THE FUTURE was uncertain before I learned about the Sisters of Mary. The biggest question in my mind back then was whether I could go to high school. My parents, both natives of Gainza (a fifth class municipality in the province of Camarines Sur), had to raise seven of us. I have four brothers and two sisters. And you could perhaps imagine how it was in the farm. I sometimes had to skip classes just to help out in the field. The harsh realities were not strange to me at an nearly age. My mother having to go the rounds of relatives or other people to borrow money, or to beg, so we can eat -- one could never forget that.
But though we were poor, we were a bit endowed up to here in the head. Both my sisters were going to college, all benefit of scholarships and as working students. Still they needed support. For my part, even I graduated valedictorian in grade school, going to high school was a question and my parents even asked me to stop for a while to make way for my sisters, to lessen the burden of supporting us. Still I did not want poverty to hinder my dream of studying all the way to college so I started looking for scholarship grants myself.
And here comes the Sisters of Mary School, an institution that provides free food, shelter, clothing and secondary education to poor children so they break away poverty. So what else could I ask for? When I passed the entrance exam and the interviews with the Sisters, I knew my prayers had been answered.
God’s grace would keep flowing as long as one knew where to look. SMS had perhaps built a lot of reputation with its students at this time that even before graduation, companies were waiting to hire graduates. I was fortunate to be one of them. I became one of the pioneering graduates to work as draftsman in a Japanese company in Manila, the SHI Designing & Manufacturing, Inc. (SMDI). Still, my sights were trained towards a college education. After working for more than a year, I started looking for schools offering night classes. I had to settle, at this time, on a diploma course in computer programming at AMA-CLC in Paco. I finished the course in 2002. One year later, SDMI transferred me to its IT department as a junior programmer/trainee.
My pursuit of a college degree did not stop. In June 2004, I enrolled at STI College EDSA-Crossing for a degree in Computer Science. I chose the school because its night schedules worked like those for regular full-time students. Being a working student is not easy, as I’m sure others who’ve gone through the experience would agree. But with the training I got from the Sisters of Mary School, I endure the most trying moments from financial difficulties to physical to emotional fatigue.
But even in the middle of all these, there was one thing I consider my greatest achievement: I was financing my younger brother’s studies from his second year until he obtained his degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in 2007. This was while I was also trying to finish my degree in Computer Science. On April 25, 2008, my sacrifices paid off. I received my diploma in Computer Science, graduating magna cum laude at STI. On top of that, I was 2008 STI Student of the Year, at the national level.
Today, life is much easier for me and my family compared to years ago. My mother does not have to beg or borrow, thank God. I am currently employed as Lead Requirements Analyst at Gurango Software Corporation in Libis, Quezon City. Now I can say that bright future is visible on the horizon. I just need to persevere and never forget to ask for His guidance and to be grateful always for the blessings that come my way – big or small.
My stay at the Sisters of Mary School opened new horizons and opportunities for me and for thousands of fortunate young men and women. It was a privilege to be served by our dedicated Sisters. It was inspiring to see them so inspired to serve the poorest of the poor. Although I never met Fr. Al, for he was gone when I entered SMS, I want to thank him personally for bringing the Sisters of Mary to the Philippines.
To Fr. Al, Mother Michaela, +Fr. Urrutia, my beloved Sisters, the dedicated teachers, all the workers inside Boystown as well as the students I’ve met during my stay at Boystown, Silang, Cavite, thank you very much! You have touched my life in ways you may never know and for that I will forever be grateful to God for bringing you into my life.