Graduation day matters for ‘Pablo’ survivorsBy Nico Alconaba
MATI CITY, Davao Oriental—Jeneva Mendoza had to rush to the dressmaker. A sleeve of her toga got burned while she was ironing it, and it’s only three hours before the baccalaureate Mass.
But Mendoza, a graduating student of Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (DOSCST), did not panic. This was nothing compared to what she had gone through.
More than three months ago, Mendoza’s family was among those left on their knees by Typhoon “Pablo” in Caraga town.
“Our house was spared but my father’s fishing boat was damaged,” she said.
Mendoza, the second of four children, said since the typhoon, life has become “really hard” for them.
“My father is a fisherman. My mother sells whatever catch my father takes home. Without the banca, we have no livelihood,” she said.
3 months to go
And Mendoza still had at least three months left before she finished her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree.
“I did not know what to do,” she said. “I just said, bahala na,” she added.
After checking on her family in Caraga town immediately after the typhoon, Mendoza returned to Mati City to finish her studies.
Mendoza is a scholar of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, which paid for her tuition.
“My father was able to pay the miscellaneous fees a month before the typhoon. My problem then was how to survive in my remaining months in college,” she said.
These months, however, were considered the most expensive, as Mendoza was on “practicum.”
“I had to spend for my teaching materials and visuals, and daily transportation to Mayor Luisito Garcia Rabat Memorial School,” she said.
Then came help from the city government.
“We heard about the scholarship being offered by the city government for the typhoon victims,” she said, adding that she immediately applied for it.
The scholarship was a P3,500 monthly financial support for the DOCST students, whose families in the towns of Caraga, Baganga, Cateel and Boston were hit hard by the Dec. 4 typhoon.
Richard Villacorte, administrator of the Mati City government, said the scholarship funds came from donations the city received after the typhoon.
“We had local government funds for the city’s typhoon victims, so we asked the donors if they would allow us to use the money for victims in other towns,” Villacorte said.
The funds, however, were only enough to cover 35 DOSCST students and 30 more in St. Mary’s College in Caraga town.
“We decided to give scholarship to third and fourth year students because they were the ones who could find decent jobs once they graduate,” he said.
This is so true with Mendoza.
“Immediately after graduation, I will look for a job to support my family,” she said, adding that she also has to spend for her review for the Teachers Board Examination.
Gerald Maimad, another beneficiary of the city government’s scholarship grant, said he will do the same—seek employment to support his review for the board examination.
Maimad is from the hinterland village of Sobrecarey in Caraga town. His family’s
3-hectare coconut farm was destroyed by the typhoon.
“But I never thought of giving up school,” Maimad, the fifth of seven children, said.
“I told myself that I have to finish college no matter what. I believed our life would be better if I continued with my studies,” he said.
Maimad said a sister, who runs a sari-sari store in their village, promised to help him in whatever way she could.
With the city government’s support, Maimad said, they were able to focus on their studies instead of worrying about where to get money for their food, transportation and boarding house rent.
“I am so thankful to the city government, especially to Mayor Michelle Rabat, for helping us,” he said.
Maimad’s father went to Mati City to be with his son for Baccalaureate Mass on March 26 and the commencement ceremonies the next day.
Mendoza’s mother, Erlinda, also attended the Mass. Celso, Mendoza’s father, opted to stay in their coastal village to fish.
“He will be here tomorrow for the graduation,” Erlinda said.
“He wanted to try his luck fishing to earn extra money to spend on bus fare,” Erlinda added.
Asked if there will be a party to celebrate her graduation from college, Mendoza, now teary-eyed, said there was no need for such.
“My parents have worked hard to send me to school, that is more than enough,” she said.
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