In 1997, after graduating from Timoteo Paez Elementary School, a blessed opportunity came for Ligaya Gastalla and her family. AmCham Foundation reached out to various city schools to offer scholarship to worthy individuals. Ligaya, the youngest of four siblings, was informed by her school principal regarding the scholarship.
Knowing the life of poverty and how it could have hindered her from pursuin g her goals she set for herself, Ligaya seized the chance without hesitations. “When AmCham came, it was the answer to my prayers,” she started.
“As I’ve said, it was an opportunity I really wanted to grab, so when we got the invitation, we worked on the requirements right away and finished it within a day. So I think it wasn’t that difficult [because we managed to complete it in a day.]”
Confident and Principled
Ligaya’s aspiration to be on the top was hammered out by the exposure she received from the various activities and seminars of AmCham. This includes meeting with several alumni, who became successful in their own professional fields. “That is what I appreciate the most. I learned a lot of things which I think, at that time, a student at my age, never got to explore,” she expressed. “AmCham also give us opportunities to work with them such as during events. Although I have organizations in school, with AmCham Foundation it is different because it’s big.”
The sense of maturity that sparked Ligaya’s personality paved way for her to mold a principle to live by, in both her professional life and personal relationships. “You will encounter a lot of difficult people, a lot of difficult situations, but you have to stick to your goal, you have to make it happen. But, you also have to be accountable to the people you work with and to the people you work for. I think that is the biggest impact of AmCham Foundation to me because until now, I keep that value with me,” Ligaya shares.
Having grown with AmCham Foundation, the eight years Ligaya shared with the foundation bolstered her caliber. She asserted that AmCham “is not just a one time help; it’s instilling a culture of excellence in you. AmCham gives you the perspective that you are bigger than what you think you are. That’s what stuck to mind ever since I joined the foundation. What you are now, it doesn’t stop there, and it’s not the only thing that you’ll ever be. You’re given the chance to reach your full potential because we know that you can make it.”
As for AmCham’s future, Ligaya wished for more involvement from the previous scholars of the foundation. “ I think it would be an enormous help for AmCham if they would tap the alumni. Before, when I was still new to AmCham, we often mingled with the alumni. It would really inspire you, especially because you’re young then you see them as CPAs already, and you’re just starting out in high school or you have no idea yet of what you want to take in college. Then you realize, they’re also not wealthy, they also didn’t have the means, but look at them now, they have stable income and created a name for themselves. It’s really inspiring.”
Moreover, Ligaya claims the importance of the alumni for the continuity of AmCham. “I think it would also help in the sustainability of AmCham Foundation. The sponsors now wouldn’t be there forever, so it should really tap the alumni, especially those who are very successful. I think it would sustain the organization, not just financially, but also morally; they could even share their talents.”
Finally, Ligaya expressed her sentiments toward the foundation. “I’m always thankful to AmCham, because I’m here where I am now. And since I joined AmCham, I never stopped from giving. Perhaps, for some people, they get contented with having a salary. But for me, AmCham has really instilled the idea of excellence – I wouldn’t stop until I know I can be in a better position. I would be forever grateful to AmCham for that. They helped me not only financially, but they gave us more concern that we thought we deserve. During that time, it was like we were nobody, then AmCham reached out to us. AmCham will forever be part of my life.”
Having graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman with a bachelor’s degree in Economic and now successfully employed at Procter and Gamble*. Ligaya proves to AmCham that it had certainly made the right decision twelve years ago. Ligaya had indeed made things happen, and will continue to make things happen for sure.
*Upon the release of this article, Ligaya is no longer connected with Procter and Gamble.
September 28, 2011
We are appealing for donations for the victims of Typhoon Pedring and the recent flood.
We are preparing relief operations and will be working in coordination with Corporate Network for Disaster Response to deliver relief goods to the typhoon and flood victims.
Member companies and individuals who plan to contribute to the relief effort can send in-kind or cash donations to the following offices:
American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
2nd Floor, Corinthian Plaza, Paseo de Roxas, Legaspi Village,
American Chamber Foundation of the Philippines
Leonard Benjamin Development Center
4554 Casino cor. Olivares Streets, Palanan,
For cash or check donations, donors can deposit their Peso donation to the following account:
Name of Account : American Chamber Foundation Philippines, Inc.
Account Number : CA #0041-00307-47
Bank : Bank of the Philippine Islands
Or you can call us at the following numbers to pick up your donations: 834-0184 and 551-8060.
There is a lot of assistance needed in areas that were flooded.
Thank you for your support and collaboration.
DEMETRIO P. SALIPSIP, JR.
One cannot but feel somewhat obliged to reciprocate a good deed performed in good faith. This, although subtly, follows Metlyn Almonte, 25, as her story of embracing technology as her dream goes on.
Having lived a difficult life in Bicol, Metlyn’s mother decided to move the family to Manila to seek better opportunities. It was in 1992 when Metlyn, only at the tender age of nine, decided for herself to join her siblings at Boystown Shelter in Marikina. Staying there, and being under the auspices of nuns (then second parents, as the nuns were later replaced), seeing her biological parents came as a rare treat for it had been allowed to happen only once a month. Limited by the walls of the shelter, Metlyn saw the world not beyond her environment.
When AmCham Foundation came to Boystown during Metlyn’s high school, the wheels started to turn for her to see herself in a new light. AmCham held a program, schooling the children of the shelter with the basics of using a personal computer. Accompanied by summer activities, it was through this that Metlyn saw her passion for such technology, and such would soon motivate her to strive for a dream and to give back.
Getting Techie and Physical
Financial difficulties kept Metlyn and her family in a constant struggle to make both ends meet, having Metlyn’s studies were supported by her brother and sister. Wanting
to study and finish a degree, the drive to do well in school and then give back support to her family became all the more stronger. “We didn’t have enough money at that time; my brother and sister supported me. My major goal was to finish my studies. So after that, I’d be able to support my brother’s schooling,” she explained.
The scholarship presented by AmCham propelled Metlyn to actively participate in the computer trainings held at Boystown. She maintained to pass the examinations given and complete the activities held, unlike her fellows who might not have been able to see the advantages of learning about computers. “When AmCham conducted computer training, they also informed us that they would be giving a scholarship grant. It was then that I strived harder. Since I love computer, I made sure that they grant the scholarship to me,” Metlyn shared, “The preparations were not much of a pressure to me because most of my fellow trainees, though they might have been interested, they didn’t really see the benefit that they could have gotten from the technology. It was all right for them to be late and such, whereas for me, I always got first to the computers.”
Upon the news of her being granted the scholarship, Metlyn could not be any happier: “I was very happy. I had thought that my mother and siblings would shoulder my education—I didn’t even know of other schools except for PLM [Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila] and UP [University of the Philippines]. I was so happy because I’d be able to learn more about the computer, and also join many activities with AmCham.” However, due to some apparently unavoidable circumstances, Metlyn was veered from the direction she initially planned. Instead of pursuing a course on Computer Science, she took a turn to Physical Education. “Actually, the grant I received required me to get Computer Science. I wasn’t with AmCham yet; I was still with GE (General Electric) then and the scholarship was worth P25,000. But since I was a late enrollee, I wasn’t able to get the course Computer Science. When I entered PLM, there were only two courses left for me to choose from: Social Studies and Bachelor of Physical Education.” Left with these limited choices, Metlyn based her decision on her other interest, which was sports. “I got the idea, ‘Ok, I’ll stick with P.E., since I’m capable of some other sports.’”
Yet again stressing the fact that she wanted to finish her studies with a college degree so she could help her family, Metlyn explained further why she continued her undergraduate course, despite the conflict it posed between what she enrolled in and what she truly wanted, “Taking PE was ok for me because my primary aim really, was to finish college. Then when I get a stable job, I could support myself and my family.”
Challenges inevitably came Metlyn’s way as she went through college life. Adding to the internal conflict she had about her course, pressure was closing in on her from every side. “In PLM,” Metlyn recalled, “although it’s not necessarily precise to say that all students there are intelligent, it’s true to say that everyone was very keen on studying hard. The real challenge for me was to not have a grade lower than 2.0 or 3.0. As much as possible, I have to get 1.5—anything higher than 2.0.” Despite that, Metlyn managed to safely keep her scholar status and received her diploma.
Opportunities and Wishes
If there were anything AmCham could always provide its scholars with, it would be the precious opportunities that lead to eventual changes in their lives. Metlyn’s love for technology does not waver even though she took another path in college. The chances given and the changes made to her by AmCham’s grant extended to her working life, as she treads the roads ahead toward her goals. “During college, I had my internship at Gold’s Gym. It was an advantage for me; they absorbed me, and some of my classmates, after. I also took a part-time job as an assistant teacher in one private school—Monday to Friday, I was a teacher then during weekends, Saturday and Sunday, I was at Gold’s Gym.” Not only did AmCham present these career opportunities, but it also widened the perspective of Metlyn. “Here at AmCham, I was able to broaden my mind about technology. The different activities enhanced my way of thinking. Back in the shelter, there was just this limited horizon that you see. AmCham helped me in knowing myself deeper. I met a lot of friends whom I can relate with, and the same time, they shared with me their positive thinking.” Metlyn reminiscently recalled her younger days and how AmCham gave her a shot at personality development, “I was really timid back in the shelter. With AmCham, I got to mingle with other kids with different personalities. Before, I used to see myself and other people in different ‘classes’ of society. AmCham catered to my needs. It built my self-esteem and confidence.”
Wanting to share these life-changing experiences to other kids at Boystown, and outside as well, Metlyn hopes for AmCham to continue the positive deeds it does, to add more to its personality development seminars and training programs. “Beyond reproductive health, I hope they also add seminars that would help children build their dreams. They need exposure that would inspire an uplift them. They could learn to set their vision and what they want for themselves.” With her passion for technology, Metlyn does not forget to include computer literacy in her wishes: “Although many children are aware of computers now, it’s still essential that they know how to use it properly. Computer literacy is becoming an important need of the students when they enter elementary, high school and college. I hope AmCham provides more workshops on this.”
A life separated from her family and a condition unfavorable to making both ends meet did not stop Metlyn from pursuing an excellent student life. Her personality, shaped by AmCham, fosters a confidence in her abilities, dreams, as well as her desire to help the shelter that kept her safe and nourished. Adding these together, she foresees another event in her life that she could initiate, “When I left Boystown, AmCham’s computer training program stopped after some years. I hope they bring it back and continue it… Then if the time comes that I’m well funded and stable, I’ll present myself as a teacher; someday I’ll be one of those teachers in Computer.”
*** article written by Judith Ann Ochengco
Mt. Bulusan emitted an ash column about 3-kilometer high early Monday. According to Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist of Phivolcs, the Monday explosion was the highest ash column recorded since Nov. 6, 2010 which reached approximately 200 meters above the crater. Ashfall spread as far as Ticao and Masbate City in Masbate.