GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – At the age of 20, Colt Ian Del Castillo seems to have known life in its deepest sense.
Del Castillo, who took up Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in Mindanao State University (MSU) in General Santos City, said his journey hasn't been easy.
“I came in the university with only my fare. Don’t have money for tuition fee, I can’t ask for more money from my mother who was in Kiamba, Sarangani cooking bokayo (a native coconut candy) and looking for more money for my siblings,” he said.
Seeking opportunities, he was left with no option but to ask support from his father, a municipal councilor in South Cotabato. Colt admits he is an illegitimate child and was barred from claiming his father’s surname.
“I had nowhere to go but to my dad, the tuition was about P2,000, a lot cheaper than other colleges in GenSan. So, I decided to give it a shot. When my father gave me the money, I was thankful,” he said.
Striving to succeed
Colt said although he doesn’t know anyone inside the university, it did not hamper his drive to pursue his dream of finishing his studies.
However, he admitted that there was a time that he almost gave up.
“There was a time that I told my uncle that I must stop, I have no money, I have no food to eat, I have nothing. But my uncle said, ‘No! Don’t stop, we will find a way,” said Colt.
Colt followed his uncle’s advice and pushed harder.
He became a student leader and became active in the Human Rights Students Association.
Colt was also hailed as Mr. MSU 2012.
Colt said he never forgets to look back and be thankful for the people who have inspired him—his mother who lives a mile away from his school, his siblings who wait for his successful comeback and his father who abandoned him.
“I think It’s time to thank my mom, because by all means she really takes good care of us, she never gave us to anybody despite terrible circumstances. There are a few things I need to tell my dad, thanks for your genes and well, he is still my father so thanks for the life and I hope one day he’ll have the courage to be a responsible man,” he said.
Colt, after struggling for four years, said he is more than thankful for his professors, advisers, classmates and friends who believed in him and in his dreams.
“Being a classmate, I am so proud of him,” classmate Vanessa Jesel Gaborne told ABS-CBN News.
“Colt Ian is a perfect example of a man who is kind, intelligent and responsible,” shard another classmate, Jimmy Lumindas.
Today, Colt will accept his diploma and his ultimate reward as cum laude, an award he is offering to his mother who sells "kakanin" (rice delicacies).
“I am proud of my son, that he made it this far. I know his life could have been better if I was with him cooking his breakfast, lunch and dinner and preparing his clothes to school. At home, I can’t sleep sometimes asking myself, if he had taken his meal, if he was OK. He really proved to himself that he deserves all of these,” said Colt’s mother.
Colt said he is planning to take up law in order to defend the rights of those like him—an illegitimate child who was deprived of rights of belongingness and a complete family.
He believes it is one way of correcting his parents’ mistakes.