Humans of Ateneo
Humans of Ateneo is a project of the Sanggunian: Commission on Mental Health that aims to share the different stories of resilience among the Ateneo Loyola Schools community in order to inspire the student body.
Before coming here into Ateneo, I was a kid who experienced super extreme financial problems. Back in high school pa lang, I would be the one who would always give notes to the principal of our school, 'cuz I couldn't really pay the tuition at full. I always delayed the payment, I always enrolled late, so ayun yung context ng like, my financial problems.
Now, I really wanted to get into a good school in college. I wanted to do that because, for me, a good education was the most fool-proof way to combat the poverty that my family was experiencing. So, I really wanted to go to a good college and I applied for the Ateneo because there was a new school, Le Cordon Bleu, who offered the course that I wanted, Restaurant Entrepreneurship, and I really wanted to work in the hospitality industry since I was young.
So I applied for Ateneo and I passed the ACET, and the challenge for me was how to fund my studies after passing. And, since Ateneo couldn't take in more scholars during the time that I passed the ACET, I started to look for other companies that could sponsor my studies. One of the companies that I applied for, sad to say, they didn't sponsor me because of other circumstances. Natakot ako because, you know, the uncertainty of what I could do next. It was the chance to study in a good school and nawala sakin. From there, you feel at a loss. I was very uncertain of what I was supposed to do next.
Ateneo helped me find a way to continue my studies, so they gave me this option to use yung result ng ACET ko, to use my requirements on a later year. However, it came at a price na I couldn't apply for any other tertiary education, or any colleges, or other programs that would offer a certificate na pwede na akong mag-work or something like that. Hindi talaga pwede. So parang, bigat ng decision that I had to make. To trade basically my future away for a school. Mag-aall in ako for a school that hindi pa rin ako sure I could study in, even if I did it.
However, after contemplating, I did the risk. Went with Ateneo as an option, and then they granted me my slot, then I thought of applying for a scholarship. Which was, you know, another very scary thing to do. Given yung uncertainty of getting one, because of the numerous applicants, and, I'm not the only one who needs it. What if nga they give me my slot and I don't get a scholarship? It's still the same situation, I won't get to study. And, good thing nalang, after a long waiting period, they gave me the scholarship. And that's why I'm here right now.
People think na tapos na yung problem there. So you're good, you're studying, people think na wala na yung fear ko of uncertainty and all that. Pero it's wrong. Because given the context and situation ng family ko, it's a stretch to say 'just get the scholarship' and you're done. There's still the problem, the struggle of maintaining it, there's still yung grades that you have to get. And, if I slip up, I make a mistake, I fail at something, mawawala yung scholarship, mawawala ka sa Ateneo —I'm not ready to lose everything here yet.
So there's still that uncertainty in my situation. There's still that fear that keeps me on my toes. So I wake up everyday, tas sasabihin ko sa sarili ko na; Okay, you make a mistake, tapos alis na tayo dito sa Ateneo and I think that's a good thing, na I get to experience that fear everyday, since it keeps me grounded. Because of the process of fear, I'm embracing what I can do. Kahit na takot ako. It's fine, so the fear that I experience everyday, it's the one thing that helps me push myself more. So because there's this fear of baka mawala yung scholarship, there's also this drive that leads me to do better. If you remove that fear of losing my scholarship, mawawala din yung drive ko to do better. Siyempre, I still feel inclined to slack off every now and then. Pero, because there is that fear, there's also that drive that tells you na wag ka mag-slack off, because you have to work hard.
Now, that's what I want to say to everyone sa Ateneo. Fear is an everyday thing. I learned that the hard way, na ang tedious ng process, fear is an everyday thing. And everybody gets to experience it. I want everyone to learn how to use fear the way that I learned to use it. To use fear in a way that it can become something that pushes you to do better. Fear keeps you grounded on what you need to do. It’s also a reminder of what you have to do. It's that small push ng fear that makes you do things that you couldn't think of doing before. An ordinary thing, when you apply fear to an ordinary thing, it can become extraordinary. ‘Yung chance na 'yon, to become extraordinary, that's what I want to tell the others. So fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It can make you extraordinary.
— Seth Fernando
You may follow Humans of Ateneo on Twitter and Instagram through @humansofateneo.
Photo by Jairus Paguntalan
Layout and Post-processing by Tiffany Cu
Transcript by Renee Alcantara