When I was a naive young student, I used to have grudges against my former university for not letting me take my exams several times after failing to pay the examination fees.
Although I had a scholarship grant in college, this only covered tuition fees and not my daily allowances or monthly stipends.
My scholarship foundation was not directly paying my school. Every month I had to attend the foundation’s regular meetings so that I could collect the cash from their treasurer myself and sign on their receipt logbook.
Imagine the anxiety I experienced whenever I travel by buses and jeepneys from my mother’s Pampanga province back to my late father’s town in Batangas every month with my tuition money scattered all over my pants’ pockets, socks, and inside my shoes. As if the robbers didn’t know where I kept them.
And yes, there were several times that I almost got robbed in the bus while I travel carrying that tuition money. God was just so good the only “terrifying” thing I experienced was being duped by one of those fruit juice (Zest-O) vending robbers climbing up the buses along EDSA.
The guy stood beside my seat just like what bus conductors usually do. Ignoramus stupid me hands over the guy my one and only P100 bill. But instead of receiving a fare ticket, what I got was a not-so-cold, orange juice in filthy wet tetra pack. And then the guy hurried down the bus while saying, “papabarya lang ha.” (I will just look for loose change.).
I could not even scratch my head in shock. He even climbed back the bus and told me “nakalimutan kitang bigyan ng straw” (I forgot to give you a straw). And he even punched that white thin pointed straw into the tetra-packed orange juice I did not even order. I stared at him with my wide round disconcerted eyes as he walks away casually.
He did not come back for my “loose change”.
I was in total shock for about 5 minutes until the real bus conductor came. I wanted to slap him for leaving his workplace (yes, inside the bus) but I just couldn’t. I was so thin and undernourished back then.
Baka pulutin na lang ako sa EDSA.
Using My Tuition for Household Expenses
We lost our father just when I was starting college.
My mother had to turn nights into days just to keep us going by making and selling her famous Filipino delicacies like pichi-pichi, cassava cake, polvoron, puto, and cuchinta. My brother and I would deliver these to school canteens and the public market every morning.
However, there were always instance that we had no choice but to use my tuition money. We needed food. Repair the roof that showcased amazing mini waterfalls during rainy season. We had to pay bills. Pay debts. And borrow more money…to pay debts.
That resulted to even bigger problems. School and professors just wouldn’t allow students to take the exams without the permits. And I had to work on a part-time basis or wait until there was money to replace the tuition money that I used for household and other school expenses.
I felt like clouds were turning into humungous rocks and crushing down on me whenever professors would tell me in front of my classmates, “No Permit, No Exam.”
I literally wanted to die right there and then.
Taking One’s Own Life for A Diploma, Not A Solution
When i stopped going to college for a year, I had enough time not only to look for a temporary job. I had enough time to think. And think. And enjoy life out of school.
I even considered not going back to college and just work.
(Un)fortunately, I didn’t find a job. “And heaven knows I’m miserable now…-Morissey”
But I believe it was through our prayers and faith in God that some of my relatives and friends have started to realize they had to help me finish my college degree. A few of them have contributed small amounts every month for my allowances. And my scholarship sponsors reinstated my grant.
I was able to finish college and went on to become an auditor, an accountant, a finance professional, a musician, a writer, a blogger, an entrepreneur, an investor, a husband, a father.
But there were very important things that I learned more from all these experience.
Retreating for a while is never losing. It is one step backward to give you that big push forward in life.
Push that “Pause” button when life turns sour. Talk to God.
If you are a student who are anxious not to graduate this year, don’t lose hope. God is cooking up something better for you. No, he’s preparing the best for you.
There IS more to life than being schooled.
“Die” to learn but don’t take your own life in the name of your school.
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Photo credit: Dartmouth Tucker