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Alec's Graduation: A Family Milestone

I know I’m not alone when I say this: Life these days has made it extra challenging to finish college. I don’t even want to talk about what happened to a UP student who ended up taking her own life because a big obstacle stands in the way to achieving her goal. Money vs College Education.

Jose Rizal University
Jose Rizal University

Current Bayan Muna representative and my favorite senatoriable Teddy Casino, answered one of my tweets at the height of the issue that college education is a privilege and not a right, and said and I quote: “Article 14 Section 1 of the Constitution answers that.”

True enough, when I looked it up, there it was:  ARTICLE XVI Section 1. The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.

But because we live in a world, and a country, where it’s not as easy as is written in the books, the journey of my sister to get that elusive diploma began.

A lot of things happened when she was in college.

Jose Rizal University
Jose Rizal University

Sad things, happy things, horrible things, romantic things, first things.

We were even enrolled in the same school for a couple of semesters and I hope I was part of the inspiration that drove her to take and finish the course I took in the same school.

Jose Rizal University offered a somewhat affordable education, accessible campus (not to mention the enhancements they’ve done of late), and an IT faculty that yelled of skills and talent (talk Valderama, Guarin, and the like).

Well, there were days when we were required to buy NCAA tickets when JRU played, just to pass PE 1-4. But we’re past it now (though I still don’t get the logic of us almost failing because of not buying the bundled bus and stadium tickets).

Our parents, and we’re not ashamed to say this, did not have steady income. Private school tuition fee was getting higher by the semester and expenses like projects and requirements, uniforms and events, kept coming. My sister had to go to school with less than what an average college student has. But she never complained. She would ask a little bit more and try to stretch us out, but that’s about it. She has a few things she thought she needed to buy, but again, those are average wants of a college girl. Sometimes we complied, but there were harder days when we simply told her, “next time na lang.”

I vowed to provide us both with a reliable computer, and through the help of our good friend, let’s call her TM, I got us an Acer desktop straight from Cyberzone, payable in a year. That was 3 years ago. Many of her artworks, my emotional facebook notes, movies, songs and what-nots, were created because of that piece of machine.

Her so-called "work station"
Her so-called “work station”

My parents broke off their marriage after 30 years of being together (again, some of the things we can’t control as children) while Alec was in College. That marriage was a bomb waiting to explode and when it did, we couldn’t bring ourselves to put it back together. They’re friends now, our parents.

High School Graduation @ Cavite
High School Graduation @ Cavite

Mama opted to go away for a year at a time to find herself and her purpose, and that took a blow on Alec. But unlike most “rebel” kids these days, she stayed in school, focused on surviving that ordeal one day at a time, with a little bit of angst on the side, and managed to stay sane (the hardest part, I should say).

If anything, I’d like to thank her friends, classmates and Danesh, for not letting her down when her family, unintentionally or otherwise, hurt or disappointed her. They were her silver lining, her source of strength and laughter.

Her Greenity Friends
Her Greenity Friends

Sometimes we would fight, because she had to fight for what she needed (and sometimes, wanted) to finish school, and then I kept asking, “why me?” (well, not all the time at least).

Keep Holding On
Keep Holding On

She fought with my father when he found new relationships (she never approved of any of them). She smirked at my mother when she called from Mindanao, because she hated the thought that she had to go. To be fair to mother, she left only after Alec turned 18.

Papa, Alec and Mama
Papa, Alec and Mama

She found the most generous Kuya when Jami decided to come back to Manila, and this time, for good. They went out on movies, PBA games, booze nights, and shopping (wow ah).

Our late sister Beng, Jami and Alec
Our late sister Beng, Jami and Alec

She met with Danesh’s family and even joined them on trips and vacations. A day after their graduation, my family got invited over to their place. I wasn’t there but I heard they all had a good time.

Alec and Danesh's Family
Alec and Danesh’s Family

She saw her other friends graduate a year ahead of her.

Faye, Alec, Sarah and Malou

She had fun while finishing the last year in school.

Enchanted Kingdom
Enchanted Kingdom

Until that afternoon, that afternoon when she marched on to the stage. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the moment I walked in to the school, I felt my tears welling up. This is it, Lec. All that you’ve worked for is finally here.

Alec's Graduation
Alec’s Graduation

That night I saw her life from my perspective, flash before me. When she was young, and we always underestimated her. Until she grew up to be palaban, talented and loving.

Alec's Kinder Graduation
Alec’s Kinder Graduation

It wasn’t a short, easy stint. Neither was it just a walk in the park. Life was hard. But it begins to be better. Now.

Her fellow graduates
Her fellow graduates

Don’t let anyone pressure you into anything. Choose your first company really carefully.

And when you’re there, don’t forget those who’ve helped us along the way. You know who they are. They know who they are.

Always remember that real learning doesn’t stop. It is continuous and you will meet different kinds of teachers in life. Have fun. Buy the things you like but were deprived of for such a long time. Go places. Meet different people. Stay happy and in love. Pay it forward. Help. And know that there is always a reason for everything.

Danesh and Alec
Danesh and Alec
Danesh and Alec @ the Graduation
Danesh and Alec @ the Graduation

I love you, and you make us all proud. =)

Jami Papa Alec Mama Me
Jami Papa Alec Mama Me

Postscript:

By the way, as earlier mentioned, this girl is oozing with talent. Check her works of art out. Oh and by the way, she accepts orders, too. Please contact her directly at https://www.facebook.com/alphaangelic

Damon Salvatore artwork created by Alec
Damon Salvatore artwork created by Alec
Little Captain America created by Alec
Little Captain America created by Alec
Her self-portrait
Her self-portrait
Beng Hernandez created by Alec
Beng Hernandez created by Alec

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