Top PNPA grad once entered seminary to get educated
CAVITE, Philippines — Police Cadet Glenn Tabo Santelices, who is graduating at the top of his class from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) this year, looked back to a life not a few Filipinos find challenging.
As a child, he dreamed of nothing but to give his family a better life. “I always believed the way to get us out of poverty was through education,” he said.
But it did not come easy for this 25-year-old native of San Andres, Catanduanes.
After graduating from the vocational high school in San Andres, his father told him they could not afford to send him to college.
“I couldn’t forget that because it felt like my world crumbled,” he recalled in Filipino. “I thought of looking for a job because I didn’t even want to skip a year.”
Santelices is a son of Heide Santelices, a Police Officer 3 currently assigned in Quezon City, and Ma. Gracia Santelices, a housewife. He is the eldest of four children.
“We had just enough to sustain us. My father had to pay his loans, almost nothing was left of his monthly salary,” he said.
He remembered the house he grew up in in San Andres that always needed fixing each time a storm hit the island. “There were times we had to rely on relief goods through a period of strong typhoons,” he said.
Santelices was 16 when his family moved to an apartment in Quezon City, after his father was reassigned there.
He said he was a year short of the minimum age required at the police academy, so he saw this as an opportunity to pursue another interest and at the same time get a college degree—he entered the seminary.
Santelices graduated cum laude with a degree in Philosophy from the Claret seminary in Quezon City but it soon dawned on him that the priesthood was not for him.
“I wanted to be a priest, too, but I realized, if I pursued the priesthood, I might have to leave my family for good. I just couldn’t do that,” he said.
He left the seminary to look for a job. “I tried applying to schools (to teach) but they just wouldn’t take me,” he said.
He opted to work in a call center and counted seven the number of times he failed the application process.
“There was one time I had just enough money for my fare. I couldn’t afford to eat the whole day,” he said. “But what’s more painful was after spending time and money, you still don’t get hired.”
Finally, he was hired by a call center in Ortigas, but the company was on the verge of shutting down. He resigned after seven months.
“I then applied to be a security guard but it was during that time that I got in here (the academy),” he said.
At the PNPA, the cadets are given a P7,000 monthly allowance, half of which Santelices sent to his family. “I only spent for what I really needed. Sometimes, (the other cadets) would go out (for drinks). I would stay so I wouldn’t have to spend,” he said.
Santelices’ experience seemed ironic—having spent four years of waking up to morning prayers to another four years of cadet training. But he said he didn’t find the two contradictory at all. In fact, “both taught me discipline,” he said.
With a guaranteed job as a police inspector, he said supporting the education of his three younger siblings—a 16-year-old sister and two brothers, aged 15 and 8, has become his priority.
Joining Santelices in the Top 10 are Police Cadets Bryan John Dayag Baccay, Allan Benedict Ramos Rosete, Ermelo Garcia Dichoso Jr., Jade Rivera Gamboa, Andy Ray Asturias Geronilla, Michael John Luciano Verzosa, Jayson Rey Sadueste Florin, Robin Llanes Martin and Ian Marc Serrano Polestico.
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