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Daughter of Jeepney Driver Graduates as Ateneo’s Valedictorian of Batch 2019

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…

Congratulations!

Read her full essay on Ateneo’s website here.

Inspiring

Students Go Viral for Feeding Kid, Buying Supplies He Could Bring Back Home

You don’t have to be rich to have a big heart for others – and that is proven by a group of teens who contributed part of their allowances for a hungry kid.

Photo credit: Thirdy Echenique Dela Torre III / Facebook

Thirdy Echenique Dela Torre III and his friends were enjoying some food at KFC (well, ‘Kanto Fried Chicken’ actually) when a kid tried buying chicken even if he only had Php4. The seller actually allowed the kid to buy chicken even if he only had that money, but the teens were touched by the young boy’s plight and decided to feed him.

Photo credit: Thirdy Echenique Dela Torre III / Facebook

They returned the boy’s money and got him food they paid for themselves.

Seeing that the boy was dirty and was not even wearing proper uniform for school, the teens thought it would be a good idea if they also buy some stuff for the poor kid. They are not rich themselves, but these teens knew how it feels to be hungry and not have enough money to buy food as well as proper clothing.

Photo credit: Thirdy Echenique Dela Torre III / Facebook

So, after eating, they took the kid to the nearest store where they got him a pair of new slippers and some white t-shirts he could use for school. Seeing that the kid was looking longingly at another kid holding a toy, they asked him what toy he wanted – and he picked a basketball.

Photo credit: Thirdy Echenique Dela Torre III / Facebook

Many netizens were impressed by these teens’ action, saying that these guys were raised well by their parents. Many hope that the kid would also see the value of these teens’ deed and later pay it forward in some other way.

Kudos, Thirdy and friends!

Photo credit: Thirdy Echenique Dela Torre III / Facebook

What is Pay it Forward?

The concept of paying it forward is for the receiver of a gift or donation to share something now or in the future to others in need, in any other way they could. The donor or giver does not expect anything in return but wish that the kindness will be shared with others, too.

Photo credit: Thirdy Echenique Dela Torre III / Facebook

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Best Friends Who Studied Together, Topped the Board Exams Together

A group of best friends studied together for many years – and they might be so in tune with each other and have the same study habits that they would top the board exams together!

Almira Louise Olete Hinsoy and Dennise Kim Marie Bulquiren Luig were roommates for 3 years as they studied at the College of Nursing in West Visayas State University – La Paz in La Paz, Iloilo. They were also the best of friends, bonding over their lessons as well as fun stuff like milk tea, calligraphy, lipstick, and makeup.

Photo credit: Almira Louise Hinsoy / Facebook

On their fourth year, Thomas Benroe Tallodar Supeña joined their group. All three graduated as cum laude from their nursing course.

After graduation, the three enrolled in review lessons and joined their batchmates at WVSU CON. Many of the graduates felt pressured because the school had a great track record of producing 100% passers, except in 2017 when the passing rate was at 99%.

Many of them also felt that someone should be in the Top 10.

Photo credit: Anna Liza Bulquiren Luig / Facebook

Who would have thought that they did not just have someone on the Top 10, they had three! In the 2019 Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE), best friends Almira, Dennise, and Thomas took the first, second, and seventh ranks, respectively.

As they share this wonderful milestone in their lives, the three could not help but recall the hardships they had to face before they achieved their dreams.

It was sometimes difficult to wake up every day at 6 a.m. and even 3 a.m., to prepare for our daily reviews. But we were each other’s cheerleader and alarm clock,” Dennise shared.

They were not the only ones who had to push themselves to study harder.

Photo credit: Thomas Benroe Supena / Facebook

The days of review were hectic. We needed to be at school earlier than the usual 8 a.m. class … Some of us would go to school at 2 a.m. and wait for the school gate to open just so we could get front seats,” Almira recalled.

Their hard work paid off, though, as the school got a 100% passing rate and twelve topnotchers! The three friends were just among the twelve who made it to the Top 10 from West Visayas State University – La Paz.

Photo credit: Panay News / Facebook

Almira shares the top spot with Jeremiah Paula Austria Caceres of Angeles University Foundation.

What’s a Board Exam?

A board exam is a test that professionals need to take before they could obtain a license to practice their profession and get a job in that field. In the Philippines, the tests are administered by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). The agency is also the one responsible for issuing the professionals’ license and subsequent renewals.

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Pinay Maid Retires, Bids Goodbye to Family She Served for 29 Years in Dubai

So many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have bad experiences with their employers, particularly domestic helpers working in the Middle East; yet there remains a lot who also have amazing work relationships with their employers as they are treated like family.

Aurelia Villarta has worked for the Tattarakis family in Dubai for 29 years. She had the best time on her job, with the family treating her like one of their own – and she was only leaving them for retirement, now that she is already 71 years old.

Photo credit: Gulf News

Auralia joined the household as their maid in 1991. At the time, the family’s youngest child Chris Tattarakis was just a month old while his elder brother Jean Michel was 3 years old.

The two boys would look up to her like their own mother, often sharing that they are glad to have two mothers. Now both grown-ups, the two would introduce her to friends in this manner: “This is Aurelia, my second mother.

Photo credit: Gulf News

The OFW has no children of her own; thus, having these two who treat her as their second mother was certainly a great blessing.

When you grow up in Dubai, it’s very easy to be consumed by materialism and get caught up with the bigger, better, faster and money-this, money-that [attitude]. But having the blessing of having two mothers and one father, and especially having Aurelia around, teaches you to be humble, modest, and hardworking. For that I am thankful,” Chris told Gulf News.

He jokingly added, “I’ll bring her back [from the Philippines eventually]. She’ll get bored there.

Diana Tattarakis was thankful for Auralia, saying that having the Pinay in the household was a great help because she was able to focus on her career without worrying about what could happen to her children.

Photo credit: Gulf News

In the course of her 29 years of working at the Tattarakis household, the OFW was able to send eight nephews and nieces to college. She admits that she will surely miss her ‘children’ in Dubai as she goes back home but she plans on starting a small gardening business in the Philippines to keep herself busy.

What to Do after Retirement?

A lot of busy workers find it difficult to simply slow down and relax, even if they are already old and have gone into retirement. For many, finding a job or working on a business after retirement is not really about the money but for something that still makes their life fulfilling.

If you are about the retire, we suggest you simply have fun, go on a trip and complete your bucket list, spend time with your family and friends, or just relax at home and enjoy movie marathons or reading many books. But if you plan on still finding a job or opening a new business, that’s also fine as long as you slow down a bit and not tire yourself too much.

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