Studying for free and receiving a monthly allowance to finance my school requirements were just few of the privileges I received in my three years and eight months (7 semesters and 4 summer terms) of stay in Ozanam Study Grant Program (OSGP) of Adamson University. The basic requirement is hardwork and the basic tool is patience. Determination is not enough without hardwork but hardwork will not work without patience. Twenty-five to thirty hours of work week on top of studying hours was really a burden for a chemical engineering student who has no one to depend on but himself.
Staying thirteen hours in school five days a week, at most four hours of sleep, a busy curricular and non-curricular activity-filled Saturday and a Sunday-long manual and energy demanding laundry were really strength-diminishing making one thin-man like me vulnerable to physical infirmities, emotional infuriations, and mental perplexities. But I tried my best to overcome those ordeals and pursued my race against hardships because I believe that opportunities come only once and if I missed, it would take a decade for the other to cross my path. Worst is, there is a very minute assurance that like opportunity is coming.
Yes! I am one of the lucky chosen grantees and I thank God I was. I was able to send myself to school without demanding any cent from my parents; without forcing my father to fish in the dreadful, turbulent seas; and without asking my mother to scrounge from our neighbors and far relatives an amount enough to pay my tuition fees on due dates. I am thankful that I did not let my siblings suffer by missing a meal just to have an allowance for my own. I am thankful that I did not oppress their right to study on time or for not letting them wait ’till I am done with mine. I am thankful that they did not sacrifice their short and rarely experienced comfort for my own pleasure. I thank God that the grant gave me such opportunity worthy for me to sacrifice. It was a valuable treasure I should not lose, a remarkable memory I should not forget, and a precious memoir I should not abandon.
We cannot deny the fact that we are living in a world wherein there are no fair chances and no equal opportunities. The downtrodden receives less and the disadvantaged lives scarcely and being one of them, I am suffering the consequences of being poor. Our voices are negated and our cries are deserted. I was a son of a fisherman, eldest of eight, and is carrying a responsibility that is supposed to be of my parents’, a responsibility I was not compelled to. It is my prerogative that conscience-wise I should not escape and customarily speaking I should not defy. I am a Filipino and my family is my treasure – that is what I am enlightened to. Even though we are less valued, we continue to exist above all aches, above all sufferings. We are born in scarcity; we should not die on the same way.
Now that I am about to face the toughest challenges in life, I am using this very moment for me to gratify Ozanam Study Grant Program (OSGP) for leading my way forward. I am about to start my journey in a much competent environment. I will be working in a place where there are more complicated options to choose and more delicate decisions to make. And since I survived college, I should not fail to overcome the forthcomings. It is a promise I should keep.
After cleaning up my locker, I accidentally found a copy of my speech delivered to one of the gathering of OSGP Grantees. I almost forgot that I made a promise.