How an SM sales lady became a Millionaire Missionary

July 12, 2013

By Ivy Dela Cruz as told to Marjorie Ann Duterte

Kerygma Magazine, Largest Catholic Publication in the Philippines

April 2013 Issue, Published by Shepherds Voice Publication


I was born in Balut, Tondo, in a squatter’s area where it was normal to have drug addicts for neighbors and it was not unusual to witness a person running after someone with a knife on hand.

We were very poor. My mother was a teacher in a public school while my father was an electrician and we were often short on money. My mother would resort to borrowing money from our uncle who was a janitor. When we would have nothing to eat, we would share a pack of Sky flakes among ourselves or buy Chosen chichiria (junk food) to partner with rice. Even as a young child, my siblings and I learned to fetch water and carried heavy pails since we had no water inside our house.

When I was in Grade 2 at Paez Elementary School, a Japanese sponsor under My Share International Scholarship program chose me as a scholar. Early on, I learned to treasure my education because it was the only thing that I had for my own.

When I was in Grade 5, we transferred to a much better area in Tondo, sharing a house with two other families. When they left the house because of a misunderstanding among themselves, we were left alone and we could no longer pay the rent. My parents decided to go live with my maternal grandmother in Caloocan. But she did not approve of my father’s attitude and behavior, since he was already old but still had no regular income and depended on my mother for raising the family. We lived with our lola while our father separated from us. He got so jealous of my mother’s friendship with a lesbian that he attacked and killed her in school.

Because of this, my family left Caloocan with my father and went to Pampanga. I stayed with my grandmother because I did not want to forfeit my scholarship, I was already in high school then. Eventually, my father was arrested and he is serving life sentence in prison. During this time, I immersed myself in my studies so that I could forget the struggles we were going through. I would only see my mother and siblings during summer break or Christmas, depending on whether they had money for bus fare to go to Manila.

With my scholarship, I focused on my studies and studied hard at Torres High School and graduated salutatorian. During our rehearsals, I cried because I saw that my other classmates had their parents with them while I had none. Knowing my plight, my teachers and classmates raised funds for me so that my mother could come to my graduation.  In the absence of my father, I would turn to God and say, “Buti na lang nandyan ka.” (It’s good that You are here.)

I was now about to go to College and I was worried if I could continue my education since my scholarship had now ended. But I did not want to stop; I knew that my education was our way out of poverty. I couldn’t take the entrance exams in other schools because they were expensive. I did not even have P500, so I took the entrance exams that were for free. I also looked for and applied for scholarships in schools and other organizations until I discovered SM Foundation. I applied for their scholarship and was glad to know that their scholarship covered tuition and miscellaneous fees. I was also going to receive a stipend of P2,000 per month for 8 months of the year for my allowance.

My course Computer Engineering at FEU East Asia lasted for 10 and a half months each year and I needed to save for the months that was not going to be covered by my stipend. So during Christmas and summer breaks, when my classmates would go on vacation, I would work at SM  as a sales lady for six days a week, earning P300 a day, which I would save for the coming term.

I would stand for eight hours every day. We were not allowed to lean or sit when we are at work. I took on a positive attitude and often motivated myself, “Kaya ko to” (I can do this).

I was grateful that I did not have to worry about tuition fee and I served customers gladly. It was more of a challenge when there were no customers as the minutes felt longer when one had to wait. Sometimes, I would be envious of the parents who would buy presents for their children during the Christmas season. Still, I would continue to serve with a smile.  Throughout those months of serving at SM, I only had one uniform that I invested in and would use as a saleslady. I would wash it every night so I could use it again the next day. The hard work and perseverance taught me to value the money I earned. I would reward myself with a Triple Choco Boom that cost P20, and would save the rest.

I remember being culture shocked when I got to College, seeing my rich classmates drink expensive coffee, which I in my mind I would compute as already worth one-week of my food. When we would gather together, I would just look at what was being served and not eat. I was okay with eating outside where food cost P20, which I would joke as “mura na marumi pa” (cheap and dirty), or partake of the buy- one-take-one burger joint.

During that time, I would only have lunch for 15 minutes and spend most of my time in the library, studying, reading and doing advanced work. I would also augment my allowance by volunteering to photocopy materials for my classmates where I would charge a few centavos for service rendered. I would earn P20, which was good enough for my transportation.

I felt that I had to give my best because my education was the only treasure I had in my life. I did not want to lose my scholarship and so I studied hard. Even when I was elected and served as Student Council President, I still focused on my academics as my first priority.  When I come home from school, I would do advanced reading and work on my assignments.

In 2008, I graduated from college with Magna cum Laude honors.


After two months, in July, I got accepted to my first job at Chevron. It was one of the happiest days of my life. When I saw the contract, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. It was much more than what was expected by a fresh graduate to receive. All my hard work, sacrifices and efforts flashed back into my mind and the returns were big.  I immediately called my mother in Pampanga and told her, “Nanay, mayaman na tayo.” (Mother, we are now rich.)

But God had something more in store for me. Two years into my new work, I was feeling restless. I was earning a lot but I wasn’t fulfilled, something was missing. During this time, a colleague of mine invited me to a career talk in our company, which turned out to be Bo Sanchez’s seminar on financial literacy.

I was struck by what Bro. Bo said about the wrong theology about money. At the time, I was still embracing a poverty mindset. Even though I had big dreams, my poverty mindset was stopping me. I still had feelings like I did not deserve it and it was as far as I could go. I still had insecurities and was not confident about my self.

I started joining Bro. Bo’s Truly Rich seminars and began reading his books. I invested on seminars, believing in the value of education. Bo’s Secrets of a Happy Millionaire and How to be Really, Really Happy had a great impact on me. My mind started to expand and I had a paradigm shift.

During this time, I was doing buy and sell gadgets to augment my income so I could help my family more, my siblings got married and were having babies. I took care of their hospital bills and the first needs of the baby.  I felt that I needed to earn more.

As they say, the teacher will appear when the student is ready.  My boyfriend Don and I started to become curious about The Feast and we attended the one in Valle Verde in March 2010. Bro. Bo was giving the Prosperity Series and I finished the six weeks of teaching. I realized that I did not only need to grow financially but more importantly, spiritually. Through the Feast, I grew closer to the Lord, all my insecurities were removed and I learned to forgive my father and to move forward.

I followed Bro. Bo when he transferred to the Feast PICC and I joined a Caring Group. Through the sharings, prayers and support of fellow brothers and sisters, I was healed.

I also resigned from my job and went into a direct selling company. Because I have learned hard work, patience and perseverance early on, working for the networking company was not too difficult for me. In just eight months and a half after I joined the company selling health care products and building teams, I earned my first million.

I have achieved my goals with God’s grace, bought my own car and condo unit.. I retired my mother last year and invested in her own sari-sari store that she could grow and would give her regular income. My dream is to build a house in Pampanga that she could call her own. In all her 25 years working as a public school teacher, earning P10,000, she has not experienced a better life until now. She is my inspiration and I want to thank her for all the years of sacrifice for us.

I was also able to go on many travels sponsored by my company. I was able to go on a Holy Week Pilgrimage and was able to bring along my mother to Fiji Island for free, it was her first time to ride a plane.

I am now 25 years old and looking back at my journey I am amazed that I am already here. It’s all God’s grace and miracles. I am looking forward to building a happy family with my husband, Don.  I continue to strive to be the best that I can be because there are many more people still waiting to be served.  I want to give of myself, now as a trainer. I coach people on how to manage their teams, sharing my knowledge and helping others to come out of the race and become truly rich as God has helped me.


Disclaimer: This was published by Shepherds Voice Publications on their April 2013 Issue. The feature article is owned by Shepherds Voice Publications.

Blessings and I’m praying for your Life’s sucess,
Ivy Sepe