I learned about a father who worked in the market for many years.
This responsible man was carrying and delivering heavy loads of goods and products in various stalls. He withstood the weight of his burden every day. Likewise, he endured the body pains and difficulties of his job, especially during rainy season. He’d do everything to be able to provide for his family’s daily needs. Most especially, he’d find every possible and legal ways to provide for the education of his children.
The passing of years was taking his strength by and by. The gravity of the weight he carried every single day at work was taking its toll on his thin body. But he won’t give up his job. It was his wish to see his kids finish their studies, and have a much better life than he had.
Each time he went home very tired, he still felt happy because he always found his children studying hard. They were giving their best so they were getting academic awards for their efforts. Inspired by this, the father always found the strength to wake up again and face his work. They still had a long way finishing their studies, but then at least one of his wishes already came true. This was the wish that they won’t know how it was not to be able to read and write. He knew pretty well how to be in that situation. They were his gem and he’d do anything for them.
All his efforts were not in vain. His children appreciated his hard work and support. His only son, in particular, knew about his father’s hardships. So the young man promised himself that someday he’d give back to his parents for all their sacrifices. He’d never forget all they did in order to raise him and his sister well.
So when he graduated valedictorian in high school, he placed all the medals he received around his father’s neck. His father was actually sick that day, but he wouldn’t miss the chance to witness his son’s graduation. Then when he looked at the medals, he was beyond words. Tears of happiness rolled down his cheeks. All the body pains of carrying heavy loads at work bore fruits at last. The medals and the top award that his precious son achieved were all worth it.
The father was Mr. Carlito Pasigay, and the son was John Carlo or Jace, one of our scholars who finished his tertiary education last April 2016.
I never met the father, but I appreciate him (and his wife) for bringing up Jace as the intelligent, talented and caring individual I know.
I first met Jace when he decided to study as a scholar in one of the state universities in Manila. As an assistant implementing undergraduate scholarships with over a hundred recipients, I still noticed him as one of those who stood out from the crowd. Well, it wasn’t only because of his intelligence, but also because of his warm personality, genuine humility and caring ways.
I loved recording his grades and evaluating his academic performance because he truly excelled academically, especially in Mathematics. However, there was a time when he seemed to lose focus and his grades were a little bit affected. It was sadly because of the sudden death of the father he loved so much. That was way back in August 2013. I saw how he strove to still obtain good academic performance despite the pain and the struggle to move forward in his life.
Then I remember a time when a very strong typhoon greatly affected my area of residence. I received a text message from him, asking me if my family and I were alright and if he could be of help to me. I was deeply touched by the concern, especially because he was the only scholar who texted and inquired about my whereabouts that time. He was definitely brought up by his parents as a smart yet very compassionate young man.
He was also one of those who requested me to organize a concert for the benefit of the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda. His concern for the welfare of those affected by the typhoon was one of my inspirations in carrying out Love in Myriad Colors, a mini concert with scholars from different batches and schools as performers. Jace sang his heart out and we all loved his performance, as well of those of other scholars who found time to help and reach out to those in need.
There was also a time when this gifted young man expressed in social media his longing for the father he loved and lost. He showed a picture of his father wearing all his medals and with tears of joy in his eyes. The picture and his long message to his father went viral, touching people all over the globe. His story was likewise featured in some TV programs, inspiring more students, especially poverty-stricken ones, to never give up on life, especially on their studies.
Weeks after graduation, Jace was immediately hired as a Mathematics teacher in one of the premier schools in the Philippines. He served as coach to students who represented our country for a Math competition in China and Thailand. The students bagged the gold medal, thanks to the coach who guided them with all his heart and mind.
Jace continued to inspire people. I even requested that he be the resource speaker for our 2016 Scholars’ Assembly Program. As expected, his story touched the audience, some of whom were undergoing deep, personal problems that time. They thanked me for inviting Jace because he motivated them to continue studying hard despite all the adversities they were experiencing. Now, some of those who listened to his talk already graduated and applied for teaching jobs, promising to give hope and encourage students the way Jace did.
Not all people fulfill their promises. In fact, some even reiterate that promises are meant to be broken. But there are some who believe otherwise. Jace is one of the latter. He fulfilled the promise he made to his father to finish his studies, get a good job, and provide for his family.
And he even went beyond that promise. He stirs hope in people, especially the less fortunate. He wants them to know that poverty is not a hindrance to having a good education and a better future. In fact, poverty should impel them to find scholarships and sponsors, do well in school, and finally reach their dreams and goals in life.
Jace continues to motivate people through his teaching and through his passion in singing. He continues to be grateful to his father as well, for if it wasn’t for the old man’s hard work and sacrifices, he wouldn’t be where he is now. He certainly keeps his father’s memory alive in his heart.
This Fathers’ Day, I’m sure Jace will especially thank God for giving him a father like Mr. Carlito, an extraordinary man who’s now in heaven but whose story will forever touch the lives of people all over the world.