MANILA, Philippines?While hard-pressed to get his family through every day, journalist Rubello Bataluna always dreamed of seeing his daughter Phoebe finish school. But the dream died on November 23, 2009, when he and 56 others were brutally massacred in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.
Eight months later, Phoebe Bataluna is back in school, working hard to honor her late father with a college diploma.
?It?s very important for me because when my father was still alive, he really wanted me to finish my studies,? Bataluna told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Wednesday.
Bataluna and two other children of massacre victims, Hanny Mae Razon and Ian Subang, were awarded scholarships for two-year courses at the STI College System Wednesday on the initiative of President Aquino?s family and Mabuting Pilipino, a good governance movement.
Razon is the eldest daughter of Fernando Razon, slain journalist from Periodico Ini, while Subang is the son of Socsargen News Today?s Francisco Subang.
The grant covers fees in STI?s associate degree course in computer technology, a two-year course that they could continue to a full degree under the school?s ladderized program.
?It is good that you are getting education because you can take it with you throughout your lifetime,? said Mr. Aquino?s eldest sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz.
Cruz presented the scholarships in simple rites at the STI offices in Makati City. Razon is currently enrolled at the STI branch in Koronadal City while Bataluna and Subang are attending STI General Santos.
STI president Monico Jacob said the school system was ready to provide similar grants to children of other massacre victims as soon as they reach college age. He said STI would also extend help for the three new scholars to find employment when they finish school.
Now head of the family, Subang, the eldest of three siblings, promised to support his family and take care of his mother.
He had tried to contribute to the household by working at a tuna canning factory in General Santos City last year but returned home on the request of his father, who thought the job was too heavy for his son.
?This is a heavy task (as head of family) but I have to do it. I want to focus on my mother first ? I want her to gain a little weight,? said Subang, gazing at his mother Marilou.