Studying at one of the best and most expensive schools in the country is something that many students could ever dream of, but for a daughter of a jeepney driver it was in impossible dream that actually came true!
But Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña did not just have the opportunity to study at the Ateneo de Manila University, she also graduates as the Valedictorian of Batch 2019! Wow.
Bendaña completes her degree in Bachelor of Arts major in Management Economics, minor in Development, as Program Awardee and Cum Laude. Who would have thought that the daughter of a poor jeepney driver who could barely put food on the table could actually be among the brightest, most brilliant students in this private school, huh?
Photo credit: Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña / Facebook
The young lady was also the President of the University Student Council (Sanggunian) and received the recognition as the Most Outstanding Student Group for Leadership and Service, St. Ignatius Award for Most Outstanding Scholar, and Most Outstanding Individual for Leadership and Service.
In her essay as part of the application for valedictorian selection published on Ateneo’s website, she detailed what she had gone through and how the school helped her, answering the prompt, “What has Ateneo done for you?”
Her study must have had the most impact to the selection committee because she was the one picked as Batch 2019 Valedictorian among the sea of other brilliant minds.
She shared, in part:
“My father is a jeepney driver, whose example taught me to work harder than everyone else—not only because hard work is high dignity but also, while it is no guarantee of success, anything less than that for us would mean complete failure. I always worked harder than everyone else to get the same opportunities they had. It’s the least I can do to compensate for my lack of privilege. This is a reality of life I have long embraced: shouting as jeepney barker for my father to taking odd jobs in high school. I worked hard to be here.
Yet, I am aware that my full scholarship exists not because I simply earned it. All my work would have been for nothing if there was no slot on offer in the first place. I am here because someone, by the grace of their heart, gave generously to fund my education. I am here because a generous Ateneo exists, where someone like me who does not share the wealthier background of the common Atenean can be entrusted with the Presidency of the school’s Student Council.”
She shared the hardships she had to face coming from a poor family.
Photo credit: Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña / Facebook
“I was raised in poverty—there was never enough food on our table, my parents were not always regular employees, and as students, my sister and I had childhoods filled with promissory notes for delayed tuition fee payments. I was seven years old when I joined my first rally. I stood with my father at the frontline of a jeepney strike that aimed to raise the minimum fare. For some, the rising price of fuel meant less profit. For my family, it meant skipping another meal; it meant more debt and more promissory notes.”
She expressed gratefulness for the opportunity the school had given her, also hoping that many others like her would also have a chance to be part of Ateneo…
Read her full essay on Ateneo’s website here.
Couple Inspires with Savings from Ukay-Ukay and Other Businesses
How much were you able to save up, especially during the pandemic? Most of us would say “not much” or even “none”, but a couple managed to save Php154,000 from doing various businesses in 10 months. Impressive, huh?
Couple Ipon Challenge Goes Viral
Almost everyone agrees that it’s really so difficult to save money, especially because there are a lot of things that we need to pay for, plenty of bills to pay, and other needs or even wants that we spend our earnings on.
But couple Chi Kai and Jazzely Ebarom impressed netizens after they saved a lot of money despite the pandemic.
In her inspiring post on Facebook, Chi Kai wrote that she and her partner managed to save Php154,000 from doing various businesses: selling ukay-ukay, top-grade bags, beauty products, and just about anything they could think of.
According to Chi Kai, she’s sharing this post to inspire other people to do the same, not to brag about what they were able to achieve. She added that their story can inspire others to try their best and work hard to achieve their dreams.
She also said that she’s lucky to have a partner who inspires her to work harder and also motivates her to save money.
So, how was she able to save so much money? Chi Kai said that instead of spending her earnings on luxury stuff and things that she didn’t need, she would save a portion every week. She folds the money and places it inside their shared piggy bank.
The couple was quite surprised to see that they were able to save that much money in a small piggy bank.
While many netizens pointed out that folding the money isn’t a good idea because it could damage the paper, more were inspired about the fact that she managed to save up.
Improper Handling of Money
Saving money is great but it’s important to keep the bills from getting damaged. The penalty for “willful defacement, mutilation, tearing, burning or destruction of Philippine banknotes and coins” is a fine of not more than PHP20,000.00 and/or imprisonment of not more than five years, depending on the gravity of the offense.
Badjao Girl Who Used to Dive for Coins at Pier, Now a Teacher and Master’s Degree Holder
A half-Badjao girl who used to dive for coins at the pier is celebrating her success now that she has become a teacher and a master’s degree holder. Who would have thought that she used to do that in her younger days, huh?
Badjao Girl Earns Master’s Degree
Life was difficult for half-Badjao Arlene Eje Alex while she was growing up. Despite being poor, her father refused to let her dive for coins at the pier or beg for money in the streets like other Badjao children.
But her father got sick while she was still young; so, she did those things so they can have some food. They lost their dad when she was just 12 years old.
“Eight years old po nag-start na akong manisid sa pier para lang po maka-survive sa araw-araw at may panustos sa pag-aaral,” she explained.
“Hindi ko naman po pinagsisihan kasi natuto po ako sa buhay na hindi ganoon kadali ang kumayod sa araw-araw sa murang kaisipan. Kailangan mong mabuhay, pero kailangan mong paghirapan.”
Life was difficult but she also knew that if she doesn’t go to school, she’d be stuck in the streets or the pier for the rest of her life. So, she found ways to send herself to school.
“Hindi pupuwede na hanggang dito na lang ako. Babalik na naman ako sa lansangan. Parang ang hirap mabuhay na nakadepende ako sa tao. Kaya kailangan kong mag-aral kahit hindi na ako makauwi, basta makatapos ako,” she said with determination.
Through hard work and determination, she was finally able to complete her degree in Education. But she didn’t stop there. She continued to work harder and study more – and has now become a Master’s degree holder.
“Ang dating maninisid ng barya sa pier noon, Master’s degree graduate na ngayon,” she proudly wrote in her graduation photos.
Why Badjaos Dive for Money in Pier
Badjaos live in the waters, originally in the Sulu Sea. But various problems forced many of them to travel to other places in the Philippines, diving the pier waters for coins that people toss.
It’s unknown how exactly this practice started but it’s common in many piers across the Philippines.
Badjaos are known to have the ability to hold their breath for minutes, making these dives particularly interesting.
Dad Who Returned Phone He Found in Jeep: “I Want to Be a Role Model for My Kids”
One dad who’s struggling financially and has a special-needs child didn’t feel tempted to keep or sell a phone he found in a jeep. He said that he immediately thought of his kids when he found the phone and wanted to do the right thing as a role model for his children!
Guy Goes Viral for Returning Phone He Found in Jeep
Some netizens argue that good deeds like returning money or a cellphone you found somewhere should not be something that should be in the news. After all, returning something you don’t own is one thing that people should do!
But with so many people taking advantage of others, and a lot of people losing valuable stuff and never getting them back, it’s really still impressive to hear stories of the honest ones who return items that aren’t theirs – especially valuables.
Christian Baluyot, 22, is a dad to two kids, one of whom is a special-needs 3-year-old child. Working as a merchandiser, Christian doesn’t earn much, but when he found a cellphone in a jeep, he wasn’t tempted to keep it.
Immediately after finding the phone (an iPhone), he made attempts to find the owner by posting about it on his Facebook account.
The owner, Patricia Tawat, didn’t see his post but was surprised when Christian answered the phone when she called it.
“‘Wag ka mag-alala, ate. Ibabalik ko po cellphone mo. Hindi ko po kayang gumawa ng masama,” the young man told her after picking up on the second ring.
Impressed, Patricia posted about the experience, praising Christian for being honest.
After the post went viral, Christian explained that he didn’t think it was a big deal and that he was only doing something that he thought was right. When he found the phone, his only thoughts were his children – and how he wants to be their role model.
“Ang turo po ng magulang ko sa’kin, kahit na po maghirap, basta ‘wag lang gumawa ng masama,” he explained. “Inisip ko po agad na may anak ako. Ayoko po kasi magaya anak ko sa masasamang tao.”
Inspired by this honest young man, Patricia wrote:
“Sa panahon ngayon, meron pa ring mga taong kahit hirap at gipit sa buhay, hindi pa rin sasagi sa isip nila gumawa ng masama mas pipiliin paring maging mabuti.
Saludo ako sa’yo kuya. Sobrang swerte ng mga anak mo sa’yo.”
Characteristics of a Role Model
The following are some characteristics of a role model:
- Honesty and integrity
- Self-awareness and self-focus
- Empathy and kindness