From Pasay to UP: A valedictorian's dream to become engineer
MANILA, Philippines – Barely a month out of high school, high school valedictorian Alyannah Terite is now thinking of the future and how she's looking forward to give back to the Philippines.
The 15-year-old is an incoming BS Civil Engineering freshie at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Students there are dubbed Iskolars ng Bayan (scholars of the nation) but for Alyannah, she will live up to being an Iskolar Para Sa Bayan (scholars for the nation) to help those in need because she is one of them.
"Laging sinasabi na ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan," she told Rappler. "Gusto kong patunayan ito na isa ako sa mga tao na makakatulong sa Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng pagtulong sa kapwa."
(They always say that the youth is the hope of our nation. I want to prove that I will be one of those people who will help the Philippines by helping others.)
The passion of the top student of Pasay City Science High School's batch 2015 to serve others in the future is rooted in her own experiences. She knows it all too well, how hard life is.
"Napagdaanan ko na po iyon eh, alam ko na iyong dinadanas nila kasi dinanas ko rin iyon," she explained. "Napakapalad ko na may tumulong sa akin kaya sa future, kapag successful na ako, gusto ko rin ipadama sa kanila iyong tulong na iyon."
(I experienced hardships in life already, I know what they're going through since I've been there. I am just so lucky that someone helped me so in the future, when I become successful, I also want to help really those in need.)
Money is a constant problem in their household. Both parents suddenly became jobless and left the family with inadequate resources for daily needs.
Alyannah often had to find other means to sustain her education. Even if secondary education is free, they have to worry about the daily allowance for food and supplies for various projects and requirements.
Paper, pens, and a small serving of food from the school canteen might be considered cheap and easy to obtain by other students but not for Alyannah. It was a challenge she constantly had to overcome.
There were days when she had to borrow from her more well-off classmates. Sometimes, she settled with what she currently has, though not enough.
"Pinilit ko na lang na gamitin kung anong meron ako at gamitin nang wasto na lang iyong mga iyon kahit sobrang kulang na kulang (I just used what I had and made sure to use them properly even if they were very inadequate)," Alyannah explained.
But the smart child persevered and just reminded herself that everything will be worth it in the end.
"Normal lang na magkaproblema, nasa 'yo na kung magpapatalo ka," she told Rappler. "Pero sa akin, kasi may gusto akong makamit, ginawa ko ang lahat at pinilit malagpasan ang mga problema na iyon kasi naniniwala ako na sa dulo ng lahat ng paghihirap, nandoon ang magandang kinabukasan na inaasam ko."
(It's normal to have problems, it's up to you if you'll give up. For me, since I have a lot of things I want to achieve, I did everything and tried my best to overcome these problems because I believe that after all of these hardships, I would find the bright future I aspire for."
Help from gov't
Through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Terite family is able to slowly but surely recover.
Alyannah is one of the more than 300,000 HS graduates who are also beneficiaries of 4Ps. On Thursday, April 23, she was honored together with almost 10,000 students from the National Capital Region in a post-graduation event organization by the DSWD.
Also called the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, this gives each family beneficiary as much as P1,400 ($32) a month for the health and education needs of their children.
With the money given by the agency, Alyannah's parents started a small store in their community which now serves as their main source of income.
With the little amount of money they've earned, Alyannah is off to college in July in her dream school and even her dream course. She promised to do her best.
"Gusto ko ipakita na hindi nagkamali (ang gobyerno) na tulungan kami sa pagbibigay ng oportunidad na ito (I want to prove that the opportunities given to us are not put to waste)," she said.
Alyannah, however, still hopes to get a full college scholarship from UP Diliman given their financial status.
"Na-offeran na po ako ng 60% scholarship pero nag-appeal na po kami na sana full na kasi kakailangan po talaga namin," she said. "Pangarap ko po talagang makapag-aral ng college, mas lalo na sa UP, kaya sana mapagbigyan."
(I was already offered 60% scholarship but we appealed if I can get a full scholarship since I really need it. UP is really my dream school so I hope they grant the scholarship to us.)
For the people
Alyannah however knows that the assistance is not forever and the burden to support her family will eventually fall on her shoulders.
By then, she will hopefully have her college education from the country's premier state university to boost her chances for a better life for her and her family.
Alyannah however emphasized that working overseas is not an option even if a lot of people are telling her to try her luck there.
Despite the higher salary one can get from a job abroad, she said she will choose to stay here and serve the very people who helped her in whatever way she can.
"Gusto kong ialay ang mga natutunan ko sa bayan kung saan ako isinilang at sa mga tao na tumulong sa akin," Alyannah said. "Kung wala ang mga tao, siguro hindi ko alam kung makakapag-kolehiyo pa ako."
(I want to use everything I learned and will learn to help my country where I was born and help also the people that helped me. If it weren't for them, I don't know if I'll even have the chance to go to college.)
In 5 years' time, Alyannah will add to the number of licensed civil engineers in the Philippines.
Her dedication, hard work, and perseverance despite an underprivileged background will make her stand out and serve as an inspiration to others. – Rappler.com