I stepped into college with the fewest of clothing (and ones which weren’t even suited for Baguio City’s cool climate), no calculator and T-square for my engineering course, but with a full scholarship given by the university to students who graduated from high school top of the class. (Please pardon me if I can’t now describe what I wore during my first year in a college mostly dominated by males. I’m still kind of embarassed writing it in detail :-)).
For five years, I lived in the ladies’ dorm inside the campus. The ladies’ dorm was like a twin building, joined by the common entrance and a receiving/information desk. But the similarity ended there. The ladies’ dorm was divided into two: one was for the well-off students (that is, board-and-lodging students), and the other one, for students like me who couldn’t afford board-and-lodging but had to cook their own meals everyday.
In that side of the ladies’ dorm, the interns, by their respective rooms, took turns in cleaning the large and always-slippery kitchen and in carrying the heavy garbage down to the basement, in cleaning the wide mess hall, the bathrooms and comfort rooms, and the rooms which accommodated twenty-four interns separated by cubicles. It was hard, but for me then, there was no room in my heart to complain. I was truly happy that I even got to live there – quiet, clean, secured, and operated on a high standard of discipline. For me, to study in Saint Louis University and stay at the ladies’ dorm was a dream-come-true.
In the second semester of my first year, I already lost my scholarship, hence, I had to pay my full tuition. The university had a really high standard and I struggled through the first semester, having come from a public high school. I cried profusely.
My life in college was hard. My parents did their best to pay for my tuition and many other expenses. During breaks, I brought home fresh Baguio vegetables that I bought with some savings from my allowance and sold them in the public market. And in December, I bought native decors made by the Igorots and sold them as well during the holidays just to be able to earn extra money. (Yes, I was an entrepreneur as far back as I could remember, way back in grade school).
There were times I had to go to class not having eaten a meal, but I had no time to cry. Engineering was a hard course and I spent most of my time studying. I didn’t want to waste a single centavo that went to pay for my college education. I strove to get good grades, always.
One time, I wanted to own a wallet: the type of purse that had compartments, and preferably, a leather (well, I’m saying this to emphasize that during this time, I never had held one :-)). My mother sent me a very-used, faded Princess Gardner cowhide leather wallet that she had asked from our neighbor in the province. I had to sew a tear, but after the “repair”, I was happy with my new possession.
A year before I would graduate, I wrote to my aunt in the states and humbly asked for a new wallet for Christmas. When I went home during the Christmas break, my cousin handed me a box of Liz Claiborne set of wallets. He said it was from my aunt in the states. That moment, I really felt I reached the clouds. I was so elated.
I can never forget those acts of kindness and generosity. And there’s so much more stories like these that I keep in my heart. And I always remember them with gratitude and a lump in my throat.
Gratitude is etched deeper where there was deeper need.
I have loved education. I believe that it is the one thing that can raise a person from poverty, a passport to a better life.
And it’s my desire that this opportunity will be given to others as well.
Jomar and Maryjoy
Jomar and Maryjoy are brother and sister. Jomar is 11 years old and is in grade 2, while Maryjoy is 7 years old and is in grade 1. I came to know about them last year through my beloved mother. They live in the outskirts of town in our province with their mother and two other siblings. Their father had long left them.
Jomar and his family live in dire poverty. It is for this reason that he finished grade 1 only last year at the age of 10. When I heard about their story, I told my mother that I would send Jomar to school. So, starting last year, with the help of my mother (through whom I channel my support), he was able to finally finish grade 1.
His mother washes clothes and cleans houses just to earn a few pesos, but she often gets sick. There are nights that the children go to bed without eating dinner, and they sometimes cry in hunger. My mother, my aunt, and some of their friends help out. This is why the support I send must not only cover school supplies, but for food and baon as well (baon is a Tagalog word which means packed lunch or pocket money for food). They walk to school which is not too far.
This year, we’re also sending Jomar’s sister Maryjoy to school. Mother and kids are so jubilant.
(No available pictures of Jomar and Maryjoy now as they live in the province and I haven’t been able to travel to visit them. Our Church’s outreach endeavors to bring these poor families to Jesus).
I’m not writing about this to parade our philanthropic acts but to inform other people that there are many poor children that need our help. This is what the Lord requires of us:
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.(Psalm 82:3)
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)
If you would like to help the poor children of the Philippines, you my channel it through:
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