OWWA scholars score big
When one asks what assistance does the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) provide for OFWs, many would probably answer the on-site assistance provided by OWWA overseas posts in handling OFW welfare cases, or the airport assistance to distressed OFWs or the life insurance benefits that it provides to beneficiaries of its departed member-OFWs.
But how about scholarship for beneficiaries of OFWs?
Yes, OWWA also provides educational benefits to the OFW or his or her beneficiaries. As the lead agency that caters to the welfare of OFWs and their beneficiaries, OWWA recognizes the value of education to the OFW family as studies have shown that it is one of the priorities for allocation of an OFWâ€™s income.
OWWA currently has five scholarship programs and projects that provide educational benefits to OFWs and these are the Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP), Skills for Employment Scholarship Program (SESP), Seafarers Upgrading Program (SUP), Tuloy-Aral Project (TAP), and the Microsoft-Tulay Project (MTP).
The EDSP is OWWAâ€™s scholarship program for beneficiaries of OFWs who wants to pursue a four to five year baccalaureate course. OWWA currently maintains 419 scholars under its Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP). As academic scholars, each EDSP Scholar is required to maintain grade requirements to maintain their scholarship. They are to maintain a passing grade point average (GPA) of at least 80 percent per term for the continuance of the scholarship until the completion of the course, avoid dropping more than two subjects for a semester or obtaining more than two incomplete grades for a semester. And because of these requirements, most EDSP scholars are developing strict study habits and patience in order to meet the said prerequisites.
But given the quality of these EDSP scholars, there are also others who, aside from maintaining the said requirements, are also excelling both in their academics and in other fields.
Outstanding expat pinoy child
Loris Marriel Barcelo Villar, EDSP scholar from the National Capital Region (NCR), was recently chosen from all over the country as one of BPI Ten Outstanding Expat Pinoy Children. She and nine other children of Filipino expatriates were chosen based on their essays on their contribution to the country as children of OFWs. In her essay on “What is a childâ€™s role as a son/daughter of an expat Pinoy?”, Loris emphasized on values on family discipline. She also mentioned that as part of the youth sector, they have a responsibility to help less fortunate children as she personally experienced when she volunteered to assist the children beneficiaries of the Pangarap Foundation.
Loris is the eldest of two children of Engineer Ismael J. Villar, an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) based in Dubai, UAE and Lorna Barcelo Villar. She is presently a sophomore student at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) taking-up AB Political Science. A consistent honor student, Loris qualified to be an OWWA-EDSP scholar starting school year 2006-2007 after graduating from San Lorenzo Ruiz High School. She learned of the EDSP scholarship through OWWAâ€™s intensive information campaign and barely beat the deadline for the submission of requirements.
Lori admits that being a EDSP scholar greatly alleviates the educational expenses of studying in Ateneo de Manila which, though it is one of the top universities of the country, it is also one of the most expensive educational institutions to study in. Her EDSP scholarship shoulders half the cost of her tuition fees which amounts to approximately P60,000/semester.Lori also became an officer of the National Organization of OWWA (NOW) Scholars, NCR Chapter 2006-2007. She envisions herself as a corporate lawyer in the future.
An advocate for the environment
Norleen R. Parducho, EDSP Scholar from Region IVA, is a pro-active member of her community and an advocate for the protection of the environment. An honor student and a student leader since her grade school and high school days, she is currently a graduating student of the University of the Philippines Los BaÃ±os under the Bachelor of Science in Biology curriculum. Norleen is the daughter of Macario Parducho and OFW Petra Parducho, a babysitter in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the past seven years.
During her sophomore year, she started joining community service projects at Puypuy, Bay, Laguna conducted by volunteered students. Two projects such as Book Donation for a Mini Library Project and Trash Can Donation Project were carried out by the group in the said community.
In 2006, she was elected as the Vice President of the Circle of OWWA Scholars (COS) Region IVA organization.
Natural born leader
Jestoni P. Babia, EDSP scholar from Cagayan de Oro City, is a not only an excellent student but a natural born leader as well. He is a child of OFW Danilo Babia, truck driver in Brunei and Flor Babia, a homemaker.
Despite his good academic performance in elementary and high school as a class valedictorian, his parents still have difficulties paying for the other fees which include his uniform, daily allowance and so on. But when he heard about the EDSP scholarship Program of OWWA, he immediately decided to apply and completed all the requirements needed. He passed the exam placing first in that yearâ€™s batch of examinees (2004).
A senior BS Education major in Special Education at Xavier University, Jestoni is a consistent Deanâ€™s Lister from his first year to fourth year where he received certificates of recognition for his outstanding academic performance and is now a candidate for Magna Cum Laude for the SY2007-2008. While in first year, he became the representative of the Teachersâ€™ Guild, one of the seven major organizations in Xavier University. He eventually became the President of the Guild in his junior year. He also joined several conferences in held in big universities nationwide where he also had the opportunity to meet some of the executives of Ayala Corporation when he qualified for the second screening of the 9th Ayala Young Leaders Congress in Makati City. With his exposures, his organization was able to conduct city wide and regional symposia, trainings and conferences on their own. And with the accomplishments that they had, they were awarded as the Most Outstanding Student Council bringing back the glory after ten years in the history of the university. Jestoni was also awarded the Most Outstanding Student Leader during that year.
Jestoni is also the Communications Officer of the League of OWWA Scholars in Mindanao and the National Organization of OWWA Scholars. With the OWWA EDSP, he learned that best things in life should not be taken for granted.
A survivor of life’s trials
Princess Rose C. Alonzo, EDSP scholar of Region 12, is a freshman BS Nursing student of Notre Dame University of General Santos City. She is the daughter of Paquito Alonzo, a farmer based in Dumaguete City and Leonita, a teacher retired by disability. She is the beneficiary of her sister, Rosanna, who is currently working as an OFW in Dubai, UAE.
Princessesâ€™s family is very poor. Her whole family, including his brother, Crispin who married young and derives his income as a jeepney driver, relies mainly on the earnings of Rosanna.
Everyday is a struggle for Princess as she has to overcome struggles against poverty and conflicts within her family. A petty quarrel between her siblings in the second quarter of 2007 resulted in her mother and her leaving their family home to give way to her brotherâ€™s family and worse, left an emotional scar to which she bears up to now.
Princess admits that, despite all her difficulties, the EDSP scholarship that she got is a blessing for without it, she probably would not have gone to college because of financial difficulty. That is why she always gives her best in her studies as not to waste the opportunity she got from OWWA.
Although only in her first year, she is already showing signs of excellence by being a Deanâ€™s Lister for the first semester of SY2007-2008. She is also an active member of the Philippine Nursing Studentâ€™s Association (PNSA) which is renowned for its community outreach programs.