(photo courtesy of Raffy B: our monster scholars – Erica, Karchelle, Ada, and Greg)
I believe everyone in the station will remember this morning for a very long time. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. When we were told that the announcement of the Monster Scholar was this morning, we thought it would just be a simple awarding, heartwarming, then we move on. But until now we’re all still haunted by the stories of our finalists and the whole experience of awarding the Monster Scholar for this year.
When the station decided to do something different this year and give away a scholarship for a semester, we thought it was a nice idea, but we never thought the response would be this big. We received more than 400 emails from people wanting to avail of the scholarship. And when we started airing their stories, it hit people’s compassions harder than we expected. And what our finalists and listeners didn’t know, was that other people who heard some of the stories on air also wanted to help out. They were so touched that they couldn’t bear the idea of just one person getting the scholarship while so many deserving ones are left unhelped. So a donor from the Jaycees and batch 1979 of San Beda high school each sponsored a student for the coming semester. Plus, even before that, the RX management already decided that it will award not just one scholar, but two, bringing the total to four.
So when the four finalists were asked to come to the station this morning, what they didn’t know was, that they were all winners already. When we interviewed them on air, their stories broke everyone’s heart. There’s Erica, who’s dad was deported due to an expired ID. He wasn’t paid for three months, so they resorted to borrowing money for her tuition. They ended up with debts they can no longer pay, and no money for Erica to continue her studies. There’s Cheryl, who nominated her sister Ada. Cheryl was able to finish school, but not Ada, because Cheryl lost her job and can no longer finance Ada’s tuition. Their parents have no money to put her through school, plus their mom contracted breast cancer to even complicate things further. There’s Karchelle, whose dad is a policeman who takes home only about one to two thousand pesos every payday, because of the deductions for the loans he took for Karchelle’s education. He’s got only about 2 to 3 years left to work and so Karchelle would love to finish school so she could start working and putting the rest of her siblings through school. There’s Greg, who had a 100% scholarship until last summer, when he underestimated the difficulties of the major subjects and got low grades, reducing his scholarship to a mere 10%. They live in the squatters area and his mom has resorted to borrowing money from 5/6 lenders just to let him finish his schooling.
Everyone in the station were practically crying hearing their stories. What really broke my heart was when Erica’s dad said something like, “Nahihiya nga ako sa sarili ko dahil ako ang ama diba? Katungkulan ko dapat ito.” What a lot of people don’t realize is how difficult it is to ask for help. I guess that’s why our hearts bled for the 4 finalists and their families. They had no sense of entitlement at all, they all conceded that the other 3 contenders needed the scholarship just as much as they do, if not more, and they humbly submitted their fates to the decision of the RX management.
So imagine their surprise when they found out that all four of them were going to be given scholarships for this semester. They actually cried more after they found out they all won, more than when they were making their appeals. There was no dry eye in the office when the scholars and their families were profusely giving their thanks to everyone.
But what made the whole experience so special, was the reaction of our listeners as we were interviewing the finalists. I cannot even begin to tell you just how flooded we were by the deluge of messages we got over our textline and Twitter accounts. So many people offering their hard-earned money, offering to give whatever they can, just so the other 3 finalists would also be sponsored (this was before we announced that they all won). It was just so heartwarming to see such an outpouring of goodwill for the 4 finalists, from people they have never even met. It was just nice to be reminded that there is still a lot of good in this world, despite all the negativity around us. So many people wanting to help, even those who don’t have a lot themselves. It’s definitely my feel-good moment of the year.