An ancient Chinese philosopher believes that “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” The Blessed Antonia scholars of Davao and Misamis Oriental have taken not only a single step but they continue to take small strides, at times difficult ones to fulfill their dreams. A few weeks ago, I have the opportunity to meet them. One scholar has deeply touched me. For the first time, I seem to understand the Tagalog word “pangarap” (dream) as he shares his life story. With strong determination to finish their studies, the scholars are all willing to give their best for the sake of their families who have placed high hopes on them to uplift them for better life conditions..

There are seven scholars from Davao and Misamis Oriental. Four of them are Lumads (a group of non-Muslim indigenous people from the southern Philippines). I find this scholarship for them a reaffirmation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) service apostolate – the support and promotion of IP Education (IPED). This scholarship is also a concrete gesture to make alive the spirit of Blessed Antonia Bandres of reaching out to the poor and of loving her family and friends. All scholars are deeply grateful and all find joy in their studies. It is our great hope that when our scholars have fulfilled their dreams, they will pay it forward by helping others receive Christian education.

By Norie Marquez fi

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