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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

Help Pours in for Bread Vendor Caught by Cops for Having No Driver’s License

His wife recently gave birth to their baby; thus, one bread vendor woke up extra early to bring his goods around the town in Sibulan, Negros Oriental in central Philippines. But he was among the many who were caught for driving with no driver’s license.

Because he didn’t have a license, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Highway Patrol Group (HPG) impounded his motorcycle.

Photo credit: DYWC RMN DGTE (DYWC Dumaguete) / Facebook

With just Php200 in sales and still a lot of bread in his modified motorcycle, 48-year-old Ruel Leong could not help but cry as he tried to plead for consideration from the HPG. But the cops wanted to set an example to everyone by upholding the law. This led to a heated debate over law and compassion on local social media pages.

With no means to sell his bread because the motorcycle was impounded, Manong Ruel could only cry as he watched the HPG wheel his ride away.

Photo credit: DYWC RMN DGTE (DYWC Dumaguete) / Facebook

Local radio station DYWC RMN DGTE (DYWC Dumaguete) shared photos of Manong Ruel, encouraging people to buy his bread. The goods were brought to PNP Sibulan – and many people arrived to help the old man!

And while many helped, there were also those who debated over whether it was right for the cops to take his motorcycle. After all, this could lead to loss of income for the next days, probably even months!

Considering how high the penalties are for violations like not wearing a helmet and not having a driver’s license, Manong Ruel didn’t have the means to get his motorcycle back. Moreover, he needs to have a driver’s license before he could get the motorcycle.

Enter Jhae Calma, a member of Charity Riders from Mindanao. The group heard of Manong Ruel’s plight and expressed willingness to help. Not only will they shoulder the fees that the old vendor needs to pay in the violations he committed, they will also help him get a license!

Photo credit: DYWC RMN DGTE (DYWC Dumaguete) / Facebook

As netizen Jeffrey T Marabolas put it:

Two great points:

A police enforcing a law without exemption.

Hope in humanity restored thru those who offered help.

What is Compassion?

Compassion is the feeling of sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

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Kid Goes Viral for Selling Dried Fish to Support Sick Dad and Send Himself to School

His dad is sick and he already lost his mother, but a kid refused to give up in life. Instead, he decided to sell dried fish to support his dad and help send himself to school. This admirable determination drew netizens’ attention, leading to this kid going viral.

According to Jewel Rashia, she and her mother were eating at Jollibee Pateros when her mom noticed the kid selling downstairs. They watched the kid from the glass window, seeing him happily selling the dried fish and ‘tinapa’ to several Jollibee customers.

Photo credit: Jewel Rashia / Facebook

The staff at this store did not mind that this kid went inside the store to sell his goods, seeing that he is determined to support himself.

When the kid arrived at the second floor where Jewel and her mom were eating, he began to pitch his goods – and they were quite impressed that he made it sound like a great commercial! Jewel’s mom bought some from the kid, all the way also interviewing him.

Photo credit: Jewel Rashia / Facebook

They learned that his name is Lance and he lives at the Gawad Kalinga Village in Sta. Ana. Because he lost his mother and his dad is sick, a tita sends him to school but the money is not enough. So, he sells dried fish and ‘tinapa’ to meet their day to day needs as well as help earn money for the things he needed for school.

He was teary-eyed as he shared his story, yet still determined to do his best to sell his goods to earn some money. He does not mind walking far so he could bring his products to many places so he could, hopefully, sell everything before returning home.

Photo credit: Jewel Rashia / Facebook

Touched by his story, Jewel shared his photos and encouraged netizens to buy from him should they see him in the street.

What is ‘Tinapa’?

‘Tinapa’ is a Filipino term for fish that is preserved through the process of smoking. Technically, any fish could be used as tinapa, but bangus and galunggong are the top choices.

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Foreigner Cleans Up Popular Boulevard in Southern Philippines

It is so sad that a lot of Filipinos lack discipline and don’t really care about the environment. This leads to canals and streets getting clogged up by various garbage that were carelessly thrown away. Of course, many of the garbage eventually find their way to the rivers and seas, making the beaches dirty and the seas polluted.

Photo credit: Jovi Mira / Facebook

Recently, a foreigner was spotted cleaning up a popular boulevard in Southern Philippines, leading many people to express their admiration at his actions and sadness that many Filipinos don’t care about cleaning up our own country.

Photo credit: Jovi Mira / Facebook

Jovi Mira shared pictures taken at the boulevard of Dipolog City. According to Mira, he saw the foreigner cleaning up the beach. With his shirt and footwear off, the foreigner whom Mira identified as Simo Aaltonen from Finland wore shorts to best clean up the beach and reach the dirty parts kissed by the seawater.

Photo credit: Jovi Mira / Facebook

Based on the trash piles Aaltonen placed on the boulevard’s seawall, it was clear that the beach was dirty with varied garbage. There are plenty of plastic bags, water and softdrinks plastic bottles, glass bottles, and even slippers, shoes, and a shoulder bag!

Photo credit: Jovi Mira / Facebook

The foreigner did not mind getting wet and dirty on that beach, because he cared enough for the environment to clean it up.

Photo credit: Jovi Mira / Facebook

He doesn’t even have to do this, technically, as he is a visitor to this country and this is not his trash! Yet he shows everyone that it is important for us to care about the environment because this is our planet – and we have nowhere to go to if it gets filled entirely of trash.

Photo credit: Jovi Mira / Facebook

In his early morning cleanup, the foreigner was able to gather several sacks of trash. This earned him much praise from netizens who wished that everyone would do their share to help save the environment and keep our planet clean.

Photo credit: Jovi Mira / Facebook

What is a Boulevard?

A boulevard is a type of road that is wide and is often lined with trees. This is also a type of road that is often seen in coastal areas where people can take a stroll while enjoying the beach.

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