SM gave scholar-graduates a chance to reach their dreams



By Rose de la Cruz


Now that they have completed their 4 or 5- year degree courses, the 270 scholar-graduates of SM Foundation Inc. feel deeply grateful that the scholarship opened their minds to reach for their lofty (but reachable) dreams for themselves and their families.


At the sidelines of the 23rd presentation of scholar-graduates of SM Foundation Inc. held at SMX last Wednesday afternoon, the graduates said they feel inspired that the late SM founder Tatang Henry Sy Sr. always had the best interest of those with the least in life in his heart. This caring attitude is what he instituted to the SM Group, through SM Foundation, which now undertakes philanthropic works of education (schoolbuilding and scholarships); health and wellness (upgrade of health facilities and health centers as well as medical missions) and outreach programs (like farmers training and relief operations).


Without the SM Foundation, we would not have reached this far in our lives and we don’t know what would happen to our future. But now we are definite about how to further improve our lives and those of our families by doing our best and striving for excellence, they enunciated separately during interviews.


Dreams and gratitude


Reina Joy Balacuit, 22, who finished cum laude and outstanding graduate of the school of education where she finished BS Secondary Education major in Biological Science in Xavier University, Mindanao said she plans to build a commercial building for her mother and set up her own school.  “I thank God for giving me his instrument Henry Sy Sr. and the SM Foundation, which gave me an educational scholarship.” She is 5th of 7 children and her father died when she was 8 years old. Her mother was a sidewalk vendor.


They live in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon. When offered a scholarship by SMFI Executive Director for education Carmen Linda Atayde for Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, she had to leave Bukidnon and board alone near school. Her allowance was not enough for her survival, so she did researches for other people. Her passion is medicine which is not among the courses offered by the SM Foundation so she took biology since she consistently topped sciences during high school. She still dreams of pursuing a degree in medicine but she has to look for a scholarship. “I am already teaching at Xavier. I want to pursue my post graduate degree first since I want to put up a school someday. I am reviewing for my board exam.” She vowed to support her younger sister to college.


Peter Paul Alcober, BS Accountancy graduate at St. Paul School of Professional Studies, grew up in Tacloban and survived tropical storm Yolanda in 2013 (They lost their house and everything to the deluge). He is third of 4 children of a rice farmer and a housewife. He wants to give his parents a comfortable life. “As a CPA I want to build my own accounting firm.” He is now reviewing for the board in Tacloban every weekend. He was graduating 4th year high school when the storm struck. “Nabalitaan naming ang SM scholarship so on Jan. 24, 2019 we rushed to Tacloban, from our hometown in Sta. Felipe. In our school 23 took the exam, 11 passed but only 3 made it to the interview from my school.


He plans to get employed in auditing firms like SGV in Manila. He is deeply grateful and happy to have finished college. “Without SM Foundation hindi ako nakapag aral.” He is a certified bookkeeper in the Philippines and United Kingdom because last December 1 he took the exam and the results came out April. But he wants to gain experience here first.


Christine Joy Tuzon, 20, a BS Math graduate from UP Diliman, 20, vows to send her brother to college as her father (a retail man in a beverage company) died in 2011 and her mom is a housewife. They live in Fairview in a house owned by her lola.  Since high school she had been competing in math competitions. One Christmas break she worked at the department store at children’s shoes. “The experience opened my mind to how difficult it is to be a saleslady and the different kinds of customers you deal with.


After the college and university graduation on June 29 and 30, she will look for a job although she also applied as data analyst of SM Prime.


Gerald Montillano, finished BS Accountancy cum laude at the De la Salle Lipa. His father is a parttime construction worker and mother is a sewer for a factory. The family rents their small house. He learned of the SM Foundation scholarship from an older schoolmate in high school (also an SM scholar.) He is now reviewing for the CPA board for October. After passing it he will apply. He plans to send his Grade 10 sister to college.


“For SM thank you is not enough to say how thankful I am because I would not be where I am today without SM dahil despite our poverty I still managed to finish college.”


Christle Marie Caparas, finished BS Education major in math, magna cum laude/campus journalism excellence award gold medal from the University of the Assumption in San Fernando, Pampanga. Her father is a security guard and her mom, a plain housewife. She is the eldest of three siblings (the second stopped studying but the youngest is now in Grade 10.) While she was in Grade 10 her mother told her she would not go to college. She cried and scouted for scholarships. In one window- shopping at SM Pampanga, she saw a poster and readily went to customer service to apply for a scholarship. She submitted the requirements immediately.


But why math? She confessed that English was her passion, but she took up math because that was her waterloo. Luckily with only 20 of them, the teachers had enough time to coach them well until she landed magna cum laude. She said she could not believe how her skills have been upgraded in Math. She is waiting for her board in September. One summer, she worked at the Parisian shoes where she learned a lot about how to deal with people. “Dati my perception of a saleslady’s job is madali lang patayo tayo lang. But when I tried it myself mahirap pala.”


“I am thankful to Tatang to the nth power. No words can express how grateful I am. He was my hope for my future.”


Joey del Rosario, 20, an Igorot, finished BS Electronics Engineering in University of the Cordilleras in Baguio City. The youngest of nine children, he applied for the scholarship because his siblings were all jobless yet. His dad is a retired driver of Philex Mines and his mom, a plain housewife.


SM was not my first choice for scholarship. May lumapit na international scholarship but nagback out sila on the same day of the submission of requirements for SM Foundation. Naihabol ko lahat ng requirements ng SM. He passed among the less than 10 students from Roxas National High School that applied.


He proudly says that many Igorots are now embracing education to bail them out of poverty. Those who finished college are now working abroad. He said he is glad the foreign scholarship backed out and he pursued his SM Foundation scholarship. He will now review for the board although he applied at SM Prime. He had experience working at Baguio City Hall engineering office during summers.

Abigail Casabuena, 19, finished BS Information Technology cum laude at the National University. She is second of 3 children. She wanted to be a pediatrician but this course is not offered by SM Foundation and engineering, though covered, has too many projects and requirements. So, she took IT, although she had to ask the help of her father’s boss (in a chemical company) to be allowed to use a laptop.


Her younger brother is in Grade 10. This Monday, she begins work at IBM as advance programming specialist. Her OJT was at SM Prime as software developer for tenants and venders of SM. She learned of SM Foundation from her sister’s classmate in college, an SM scholar. She lives in a house inherited from a grandmother but there are two families living there also. Their house is bare of appliances, just one fan.


“Before working at what I want, I would like to give my parents a decent life and fulfill their dreams. I have more time than my parents. Sila priority. Being a pedia is far- fetched. I plan to get masters in IT and teach.


For SM, please continue helping other indigent students. Super thankful to SM and the Sys.”






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Sunday, 15 December 2019
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