-help Instagram account would say that this made me a perfectionist, or this will cause me anxiety in the future to always perform at a high level… but you know what, I’m glad Mom encouraged me…because doing my best in elementary and middle school helped build my work ethic. And it’s this work ethic that’s helping me succeed in college today. 

And Dad, oh man, he was the definition of hard work. When we first got to America, Dad worked at a pizza shop. There was even a time when he had to juggle multiple jobs at once. But you know what stood out to me—I never heard him complain about what he had to do to support our family. He even went back to studying to pursue a better career, while he supported us. Slowly, but surely, he worked his way up to a career that he found fulfilling. Now he’s a certified nursing assistant.

That’s what motivates me today. I’m in university now, after completing a program at a community college. I go to school full time, but I’m also working so I can pay for my tuition. Kind of like how my dad did.

The third lesson Mom and Dad taught me is the heavy hitter. It’s—I would say—the most important one. They taught me to be grateful to God, and to make Him my priority

When it was time to transition to college, I didn’t know how I would be able to afford to go to any of the schools that I applied to. Mom and Dad always said that they were ready to help me pay for my tuition, but I promised them that I would take care of it. However, I was broke with no idea where to go. 

And with all of this pressure piling up, I just broke down. And so I prayed. I prayed to God and told Him all of my worries. That’s what I should’ve done from the very beginning. It’s what Mom and Dad always taught me to do—they would always say, “Sino pa ang tutulong sa’yo kung hindi Siya?” Who else can help you, if not Him? 

Within a couple of weeks, a local community college reached out and told me that I qualified to receive a full scholarship for an Associates Degree at their school. All I had to do was choose a major. God answered my prayer. And this even helped me stay true to my promise—that I would take care of my college expenses. Plus, going to a community college even gave me time to save up for university, which is where I’m studying now. 

This experience taught me what my parents have been trying to teach me since day 1. To completely rely on God. Everything that Mom and Dad were able to achieve here in America— our own house, our cars, having financial stability, even just having a stacked fridge! This proves that God hears us and He’s always ready to give us what we need. He just wants to know that we trust Him

I’m turning 22 this October, and I’m doing my best to stick to these lessons that my parents taught me. Maybe I’ll even learn how to cook another dish, just so they don’t get sick of my adobo!

Mom and Dad, if you’re watching this and I know you are…I love you; thank you for teaching me how to grow up to be a Christian, and to have a relationship with God.

Available downloads

How I Learned To Be Grateful To God