LIFE IS A ROLLER COASTER RIDE: An SMI Scholar Story
"My life is like a roller coaster ride - it has its ups and downs. But being a scholar of SMI gives me the opportunity to enjoy the ride."
Jay Mark Canay was born to a farmer’s family in a mountainous village of Malabod, one of the remote barangays in the Municipality of Malungon in Sarangani province. The second among four children, Jay was exposed to the difficulties of life at a young age and was determined to help his family get out of poverty.
“Talagang mahirap ang buhay naming noon kasi nga wala pang mga subsidies galing sa government na tulad ng 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program). Kahit isang kilong bigas, mahirap kaming makabili. Kahit simpleng sangkap sa kusina - toyo, suka, mantika, asin - mahirap. Mayroon kaming lupa, pero wala kaming pera para makatanim,” Jay narrated.
Striving as a working student, Jay graduated in the Top 4 of his class in Malandag National High School in 2012 and, with perseverance and prayers, he was accepted in a scholarship program directly managed by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).
Through this Samahan ng Matatalinong Indibidwal Scholarship Program, SMI partnered with concerned government officials to support the educational and financial needs of talented and deserving students from local governments hosting the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project.
Started in School Year 2006-2007, this scholarship program was SMI’s contribution to the then Millennium Development Goals on achieving universal access to education for all, by producing quality graduates and future professionals within the Project area. Around 136 students have successfully graduated from the program: some with Latin honors; some even topped their licensure examinations. It has produced Mining Engineers, Geologists, a Metallurgist, and Teachers, who are currently working successfully and excelling in their respective fields. SMI continues to appreciate and recognize the value of education as one of its most significant investments in the communities.
Even though the mine project has not yet started, SMI 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 Project is located.
“Talagang sobrang saya ang aking mga parents. Maliban kasi sa libre na ang tuition fee at ibang bayarin sa school, mayroon pang ibinibigay sa amin noon ang SMI na PhP 3,000 na cash allowance. Iyon pa ang wini-withdraw namin para magamit sa bahay. Malaking tulong talaga siya,” Jay happily recalls.
But just as Jay thought that everything was going fine, he was forced to make a sacrifice to give way and prioritize the education of his older brother and sister, who were both studying in college at that time. Jay stopped going to Mindanao State University in 2015, when he was already in his third year taking up a Bachelor of Science degree, Major in Biology, and started looking for a job.
Fortunately, SMI was there again to answer Jay’s prayer. He was hired as a company researcher and received a monthly salary, which he used to help and sustain the education of his siblings.
“Sobrang overwhelmed talaga ako. First time kong sumahod ng PhP 18,000 – malaki na iyon masyado. Sabi ko, mag-focus na lang muna ako sa work. So, ako po ang nagsuporta at nagpa-aral sa mga kapatid ko hanggang nakapagtapos sila.”
Jay’s hard work and sacrifice paid off – his older brother finished his degree in Agribusiness Management while his sister also received her diploma in AB English.
At present, Jay is still a working student. He now works as the barangay secretary in Barangay Malabod while studying to pursue a teaching career.
He also shares some of his free time mentoring young kids, especially from Indigenous Cultural Communities in their barangay on how to read and write, so that they too could become SMI scholars.
“Ang buhay ko ay parang roller coaster ride talaga. Maraming ups and downs, mga sacrifices. Pero sa lahat ng pinagdaanan ko, nandiyan ang SMI na tumulong sa akin. Hindi ako pinabayaan.
Kaya naman hanggat nandiyan ang SMI, hindi ako mawawalan ng pag-asa na aangat din ang buhay ko at ang buhay ng mga kabataan sa Malabod!” (30)