We’d like to share a wonderful piece written by one of our college scholars, Sunshine Bondal, who is about to graduate from Manila Business College.
Sunshine was one of our Night High Scholars from Siena College, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. She was a 1st year student in S.Y. 2006-2007 and graduated from the Night High School Scholarship Program in S.Y. 2010-2011. After graduating as Valedictorian from Night High School, Sunshine became one of our ABC College Scholars. She took up BA Management at the Manila Business College, and is set to graduate in June, 2014.
Sunshine is one of our outstanding Night High / College scholars. She has overcome many obstacles in her life, and has recently shared her story with us.
We’d now like to share that story with everyone.
My name is Sunshine Apin Bondal. My friends call me Shine or Sun. According to my mother, my father gave me my name when I was born. “Sunshine” was the name of a character in a radio drama my parents used to listen to. It’s funny because my father and I have never really gotten along well. Well, I’ll tell of you all of that later. As Mr. Lewis Edwards of ABC Foundation always tells me, my story is worth telling. So here it is.
Before graduating from elementary school, my mother asked a lot of people for suggestions on schools with good reputations. We were worried about my high school education. I remembered one of my mother’s friends telling us about Siena College of San Jose and its Night High School Program. It was said that the school offered a lot of good opportunities so we decided to inquire. Aside from the scholarship program given to students who pass the entrance exam, we knew that Siena could teach me a lot of things like values in life since it is a Catholic school run by Dominican Sisters. I took the entrance examination and fortunately, I passed. Through the ABC Foundation, I was given my own sponsors, Mr. Walt and Mrs. Ann Strauch. They were my sponsors for the whole five years of my Night High School life and they were most generous beyond any expectation I had. In fact, twice they sent me a simple but meaningful and inspiring letters when I was in third and fifth year. The last letter they sent me was after I took the entrance examination for Manila Business College (MBC) where I am currently studying. I remember being confused at the time about whether to take the chance and grab the opportunity when I learnt that I passed. There were a lot of things I still had to consider at the time. Mr. and Mrs. Strauch helped me decide not just whether to accept the MBC scholarship or not, but also inspired me and gave me a reason to accept it. They told me to believe in myself and my family. They told me not to rush things and think about it clearly and carefully. But the greatest thing they told me was to believe in myself and trust my family. They gave me their support no matter what I decided on. Even now, I am still very thankful to them.
My five years in Siena was not very easy. I had to study hard so that my sponsors would know that I wasn’t wasting their help. Aside from that, my family expected a lot from me and I was scared to disappoint all of them. But the greatest challenge I’ve encountered was when we were forced to move out of our home during my last year in high school. Before, we lived in a simple but very happy life. We lived in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and according to my mother I was only two years old when we moved there to start a new life. Since then, we have never left Bulacan. My father was once a vegetable farmer. We were poor but we made it everyday with my father’s work. We were aware that we were just informal settlers but we never expected to be forced out of our home at the time and that was too soon for us. Representatives from the National Housing Authority (NHA) just came to our community one day and told us that we had to leave our homes. It was very difficult for me because it was also the time I was very pressured for my upcoming high school graduation. We were devastated and worry was eating our minds. But God had never really left our side. Our community was turned into a housing project governed by the NHA and we were very fortunate to be given a house there. In that house, we started to build our home again. At first, it was very difficult because as soon we were robbed of our home, my father’s work was done as well. So, we had to start again from scratch. It was a good thing that the housing project needed a lot of construction workers. My father tried it. Even to this day, his job as a construction worker is what gets us through the day.
My high school graduation was nearing and I was very grateful that again, I was finishing another chapter of my life. In addition to that was God’s blessing that I graduated as the Valedictorian of our class. My family and relatives were very happy for me and very proud of me. During my graduation, I was so nervous about my Valedictory address. At the time, I didn’t know how I was going to do it. It was an unforgettable moment for me because I’m not really good at facing a crowd. But my parents and Lola Teri, may father’s mother, were there for me and anyway, whether I liked it or not, I still had to do it. And I was so happy because, I think I did it very well. After my address, they were all crying including me. I got so emotional that when I came down from the stage, my adviser and the Night High handler at that time, Ms. Lani Julia, hugged me and we both cried. Then suddenly, a lot of the special guests approached and congratulated me including Mr. Edwards. Even to this day, that night is still fresh in my memory.
After that, another chapter in my life began, and this time, it was more difficult. A few months before my high school graduation, Siena College, together with the help of ABC Foundation, introduced our whole class to Manila Business College. We were given a chance to take the entrance examination there and fortunately, I passed. I already told you about how Mr. And Mrs. Strauch helped me to decide. I took the opportunity and before my fist day of classes in MBC, the ABC Foundation introduced me to CYMA Restaurant, my new sponsor for college. My high school sponsors, Mr. & Mrs. Strauch, helped me through my first months in college. They helped me with my financial needs and at the same time, since I started college, I receive a 1, 000 pesos allowance every month from the ABC Foundation. For the first few months in college, I tried to rent a bed space near our school so as to save money. Ms. Lani Julia helped me with the monthly rent. It was difficult for me because it was the first time that I wouldn’t be with my family but I did well. I successfully adjusted to my new life although on my first night there, I cried the whole night. After that, I started to accept the change. But it only lasted a few months. There had been a problem with my monthly rent from Ms. Julia because she entered the Novitiate. So again, I was commuting everyday from Bulacan to Manila.
When I passed the entrance exam at Manila Business College, I only qualified for their college scholarship under the school’s Unlimited Scholarship Program (USP). That meant that the ABC Foundation still needed to pay for my miscellaneous fees every trimester. But after one year, I was qualified for the Chairman scholarship. It meant that the ABC will no longer have to pay anything to the school. But because of that, ABC Foundation has given me an additional allowance worth 4,000 pesos every trimester. For this, I am very thankful because it has really helped me through my college years. I am so very lucky to have had these blessings in my life. And now, I’m about to graduate again. I am currently completing my On-the-Job Training (OJT) at the ABC Foundation’s office. Normally, I do a lot of filing and visiting other Siena schools. We also do canning where we put donation cans in restaurants. This helps us to collect money to support all the scholars’ financial needs. I am enjoying my time being an intern in ABC Foundation and learning a lot of things about the scholarship program.
I couldn’t have faced all the endeavors in my life without the ABC Foundation and all the people who have helped me. After I graduate, I plan to apply immediately and find a suitable and stable job. I know that it will not be easy at first but all change can be adapted to. I know that eventually, I will be able to cope. I still have four other siblings who depend on me to support their studies now that I’m graduating. I know I can do this especially now that my father and I are closer. I told you in the beginning that we never really got along. We always used to quarrel and bicker at each other. I think it’s because of his vices. He drinks and smokes a lot. But now, I am happy that even little by little, we are becoming closer. I noticed that he is now drinking and smoking less. I just hope that it will continue. With all of these, all my inspirations are enough to face the realities of life as I start a new chapter.