The inspiring story of Ben Cantomayor from Oton, Iloilo is an example of trying to find the light amidst the dark realities hounding his present condition in life.
Ben is an incoming college freshman who qualified in the SM Foundation Inc. (SMFI) college scholarship program this school year. One could not imagine that the frail physique of this boy walks kilometers on a daily basis just to get to school in the aim of giving his family a better future when he graduates.
Consistently on top of his class, the small nipa hut with the soil as their floor is the testament of Ben’s achievement—the wall is almost covered with his medals both from his academic and extra-curricular feats.
|Ben stands in font of his medals and certificates.|
He is a self-thought artist—his paintings hang in a small room where he rests after his daily grind with his books and school assignments.
An exceptional student, so to speak. Despite all the challenges he faces every single day, he managed to surpass these and graduate with flying colors.
What is moving in Ben’s story is he had to do all these tasks with the help of a single light bulb. Yes, it is the only light bulb in the whole house. And the family has to prioritize Ben to use the light bulb so he can study and do his homework.
The sad reality is they could not afford to buy another light bulb to at least illuminate the other parts of the house. They have to make best the use of the only light that guarantees the future of Ben to succeed.
|Ben's study area is where the only light bulb in the house is located.|
The Cantomayor family cannot let that single light bulb to flicker or else Ben’s future is at stake.
The apprehension of a dark future all changed when the team of SM Foundation headed by Ms. Ling Lansang, Assistance Vice President for Education, went personally to the Cantomayor residence, unimaginable kilometers away from the town proper of Oton town in Iloilo, to tell Ben and his family that the former has qualified to be an SM Foundation scholar.
His dreams for his family is now within reach as he will not worry with anything except to just focus on his studies in a university and course of his choice. His tuition and miscellaneous fees are covered and Ben will have a monthly allowance from SMFI.
|Ben with his parents|
SM founder Henry Sy, Sr. believes that education is the best defense against poverty. SM Foundation provide college and technical-vocational scholarship grants as well as access to primary education through school buildings to help the youth achieve their dreams.
SM also helps provide underprivileged children with better quality public education by donating school buildings and classrooms in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd). DepEd identifies areas in need to help address the backlog of classrooms in accordance with national requirements. With the new and conducive environment for learning, children perform better in school and are more inspired to learn, while teachers also become more effective.
Ben may be using the same light bulb in his journey to college. But the future looks bright as hope shines with Ben’s dreams and aspirations.