Five hundred high school graduates were recently awarded scholarship grants by SM Foundation Inc. at the Mall of Asia Arena Annex building for those coming from Metro Manila and nearby Luzon provinces, and simultaneously in SM stores and malls in different parts of the country.
Of the scholars, 35 percent are from the National Capital Region and 65 percent from the provinces.
SM Foundation added new areas to this year’s batch of scholars, namely Daet, Sorsogon and Bataan. The last batch of scholars (for those taking five-year courses) from the Typhoon “Yolanda”-devastated regions have graduated this year.
The awarding of scholarship certificates was witnessed by “Nanang” Felicidad T. Sy, wife of SM founder, the late “Tatang” Henry Sy Sr., and their son Harley Sy, Executive Director of SMIC, together with SM Foundation board of trustees led by its president, Jose Sio, Executive Director Debbie Sy, and trustees Dr. Lydia Echauz and engineer Ramon Gil Macapagal.
Sio exhorted the awardees to focus on their studies, work hard and strive to achieve their dreams and goals, the same tenets that drove Henry Sy Sr. to greatness. He told them of the extreme financial challenges “Tatang” faced in his life but withstood all of these because of these tenets.
Harley Sy urged the parents in attendance to always be there to support their children every step of the way.
“The foundation can’t do it alone, neither can your children. Be there for them for this is a family undertaking,” he said.
Echauz and Debbie Sy urged the scholars to work hard and do your best to reach the top.
“The foundation is now part of your family,” they said.
Macapagal said the scholars must use the grade requirement and academic challenges as compass to their success.
“Put all your efforts to be excellent in the next four or five years. Your parents and your SM family will be there to support you and of course never forget to ask help from your God,” he said.
Scholars speak: Marvin Perez, 29, who finished electronics and communications engineering at Bulacan State University, immediately found a job in Alkabr, Saudi Arabia. He took his special licensing board exam in the embassy while working for Rezayat, an IT conglomerate.
He told the incoming scholars not to waste this opportunity by studying hard and working for excellence. His father and mother joined him in Saudi Arabia. When his mother passed on recently, he and his father came to Manila to bury his mother and decided to stay permanently in the Philippines.
He has sent his younger siblings — Marbel, 17 (an incoming freshman in electrical engineering) and Marvic (who is finishing civil engineering this year) to school. Marvin always drops by the foundation whenever he vacations in the Philippines.
Michaella Abello, who finished accountancy in 2015 at National University tearfully recalled her family’s travails, which made her desperate to get a college scholarship from SM Foundation.
Her father is a driver and her mother, a housewife. She suggested to her mother after finishing high school that she would not go to college but work. Her mother did not approve but asked her to apply for several scholarships—which she did and chose SM Foundation. She now works with SM Prime Holdings.
After two years of hard work, she got promoted to supervisory position at the SM Prime treasury. In her four years working with SM Prime she was able to buy her family a house and lot with the mortgage. She said she learned from her work at SM that “it is not about how much you earn, but how much you save.”
Engr. Christian Acosta, with the engineering group, who finished in 2010 as summa cum laude at the National University with a degree in Civil Engineering. He is now teaching at NU and admonished the scholars to “be proud of your SM scholarship and study smart through study groups.”
The Foundations maintains 1,500 college scholars a year enrolled in 100 partner schools in Manila and in the provinces. The Foundation likewise maintains 2,000 technical-vocational scholars. The program has already graduated 3,500 scholars.