‘Dong, matanda na kami. Di na namin kaya ng lolo mo na pag-aralin ka ng kolehiyo. High school graduate, sapat na siguro yan.’ When I heard these words, my heart broke into pieces.

I came from a very less fortunate family. My real mother and father left me when I was a few months old baby. I never saw them since then. I only grew up with my lolo and lola. My lolo was a barangay tanod and my lola is a housekeeper. They sent me to school until I graduated high school.

In my mind, I really need to graduate so I can get my family out of our current situation. I travelled here in Cebu Normal University to take the entrance exam and luckily, I passed.

My lolo and lola cannot afford to send me to college, that’s why nag-ambag ambag ang mga high school classmates ko para sa medical exam, sa baon ko at sa uniform ko. My college journey has never been a walk in the park. Problems after problems and struggles after struggles.

Nagtutor ako, nagbantay sa tindahan, tumulong sa mga gawaing bahay at naglalaba ng mga damit ng mga classmate at kaibigan ko. Pinagsabay ko ang pagta-trabaho at pag-aaral kahit mahirap.

I cannot deny the fact that I am almost losing hope but I cannot afford to just open my hands and let go. May mga pagkakataong kailangan ko na lang itulog ang gutom. Minsan, pinagsasabay ang agahan, tanghalian at hapunan. There were moments I go to school with an empty stomach and empty pocket. Walang baon. Walang kain. Wala lahat. Pero kahit ganon ang aking karanasan, hindi ko pinabayaan ang aking pag-aaral.

CHED’s scholarship enables me to receive quality education and soon two months from now, I am going to complete my college degree that perhaps I may have thought to be unreachable. Up until this moment, I still cannot believe na mamartsya na ako ngayong Marso. Patuloy pa din ang pakikipaglaban sa buhay.

Truly, when you set your heart for something you really love, you can turn things around. Laban lang kung laban para sa katuparan ng pangarap."

- Domar Cimafranca, 20 years old, 4th year, Bachelor of Secondary Education in Music, Arts, Physical and Health Education

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