Rolando Cervantes had always wanted to be an engineer but his dream had to be put on hold. At the age of 14, he already started working at a convenience store during the day instead of attending school, and then babysat after work for extra cash. He also worked at a carinderia as a waiter, cashier and dishwasher to help his parents make ends meet.
This is a common scenario in Manila where not every child has the opportunity to go to school. As another school year just begun, many families are scrambling to ensure they can give their children proper education. From basic school supplies to uniforms, the needed finances to send just one child to school can be too costly already. Add on top of that their daily living expenses, the children’s right to education is easily neglected.
“This is one social need that we, at SCG, are trying to address through the ‘SCG Sharing the Dream’ scholarship program,” said Anukul Kongrit, country director of SCG in the Philippines. “Now on its sixth year, this scholarship program in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) provides financial and material assistance to a total of 150 public school students in Batangas, Bulacan and Taguig City where our Philippine subsidiaries operate.”
SCG’s local subsidiaries include Mariwasa Siam Ceramics, United Pulp and Paper Co., CPAC Monier, and SCG Trading. In addition to this assistance, SCG also provides a life-skills workshop to help students become socially responsible individuals.
SCG Sharing the Dream looks for students who not only have good academic standing, but are motivated to rise above challenges that they may face, remaining steadfast to reach their dreams no matter how their living situation makes it seemingly impossible.
Kongrit explains that this program stands out from the others as it is more character-based rather than focusing only on the student’s academic standing. “SCG is all about sustainability for the future, and what better way to build the future than to invest in the youth. They are our future leaders, and great leaders are not necessarily honor roll students but more importantly, should have a strong character and a sense to overcome problems that the society is faced with.”
As one of the new scholars, Rolando described what a change this program made in his life. But before becoming a scholar, he saw how hard his parents worked just to provide him and his six other siblings all their basic necessities. Despite having a heart ailment, his father continued working as a fisherman while his mother looked for laundry jobs. Even finding basic school supplies would be a challenge. His tutoring of nursery students gave him extra cash. He would also go to their barangay hall and look for old notebooks to recycle
Now at the age of 18 entering his last year in high school, Rolando’s dreams are within arm’s reach. During the SCG turnover ceremony for the scholars, he proudly shared that he will be the first in his family to graduate from high school.
“Our dire situation and God are what motivates me to study hard. Most people would have given up, but I felt the opposite. I’m more driven and inspired to give my parents and siblings a better future than what we dreamed of before,” said Rolando. “Whenever I have problems, I would go to Church and before the day ends, my problem disappears. God has my back all the time, and SCG Sharing the Dream is just one of His many ways of helping me and all the deprived but deserving Filipino youth.”