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UPAA-MB awards bursaries to Yolanda survivors


Eight of the bursary recipients (standing l-r): Shaira Wayne Tano, Chilet Mar Atok, John Andrew Acala, Wendell Saucelo, Razel Espedilla, Jasper Aldous Salvador Abesamis, Abegail Bacsal & Carolyn Pestilos. Professors (seated l-r): Zenia Mariveles, Anida Bernadette Lorenzo & Querima Jopson

By Jeusa Raflores

The University of the Philippines Alumni and Associates in Manitoba (UPAA-MB) recently awarded bursaries to 10 students of the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College (UPVTC) for their university education. The bursaries totalled $2,297.19 CDN or 92,117.30 Philippine pesos. The top three recipients received $400 (P16,040) each and other seven recipients received $148.14 (P5,940) each.

This is the first time that the UPAA-MB extended its bursary project to the Philippines and the UPVTC was the chosen campus as it was among the hardest hit by the violent typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which caused catastrophic destruction and ravaged several cities and caused over 6,000 lost lives in the Philippines.

“We would wake up everyday not knowing where to get money for school expenses like transportation fare, lunch and snacks, photocopying, etc.,” said recipient Jasper Aldous Salvador, a freshman BS Computer Science student, nine months after the typhoon.

“It has gotten harder and we are still unstable,” he further explained, adding that his father, who used to be the sole provider for his family, passed away last year. Typhoon Yolanda destroyed their home and source of family income.”

The recipients of the bursary are children of food vendors, pedicab and motorcycle taxi drivers, a farmer, a security guard, and a soldier – and some whose fathers are deceased. Seven of the 10 recipients have homemaker mothers and three have mothers who are snack or food vendors.

10 lives, 10 stories

Chilet Mar Atok, (BA Social Sciences Political Science I) said, “My father is a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) driver whose income depends on passengers. After super typhoon Yolanda, less and less people ride the habal-habal because they would rather walk to save the expense they would otherwise incur. This is bad news for our family because less passengers means less income for the family. This makes it very difficult for us to make ends meet, especially because my mother had breast cancer and we have no financial capacity for her to undergo proper treatment.”

Meanwhile, Abegail Bacsal (BA Psychology I) shared, “Typhoon Yolanda greatly damaged business industries, which pushed the prices of goods to increase. This made it harder for my parents to provide for us, especially when earning money was already very, very difficult.”

Razel Espedilla (BS Accountancy IV) also confirmed that the typhoon significantly affected their lives. “We are left with reduced income while confronted with the more expensive cost of living after the typhoon.” John Andrew Acala (BA Social Sciences Political Science I) added, “My family income is no longer enough to defray the growing expenses, especially those relating to my studies.”

Sharmaine Joy Enales, (BA Social Sciences Political Science IV – graduating) said, “Yolanda made it even harder for my mother raising six children in the absence of my father. We used to get a little income from a portion of my grandfather’s earnings from coconuts. Now, this source is gone because of the heavy devastation caused by the typhoon.”

Carolyn Pestilos (BS Management I) another recipient revealed, “My father is a food vendor at LNHS canteen. He used to sell snacks such as camote/banana cue and fruits such as Indian mango, rambutan, santol, etc. Since the agricultural sector was devastated by the Typhoon Yolanda, these commodities have become temporarily unavailable.”

Wendell Saucelo, (BS Management II) shared how the disaster affected them, especially his mom. “It’s very hard because we had many concerns to attend to after the disaster and my mother had a mental health condition that needed attention. We had to seek help outside Tacloban since we couldn’t find adequate facilities in the city.”

Shaira Wayne Tano (BA Social Sciences Economics I) also shared, “Our family earnings come only from the income my mother gets from selling banana cue as my father’s disability makes him incapacitated. Our already fragile situation worsened due to Typhoon Yolanda. It was more difficult to buy bananas due to high market prices.”

Jojo Pabunan, (BA Social Sciences Economics IV) meanwhile tries to remain positive, “Despite all the things the typhoon brought, we remained optimistic. The catastrophic event eventually encouraged us in the family to make every moment meaningful. It deepened our emotional and spiritual ties.

Jasper Aldous Abesamis, (BS Computer Science I) also committed to not waste the opportunity. He said that the bursary “will be another inspiration for me. I will surely be more hard working and will put all my attention to all my priorities in school – surpassing my limits if I need to. I will finish any school activity or class requirement assigned to me before its deadline. Rest assured that the financial support not be squandered, misspent, or misused – every single centavo shall be spent wisely and right.”

The bursaries for these 10 recipients was made possible through the efforts of the UPAA-MB, Inc., especially the fundraising committee, which held a breakfast fundraiser and the bursary committee, which communicated and organized the bursary process with the UP Tacloban Office of Student Affairs.

“The bursary project is a good mechanism to give back to our alma mater,” said Arwin Chua, bursary committee head.

The UPAA-MB, Inc. would like to thank the generous support of individual and corporate sponsors, and families and friends of members who supported the fundraiser. Gratitude is also extended to: Professor Zenia Mariveles, coordinator of UPVTC Office of Student Affairs; Dr. Anita Cular, UPVTC Dean, who facilitated the bursary process; and I-Remit, which waived fees ($60) for five transactions of the bursary remittance.

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