How did it all started?!
I was about to graduate from my degree (circa 1999) in Chemistry and Computer Engineering at the Ateneo de Manila University. Everybody in our class were applying for jobs and taking exams from several big companies like Intel, P&G, Accenture, Canon, IberPacific (now Soluziona). To make things more convenient, we all made ourselves personal websites using a web server that was dedicated to our class. Thus, my first URL was something like http://balot.admu.edu.ph/yuga and it contained some profile about me and a copy of my resume.
I was still editing my site using pico on a Linux terminal then and accessing my emails thru pine. The rest, they say, is history.
Most people I know now or who have known about me thru the internet calls me “yuga”. It’s a long story but as far as I can remember, it was one my dorm mates at the Cervini Residence Halls in Ateneo way back in college who started it all.
Most of the 200 or so residents of the dorm then were from down south, just like me. A good percentage of us were either from Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and a few neighboring provinces like Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga. Only as few were from Bacolod or Iloilo. I was, allegedly, the first and only from the island-province of Guimaras — a small isle between Iloilo City (Panay Island) and Bacolod City (Negros Occidental).
Despite the cultural diversity and social differences, I managed to sneak my native tongue amongst the dozens of languages being spoken — Ilonggo (my local dialect is Kinaray-a). Though I can understand Cebuano/Bisaya, I spoke Ilonggo most of the time, and quite often inserting Ilonggo expressions and slangs in between Taglish conversations. That got me the nickname of “yuga”, meaning — an expression of disbelief or amazement, as in “really?!”, “ows?!” or “talaga?!”
Not long after that, everyone started addressing me as “yuga”. About a year later, only a handful knew me by my real name – Abraham (from US Pres. Lincoln).
That was it! I got stuck with Yuga, until now. :D
I was born and raised in the small town of Poblacion, Nueva Valencia in Guimaras on February 22, 1978. My grandmother (from my father’s side) thought it was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday that day so she suggested I’d be called the same. My mom, who was an avid fan of Ryan Cayabyab, at the same time wanted to name me after her idol. But my dear lola prevailed, unbeknownst to her that it was actually George Washington’s birthday and not Lincoln’s. Well, that was how the story went as was told to me by my dear mother. I also got several nicks back home. Two of the most popular are abang and abe.
How I ended up here?
Ours was a relatively small town in a farway island deep down south. I went to the local elementary school just a hundred meters from our home where my mom also teaches grade 4 students. Being the eldest of 3 sibling (all boys), I had the undeniably heavier burden of bringing pride and honor to the family. My mom would scold me if I did not include the “E.” (as my middle initial) whenever I write my complete name. She said it is a sign that I am also proud to be an Estaya in the same way as an Olandres.
And indeed, I (think) was able to do so by excelling academically. I was the top of our class from kinder to grade 6, and eventually ended up as the class valedictorian. I was also getting major achievements on co-curricular activities by joining all sorts of quiz contests. Several of my most successful attempts were a Division runner-up for the DOST-Caltex Science and Technology Quiz, another second in the Division Nutrition Quiz and the Division Champion and Regional delegate for the Super Science Quiz Bee (circa 1994) in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.
For high school, I applied for 2 scholarships — one is the Philippine Science High School (which I failed on the second exam) and the Special Science Class (DOST-INHS) which I landed 11th of the top 30. With 12 Valedictorians, 8 Salutatorians and 10 more with Honor students from different elementary schools across Western Visayas, it was a very tough job working my way up to the top of the class. After 4 years, I managed to get a spot on top 5 and ended up getting the 3rd Honorable Mention. Of course, I also managed to rake in several awards and citations like the Regional & Inter-Regional Champion of the Philippine Math Olympiad, the Regional Representative for the Super Science Quiz Bee (again!), Golden Harvest of Excellence (from DOST) and the Math and Science Wizard of the year (circa 1995). I was close to getting the Mercury Drug Award for Excellence in Science and Excellence in Math — something I was really rooting for.
Then came college. I only took the UPCAT and the ACET. I
luckily passed both (Molecular Biology & Biotechnology in UP Diliman and Chemistry with Computer Engineering in AdMU) but opted for Ateneo since I got a full scholarship there while I only got the DOST-SEI scholarship for UP Diliman.
After successfully finishing my double degree on time, I waded through the IT industry for several years. Five companies, several dozen freelance stints and hundreds of thousands of paid taxes later, I’m still blogging during my spare time.