Berryl Opinaldo was a member of the Night High School Class of 2009 at Siena College, Quezon City. She was also part of the second batch of ABC College Scholars from Siena College, Quezon City, and graduated from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines at the end of School Year 2013-2014. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Entrepreneurial Management.
“Every difficulty is an opportunity in disguise.”
Life constantly throws us various challenges, trials, and problems which give us two options: to face or to run away from them. Every misfortune and temporary defeat depends on how we perceive them but oftentimes most of us look upon them as negative events which lead us to shut our doors and limit our actions just to avoid committing them in the future. However, playing safe will lead us nowhere and our growth will be too idle. In the end, we will gain nothing. No pain, no gain. We must go through a lot of hardships in order for us to understand and see that there’s sense in everything we do.
Let me tell you my story of how life gave me different opportunities which I was able to obtain not until I went through many difficulties. And if you would ask me what embarked in my mind the most? I say it was my experiences along the journey instead of what I have achieved.
I am Berryl Marie L. Opinaldo and I recently graduated with the course B.S. Entrepreneurial Management from Polytechnic University of the Philippines – San Juan Campus, dated, May 12, 2014. I feel blessed that I became a Magna Cum Laude since it was beyond my expectation to receive such recognition.
I was born and raised from a not well-off family to which my parents are working hard just to make both ends meet especially to us, their three children as I being the youngest. Both of them came from the province wherein my father was from La Union while Antique was my mother’s hometown. They decided to take the risk and went to Manila in order to look for job and hope to pursue their studies as well. Having successfully graduated from vocational courses Automotive Mechanic and Secretarial for my father and my mother respectively, it helped them to land a job specifically for my father as a mechanic in Banawe while my mother opted to be a housewife. We lived under the roof of my mother’s aunt. The life that we had was not easy to the point that I witnessed and experienced at an early age to be trusted together with my two brothers under the care of my mother’s grandparents. We continued our studies in the province in which I was enrolled for grade one while our parents are working in Manila. In short, we were apart from them for a year. During our stay, we experienced waking up at five in the morning as we need to accompany our grandmother to plant and water the vegetables and fruits, to feed chickens, ducks and pigs; while the boys would go to the seaside to tag along with our grandfather for fishing. Being in a challenging situation, I can’t help not to yearn for my parent’s presence although they did visit us but those few days cannot suffice my longing for them.
With this kind of set up, it became an eye opener and it gave me the opportunity to start dreaming for my future and to value my education which led me to envision myself to finish my studies, landing a stable job and giving a better life for my family.
As we went back in Manila to continue the rest of my studies for my primary education, I felt elated because my family is beside me and at the same time, I looked forward to meeting my new classmates and build good relationships, or so I thought. “Probinsiyana” or “hillbilly” was the term used to describe me after learning that I was transferred from the province. Being bullied made me put a strong façade by acting boyish, while every day I was crying inside and wanting to escape from school. I focused myself in studying rather than mingling with classmates. I endured everything until I graduated without me knowing that there is a good opportunity that will come on my way.
I can’t tell my parents that I wanted to study at Siena College, Q.C. It was a hidden desire for me since I knew that they could not afford to send me to a private school. Nonetheless, I woke up one morning with my mother calling me. I prepped and went out of our house with no any idea where she would drag me until we stopped in front of the gate of Siena College. She enrolled me in scholarship program called “A Better Chance Foundation Night High School” where all the opportunities and blessings started coming into my life. To progress, I passed the requirements they asked me to submit.
I won’t forget how my interviewer for the said program, Mrs. Agot, surprised me with her visit. It was my birthday that time, but she told me that it feels gloomy. Well, who wouldn’t be? That time, I discovered that father had an accident and he can’t go to work, and the financial burden brought about by his medical fees was a pain in the neck. To lighten the mood, she told me that I made it to the scholarship program, which made my day. It was the best blessing that I have received. I must say that it was a great privilege for me to be able to study in a school that provides quality education. I was introduced to different things which is unusual for me, such as operating computers and I ended up crying because I didn’t know how to use them, the school’s projector which I was frantically amazed at that time, and other facilities. Our education in that institution molded and stretched us so much to prepare us for our future.
Who would have thought that a “nobody” could make it to the top of the class? However, I have had to put tremendous effort to learn every lesson. I soaked my feet in the basin filled with ice just to maintain consciousness while reviewing my notes. I woke up at four in the morning to start my day with prayers and write down the important points that I needed to focus on. I joined group reviews, brainstorming, and a lot more. To sum it up, I exerted great effort because I wanted to learn. Until I figured out the easiest fix – to enjoy myself while learning.
Back then, we were in a group of scholars called “Night High School Scholars.” The five years that we shared were filled with laughter, tears, and most of all, the good days with each other. I missed the free snacks we used to place bets on what food will be served that day. I missed the jamming we had which started as a group until the whole class would sang together to the point of screaming our lungs out. Those were the memories worth remembering. Aside from building good relationship with my classmates, the connection I had with God deepened. My faith blossomed wherein every difficulty was put into positive perspective. Every day of my life up until now is what I offer to Him. I never failed to ask for His guidance because I know that trusting Him helps me to go on with whatever I do.
Actually, the last year of my high school, I admit that I became complacent. My performance did not surpass my previous accomplishments. With only a decimal point, I wasn’t able to be part of the overall awardee. It was heart breaking, and yet I have no one to blame but myself. Indeed, it was a wake-up call for me. The fringe benefits of my failure were perseverance and hard work.
I thought that when we graduated, the relationship we had with Sir Lewis Edwards and ABC foundation would eventually end there. This proved me wrong when they announced that they would choose who among us will be financially supported throughout college. In my case, Mr. Bob and Mrs. Beverly Sellar picked me together with Kathrine Malicdem. I remembered when we had the opportunity to meet them and I was literally speechless because everything felt surreal.
Four years ago when I started college, and mind you, it was a very challenging one. For starters, it was a tough decision to choose where to enrol in college. I let my brother register for me, however, he wrongfully chose PUP San Juan instead of the Main Campus where most of my friends were. This misfortune proved to be a blessing in disguise. Consequently, I started to be more independent because I don’t have anyone to rely on whenever I went in a place which I’m not familiar with.
Let me reiterate the benefit of my failure: Perseverance and hard work. My failure was my constant reminder neither to slack off nor to be complacent. I set my priorities and focused my attention to more productive activities in school. I joined various organizations and became an officer in a student assembly or student council as what it equates. Almost five to six times a week, I went to school doing projects, assignments, and extracurricular activities. Alongside with keeping myself busy, my parents my sponsors, and God became my solace whenever I felt burned out. Mr. and Mrs. Sellar, and I exchanged messages through email and it was quite a relief because I can tell them my worries, especially when I got separated with my high school classmates. They are always my confidant and give me courage to be positive and keep going.
Over the years, what stuck in my mind during business related subjects was in every difficulty lies a great opportunity. Our business plan implementation measured my skills and ability. I had sleepless nights. I was been rejected many times whenever I handed our marketing survey and offered our products to our prospect customers. I have to lengthen my patience over those people who were trying to goad me. I have to overcome my shyness and to show confidence when dealing with customers, suppliers, and panellists. Amidst of all these things, I was able to see what opportunity was being offered to me. I was able to meet great people who are in the business industry. I made self-improvements to which I could not imagine. My skills were honed. I learned my passion and what I want to be – a social entrepreneur.
Everything we did in school was designed to make me stronger. Everything I did in school was a preparation to the real world. Everything I did in school was a picture of what the real world looks like. After I tossed my graduation cap up in the air, I knew that the life that I had will change and there will be more difficult chapters of my life that beckon and awaits for me. And on the brighter side, I have the chance to conquer myself more, to overcome my pain, fears, and everything else.
Along with my journey, I was able to identify those people whose worth is priceless. I am blessed to have my family on my side never wavered in trusting me that I can do things beyond my capacity and their immeasurable love. I am thankful to my classmates and friends who accepted me for who I am and for they stayed with me in my ups and downs. To my professors who became my mentors, my friends, and lastly, my second parents in school. Thank you! I am grateful to ABC Foundation specifically to Sir Lewis Edwards and to Mr. Bob and Mrs. Beverly Sellar for they supported me financially and emotionally all the way without reserve. Above all, I thank God for He is always with me, never forsaking me.
Facing obstacles or failures are inevitable. If not, then life will be pretty monotonous and less substantial.