1,000 Dreams for a Better Tomorrow

More than 500 hopeful youth gathered together for the first SM Foundation Technical-Vocational Scholarship General Assembly on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Complex. This year, SM Foundation gave 1,000 technical-vocational scholarship grants nationwide which is a big jump from its previous average of 100 a year. The assembly started with a blessing of a holy mass and a series of inspiritational talks from key officers of SM Foundation and the scholars themselves which culminated with a special 3D screening of Apocalypse at the SM IMAX Cinema.

The long journey from Kidapawan

Among the hopeful scholars who joined the assembly is Caren Navaja or Ren-ren, as her friends call her. As Ren-ren gazed at the vast horizon of Manila Bay, she knew in her heart that this time her life will never be the same again. Coming from Kidapawan City of Cotabato Province, Ren-ren is the fifth child of six siblings of a single mother. Every day was a struggle, with little food to eat and no hope for the future. Ren-ren worked as a “kasambahay” in General Santos. But with much faith, she held her dream for a better tomorrow close to her heart. She went back home and served in a convent by making rosaries. It was through this service that she was able to study through the Alternative Learning System. Today, Ren-ren is a proud shcholar of SM Foundation studying  as a ‘fitter-machinist’at the Don Bosco Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)Program in Makati.

Ren-ren is now confident about her future as she takes it one step at a time. But for now, she is excited about watching a 3D movie at IMAX Cinema for the very first time.

“Gaya ni Wolverine, kahit anong pinagdaanan ko ay gumagaling ako at hind ako nada-down,” shared Ren-ren excitedly.

SM tech-voc scholars Caren Navaja and Marvin Cabilic excited for their first ever IMAX movie experience

The spirit of a survivor

Marvin Cabilic cannot contain his excitement as he saw the vastness of the SM Mall of Asia Complex.

“Hindi ko naisip na ganito siya kalaki,” exclaimed Marvin.

Marvin feels that this is his second chance in life. After surviving the devastations and trials of Typhoon Yolanda in his hometown in Palo, Leyte, he never thought that he could ever get past another day. But just as it is darkest before dawn, it was when he was at his lowest point that the ray of hope shone on him through a scholarship grant from SM Foundation. Today, he is studying to be an Automotive Mechanic at the Don Bosco TVET Program. “Tama ang nanay ko. Sabi niya, huwag kaming mainggit sa iba dahil may maganda pang mabibigay ang Panginoon,” shared Marvin emotionally.

Today, his sacrifices are behind him and he can look forward to a brighter tomorrow. Like other youth his age, he looks up to the character of Professor Charles Xavier of X-men, a telepath who has an extra-ordinary ability to influence how people think. “Kung meron akong ganitong abilidad, ipapa-alam ko sa lahat, na sana lahat tayo pantay-pantay,” expressed Marvin.

Cinema employee hands over 3-D glasses to the two SM scholars

Technical-Vocational Education and Economic Opportunities

There are thousands of youth who share the same journey with Marvin and Ren-ren. SM Foundation sees technical-vocational education as an untapped opportunity to help the youth develop their skills, gain employment faster and help their families out of poverty.

“It is a good strategy that in just 15 months, the youth can work and help their families,” shared Fr. Jose Dindo S. Vitug, SDB, Director of Don Bosco Makati TVET Program. “Along with education, values formation is important. We mold them to become better persons in order to help society later on.”

SM Foundation offers courses in food and beverage, automobile mechanic, fitter machinist, electro-mechanical technician and refrigeration and air-conditioning through its partner schools namely Don Bosco, Dualtech, MFI, Sisters of Mary Girlstown, Anihan, Punlaan and Monark.