Day 1 of the 22nd Graduates’ Forum honoring the scholars from NCR

By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio

Education can open the doors to abundant opportunities, from achieving one’s dream, helping the family, or even contributing to the country’s development. Hence, it is significant for every Filipino to have the chance to be educated to broaden their capacities and be able to reach these many opportunities and possibilities.

Business magnate and philanthropist Dr. George Ty Siao Kian once said, “A country can only develop fully if its citizens are given the opportunity to attain their greatest potential.” Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI), the philanthropic arm of Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) that he both founded, thus recognizes education as one of its main thrusts.

Among MBFI’s initiatives to support fostering the youth through proper education is offering various scholarship programs. And recently, Metrobank celebrated 67 of its scholars graduating and taking on a new chapter this year during the 22nd edition of the Graduates’ Forum themed “Ang Pagtatapos!?” held from July 26-29, 2022.

Metrobank Foundation President Aniceto “Chito” Sobrepeña

“We, the Metrobank and GT Foundation, are buoyed to witness the culmination of the undergraduate journeys of 67 scholars from eight partner universities and colleges nationwide, representing two of our scholarship programs MBFI ACCESS III (Assistance for the Completion of College Education for Superior Students) and GTFI-YES II (GT Foundation, Inc.-Youth for Excellence and Service),” MBFI President Aniceto Sobrepeña said in his opening remarks last July 26.

Among the 67 graduating scholars of MBFI and GTFI this year, more than half are Latin honors recipients, composed of 19 cum laude, 15 magna cum laude, and two summa cum laude. They also received cash incentives: P15,000 (summa), P10,000 (magna) and P5,000 (cum).

“We look at you scholars and we are reminded of the virtues of our founder, Dr. George Ty Siao Kian, of course influenced by his mother Doña Tytana. We see in you the virtues of excellence, endurance, and diligence,” Mr. Sobrepeña said.

College experience can be difficult, including for summa cum laude Joseph Lawrence Celeste, who took up Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at the University of the Philippines — Diliman and one of the GTFI-YES II scholars.

“Actually napakahirap (college experience). Kasi being member of the pilot batch ng K to 12, under kami ng new curriculum, so everything was really new even to our professors. And then came the pandemic, parang another adjustment to be made for us students (Actually, it was very difficult. Because being a member of the pilot batch of K to 12, we were under a new curriculum, so everything was really new even to our professors. And then came the pandemic, it’s like another adjustment to be made for us students),” he recounted in an interview.

“But being here now and finishing with flying colors, parang napaka-fulfilling (it’s very fulfilling).”

Medals of academic excellence and certificates of recognition were awarded to graduating scholars.

His fellow summa cum laude, Esteban Chua, Jr., a graduate of Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in English from the University of the East — Manila, similarly said that college experience was tough for the many adjustments their batch have to go through. “But at the same time, I think ‘yun din ‘yung nag-contribute kaya mas naging rewarding siya in the end. Kaya mas satisfying siya and mas grateful kami ngayon (But at the same time, I think that also contributed for it to become more rewarding in the end. That’s why it was more satisfying and we’re more grateful now),” the MBFI ACCESS III scholar said.

This ‘pagtatapos,’ for Mr. Celeste, is another milestone he achieved and will surpass. “Ito na ‘yung parang biggest achievement ko so far in life (This seems to be my biggest achievement so far in life),” he said. “So, parang (it seems) from this point, there’s nowhere to go but up.”

“It’s really meaningful because, number one, it’s one proof that I have achieved something big in my life,” added Mr. Chua. “And another, it’s because it just shows that I’m onto something bigger in my life.”

“Now that we are on to the next chapter of our life, I hope that we remain thankful and inspired by those who helped us get to where we are now,” Mr. Chua told his fellow scholars during his speech. “Fellow graduate scholars, let this be the start of our collective mission to give back to our country as one of our ways of saying thanks.”

Day 2 of the 22nd Graduates’ Forum honoring the scholars from the regions

While the graduating scholars are moving forward and taking on a new path, Mr. Sobrepeña reminded them that being an MBFI or GTFI scholar does not end after the student has received their diploma.

“It is a life-long commitment to excellence and service,” he said during the event. “Hindi lamang kailangan magaling, kailangan nagli-lingkod at nagsisilbi. (Not only do you need to be good, you also need to serve.) Even beyond this forum, we hope that you will carry out these ideals with you.”

Mr. Sobrepeña also told scholars that they do not have to give back to Metrobank for the support it provided. “Bigay mo sa ibang pamamaraan, huwag sa amin (Give it in another way, not to us),” he said in an interview. “Being excellent wherever you are is a way of paying us back.”

“Outreach, kawang-gawa (charity), and doing well, doing good in whatever profession or company you are in,” he added, “‘Yun ang aming ini-inculcate sa kanila. (Those are what we’re inculcating in them.)”

MBFI, apart from covering the tuition fees and providing allowances, cultivated its scholars with values and character by conducting formation programs and seeks to encourage them to pay this gift of education forward to the underprivileged.

Supporting Filipino students since 1995, the MBFI scholarship programs have created over a thousand graduates. These various programs aim to help financially challenged yet academically gifted students get the quality educational opportunities they very much deserve.

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