New SM scholars presented to the Sy family



By Rose de la Cruz


A total of 1,200 new scholars (both technical-vocation and college) were presented Sunday (Oct. 6) to the Sy family, led by matriarch Felicidad T. Sy, in fun-filled whole-day activities held at the SMX Convention Center.


All the scholars come from the poorest of the poor families, who can’t afford a vocational or college degree but have big dreams of building a better future for themselves and their families.


Along with Manang Felicidad were son, Harley Sy and wife, Debbie, executive director of SM Foundation Inc. and SM Foundation Executive Director for Education Carmen Linda Atayde and Ling Lansang, head of the scholarship program and SM Foundation staff.


Five scholar alumni—Nikki Sotelo of Punlaan School (a tecvoc partner of SM Foundation) who now works as socials sales executive of Marquis in BGC, Ben Joseph Javier, of batch 2017, now teaching machining at NCR Don Bosco TVCT Center (another SMFI partner), Marc Rodolf Arca, batch 2012, BS Accountancy graduate summa cum laude at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and 4th placer in the CPA board now working with SGV; Moon Ray Lo, BS Computer Engineering, University of San Carlos in Cebu, batch 2011, who worked seven years with Timex and trained at its New York headquarters and Debbie Reyes-Ayson, BS Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate, PLM batch 2002, who is now based in Singapore with her family—shared their travails and what they went through to achieve their dreams, which wowed the scholars no end.


Among the partner-schools present were: Don Bosco, Sisters of Mary (boys’ town and girls’ town), Punlaan, National University, PLM, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Asia Pacific, Monark, ERDA, MFI, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Anihan Technical Institute, Dualtech and other schools from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Lipa, Lucena, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Olongapo, Zambales and Cabanatuan.


The program was started with a Sunday mass held by the Salesian priests of Don Bosco and then a welcome address by Atayde. What really roused the students was the “amazing” ice breaker (party exercises) led by the girls of Sisters of Mary that prepared them to listen to the testimonials of the alumni one after the other.


Harley Sy asked the students to dream and plan for the next five to 10 years and exercise discipline in their lives so that they would not be distracted (especially by computer games as he noted some of them playing during the program) from their goals.


He narrated how he had to please the desires of his father Tatang Henry Sy Sr., SM’s founder, that they all work in college, which led him to take up commerce instead of the course his mother, Felicidad, wanted for him.


 Atayde said that this school year, a total of 4,000 scholars of SM Foundation will be presented nationwide. This is the first time that the foundation held a joint presentation of scholars for NCR and some provinces in Luzon. Similar joint presentations would be held in the coming days in Cebu, Davao (to include Cagayan de Oro and other provinces in Mindanao), Bacolod and Iloilo.


The students had time to ask numerous questions to “Kuya Harley”—most of them bordering on growing up and coping problems—that Sy answered based on his experience. He also said that depression is common these days because of the “noise” (or barrage of information) from social media that affect their moods and how they look at life. “Don’t let these affect you or get you out of focus,” he said.


The Sy family gamely posed for selfies with the scholars before the final Zumba dance number was led by VJ Jun Guevarra. This was a followed by a march to the huge staircase facing the bay where the grand photo op was done by a drone before the scholars trooped to IMEX for the special screening of Lion King.


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