Former ‘Labandera’ and now millionaire, she began her career by opening a food cart.

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Cristhel Gardoce Bulabon’s rags-to-riches story shows that poverty does not have to be a barrier to achieving one’s dreams. She rose from a “labandera,” or laundrywoman, to a millionaire.


Cristhel grew up in a hardworking and impoverished family. She was already working and caring for her siblings at the age of seven. Her parents had abandoned them in the care of her uncle in Bacolod City. Instead of being cared for, Cristhel and her siblings were mistreated. Cristhel had to perform difficult tasks such as fetching pails of water from a deep well before they could be fed. Despite her efforts, she and her siblings were not provided with enough food.


Cristhel decided to work for their neighbor, washing dishes and tending to a sari-sari store, in order to support her siblings. Cristhel decided to leave with her siblings because their uncle continued to treat them harshly. The young girl worked while living in a small kubo. She scavenged in dumpsites, sold kakanin on the streets, and took in laundry jobs.


Cristhel admitted that she married young in order to escape poverty. It was a bad decision because she became a battered wife as a result. “Naisip ko, ganito ang kapalaran ko at pinanganak akong walang asenso sa buhay?” ” Cristel said on Rated Korina on ABS-CBN.


Cristhel and her children’s situation deteriorated to the point where she decided to leave her abusive husband. Cristhel admitted to becoming a prostitute in order to survive. It was here that she met a man who hired her as a telephone operator in a business.

Cristhel desired more, so she worked abroad to save money. She started several businesses after returning to the Philippines. She opened an internet cafe as well as a carinderia.


Cristhel pursued her passion by opening a diving shop and training to become a deep-sea diver. Cristhel was already constructing her dream as she worked on her business. She owned several food cart franchises.

Cristhel is now the owner of a large ‘dampa’ restaurant in Antipolo City. She also has 12 food carts, a bar, and a restaurant.

Cristhel has progressed from earning P50 for doing laundry to earning over P500,000 per month. She has a large house with four cars.

Cristhel stated that her determination and hard work helped her overcome poverty. “Walang taong maghihirap, sa taong masikap,” she said.

Manila Papers