SM scholars feature: A Matter of Pride

It is a breakthrough year for SM Foundation’s college scholarship program. Of its 264 graduates from 2014-2015, four SM scholars broke the news to their benefactors that they are board topnotchers in their respective licensure examinations between April and May of 2015. Jenes Borais ranked 8th in Civil Engineering, John Angelo Cruz ranked 7th in Civil Engineering, Mark Anthony Teodoro ranked 3rd in Electrical Engineering and Mark Anthony Tiquio ranked 3rd also in Civil Engineering.

Their life stories reflect inspirational lessons and how SM has helped them follow their dreams despite the odds.

Taking risks 
Engr. Jenes Borais

Jenes Borais has always had an appetite for risk. And with his love for Math and engineering, it proved to be a winning combination.

Despite being faced with the idea of being uprooted from his hometown in Bicol, Borais remained strong in his decision to take up engineering in Manila. In particular, he took up Civil Engineering at Far Eastern University.

“It was kind of hard to adapt to this new lifestyle, especially when it comes to expenses. Everything is much more expensive here,” he said in Filipino. At that time, his mother worked as a maid in Manila to support not only him but his father and two other siblings back home.

Undaunted, Borais looked to other options.

While most of his classmates were busy with their own projects and studying for their exams in college, Borais studies in advance so that he has time to work on his side job.
“When I was first asked by my professors to help design structural plans for their clients, I immediately said yes,” he said. “I figured, if I was going to make one someday, why not start right now?”

Borais gets paid for his design, with some of his recent works being a two-storey house and a four-storey commercial building in the province. He was also asked by some of his classmates’ parents who work in construction for help.

“I feel that some people don’t accept these jobs because they don’t want to risk failing,” Borais added. He believes that opportunities such as these are things that you need to hold on to fast.

He felt the same when he was presented the opportunity to become an SM scholar. Now, years later and as a recent board top-notcher, he can now proudly say that his risks paid off.

Borais is not in a hurry to go into private practice and is currently considering working part-time as an instructor at the Far Eastern University Institute of Technology while taking a master’s degree, adhering to his philosophy of taking the road less traveled.

“I want to keep learning,” he said. “I think that the more I expand my knowledge, the more marketable I can become.” Borais plans to keep on studying while working on commission-based projects. “I’ve calculated everything and net-net, I think I’m getting more value this way,” he said. “Being an SM Scholar has opened new doors for me.”

Surviving on ‘lugaw economics’
Engr. John Angelo Cruz

When John Angelo Cruz was in grade one, he had to survive on an allowance of five pesos for two days. He would buy lugaw (the local name

for porridge) for three pesos on the first day and buy candy with the change. He would then sell the candy in school to raise another three pesos to stretch his allowance for another day.

Today, Cruz looks back on those hard times with a smile and good-natured laughter.

As a child, Cruz was raised by his grandparents. He, along with seven of his cousins, had to make ends meet with the small amount that their grandparents receive from their pension. With his mother unemployed at that time, Cruz said that he grew up without really having a goal in life.

“I didn’t have any direction in life while growing up,” Cruz said in Filipino. “In the long run, my attitude changed when I thought about the opportunities that came my way.”

Through his experiences, he continued to challenge himself which opened more doors for him.

“We don’t always get what we want,” Cruz adds. “But you need to remember that God has a bigger plan for us,” he said.

True enough, the small kid who used to sell candies now stands tall as a licensed Civil Engineer.  Cruz, who also finished Cum Laude, looks brightly towards the future.

“Thank you ng sobra, SM Foundation. I wouldn’t know where I’ll be without you,” Cruz said.”

Dreaming big
Engr. Mark Anthony Teodoro

At first, Mark Anthony Teodoro wanted nothing more than to find a job where he can earn enough so that his father can retire.

At fifty years old, Teodoro’s father works as a jeepney driver while his mother helps collect the fare from passengers. It was a modest living–the couple makes around 400-500 pesos per day, just enough to support the family of five. The busy streets of Malabon to Divisoria could be harsh and taxing especially for a 50-year-old man prone to bouts of high blood pressure. Teodoro even recounts the times when his father needed to pull over by the side of the road just to catch his breath and rest.

“I worry about my father whenever he is on the road because of his high blood pressure,” Teodoro said in the vernacular. “This is my main motivation to finish school and get a good job.”

Teodoro believed that his studies will help him secure a better future. He is very grateful that not only was he given a chance to finish his studies but was also given the opportunity to gather good memories and real-life experiences during his time as an SM scholar.

Teodoro likewise shared that these opportunities were able to help him build his self-confidence and taught him how to dream bigger just like SM founder Henry Sy, Sr.  After gaining a degree in Electrical Engineering and finishing Cum Laude, and now with a license to boot, Teodoro knows that there’s no stopping him in achieving more especially with everything he’s learned as an SM Scholar.

“It’s not over. You don’t really stop being an SM Scholar,” Teodoro said. “Maraming salamat sa SM Foundation.” After securing a job, he plans to help his parents start a sari-sari store and finally get for his father that much needed retirement cum vacation.

Repaying Nanay’s love
Engr. Mark Anthony Tiquio

Mark Anthony Tiquio’s mother has been a constant source of strength in his life. Growing up, he watched his mother support their family by


When he was very young, Tiquio’s father used to work as a coconut grinder but had to stop when he was institutionalized in a mental health facility due to his condition. During that time, his mother assumed the responsibility of being the sole breadwinner of the family.

“Nanay (mother) is really resourceful,” Tiquio said proudly. “Aside from her regular office job, Nanay also sells bread, soap, or practically anything she can market to her officemates. She also does direct selling of cosmetics and clothing lines to relatives and officemates.”

With her salary and income from her various side jobs, his mother was able to take care of their daily needs. “I don’t know how she does it,” Tiquio remarked. She was also the one who encouraged him to send his application to the SM Foundation College Scholarship Program.

“Even now that my brother has a job, she still continues to support us,” he said. Tiquio’s mother continues to do direct selling of goods mainly to their neighbors for extra income for the family.

Now with his degree and Civil Engineering license in tow, Tiquio plans to work in the field of structural engineering. He also hopes to work part-time as a teacher in the future.

He added, “Now that I have already graduated, I want to repay her for everything she has given and done for us.”

Borais, Cruz, Teodoro, and Tiquio are part of SM Foundation’s 19th batch of scholar-graduates. On May 27, at the SMX Convention Center, 264 graduates for the school year 2014-2015 will be given a chance to meet their benefactors in the Foundation’s annual Presentation of Scholars.

Since 1993, SM Foundation’s College Scholarship Program has produced over 2,160 scholar-graduates and currently supports 1,500 scholars in its 84 partner colleges and universities nationwide.