Those were the years when I felt I couldn’t make it to college because my parents were struggling financially. My high school classmate, Rowena, showed me an application form. I was too naïve to even know what a scholarship grant meant. I thought those things were just for highly intelligent people; I never assumed to be one.
On that same day, after class, I went to the Bataan Library with Rowena to complete the requirements. We were given an exam schedule. At home, my mother was delighted to know that her daughter was trying her best to get a college education.
I couldn’t remember if the exam was before or after our high school graduation. I remember that it was a Sunday and my parents patiently waited for me at the park, just outside the library. It was a difficult exam; one that I did not expect to pass. After the exam, there was a brief interview held by Ms. Dang.
She asked me if I had a chance to pursue my college even if I failed the exam. I honestly answered “maybe not.” It was not because I wanted her to pity me or to accept me as their scholar; but because I believed that I had no chance to other scholarship grants. Fast-forward, I passed the exam and interview but Bataan Christian Youth Foundation Inc (BCYFI) had to put me under waiting list. This meant that I would have to wait until my second year of college to be able to have the scholarship grant or I had the option to delay my college for a year if out-of-our-pocket expense was not possible. We chose the former case, I went to Baguio in May of that year and I waited for a year for my scholarship.
Summer of the following year, I was visible during the BCYFI events. I wanted to make up for the lost times as I seldom went home when I was in college. I wanted so much to be part of our group; our group of hopeful and ambitious individuals. The best summer that I had was when I met the children of our Japanese sponsors. I wish that email and Facebook were already available at that time to nourish our budding friendship. Takayuki, Yoshie 1 and Yoshie 2 were the most memorable ones.
Ms. Annie (I am not sure of her position in BCYFI) told us that our RKK (Risho Kosei Kai) sponsors donate one meal budget in a day and the money that they were able to save were sent to the Philippines for our studies.
I had a happy two-years stay in the BCYFI group. My happy days were cut short by a personal issue and I felt really bad about it. I never went back to BCYFI not out of ingratitude but rather, out of shame.
I have always wanted to reconnect, to thank Ms. Dang, Ms. Annie and Sir Nestor for all the love, support and understanding but I never had the courage to simply go back to say those words.
Decades later, the 400+ scholars that BCYFI and RKK nurtured are united through a Facebook group chat to discuss our plans for the relocation of our beloved library/BCYFI building. Rina, a classmate and one of the most active scholars during our time, is hurting about the turn of events. To cheer her up, I told her that the relocation of the library/BCYFI building could be a blessing (or a blessing in disguise!) because if the scholars would be united to be part of the relocation and construction, then the new site would have been our legacy.