Mai-Mai’s world

October 19, 2015 at 08:46


Mai-Mai’s world

Philippine Daily Inquirer | 01:12 AM October 18th, 2015



View full video from by Facebook HERE.

The story of the island girl using to help her write her thesis and complete her college degree is delightful. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thought so, too, which is why the story of Riza Mae Tachado, or Mai-Mai, now serves to inspire others like her who dream of a star and reach out to touch it. The message that she delivers is simple yet powerful: that neither financial limitations nor geographical isolation should get in the way when one means to get somewhere.

This story begins with a wonderfully ambitious creation. After conquering the world, Zuckerberg set out to bring the Web to the world through the app. The Philippines was one of six countries in which the app was launched earlier this year. Zuckerberg said then in a Facebook post: “We’re one step closer to connecting the world as we launched in the Philippines today. Now everyone in the country can have free access to Internet services for health, education, jobs and communication on the Smart [Communications] network.” proved to be positively game-changing for Mai-Mai, 24, who lives on tiny Mararison island (population: 700) in Culasi, Antique. With her husband (a fisherman named Romnick) and child (a 3-year-old daughter named Shecainah), she moved to the island in 2013 from Barangay Jalandoni in Culasi. She had been out of school for the past three years, but she decided to complete her studies and enrolled at the University of Antique in the town of Tibiao.

On Mararison, most of the women made a living gathering and selling seashells. “But I wanted something greater for myself. So I decided to study computer science in town. I travelled by boat every day just to go to school,” Mai-Mai said in a video produced by the folks at

The app not only provided Mai-Mai with access to useful sites, it also helped her stay in touch with her classmates when a powerful typhoon left her and the Mararison community stranded on the island for weeks. “My phone became a classroom to communicate with my group mates,” she said in the video.

Mai-Mai and her colleagues focused their thesis on Culasi’s automated billing system, according to a report by the Inquirer’s Nestor P. Burgos Jr. She graduated last April with a degree in computer science, now equipped for bigger things and thankful for having achieved something she once doubted she could pull off.

In May, Mai-Mai received a call informing her of’s interest in filming a video. “I thought it was a prank call, but I was surprised when they finally arrived here,” she told the Inquirer’s Burgos. In the video, she recounted how she used the app in her studies, leading to the completion of her degree.

She waited for the video to be posted but had no idea how big the posting would be. Last Tuesday, the video was posted by Zuckerberg himself on his Facebook page, with a message praising her determination. “Being connected means having opportunity. We’re going to connect the whole world so one day everyone can achieve their full human potential—just like Riza,” he said.

The video became a hit, soon racking up more than 5 million views and turning Mai-Mai into an instant sensation. “They tell me that I’m already a celebrity and they want to ask for my autograph,” she told Burgos with a laugh. “I’m having goose bumps. I still cannot believe it. I’m just an islander. It feels like graduating again.”

It’s indeed a delightful story of a young woman who was able to translate a newfound connectivity into an opportunity for a better life. “It feels like graduating again.” This is the promise of the Internet democratized, empowering people around the world who would otherwise not have access to this life-changing development and lighting up their lives.

Imagine the limitless possibilities for other young women like Mai-Mai, and more. Think of the children poring by candlelight over their borrowed books, and the universe of information just waiting to be unlocked in this swiftly connecting world.


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