Here’s another inspiring story from recent college graduate and former Night High scholar, Erro Joseph Cunanan. Erro is ABC Foundation’s first seminarian.
Congratulations, Erro in your recent accomplishments, and good luck in the next stage of your studies.
Education is never a privilege, it is a right. It has been four years since I wrote down those words in an article I submitted to ABC Foundation. I am Erro Joseph de la Cruz Cunanan. I am a fresh graduate from the University of La Salette – Silang Campus. I have completed the degree in Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy minor in Psychology on March 26, 2014. I have received a Latin honour, Cum Laude and an academic award for the 1st Best Thesis.
I am a seminarian of the Missionaries of our Lady of La Salette. I am now an incoming postulant in this next formation year. These will not be possible without the help and support of ABC Foundation and all the people behind this institution, especially Mr. Lewis Edwards.
Before, I was just a young boy who dreamed to be a successful man in the field of sciences. When I was young I wanted to be a scientist. I also wanted to be an astronaut. Being a pilot was also one of the options I considered. Young as I was, I always dreamed of these things until I realized that these will only be a dream because my parents could not afford to send me to schools that specializes in such fields. All the while I thought that I could never realize any of the dream I had. This continued until I was able to learn about an institution that supports less fortunate children continue their studies in Siena College Taytay. Indeed I learned that there is always hope when you have faith. I applied for the Night High School Program and luckily, I was accepted. I was able to learn well and improve myself.
Before, I was a wallflower. I was shy and reserved. I didn’t participate in class even though I knew the answers. I waited for the teachers to call me before I answered. That was me when I started studying in high school. But because of the quality education that Siena had given us, I was able to develop myself and be competent in academic affairs. The happy go lucky me became a competent, industrious, participating individual who dreamed of more great things. Without the help of ABC foundation, I would not have been able to study in Siena College Taytay and this in turn will not lead to the change in me.
I was not able to graduate in high school with an award. But I thought of the much greater achievement that I received during my high school life i.e., an understanding of my true potential as a scholar and an understanding of my true vocation. This in turn helped me in my next journey in life and this led me to realize where I was called to. The five years of hardships in high school had led me to understand the sleeping vocation inside me. Without, ABC Foundation, I will not be able to hear God’s call. Without Siena College Taytay, I will not grow into a more God-fearing person. I learned that I have a call into priesthood. This was the start of the greatest transition in my life.
When I learned about the college scholarship program of ABC Foundation, I tried my luck again. Luckily, I was able to get a slot in their college scholarship program. During that time, I was already considering entering the seminary. But this is not like an ordinary institution because I need to pay much greater amount compared to some schools that I had tried getting into. This gave me a big headache because my parents also denied me their permission when I told them that I wanted to enter the seminary. This made me hopeless because I know without their permission and without financial assistance I will not be able to answer God’s call. In the midst of the darkness that covered me, there was a ray of light that shines to light my path. ABC Foundation once again became God’s arms outstretched towards me. They approved of my scholarship although our school is a private institution. They also gave me the maximum amount that a scholar can receive in his/her college scholarship grant. This gave me so much hope and I graduated without worries on March 20, 2010. I was truly delighted because of the fact that I have support from ABC Foundation and that my classmates and teachers are with me in my journey towards priesthood. What is left that time was my parents’ approval. A day before graduation, I asked for a graduation gift from my parents. I was nervous that time because I knew I had been rejected once and it may turn out just like it did the last time. But I gathered up the courage and told my parents to give me their blessings to allow me to enter the seminary as a graduation gift. Fortunately, it did not turn out like it did the last time. This time, they allowed me to enter and they told me that they would give me their full support. I was totally happy that time because of the many blessings that God gave me. ABC Foundation was behind me all of this every time. As if they are God’s secret agent working to fulfill other people’s dreams.
My journey did not end just there. It just started again but this time, it is a bit different and it is more challenging and more problematic. I entered the seminary when I was 16 years old. When I arrived there, I was with people older than me. The greatest difference is double of my age. From being a high school boy there I was being a man with all of those learned and matured people. It was a bit hard to adjust at first but fortunately I was able to do it. During my stay in the seminary, I realized that it was just like the life outside. It was just like a microcosm of the bigger world outside the seminary walls. We laugh and play, we clean the surrounding and we enjoy. We watch television and listen to the radio. We wash the dishes and wash our own clothes. The only difference is we have daily prayers and we attend mass every day. People inside the seminary are just ordinary people. We are just ordinary people living in structured and organized lives under strict rules and commitments. We have to balance ourselves into five aspects which is the spiritual, academic, apostolic, affective and community life.
The most challenging of all is our academic life in the seminary. Because of our busy schedules, we hardly found time to focus in our academic affairs. Good thing we have study period from 8pm up to 9:45 pm. This is really short because in philosophy, one reading is not enough. You must read and re-read in order for you to understand it very well. This in turn pushes us to extend our time studying after our night prayer. This means that we will continue studying from 10:30 onwards. This causes us lack of sleep that is why sometimes we could hardly focus in our morning prayer at 6:30 am. These things are the stressful life of a seminarian who wants to follow Jesus to Calvary. It is hard at first but as years pass by, I managed to get the hang of it, though it is still stressful. For four years I was carefully observing time-management in order to fulfill all our duties as a seminarian and as a student.
The most challenging year of my studies was the last year. This was when we did our undergraduate thesis. This was done individually. This was the time we applied what we learned from our past year. We use a certain idea of a philosopher to analyse, understand or criticize a certain issue in our modern era. It is a type of thesis that needs lots of reading and understanding in order to come up with few statements. This is where I really worked hard. I stay up late just to finish something. Sometimes there are no insights that come to mind. It is hard yet fulfilling especially when you see your hard work book bounded and signed by the panel members. This, I can say is one of the things I can be proud of because that was a product of my hard work.
I was able to finish all the requirements and I have merited the degree Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy minor in Psychology. I was able to be successful because of the help that ABC Foundation had extended upon me. The only thing I can offer back to them is my hard work and grateful heart. This time, I can say that all my hard work is not for nothing because I was able to receive a Latin honour, Cum Laude and an academic award for the 1stBest thesis. I was also the one to give a speech in behalf of our class. This is my thanksgiving to ABC Foundation’s generosity. I hope this simple form of thanksgiving can kindle more hearts to extend their help to less fortunate children like they did to us.
This will not be possible without ABC Foundation being there at the back of the picture. They silently moved to be of help to young ardent dreamers like me to fully realize our dreams and aspirations. This really gives us hope to continue our journey in life in spite of many hardships and trials that come across our way. Now that I was able to graduate college, I am now in my 5th year of formation. I will now be a postulant, it is a non-academic formation. I will do my best to reach the fulfilment of my dream to become a priest. I hope to be of help someday to the foundation that gave me hope and the courage to really say that education is a never a privilege but rather it is a right. I hope to be of help to other young ardent dreamers out there, like I was once before, as you did to me.