Life is a journey, a mixture of ups and downs and a blend of uncertainties, which every living being must face, and I am no exception to this. On April 6th, 2005, the day when the prince of Morocco died at 81, together with the appointment of Iraq’s 6th president, Jalal Tabani, was the same day I was born. I received the name Blessy, a name that holds the hopes and dreams of my parents for my future. More than that, I was also blessed to have a younger sister and a family.
At the age of 3, I started schooling, and it took me almost 4 years to finish my kindergarten years, which is very unlikely with my peers, but I know I can read well, and I can count and solve simple math problems too, but it was not my time, though I was eager. My elementary years were spent at Marahan West Elementary School, a very poor school with limited facilities and little to no school equipment. Our classrooms were shared with other grade levels, separated by our teacher’s table. However, I kind of like the environment because I can be a 3rd grader and a 1st grader at the same time, though it was not conducive to learning at all.
Despite the challenging learning environment, I managed to develop strong adaptability skills and a sense of camaraderie with my fellow students. We learned to make the most of what we had, often collaborating, and helping each other in our studies. Although the lack of resources hindered our academic progress, it taught us valuable life lessons about resilience and perseverance.
For the first three years in elementary school, I took the lead. I was able to join different competitions, from simple essay-making to reading comprehension tests, storytelling to quiz bowls, and somewhat complex calculations to not-so-simple elements in the periodic table, and I thought that life was about these, but it was not, and it will never be.
Growing up, my family, especially my grandfather, has been my anchor. He was the best teacher, the best supporter, and the best of friends yet life always has its twist. By the time I was in 3rd grade, my grandfather was diagnosed with acute renal failure and his health started to decline rapidly. This became one of our biggest struggles. My mother did not have enough money, my father was not around, and I was just too young to at least contribute something even a peso was impossible to lend. My grandfather’s condition got worse as time went by until he was bedridden, not to mention the hospital bill was just too much to shoulder. We do not know what to do and where to ask help. Our life became a total mess.
On the other hand, my mother and her siblings were never in good terms. There was a constant quarrel, everyone was pointing fingers at my mother, perhaps because she was the eldest among the four of them. It’s as if she must carry most of the expenses and she just did. I was expecting that my father would help her, but he did not. He, too, was leaving us behind. As months goes by, I could see my mother struggling. She was asking financial assistance to whoever she knew and it’s just so sad to see her like that. We were in debt, but I couldn’t do something. Not long after my grandfather died. I thought that was it, nothing similar would follow but after a year or two my grandmother was hospitalized. At that moment, I decided that I would set aside my studies, I had to do something. However, the fact that I was too young and inexperienced, I ended up watching over my grandmother for months because that was the least that I could do. Then problems started to arise, my father was said to have another family, a third-party issue. My mother tried to reach him out, but it seemed that my father was shutting us out, out of his life and perhaps out of his responsibilities. I could not blame my father for doing such, he had his reasons too. Maybe we were not the family he wanted to have, because if he did, then he would not leave us hanging. After a month or two he finally and totally stopped supporting us. We were left with no money, and a broken family with a sick grandmother.
Despite all of this, I was glad to have my grandmother live another year but that did not last for long. By September 2017 she died. It was another blow for me and for our family. On the other hand, my mother was still battling with anxiety. She was faced with so many questions like where would she find all the money to pay all debts? How are we going to survive? How am I going to study? I knew this even if she would not tell me because I had witnessed it all, but I kept my mouth shut.
Moreover, I could not understand why my father must leave us alone. I already accepted that he was a kind of perfectionist, he wanted me to achieve great things, but he never supported me. When I presented him my achievements, he never appreciated it, but I was not hoping he would because I knew firsthand that he wouldn’t do it. I was not concerned about myself for I was used to his treatment; I was worried about my sister because I knew she’s weak. She’s not like me. I can say that throughout those experiences I managed to take hold of my emotions, I managed to be strong, I never cried in front of my father because I knew he wouldn’t like it and I never begged him to come back because I knew it won’t do anything good. I knew my sister needed a father, and she deserves to have a complete family but it’s too far to be possible. It will just make things worse, and I would not dare to risk another year of chaos and pain because it would ruin another life and I could not afford to witness such.
I remember, he even told me that I could never succeed without his money. That was the reality I could not escape because I owe him my life aside from the fact that he was my father but because it was his money that helped us survive every day. For years I was stuck with that idea not until he left us. I was determined to prove him wrong. I wanted to help my family out of poverty. I wanted to send my sister to a university and give them a better life which I believe my father failed to provide. This fueled me to keep going but I never knew which direction to turn to. Education was never my option and that is what I am certain of at that moment, and at that age. However, there are times when things won’t go as planned. I heard that my cousin passed an exam which I do not know of what kind but was said to have joined the list of scholars of the Sisters of Mary. This captured my attention; without a second thought, before my elementary graduation, I took the exam as well as the interview. There and then I realized where I was heading.
In 2018, I finished elementary school with flying colors, and similarly, I passed the same exam that my cousin took. I was officially joining the same list, and in a similar way, I realized that life is not just about the circumstances of our birth but also about the choices we make and the paths we choose to take. By April 17th of the same year, I traveled from Davao to Cebu to finally enter the school and start another chapter with renewed hope for the future.
My first year at the institution was very fine because it was so different from my life outside, there was less to worry about. I learned a variety of things, ranging from academic to spiritual knowledge. I admit it was tough; it was difficult to cope with the lessons because my foundation was too shallow compared to my peers. I might have joined competitions before, but it was not enough to keep up with the pace. Academically, I struggled a lot, but I managed to cope with the gap. I became a consistent honor student, and I also managed to bag different awards throughout my junior high school years. When I reached senior high school, I took the tracks Computer Systems Servicing NCII and Technical Drafting NCII, respectively, under Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
On top of that, I am very grateful to the founder, Ven. Aloysius Schwartz, as I have been so fortunate enough to be part of this institution, where I receive not only a top-notch education but also a nurturing environment that will soon help me shape my future. The opportunity to receive free, quality education, spiritual guidance, support, and love is a privilege I do not wish to take for granted. It has opened doors I never knew existed and equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue my dreams. The impact this has on my life is immeasurable. Thus, in the future, my vision is to be successful in both personal and professional endeavors (I am planning to study real estate management, medicine, or courses related to computers) while also fulfilling the mission that God has chosen for me. I aspire to make a positive impact on the lives of others using the gifts and talents that I have. By embracing compassion, empathy, and a strong sense of purpose, I want to uplift those around me, helping them discover and live out their God-given mission.