The Philippine School of Sorcery for Young Witches and Wizards is, quite unsurprisingly, spread amongst several Nipa Huts in Siquijor. In order to prevent tourists from interrupting students’ studies, several invisibility enchantments were cast over the grounds. The school teaches many branches of magic: Mananambals of the island often visit the school to conduct lessons on traditional healing methods, Mangkukulams lead classes on the practice of Kulam, the use of talismans, charms, and amulets is also studied, along with a branch of ancient magic originally written in Baybayin. Centuries ago, the mysterious disappearance of a student led many to believe he was an aswang who ran away to protect himself after his identity was discovered. To this day, the student has not been found. In the past, when molave trees were abundant on the island, students swore the branches of the trees on campus transformed into snakes at night and slithered through the grounds in an eerie tango. Not any more, though. The campus remains silent at night now.
Muggle school had been a nuisance to Zora, with all the attempted bullying and whatnot, but her peers were no match for both her brawn and brain. Soon enough they were tearing at each other at the oh so easily altered turn of events, completely forgetting about who they were targeting in the first place. Magic school was hardly any different.
Her school days wended on listlessly for four years. Zora discovered a talent for brewing potions in her second year and hastily set about excelling as best as she could. Astronomy piqued her interest soon afterwards, and while she unfortunately didn't unearth any extraordinary gift, this did not deter her from giving up on the subject. Charms, on the other hand, was another pursuit that put her in the good graces of her professor.
On her fifth year, Zora was whisked out of school right before Christmas break by her mother, who had spontaneously acquired a chance, albeit a little illegal, for the entire family to escape Britain. The idea was preposterous, but Nieves was persistent and dead set on the idea that she could better working wages there. The Marasigan family relocated abruptly to Britain, possibly doomed to never see their homeland again.
True to Zora's suspicions, there was perhaps even lesser hope of living properly in Britain. Nieves found a few little jobs, but had overlooked crucial, loose factors that may have aided in their survival. The East End's dark ways unfazed Zora, yet at the same time ate away at her hopes. The eldest Marasigan girl was not one to give up, and thus she immediately snatched at the chance to transfer to Hogwarts. Here was hoping they allowed students to send food out of school - or she'd have to figure out another way to provide for her family.
"I'm only letting this be told because I'm being forced to. You keep your trap shut, or you'll regret it. That's not a promise, nor a threat. That's the future."
The Philippines isn't a first world country. Everyone is aware of that. So how come that even though everyone knows, why are there people starving in the country by the daily? Same reasons why every place in the world has someone starving on the streets.
To call what Zoraida experienced a childhood would be a pure, hard-hearted lie, and don't let anyone else convince you otherwise. She was the eldest daughter born to Nieves and Joseph Marasigan and at age four was stripped of any right to her childhood. Her father was always away, being a military man, and he died in war. Nieves was left with a mound of debts, no job, six kids to feed, and barely enough money to attend the funeral.
Zora and her siblings almost starved as their mother scrabbled to make ends meet. While the four year old insisted on wanting to help, even offering to give up school to help her mother, Nieves was stubborn and argued that "she should leave it to the adults and that she was just a child." This line of reasoning grated on Zora immensely, and when her mother's back was turned, she rebelled.
Stealing her classmates' lunch money was easy enough, and the young 'un's thieving streak was missed by the radar. She gave what little food she could spare to her siblings and ate as little as she could - just enough to get up and move and steal more. As she matured, innate criminal instincts resurfaced, and her knack for stealing was soon accompanied with manipulation, lying, and general chicanery. Learning the ways of the streets, Zora soon figured out the ostensible system and worked it to her favor. It wasn't a way a child should've grown up in. It wasn't a way any child should be conditioned to accept. Horrors that would've left most people screaming started to have zero effect on her.
Magic had not been in Zora's calculations, and it had certainly had made one hell of a bang when it came into her life. One moment some person was holding a knife to her throat, the next they were unconscious against the wall. That frightened and fascinated her to no end, but she quickly realized that relying on these outbursts would not be sensible in the slightest.
It almost seemed that everything was going along smoothly, but it wasn't. Zora was always hungry, no matter how long and hard she hunted. It was never enough, but they were recovering. Chip by chip, but recovering. Zora refused to allow her younger siblings to join her in her nightly escapades, and was firm in this statement. They could do nothing else but grudgingly oblige and turn a blind eye.
Knowledge of her family's magical heritage came to light when her invitation to PSS arrived. Her mother was mildly shocked, but apparently was fully aware of the wizarding world - Joseph had been a Squib while Nieves' parents had been magical. All in all, a frankly interesting day in Zora's life. This was, however, a crucial turning point, as it meant leaving her family for a good part of the year. Zora managed to construct a plan that would appease her mother's wishes for her to attend and still secretly support her family. Stealing from her now magical classmates and sending the money via owl to one of her siblings? Went pretty well in Zora's case. She was good at not getting caught.