Filipino-American body builder Jaclyn Ruby Garcia grew up and formed a strong bond with her Filipino grandparents Quirino Sulay and Purificacion Sulay.
And that is why it was painful for Jaclyn and her relatives when the Sulay couple passed away last year. They were both 93.
“When they both passed away last year it was very hard on the family. My grandparents endured so much. They lived through World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines,” said the 38-year-old Jaclyn.
“They immigrated to a different country and raised a family. They persevered through cancer, illnesses, dementia and the normal challenges that life brings everyone, but their hearts remained open and they continued to give every opportunity they had.”
In 1978, the late Sulay couple moved to Watsonville, California, where according to Jaclyn, ‘they lived in a basement and worked hard until they could buy their own home, raised her aunts and uncles and were active in the Filipino community’.
Jaclyn added that her grandparents, who moved back to the Philippines in 2006 to retire in their hometown Pantay Tamurong, Caoayan in Ilocos Sur, were very supportive of their grandkids, instilling in their family the importance of hard work, education and giving back to the community.
That giving back to the community really made a mark in Jaclyn’s heart and this is why she looks to honor her grandparents by competing in an online fitness competition, where, if Jaclyn wins, she will be featured in the MsHealth&Fitness magazine and win $20,000 or more than P1.1 million.
Jaclyn, who works in the tech industry and is a fourth degree black belt in martial arts, said she will be donating some of her potential prize money to the building projects of Pantay Tamurong Elementary School, where her grandfather Quirino taught for 16 years.
“I wanted to honor them in some kind of way and continue on their legacy of philanthropy. I know if they were still alive they would be donating to the Pantay Tamurong Elementary/ High School building project. So in their place, if I win I’d like to donate some of the winnings to that project on their behalf,” said Jaclyn.
She added of her grandparents:
“[Even in retirement] they continued to give to their community – donating to local schools, local building projects, giving people loans and taking in two of our extended relatives into their home to help raise them and support them as their own. They were both so giving to those around them. My Lolo always said ‘Life is like a rotating wheel, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down.’ And they always wanted to support people when they were down.”
Jaclyn is already in the quarterfinals of the online competition where the winner will be determined through website votes. Jaclyn was on the lead at press time and if she maintains that until June 22, she will advance to the semifinals.
Votes will be reset, and public voting will determine the top semifinalist from each group who will then advance to the finals. The semifinal voting is slated from June 23-29 while the final round voting is set from June 30 to July 6. The winner will be announced on or around July 13.
Here’s the link to vote for Jaclyn:https://mshealthandfitness.com/2023/jaclyn-rub