Dahil sa PHP25, Pinoy student na-inspire mag-graduate sa prestigious university sa South Korea

by Bernie V. Franco
Sep 11, 2021
Meet Ace Apolonio, 24, who graduated this year from Yonsei University, one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. He took up Chemical Engineering. Read the story how this man from a poor family in the Philippines achieved his dream to study abroad as a full scholar.
PHOTO/S: Facebook (Ace Apolonio)

Naging laman ng balita kamakailan si Ace Spencer Apolonio, ang Pinoy student at scholar na nag-graduate sa Yonsei University, South Korea.

Si Ace, 24, ay nagtapos ng Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.

Isa ang Yonsei University sa tatlong tinaguriang prestihiyosong universities sa South Korea na kilala sa bansag na “SKY”—ang Seoul University, ang Korea University, at ang Yonsei.

Pero nagsimula ang kuwento ng pag-asa ni Ace dahil sa PHP25 na tira sa kanyang pamasahe.

Nito lamang September 1, 2021, na-highlight sa ulat ng GMA News kung paano inabot ni Ace ang pangarap niya sa kabila ng kahirapan sa buhay.

Hindi siya napanghinaan ng loob sa ilang beses na mabigong makapasa sa scholarship programs sa iba't ibang bansa.

Idinetalye naman ni Ace sa kanyang Facebook account kung paano binago ng PHP25 ang kanyang kapalaran.

Ipinost ni Ace ang kanyang kuwento noong August 28, 2021, kasunod ng pagtatapos niya sa Yonsei University.

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(Though he was rejected many times in the past, Ace Apolonio never wavered in his dream that he would eventually graduate in college.)

Hangad niyang maging inspirasyon sa sinumang lumaki sa hirap pero may pangarap sa buhay.

Inilahad ni Ace ang kanyang kuwento sa wikang Ingles.

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“I grew up in a broken and low-income family in the Philippines,” bungad ni Ace.

Sa simula’t sapul, nakamulatan na ni Ace ang kahirapan ng pamilya.

Wala raw siyang alaala na kahit minsan ay nakasama niya ang kanyang mga magulang.

“They worked abroad to support me and my brother financially. We were left in the custody of my grandmother who was always so protective of us.”

Ayaw raw ng kanyang lola na matulad silang magkapatid sa kanilang mga magulang na hindi nakatapos ng pag-aaral.

Pero wala raw bilib sa kanya ang kanilang mga kakilala, at pinintasang magagaya lang si Ace sa kanyang mga magulang na hind nakatapos.

Pagbabahagi ni Ace, “My small town showed me what poverty really means. It's a disease that is difficult to cure, and it's much more infectious than the coronavirus."

Ibinahagi ni Ace ang pananaw niya sa cycle ng kahirapan.

Nagsisimula raw ito sa mga magulang na nais makaahon sa hirap at hindi matulad sa kanilang mga magulang na salat din sa buhay.

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Kapag nakatapos ng high school, hahanap ng trabaho para kumita.

Maaga silang papasok sa relasyon sa pag-asang may makakatuwang sa pag-abot ng mga pangarap.

Pero magkakaanak sila at maglalahong parang bula ang pinapangarap.

Ipapasa ngayon ng mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak responsibilidad na iahon ang pamilya mula sa kahirapan.

Mangingibang bansa ang mga magulang para matustusan ang pag-aaral ng mga anak.

Ang mangyayari, kikimkimin ng bata ang pag-iwan sa kanila at uulit lamang ang cycle.

Ganito raw ang sinapit ni Ace.

“It's almost impossible to escape it. People who never experienced poverty would say ‘just work harder.’ My parents worked as hard as they could, and for that I am grateful.”

Pero sa kabila raw ng pagkayod ng mga magulang, ang “economic instability” ay isa pang dahilan para ang isang pamilya ay maging isang kahig, isang tuka.

Dahil sa sitwasyong ito, ang mentalidad na lamang ay kung paano makakaraos sa araw-araw.

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“We don't have the luxury of time to see far in the future and think of the amazing things we can do with a nurtured potential,” ani Ace.

ACHIEVER AS A CHILD

Naging achiever si Ace noong elementarya at nagtapos bilang salutatorian.

Tumuloy siya sa high school.

Bagamat hindi siya honor student sa Lagro High School, napanatili niya ang good grades.

“I was still doing good but not enough to graduate with an award and not enough to get accepted to the best universities in the country,” pagbabahagi niya.

Pero dahil hirap sa buhay, hindi tiyak kung makakatuntong siya sa kolehiyo.

“After high school, I saw my friends attending the best schools, their tuition covered by their parents or by scholarships. They are destined for a brighter future.”

Pumasok siya sa Eastern University, pero inuubos nito ang buwanang sahod ng ama.

Lumipat siya sa Our Lady of Fatima University, pero nawalan naman ng trabaho ang ama.

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Huminto si Ace sa pag-aaral. Nagdalawang-isip siya kung makakatapos siya sa kolehiyo.

Aniya, “At this point, I just thought maybe studying is not for me.

"Maybe I am really destined to live a life like my parents—forever trapped in the circle of destitution and regret.”

Bilang last resort, nagmakaawa raw siya sa University of the Philippines na tanggapin siya bilang transfer student.

“But it was impossible because I lack trigonometry in my records,” lahad ni Ace.

Hindi raw niya makakalimutan nang maglakad siya sa kalsada ng UP campus, hawak ang folder kung saan nakalagay ang kanyang transcript of records, at P50 na pamasahe.

“A thought came to me: maybe I am not supposed to be here,” ani Ace.

Nasa ibang bansa kaya ang kanyang kapalaran?

Ginamit ng binata ang kalahati ng baong PHP50 pamasahe pauwi.

Ang natitirang PHP25, pinambayad sa renta sa computer shop, “Where I searched, for the first time, ‘undergraduate scholarships abroad.’

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“I still feel the smile I had on my face when I saw that there are fully-funded government scholarships abroad.”

Nag-apply siya sa Chinese, Malaysian, at Japanese scholarship programs, pero hindi siya natanggap.

Nakaramdam siya ng kabiguan, pero hindi tumigil si Ace sa paghahanap ng scholarship abroad.

Hanggang matuklasan niya ang Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP).

“In 2014, I applied for the first time,” ani Ace.

Nakapasa si Ace sa document screening, pero nabigo siya sa interview round. Nakasabay pa niya pauwi ang ibang aplikante.

“I went back home, inside a jeepney looking at the other students who would then eventually win the scholarship.

“At this time, my high school friends were almost finished with their undergraduate programs and I…I was still looking for a chance.”

Sa sumunod daw na dalawang buwan, nagkaroon ng “depressive period” si Ace.

Muli niyang tinawagan ang KGSCP committee, at nagsumamong bigyan uli siya ng pagkakataon.

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Sagot sa kanya ng komite, mag-apply siyang muli sa scholarship sa susunod na taon.

Hindi nagsayang ng oras si Ace.

“For one entire year, I tried to improve my application and performance in the interview.”

Dahil unemployed ang mga magulang, humanap ng iba pang pagkakakitaan si Ace.

“I sold my paintings, I made other students’ short films, I would make graphite drawings of couples, and I would sell the laboratory apparatuses that once accompanied me as a child,” sabi ng binata.

“I did everything I could so that I can afford luck because luck is not free. It doesn’t go knocking at your door.”

Nag-apply muli si Ace sa KGSP.

At sumapit na nga ang judgment day.

Sa interview, natandaan daw siya ng isa sa komite at tinanong siya kung ano ang gagawin ni Ace kung hindi siya matanggap uli.

Sagot ni Ace, “I spent years, blood, and sweat looking for this chance. If I don’t pass this year’s application, I will try again the following year, the year after, until I get it.

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“I am not going to sit around doing the same thing every day for a life that is never going to improve our lifestyle.”

Kahit sa unang pagkakataon, nais daw ni Ace na isipin naman niya ang kanyang kinabukasan, at hindi muna isipin kung may kakainin siya kinabukasan.

Pagpapatuloy ni Ace, “I want to look farther in time, see myself in a position where I can say, ‘I am proud of what I did.’”

Ganito rin ang sinabi ni Ace sa GMA News: “Ang sabi ko po is, ‘Andami ko na pong pinagdaanan bago pa po ito. So, isang taon po ako nag-prepare para dito. Hindi po ako titigil hangga’t hindi ko makuha ito. Kasi ito lang po ang aahon sa akin sa kahirapan.’”

Makalipas ang isang linggo, nakatanggap ng tawag si Ace mula sa Embassy of Korea para ipaalam sa kanyang pumasa siya sa scholarship program.

And the rest is history.

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(Ace's diploma from Yonsei University, South Korea. He took up Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.)

STICKING WITH THE DREAM

Alam ni Ace ang kahalagahan ng katuparan ng pangarap niyang ito: ang maging full scholar sa Yonsei University.

“Who knew that a child from a broken, low-income family, whose recent performance in school was mediocre, and was rejected by schools and scholarship applications would win a fully-funded five-year scholarship program abroad?” lahad ni Ace sa kanyang post.

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Hindi raw tumigil si Ace sa paniniwalang matutupad niya ang pangarap na ito.

“I knew. Because I believed in it. I stayed with that dream,” saad ni Ace.

“Every single moment of that journey all I had in mind was an image, an image that you see now,” pagtukoy sa kalakip na graduation photo niya sa Facebook.

“An image of me finally wearing that graduation gown, head held up high, with a smile reminiscent of the hardships I went through.”

Sabi ng binata, “I can finally say, I am proud of what I did. And I would do it again if this is what it takes to learn.”

Hindi nakalimutan ni Ace na pasalamatan ang mga taong tumulong sa kanyang tagumpay.

“To my friends, my parents, my grandmother, my relatives, my teachers in elementary and high school, and all the people who also believed in what I can be, this is all for you.

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“To the dreams that never faded away.”

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Meet Ace Apolonio, 24, who graduated this year from Yonsei University, one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. He took up Chemical Engineering. Read the story how this man from a poor family in the Philippines achieved his dream to study abroad as a full scholar.
PHOTO/S: Facebook (Ace Apolonio)
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