‘Yolanda’ SM fellows became educators
Following Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, Eugenio Permejo and his family struggled to bounce back, let alone imagine a future. Their house and the small carinderia which was the main source of income for the family were totally destroyed.
Yolanda has caused widespread destruction in the country, especially in the Visayas. Winds of over 300 kilometers per hour and storm surges of over 4 meters destroyed crops, homes and lives, causing extensive damage worth 95 billion pesos.
“It was so hard to bounce back then – not for a month or two when my parents redoubled their efforts to start over,” said Permejo.
But recovery came faster when Permejo got a call from SM Foundation Inc (SMFI), telling him he had been accepted as an SM Fellow.
“Fortunately after that it all happened so quickly without knowing we were already recovering, and good things kept happening. starting point for me, ”recalls Permejo.
Permejo graduated magna cum laude from Leyte Normal University (LNU) with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education specializing in English. He is now an instructor at Visayas State University in Tolosa as part of the Teacher Education Department and is pursuing a Masters in English at LNU.
“A few years ago, I was in training to become a teacher. Today, it is I who train future educators. All this thanks to the SM Foundation and the Sy family! he said.
The help of the SM scholarship
Since Yolanda struck the Visayas region, national government agencies, local government units, communities, the international community and the private sector have worked together to address immediate post-disaster needs in the region. SM is one of them.
In addition to the immediate relief and rehabilitation programs, SM, through the SM Foundation, has empowered the people of the Visayan region through the donation of a university education.
After Yolanda, a team of seven SM Foundation development officers flew from Manila to Leyte to select the new students for the school year. When the team arrived at the LNU Auditorium, they were surprised by the snake-shaped line leading to the university. The auditorium could only accommodate 100 people at a time, so it took them all day to conduct the exams.
For home visits of qualified applicants, the team was able to cover the town of Tacloban proper and other communities in the region. Unfortunately, most of the addresses could not be located because houses were washed away; many of the applicants were in makeshift houses along the roads, while others were fortunate enough to live with relatives or friends nearby.
Seeing the clamor of scholarship slots, the management team of SMFI decided to open more slots for Region 8 (Eastern Visayas). And because of the NGO’s solid reputation, many people, including balikbayan, have decided to get help through SMFI by sponsoring academics from the province.
As a result, the SM Foundation welcomed an additional 100 academics from the regions affected by Yolanda into its scholarship program.
Eight years after Yolanda’s assault, SM academics have already graduated and are now employed and are changing the economic status of their families.
From academics to teachers
Angelica Opeña, from Hernani, in eastern Samar, is another SM scholar turned educator. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a specialization in physical sciences from LNU, she currently teaches science in a private school.
“We relied on relief operations from the government and other NGOs. Our house was also destroyed by the storm. We waited for the construction of housing projects, but it was delayed. This is how a small and humble hut became our temporary shelter. “Opeña said.” We fought for years when the storm was over. “
Opeña heard about the SM scholarship after a team from the SM Foundation visited their school in 2014, when she was in her fourth year of high school.
“We were practicing for our Christmas song presentation at that point when our class advisor caught our attention and there we were introduced to SMFI. I didn’t know about the stock exchange, to be honest, so I was in shock when we were told to take the qualifying exam, ”she recalls.
“As I believe that taking risks is the key to success, I accepted the offer and after passing the exam we went through the interview. We waited hours for the results to be announced. mixed emotions when finally the results came out I walked in and didn’t even expect this to happen. I was really grateful that day because I was given this kind of opportunity that I will surely cherish forever, ”she added.
Opeña is looking forward to working at the Ministry of Education and pursuing a masters degree.
Sherwin Hidalgo, meanwhile, studied a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Saint Paul School of Professional Studies Inc. He is now employed at ACLC College Tacloban as an Assistant Instructor and heads the ABM department.
“Teaching was not my first love. But over the days, I developed my interest in this career. Now I love to teach, socialize and inspire my students with the things I know and the things I can. share personally, ”he said. .
He is grateful to be one of the more than 100 students who have received scholarships from the SM Foundation.
“SMFI has taught me to be content with what I have in my hands and to be proud of what I accomplish. Endless discontent will only lead to endless sorrow, but overflowing contentment will lead me. to a successful end. The stock market has encouraged us to prosper for the best that we can do, “Hidalgo said.
“If Tatang has managed to excel, he has endured all trials and criticism, who am I to doubt Tatang’s confidence in his scholars? This thought always prompts me to strive harder and be motivated to trust to God and Tatang in my university journey, “he said. added.
Tatang is Henry Sy Sr., the founder of SM, a strong believer in the value of education in an uplifting life and whose life serves as an inspiration to SM scholars.