The pricetag of the ENGR amid the pandemic

Toward the end of August, I would see more students in their uniforms. Jeepneys get cramped up with a lot of people especially at seven in the morning on my way to work and at five or six in the afternoon as I make my way home. The smell of hardwork and business as usual will really fill up the jeep. The sweat that the sun dried up on our clothes meant there was so much we did that day hopefully, benefitting society.

However, that was last year.

Today, there are no full jeeps. There is virtually no traffic jam. Where are the students that make the jeep so noisy with their laughs and rants about their school projects and terror teachers? The coronavirus pandemic really changed a lot of things and the hope of our nation, as Rizal would call the youth, also suffer a big blow in their pursuit of getting education for them to land a job in the future to alleviate their household’s economy.

I got the chance to meet one passionate kid online who messaged me asking for piso (one Philippine peso). He was raising funds to purchase a laptop, even a second hand will do. He is Jericho Balolong, a senior high school graduate of Federico N. Ceralde Integrated School in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, who just enrolled in Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering (BS ECE) at Colegio de Dagupan.

Jericho, who earned line of nine marks in all his subjects during his final year in senior high, admitted that electronics engineering was merely his second choice. He originally wanted to journey towards becoming a doctor. His family’s finances; however, put that dream aside. Luckily, he remains optimistic that a career in electronics engineering would shine light to his family’s future.

For him, that four-letter prefix added to his name does not only mean that he is an engineer, it means that he one step closer in getting out of poverty.

“As a future engineer, gusto ko lang po sanang makaraos sa kahirapan and maipaayos ang bahay namin dahil yun po ang pinapangarap ng aking mga magulang na maipaayos ang aming bahay at pinapangarap ko rin pong magkaroon ng ENGR. sa pangalan,” my new friend, Jericho wrote in an online interview.

For him, that four-letter prefix added to his name does not only mean that he is an engineer, it means that he one step closer in getting out of poverty. His father works as a fisherman and the pandemic reduced his earnings to almost nothing. His brother, a construction worker, also lost his job. What is left is their sari-sari store run by his mom where the whole family relies on an average PhP 3,000.00 a month. Jericho, himself, took initiative of offering tutorial classes to elementary pupils for a very cheap price of PhP 50.00 session just to make ends meet. But since the Department of Education decided to move the opening of classes to October, this initiative also took the bench.

Education is most essential for Jericho to earn him a decent paying job in the future. He dreams of becoming an electronics engineer and eyes to join the telecommunications industry when his career takes off.

“…katulad sa mga Electronics or [telecommunications] companies na masisiguro po nila na maganda at maayos ang kanilang makukuhang serbisyo,” he visualized the future of the industry when he joins it.

Right now, he, like many of the young Filipinos who want to continue studying  while battling the economic effects of the pandemic, is in the quest of raising money to buy a laptop through the trending handle #PisoParaSaLaptop. Many of us who are already working never underwent such struggle wherein poverty is worsened as education is shifted to a lesser accessible means. But this doesn’t stop Jericho.

He humbly asks, “Support po and prayer kasi po nothing is impossible with God.”

To the generous people who are willing to assist Jericho, he may be provided with donations at any amount, even one peso, through the G-Cash account of his mom, Monette Balolong: 0929 479 5068.

Let us help those who want to continue even when the challenge gets harder in the wake of COVID-19. Let us be the hope of the future of this country even for just a peso.

(With some accounts taken from MovePH)

Published by Ilonggo Engineer

Ilonggo Engineer or Ray, is a civil engineer and a writer who strongly advocates for road safety, technology literacy, and social equity.

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