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An impassioned good samaritan

He grew up not having a first-hand encounter with luxury — at least not anything more luxurious than three square meals a day — but he always knew he's headed to do something bigger than what he's had growing up.

Now an accomplished registered nurse in Los Angeles, CA, Mauro V. Sipin has consistently demonstrated selfless efforts to make life a tad better for the children of his hometown Santiago, Ilocos Sur in the Philippines. Mauro reserves a special place in his heart for kids, especially for the financially challenged children who are forced to deal with the difficulties of growing up poor. As he aptly puts it, “I see myself in them.”

Mauro spent his childhood working in Ilocos Sur farms helping his parents provide for their family. He is the third to the oldest in a family of seven boys and a girl, raised by parents who both barely finished grade school.

As a school kid, he walked straight to the farm after school to work four hours a day on weekdays and the whole weekend. He also walked tens of meters from their house to Santiago Elementary School where, despite the many hours he spent working in the farm, he graduated with honors.

After finishing high school in Santiago in 1972, Mauro went to Manila to pursue a nursing degree at the University of Santo Tomas — the Philippines' oldest institution of higher learning. Lack of financial resources, however, forced him to quit school after only three semesters.

Money problems weren't much of a stumbling block for the hardworking and determined Mauro. In 1973, he rolled his sleeves up and did construction jobs at the EPZA Processing Zone in Mariveles, Bataan. Just as soon as he was able to save enough in 1974, Mauro went back to pursuing his nursing education at the Arellano University.

Aware that he can only finish his nursing education while working for money at the same time, he trained as a waiter at the University of the Philippines' Economics Department under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism.

While working as a waitstaff at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City in 1975, he transferred to the Medical City School of Nursing where he eventually completed the program in 1978. As soon as he passed the Philippines Licensure Examination for Nurses in the same year, Mauro migrated to the United States and started working at the Long Beach Community Hospital in Long Beach, California.

Mauro passed the California Licensure Examination for Nurses in 1979 and since then worked for Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles where he has held various positions for over two decades now.

In 2005, Mauro created the MV Sipin Foundation that extends assistance to his constituents in Santiago, Ilocos Sur, including the purchase of two school buses that ferry students for free from several pickup points near their houses to their respective public schools.

MV Sipin Foundation is also partly subsidizing the educational expenses of about 200 elementary and high school students in Santiago. The foundation supplements the monthly salary of 18 daycare and 12 preschool teachers with additional 1,000 Philippine pesos a month.

He said he gives not because he has too much but because he knows how it feels to have nothing.

(Write to Empower launches BORN THIS WAY, a celebration of equality through a series of inspiring articles about the failures and triumphs of LGBT individuals with fervent hopes of delivering encouragement to other members of the LGBT community. According to a 2011 Williams Institute review of Census 2000 data, about 3.8 percent of American adults — approximately 9 million — identify themselves being in the LGBT community. Born This Way is a celebration of gender identity, of sexuality, of equality, and of pride.)

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