PAY IT FORWARD: A Success Story of an SMI Scholar
This is a story of perseverance.
At an early age and being the eldest of four children, Jenevel Intero-Ocampo of Columbio in the province of Sultan Kudarat learned to become an independent and strong person.
“Namatay si Papa ko, kinder pa lang ako. Noong Grade 3 o Grade 4, kami na lang magkakapatid naiwan dito sa Columbio kasi si Mama nag-asawa uli at nanirahan na sa Isulan sa husband niya. Pagdating ko ng high school, kinuha na niya ang mga kapatid ko at ako na lang naiwan dito sa lola ko. Somehow, na-prepare ko ang sarili ko na maging independent,” Jen recalls.
Despite all the struggles growing up away from her family, Jen was determined to survive for the sake of her siblings and her future.
“Actually, si Mama ko nagpapadala lang ng allowance kung kailan lang siya nakakaluwang. Mahirap ang pinagdaanan ko dahil sa set-up na yun. Inaantay ko lang kung kalian makakapagpadala ng pera si Mama at kailangan kong tipirin yun dahil hindi ko alam kung kalian ulit siya makapagpapadala.”
Despite this uncertainty, she graduated Valedictorian of her batch in Columbio National High School in 2009. She wanted to continue her college education at University of Southern Mindanao but was still concerned about finances.
Jen saw a ray of light peering through the dark clouds when she became a scholar of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).
Under its community development programs, SMI provides for financial aid to talented and deserving students and has already poured more than PhP1.2 billion in financing various projects and activities that are aimed at advancing the socio–economic, health and educational conditions of the communities where the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project is located.
Receiving a cash allowance of PhP 3,500 from SMI, Jen was able to meet her basic educational needs, from school supplies to books and food. She even had the opportunity - from time to time - to send a share of her allowance to her mother and siblings in Isulan.
“Na-provide ng SMI ang mga needs ko. Ang scholarship kasi ng SMI, mayroon kaming 3,500 pesos na cash allowance noon. Isa din iyon sa naging motivations ko na mag-aral ng mabuti, kasi alam ko na may 3,500 pesos ako!”
Being a scholar of SMI, Jen was also able to finish her bachelors’ degree in Education and is now a licensed teacher at Columbio National High School.
“Isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit nakapagtapos ako ng college, dahil alam ko na nandiyan ang SMI na handang sumuporta. Malaking tulong talaga sa akin ang SMI!”
Now a mother of two, Jen is paying it forward by teaching in her alma mater and is cited by her co-teachers and Principal as “humble and a diligent teacher”.
“So far, dito sa school namin, talagang maasahan ko si Jen. Binibigyan ko siya ng designation - lalo na sa aming School Improvement Plan (SIP), ngayon to be submitted na!”, said Ms. Norly Balin, the school’s Principal.
Jen made it a passion to share her life’s experiences to her children and students.
“Whatever happens in life, kahit gaano kahirap ng buhay, huwag kang bumitaw. Huwag kang titigil. Hindi naging kumpleto ang pamilya ko, pero hindi iyon naging dahilan para mapariwara ako. Whatever trials na dumating sa buhay natin, tuloy lang, go on lang sa pag-aaral.” (30)