For these 3 Pinoy scholars, poverty is not an excuse

By Maria Aleta Nieva Nishimori,

Posted at May 31 2014 01:02 PM | Updated as of Jun 02 2014 05:14 PM

SM patriarch Henry Sy Sr., wife Felicidad T. Sy and SM Chief Executive Officer Hans T. Sy at the dinner for scholars of the SM Foundation. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for

MANILA – Three Filipino scholars showed that being poor was not an excuse for not fulfilling the dream of finishing college.

Kenneth Pangilinan, Kent Mission, and Jamaica Englis are among the 18th batch of scholar-graduates of SM Foundation. The three finished a degree in BS accountancy and graduated from their respective schools with Latin honors.

Pangilinan studied at the Holy Angel University in Pampanga, while Englis went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu. They both graduated summa cum laude. On the other hand, Mission, a cum laude, graduated from the Liceo de Cagayan University.

Kenneth L. Pangilinan, Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, stands beside his mother, Yolanda, during the Presentation of the 18th batch of SM Scholars held on Wednesday at the SMX Convention Center. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews

"There are a lot of opportunities, just look for them and grab them. Like me, I never really expected I'll be here, somehow it was already impossible for me, pero with God's grace and with the help of "Tatang" and SM Foundation, now I'm here," Pangilinan told in an interview.

The "Tatang" that Pangilinan was referring to is SM patriarch, Henry Sy Sr. The three were among the 220 scholar graduates of SM Foundation. The foundation's 18th batch of scholar graduates produced six summa cum laude, 19 magna cum laude, 29 cum laude, and 15 with academic distinctions.

"It's actually a good feeling na di mo pino-problema ang tuition, then you receive an allowance. Nakapag-focus po ako sa pagaaral ko. Napakalaking tulong po, especially sa father ko po, he's a wood carver, and hindi din ganun ka regular yung trabaho niya. My mother is a housewife," Pangilinan said.

Pursuing their dreams

Each scholar has a unique story to tell on how an opportunity like a scholarship grant opened the door for them to pursue their dreams despite the hardships and many challenges that their families faced.

"Kung may gusto silang i-pursue, wag silang medaling mawalan ng pag-asa kasi may mga taong willing mag help," said Englis. "SM has really encouraged me to do all the means to reach my dreams".

Jamaica P. Englis, Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, University of San Carlos

Five years ago, Englis shared that she made a difficult decision on what course to take and which school to attend in college.

"I already felt the pressure being the eldest child. I had to carefully choose the course which will give my family a better future," she said.

Englis really wanted to be a doctor. But she realized that her dream was just too high and her parents wouldn't be able to afford her education.

"Yes, I was not able to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. But right now, I'm so proud and happy to say that I'm in the process of becoming a CPA. I believe it's what God has planned for me in the first place. His plans are always the best," she said.

Mission has another story to tell. The scholarship has given him the chance to improve the life of his family.

Kent B. Mission, Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, Liceo de Cagayan University

"Yung bahay namin maliit lang, 5x4, saka malapit na talagang mag give up. Hinihintay na lang akong magtrabaho para ma-repair. Konting kembot na lang baka yung paa namin nasa lupa na. Inaasahan ako ng family ko. Determined naman ako kasi," he said.

Aside from that, Mission said they have no electricity which made studying even more difficult for him.

"Pag merong time nasa library ako kasi scholar ako kailangang mag-maintain ng grado. Gusto ko din patunayan sa SM Foundation na deserving ako na student nila kaya heto pinaghirapan ko, naging cum laude ako kahit sobrang hirap ng buhay," he said.

But aside from the free tuition and allowances that comes with being an SM Scholar, Mission said it also made him experience some of his "firsts" in life.

"First time kong makapunta ng airport namin, nakasakay ng eroplano. First time kong nakatapak sa NAIA tapos dito sa SM MOA," he said. "Super grateful ako, parang ipinapakita ni God sa akin na malapit na ako sa success. Konti na lang magiging CPA na ako tutulungan ko si Mama ko at kapatid kong bunso," he said.

When asked what makes him cheerful despite the difficulties in his life, he said, "Acceptance kung anong meron ako yun lang. Kailangan ngumiti ako kay God, ay challenge ito."