Kasing linaw ng sikat ng araw ang alaala ko sa unang beses kong umapak sa La Salle Green Hills para mag enrol. Ang itsura ko noon ay pwedeng pumasa bilang isang dating galing sa preso. Iyon ‘yung mga panahon na pwedeng sabihing post-chaotic phase ng buhay ko. Noong mga panahon na yun, kakauwi ko lang muli sa aking pamilya matapos hanapin ang sarili ng ilang taon, matapos iwanan ang trabaho na bumuhay sa akin sa mga panahong namuhay ako mag isa, matapos yurakan ng panahon at mga pagsubok ang buhay ko.
Dumating ako sa labas ng ANHS Prinicipal’s Office para magsubmit ng requirements, naghihintay para tawagin ako. Biglang may dumating na isang lalaki, alumnus pala ng ANHS. Ikinukwento niya na nasa CSB na daw siya at college na. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, “Wala naman ako pakialam.” Ganoon ako ka “deadma” sa mga gusto kong mangyari sa buhay ko. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, “Andito lang naman ako kasi wala na ko magawa sa buhay ko, andito lang naman ako para masabi na may ginagawa ako.” Kasi naman, matapos nakawin ng mga pangyayari sa buhay ko ang kamusmusan ko, naramdaman ko na wala ng kwenta ang buhay ko.
Pumasok na ko sa office, nakatayo ako at naghihintay na interview-hin, kung titignan ako mula ulo hanggang paa, makikita mo ang isang isip bata, payat, may kulay ang buhok, may tattoo, yung tipong hindi mapagkakatiwalaan. Nagtanong ang Principal, sumagot ako, may mga paalala hanggang sa lumabas ako. Pero bago ko pa man maitulak ang pinto, pinabalik ako ni Ms. Gev, ang secretary ng ANHS, sabay tanong “Tattoo ba yang nasa leeg mo?” Sumagot naman ako, “Opo”. Alam ko, problema na agad ‘yun. Ang sumunod niyang sinabi “Naku Sir Rheal! Pa’no yan? Bawal may tattoo dito hijo.” Sabi ko sa sarili ko, “Lagot na, mukhang hindi talaga ako pang school.” Di na ko nagsalita. Bigla namang nagsalita si Sir Rheal, “Tatangapin kita pero dapat sa pasukan wala na yan. Dapat kasi hindi na kayo nag papa-tattoo.” Okay, lusot! Pagkatapos ng araw na yun nagpunta agad ako sa Recto para ipatanggal ang tattoo ko, ipatanggal ang isang parte ng sarili ko na nakasama ko sa lahat ng hirap na pinagdaanan ko. Hindi naman ako madalas sumunod sa mga sinasabi ng ibang tao. Allergic ako sumunod sa mga gustong mangyari ng awtoridad sa isang paaralan pero hindi ko alam kung bakit sumunod ako agad sa sinabi ng Prinicipal. Marahil naramdaman ko na may gusto pa palang tumanggap sa isang katulad ko. May gusto pa ring bigyan ako ng pagkakataon na baguhin ang isang taong maaaninag sa itsura ang pagkagapi sa buhay. Tinanggap naman ako sa ANHS. 1st year ako noon, bagong salta sa isang mundo na bago sa akin.
Hunyo 2008. Uwian ng ikalawang linggo ng pasukan. Nakasalubong ko si Sir Rheal pag-uwi. Bilang paggalang binati ko si Sir Rheal “Good evening po sir!” Bigla naman siyang tumingin sa akin, sunod sa leeg ko kung saan dati nakalagay ang tattoo ko at biglang sabi, “Good wala na yung tattoo mo. Di ako nagkamali ng pagpili sayo.” Matapos sabihin ‘yun ng Principal sa akin, parang may sinindihang apoy ng pag-asa sa loob ko. Sabihin na ng iba na “Ang OA naman. Sinabihan lang ng ganoon”, pero para sa akin malaking bagay ‘yun. Marahil may magtatanong kung bakit. Isa lang ang sagot ko: Dahil sa dinamidami ng pagkakamali na nagawa ko sa buhay ko, nakakabuhay ng loob na may taong nakapansin at naka-appreciate sa ginawa ko. Noong gabing ‘yun, napagtanto ko na may magagawa pa pala ko sa buhay ko, may mga tao pa na pwedeng makita ang halaga ko matapos ang lahat ng pinagdaanan ko. Matapos ang mga eksenang yun, nabuhayan ako ng loob. Sinabi ko sa sarili ko na “Mas gagalingan ko pa, may isang tao na nakita at napansin na may magagawa ako para baguhin ang sarili ko. Kailangan ko rin makita ito sa sarili ko, kailangan ko rin masabi sa sarili ko na “I am worth it! I am worth every opportunity that is given to me and I’m worth and capable of changing my life.” Yun lang ang naging kapit ko sa limang taon ko sa ANHS. From 1st year to 5th year nagsumikap ako. Lahat na yata ng contest ng school sinalihan ko at lahat na ng subject binigay ko ang makakaya ko para maramdaman ko ang halaga ng sarili ko, para makita ko na may direksyon ang buhay ko. Sa maliit na kislap ng salitang iyon, unti-unting nabigyan ng liwanag ang mga gusto kong mangyari sa buhay ko. Nagsimula akong mas pagbutihin ang mga ginagawa ko, natuto akong mangarap at gumawa ng mga plano para sa buhay ko. Sa mga simpleng salitang yun para akong nabuhay muli. Marahil kung noong gabing iyon na binati ko ang Principal ay tumungo lang siya at hindi na binanggit ang mga salitang iyon, marahil walang katangi-tangi sa akin, marahil hindi ako masyadong nagseryoso sa pag-aaral. Marahil wala akong gustong mapatunayan, marahil wala ako sa college ngayon, marahil wala rin akong plano at pangarap na maging isang guro.
Naniniwala ako na ang salita ay isang napakamakapangyarihang kaloob ng Diyos. Kaya naman ngayong ako’y nasa landas ng isang pagiging guro, gusto ko ring maibahagi sa magiging estudyante ko ang mga salitang maari ring makapagpabago sa buhay nila, gaya ng nagawa ni Sir Rheal. Marahil siya ang living example ng sinabi ni Sir Jamby Santos, ang noo’y Student Activities Coordinator ng Grade School, na aming speaker sa isang talakayan, tungkol sa istorya ng Starfish. “Ang teacher dapat hindi sumusuko, marami man ang mga estudyante niya at karamihan man sa kanila ay makukulit at hindi nakikinig, panigurado may isa sa mga estudyante na iyan ang mababago ng guro.” Kung noong una pa lang ay sumuko na si Sir Rheal sa akin, marahil malabo pa rin ang mga pangarap ko sa buhay o kaya naman hindi ko na nanaisin pang tumuloy sa kolehiyo at magkaroon ng pangarap na makapagsilbi sa mga kabataan. Kaya naman nagpapasalamat ako sa ANHS, sa mga Brothers dahil ginawa nilang instrument si Sir Rheal para mabago ang pagtingin ko sa buhay, para bumuo ng daanan patungo sa inaasam kong pangarap.Si Jordon Angelo G. Estrada ay itinuturing na isa sa pinakamahusay na nagtapos sa Adult Night High School. Siya ngayon ay kumukuha ng kursong Education sa University of Santo Tomas.
Time has passed by so quickly that I can’t believe it has been 3 years now since I entered this institution-an institution that has not only helped me continue my high school education but more importantly, allowed me to attain a part of my dream.
I never imagined that after 3 years of not being able to attend school, here I am about to receive my diploma. But I would not say that the road towards achieving my dream had been easy.
I clearly remember the time when Tatay Ting, my grandfather heard an announcement over the radio made by the late Ernie Baron, about a night-school program for out-of-school youth who wish to finish their high school education. I remember him beaming with joy as he called on my father to get the details on how to apply. This news brought hope to him, filling his very soul. This new beginning was not only for me but for the whole family.
Anxiety crept in me as they shared with me this blessing. Initially, I didn’t know how to react. Should I be happy with this or will this bring more concerns to my family? Is my family financially ready to send me back to school? Those were some of the questions that popped in my head. Poverty was the main reason why I had been out of school youth for 3 years. My father had no permanent job and to make ends meet, my mother also had to work. So I decided instead to take care of a younger brother and Tatay Ting as my own sacrifice.
Excitement and fear came to me as my family decided to enroll me in the program. I wasn’t sure then if I could pass the entrance exams and the interviews since I had been away from school for some time; not to mention that I was already 18 years old yet still in 3rd year high school. For me, it was truly embarrassing.
But the apprehension I was feeling was transformed to happiness and amusement when I was accepted. In the program, I was with students of same age and same stature in life. Though money posted as our main problem, this did not hinder us from moving on. There were people who helped us regain our confidence and we should not fail them. Learning was light and the time we spent studying seemed to be like a breeze because of the people around.
Though education was the primary purpose of the Adult Night High School, it also opened a gate for me to have a job that would sustain my studies and even help in the family finances. In this school, I met sincere mentors and true friends in the persons of Dr. Joel and Mrs. Bobet Gutierrez. It was through their generosity that I was able to find employment and make my way as I finished highschool. It wasn’t easy being a working student but through the support of my superiors and their staff, working and studying became an achievement. I remember those times when I had to run my way from Ortigas to Greenhills, just to make it to my first class. Haaay, those were the days . . . . .
But not everyone was as lucky as I was. Every school year, we see those happy faces that were given hope to continue their studies and reach their goal. Unfortunately, balancing studies and work was not easy. So they had to choose between maintaining a job or reaching a dream. In many cases, the latter proved to be like an unreachable star. Slowly, attendance dwindled, from 40 students to 30 or even less. The school definitely offered what it could but it can only give as much. Despite having few classmates, I was still able to gain friends, BEST friends; not to mention, “boyfriends” as well J. These people have shared not only happy moments in life but have stayed and remain to be part of my life. Now that graduation is at hand and we will soon part ways, walks from Greenhills to Ortigas will never be the same again. The very seldom leisure times we had in Robinsons Ortigas and eating “lugaw” for dinner beneath the flyover will soon be memories.
Lessons learned with friends and highly commended teachers, were my inspiration. Though the school hours were very limited, the teachers made sure that necessary learning have been provided. The numerous college examinations that students have taken and passed are proofs of this. I, myself, am a living testament to this. Thanks to my teachers, I was accepted as a scholar in DLS-CSB. Once again, I was given the opportunity to continue my studies and pursue a college degree. Surely, one can never question the quality of education that La Salle Green Hills has provided its students. Hinding-hindi matatawaran! Now that I’m temporarily leaving my alma mater, all I can say is ANIMO LA SALLE. No words can express how much gratitude I feel not only to the Brothers, teachers, staff and sponsors of the Adult Night High School. They have indeed not only formed good students but more importantly, better and responsible citizens. They have made a big difference in the lives of many and this has surely left a special spot in each of our hearts. For this, we are forever grateful. Certainly, I will always be proud that I am a product of La Salle Green Hills Adult Night High School- a fact that no one can ever erase, for in me the values of a true La Sallian will always remain, as long as I live. Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Mrs. Gladys Loza-Pendilla graduated from ANHS as the Valedictorian of her batch. She graduated from De La Salle- College of St. Benilde with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. She is currently working as Financial Claims Analyst at Abbot Laboratories. She is a good wife to Denson and a loving mother to Dale Genoah, Dwayne Gabriel and Dean Gianfranco
Praise and glory be to God, I graduated from La Salle Green Hills- Adult Night High School!
All the blessings and success that I am enjoying right now started flowing when I finished my high school way back in 1992. I am not rich but I would say that I am very contented. I would like to share how my life was transformed from its darkest and tough state to a fulfilling and blissful one. When I shared my life-story with my friends here in Saudi Arabia, they could not believe that my past was for real. They were skeptical because they can see only the blessings that I have now in life.
During my elementary days in San Isidro Elementary School, Taytay, Rizal, I used to sell ice-drop or popsicle on weekdays and boiled peanuts on weekends. Since I am the eldest in a brood of six, I needed to help my parents financially in any way I can. Unfortunately, after I graduated from elementary I learned to drink alcohol. Early in the morning, I would always drink alcohol with market porters (kargador) which exposed me to a series of bad habits, attitudes and vices.
After elementary, I enrolled in Rizal High School - De Castro Annex. Every week end, I would assist in my cousin’s fresh chicken stall in Taytay market in order to support my transportation expenses. I just finished 1st year in this school because I had a fight with one of the male teachers. Then I continued my 2nd year in Juan Sumulong Memorial High School – Taytay, Rizal. This time, my uncle paid my tuition as I continued to work every week end in the market to support my daily school needs. I finished 2nd year but when I reached 3rd year my attitude and vices got worse. I started to smoke cigarette and marijuana. I also got addicted to cough syrup. Three times a week, as in every week, I would buy 240ml of cough syrup. Sometimes, my friends would ask me to punch someone they do not like in school and in return, they would give me 20 pesos or a pack of cigarette. All of these, of course, reached the school principal who eventually suggested to my parents that it would be much better to drop me because if I continue doing these things in school, they would kick me out and would not be able to enroll again in any school. My parents got frustrated as well as my uncle who was supporting my studies.
When I was out of school already, I asked my father if I could join him in his construction work, to which he agreed. For more than a year, I became a full time construction worker mixing cement manually under the heat of the sun. Those were really tough times.
One day, God sent an angel, my neighbor Gigi Cayetano. (May her soul rest in peace. She just passed away this year due to breast cancer) She asked me to enroll in LSGH night school. Gigi was the eldest sister of Mr. Joel Cayetano, the better half of Mrs. Leila Pacheco – Cayetano (LSGH-ANHS Teacher). I heeded and went through the usual screening processes. Praise God! I passed the ANHS exam and was able to continue my 3rd year high school. But a new challenge emerged. Where do I get funds for my transportation expenses from Taytay to LSGH? To cope with the expenses, I had to juggle two jobs: construction work and chicken-slaughtering.
I then gradually got over my bad habits and vices and when I reached 5th year high school, my addiction was gone. This is what happens when we turn to the right direction: blessings continue to pour. First, I graduated from the Adult Night High School without any trouble. Then, I was accepted in De La Salle University- Manila as a fully subsidized scholar. (For this, I express deep gratitude to Mr. Mariano Que, our generous sponsor.) “Wow!”, this was the only word I could utter when I first set foot in DLSU where the elite and the rich study. At that time, I was sure, St. John Baptist De La Salle was smiling; very happy to see a less fortunate person like me experiencing the fruits of his apostolate.
From 1st year college till I graduated, I was a part-time crew in Tropical Hut Hamburger – Sta. Lucia. I firmly believe that it was God who gave me the strength to finish my college years. I would only have 3-4 hours of sleep every day during those years. Those were the days. It’s different now.
I now live a very happy life. From being a humble kargador, I now serve as a Logistics Operations Manager in a multinational company here at Saudi Arabia. What a great transformation, indeed! I can now provide my family a decent living and I thank the Lasallian family for this. To the current students of LSGH-ANHS, please continue living life with compassion and humility. Continue to give love and respect to our community especially to our mentors. Ask God to guide you and never get tired reaching for your dreams.
St. John Baptist De La Salle, Pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!