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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Pursuing Her Dream
A COED’S STORY OF OVERCOMING HARDSHIPS IN LIFE
BY JOEVEL A. BARTOLOME

Dream on and persevere to pursue those dreams.

This is what 22-year-old Charisse Erinn Flores still believes in despite the hardships and challenges she has encountered.

Although born in Bacolod, she was raised in Cavite, having lived there with her parents since she was 5 years old and did so until early years in high school. At 13, she and her mother, Cecille, had to return to Bacolod with her stepbrother, Tristan, who was 7 then, after her father left them.

Erinn recalled that she wanted to do away with her reserved self when she got back in Bacolod, so in high school, she decided to try out more things – public speaking, writing and hosting – the skills that stuck to her the most, something that influenced her to take up a Communication course at the University of St. La Salle.

A year after, she saw herself in a different light.

“I really thought those skills were for me,” Erinn said, but she realized that she wanted to serve people and communities, fully engaging herself to public service. Thus, she shifted to the Political Science program of the same university.

Erinn said that her mother really prepared for her college education. “What’s good about my mother is that she realized that she was on her own, so she really saved money,” she explained, saying that she had more than enough money at that time.

However, her financial comfort didn’t last that long. “In my second year, I felt that things became different. I would go to school without money and just thought up of ways to have lunch,” Erinn recalled. She asked for help “just to survive the day.”

If her mother couldn’t provide for their daily finances, her family relied on her grandmother, a seamstress whom she fondly calls ‘Wowa.’

In the midst of their financial difficulty, Erinn also learned that the father she knew was, in fact, her stepbrother’s dad, saying that her “real father wasn’t in the picture since the beginning.”

On her birthday, a couple of friends from the university publication she joined in helped her find her real father’s whereabouts. “He lived in Surigao, with a different family,” she said.

In December 2014, Erinn’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian and colon cancer. The battle against the big C didn’t last long – just a little over a month later, her mother passed away.

“It became my turning point in life,” she said.

Because of emotional and financial difficulties, Erinn chose to stop her studies for almost two years despite being a year away from graduation student that time.

Erinn said that stopping was her choice. “Actually, I was at that point in my life where everything felt like it was too much – my mother was gone and she was the only one I held on to. I decided to do something to do for myself, so I chose to find myself,” she said.

To keep herself busy and to help out with her family’s finances, she chose to find a job, working as a call center agent until now.

Just last year, Erinn decided to resume her being a university student and finish her studies, saying that her mother told her that she “wanted to attend my graduation, that it was her dream to see me graduate.”

She did it not for herself, but to prove to her mother that she could achieve her dreams for her.

Asked if she would change any of the decisions and the choices she made in the past, Erinn shook her head and said, “My experiences are what makes me beautiful as a person, they make my story different from other people.”*

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3 Students’ Outreach

Toward the end of summer, three former student editors of Negros Occidental High School spent part of their vacation reaching out to Madrasah schoolchildren.

The Madrasah is a classroom in some local public schools devoted to the teaching of Arabic culture to children belonging to the Muslim community.

The three student editors – Junbert Pabon and Tricia Escordial, who pursued Senior High School studies at St. John’s Institute, and Charlie Labios, taught the children basic communication concepts and writing skills for their summer outreach program.

The ‘pilot class’ was held at Graciano Lopez Jaena Elementary School in Bacolod City.

Madrasah teacher Wardaton Magondacan thanked the three students as she expressed hopes that the training would serve as a step toward providing an information venue for Madrasah schoolchildren in various schools in the city.

We hope that it will also serve as a tool to help bridge the gap between the pupils and their schoolmates, Pabon said, adding that he asked his two former schoolmates to join him in the training after his exposure to the Service-Learning program at SJI.

We tried to achieve two things, he further said, through a literacy initiative and peacebuilding.*

 

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