Raniel Madrona was a Night High Scholar from Siena College, Quezon City who graduated back in 2010. Because of his exemplary academic performance he was given a College Scholarship by ABC Foundation.
Raniel passed the UPCAT and enrolled in the University of the Philippines, Manila, to major in B.S. Occupational Therapy. He graduated in April, 2014.
Congratulations, Raniel! We are so proud of you!
“The only thing constant in the world is CHANGE”. Indeed, change is inevitable. All known things, may it be living or non-living, go through this process. Most of the people undergo transformation to become what they perceive as their “better” self; while others, consciously or unconsciously, experience otherwise. Frequently, we go through “change” to be able to cope up with the increasing demands of our lives, especially when we get older. Various striking life events and situations compel us to change and become who we are at the moment. My story which I will be telling below narrates how all my life experiences, as supported and influenced by all the persons I have been with, have provided me the learning, skills, and insights which molded me to be the person I am now, a “changed” one.
I am Raniel Angeles Madrona, a 21-year old male living in Quezon City, and recently graduated from the University of the Philippines – Manila campus, with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, last April 25, 2014. I am the youngest of five children, and was born from a married couple who were both natives of the Bicol region. Both of my parents were not able to pursue college degrees when they were young, due to financial constraints. Because of this, they were only able to secure jobs that would offer them a small amount of money, enough to earn a living. My mother used to be a seamstress and a laundry woman, but later stopped to focus more on fulfilling her duties as a housewife after bearing their first three children. My father on the other hand, used to be a family driver, who mainly provided the daily needs of our family. Both of my parents would usually talk about their life experiences and provide us with various lessons that can be applied later in our life. In relation, they would usually highlight the importance of valuing our education, as they frequently said that this is the only thing they could offer, since they have no wealth or possessions that we can inherit from them. They repeatedly emphasized that the knowledge and skills we acquire from our education, when maximized and used in an appropriate manner, would provide us a fruitful future. Since then, I lived under this particular principle. I always tell myself that I would never lose the opportunity given to me to study, and would certainly not waste all my parents’ hardships and suffering just to provide us with the education that we need. Because of this, I always strived to excel in every aspect since I entered grade school. I was a consistent honor student and was given various awards every school year. I usually win quiz bees held inside the school, and was also given opportunities to represent the school in various academic competitions in the district and division levels. I also finished my primary education as the batch valedictorian leading almost 300 graduating students. All these achievements have indeed given me the hope that I would attain all my goals to have a better and wealthier life. With these, I could say that my basis for happiness during grade school was focused on the awards I got from school and the praise that I acquired from my family, classmates, and teachers. I did not bother so much on gaining friends and enjoying others’ company, as long as I obtained the honors and the awards I wanted. But that was the “old me”. All of these changed when I reached high school.
I never imagined that I would be given the privilege to pursue secondary education in a private Catholic school near our place, given our socioeconomic status during the time. This would not be possible without the information given by my grade school friend that, Siena College Quezon City, with the support given by the A Better Chance (ABC) Foundation as headed by Mr. Lewis Edwards, is accepting poor, yet deserving scholars who are willing to study for five years in high school for free. We grabbed this opportunity as we knew this could really help in lessening our family’s financial difficulties, given that my brothers and sisters were also in their secondary and tertiary levels of education at the time. However, it was also during those years (specifically during second year high school) that our family encountered one of the greatest adversities in our lives: my father acquired pulmonary tuberculosis, which simultaneously occurred with his gouty arthritis, resulting in his inability to perform his role as the family’s breadwinner, thus aggravating our problems related to finances. Aside from this, during at the time, we also learned that my eldest brother, who was supposed to graduate in college, got his girlfriend pregnant, which also added to the difficulty our family was experiencing at the time. These events have indeed brought depression to our family. Many sacrifices were also made for us to be able to cope with our existing situation. My mother tried going back to being a laundry woman just to support the family’s needs. Aside from this, my other brother (third sibling), decided to sacrifice his studies and find a job that would also provide the family with enough amount to cater to our needs, as it is evident that the income generated by my mother from doing the laundry from different clients was not enough for us to survive. Despite these, I never allowed these circumstances to overpower my entirety and devour all my aspirations in life. Instead, these events have driven me to become stronger and to pursue my dreams further. Siena College has really been a huge part of this realization, as I have discovered God’s love and power through the school’s teachings and consistent reminders that God really has plans for all the things that are happening to us. Indeed, my faith has been fortified and my love and trust for God has deepened. Thus, our family situation has also brought us closer to Him, and made us realize and appreciate all His blessings amidst all trials. Aside from this, it was also during this time that I learned the importance of having other social circles (i.e. friends/barkada), as they also became my sources of strength and joy, during difficult times. Through them, I discovered the hidden parts of myself, such as having a “humorous” side and a very loving attitude towards people, which I never thought I had, given that I really preferred to be alone during grade school, and cared only about receiving awards and the like. Since then, I have considered myself to be a changed person. After all these trials, I have discovered the “real me” – a family-oriented person, a loving friend, and a God-fearing being. Without my friends, I will not be able to look at the brighter side of things and think in a more positive manner. Without my sponsors, I will not be able to receive the quality education that I deserve and aspire. Without Siena College, I will not be able to appreciate the love and guidance given by God in all the aspects of my life. This whole high school experience has made a huge impact in my vitality, and all the things that I learned from all these experiences will certainly be forever treasured in heart and in mind.
The blessings that I have received during high school continued as I moved to a higher level of learning – the tertiary education. Honestly, I really did not expect that I would be able to pass the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) back in August, 2009. In line with this, I was really overjoyed upon hearing that the ABC Foundation would continue supporting those scholars who passed the UPCAT, as I honestly thought that my family alone would not be able to fund my studies there, given that the tuition fee in this university has increased which would usually reach above twenty thousand pesos. I am beyond grateful towards ABC Foundation, specifically to Mr. Edwards, as the assistance given to me in the form of full coverage of the tuition fees, books and uniform allowance, and a monthly stipend of one thousand pesos, have really facilitated my studies in UP. Their generosity has definitely influenced me positively as it has given me “good pressure” which pushed me to perform better in my studies. Despite all the motivation that I have received, studying in UP has really been a challenge for me, as graduates of this institution consistently remind new students that this is not a “typical” university. Expectations of various professors are really high, and when unmet by the students, would really result to upsetting situations. Questions from the examinations are extremely difficult and beyond comparison. In relation, it was during this time that I have experienced failing various exams (which rarely occurred when I was in grade school and high school) despite days and nights of reviewing, which made me realize the need to double up my study habits. Sacrifices are indeed part of this process, which include limiting myself to non-productive activities such as watching television programs, surfing the net, and sleeping. Aside from this, I also regulated myself from attending gatherings with my high school friends, just to focus on my studies. Thus, prioritization is undeniably one of the key things that I have learned and practiced in college. In addition, working and learning with others is also an important aspect of going through tertiary education. My newly-found friends in college have helped me survive in meeting the increasing demands of our course. Through sharing, cooperation, and emotional and spiritual support, we were able to endure all the pain and hardships of being a college student in UP.
Meanwhile, I could certainly say that the highlight of my four-year stay in UP is my final year in college: being an occupational therapy intern. The training that I have received from the different clinics, hospitals, and communities that I have been to helped me developed my professional behaviors. Wise management of time has become a necessity, so as to balance work and leisure activities to maintain sanity. Aside from this, self-directedness is also an essential aspect of this phase, as our clinical supervisors are not always present to guide us in our planning and implementation of evaluation and treatment procedures to our clients. In addition, I also appreciated the importance of collaborating with others, as this is also an important characteristic of being an occupational therapist, as we usually work with the other members of the health care team (such as doctors, nurses, social workers, physical and speech therapists, and family members) to be able to come up with an appropriate and individualized plan of action for our patients. I could also say that my verbal and written communication skills have also improved, as documentation and communication of our findings are needed in our profession. Aside from professional development, internship has also provided me with rich personal growth. This experience has indeed become an eye-opener, specifically in dealing with persons with disabilities (PWD). Before, a bias against these people had really been established in my mind, thinking that they do not have the capability to be productive members of the society, and are mere burden to their families. All of these changed after numerous exposures with them and after discovering their potential when given the correct intervention, which can be facilitated by our profession. Because of this, I have realized how our profession could really initiate change in our world, through advocating in providing equal opportunities to all the people, despite differences in age, gender, socioeconomic status, and even capabilities. All of these positive things that I have recognized might also signify that this profession could really be my calling, as I find fulfillment in serving the people, especially those who are in need. This remarkable growth in the personal and professional aspects of myself has also indicated the establishment of an “improved me”.
All the changes that I have gone through since I was young, from the “old me” to the “real me” and then to the “improved me”, have helped me become a better person, as well as facilitated in building my confidence and hope to face the challenges of the future, of the real world. I will be forever thankful to all the persons who helped me, specifically my family, friends, teachers, and the ABC Foundation, who gave me strength and assisted me in all the aspects of my life. As I move to the next period of my life, I promise that I will further enhance myself to be able to give back to all the people that have supported me, and to share the blessings that God has generously provided me. My immediate next phase, which is the taking of the board exams for Occupational Therapists on August, 2014, will be another challenge that I must face, which I know that I can get through with the help of all the persons around me, as well as God.