How a driver’s son got his IT degree
How a driver’s son got his IT degree
On Saturday, March 28, John Eric Dagos finally graduates from college – a feat that seemed impossible a few years back

MANILA, Philippines – John Eric Dagos barely warmed up in college when his father confronted him with the hardest truth: he might have to stop his schooling.

Money didn’t easily come by for John’s family. His mother, who works as a housewife, and his father, who drives for a living, found it challenging to support him and his two other siblings through high school and college.

John is a Bachelor in Science in Information and Technology student at the Don Bosco College. On Saturday, March 28, he finally graduated from college – a feat that seemed impossible a few years back. 

Drop out rate

John is just one of the thousands of college-level students who face the dilemma to quit school due to financial constraints.

Data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) showed that enrollees at 111 higher education institutions (HEls) from 2001 to 2013 have reached 2.56 million, while dropout rate reached an alarming 83.7%. This means that, every year, the country is producing 2.13 million college dropouts annually while graduates stand at close to 500,000 only.

Tertiary education enrollment in state universities and colleges also showed a decelerating trend, weakening to negative 1.2% growth in 2004-2005. In the case of private schools, the decline started as early as 2002.

The most common reason cited by college drop-outs for the decline is economic.


But quitting school was out of the question for John. If there is something he knows for sure, it is that he wants to finish college to be able to help his parents support his siblings.

Thus, he knew he had to look for other means to fund at least P30,000 per semester of his four years of tertiary education without putting financial strain on his struggling family.

In his first two years in college, John relied on school scholarship and part-time work to support his schooling. It all went well until his scholarship expired and the school announced that they are reducing the number of student assistants.

Running out of options and like any other individual looking for solutions to problems, John turned to Google.

Scholarship program

It was like aiming for the stars. John applied for the first scholarship program that appeared on the search page, mailed his application papers, waited, and prayed so hard.

He didn’t break the news to his parents about his application. The last thing he wanted to do was to raise their hopes high only to see them plummet down.

Hindi alam ng parents ko na nag-apply ako. Gusto ko silang i-surprise that time. Nung nalaman nilang nakapasa ako, tuwang tuwa sila lalo na yung tatay,” John recalled. (My parents didn’t know that I applied for scholarship. I wanted to surprise them. When they learned I passed, they were very happy, especially my father.)

Besting hundreds of other applicants, John was accepted as a scholar at the Aboitiz College Scholarship program.

Aside from providing financial assistance that is renewable every semester, Aboitiz also offers on-the-job training to scholars like John. 

These programs, including the Aboitiz Future Leaders Business Summit (AFLBS), have assisted hundreds of interns and scholars to prepare for life after college while honing their business and leadership skills.

Now on its 10th year, the AFLBS brings together close to a hundred promising college students from all over the country for two days to educate them on leadership and management concepts and how these are applied in a corporate environment. The next AFLBS will be held on November in Cebu city. 

Since its launch, about 810 students, including John, have already participated in the AFLBS  program. 

Kung hindi dahil sa scholarship na ibinigay ng Aboitiz, baka nag-stop ako ng college. Nakakatuwa na yung scholarship ang naging daan para makagradweyt ako,” John shared. (If it were not for the scholarship, I would have stopped going to school. The scholarship enabled me to reach where I am now.) –

The Aboitiz College scholarship program is open to full-time incoming first to fourth year college students pursuing a degree in Accountancy, Business/Management, IT, Psychology, Engineering, or Pre-Law. The deadline of application is on April 6, 2015.

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