Governor Hilario P. Davide III encouraged 270 applicants for Paglaum Scholarship Program on Thursday, May 11, by recounting the story of a New York businessman, Eugene Lang.
In 1981, Lang was invited to speak before 61 graduating sixth graders, mostly African-American in PS 121, a school in East Harlem, New York, where he graduated 50 years ago.
Instead of the usual “work hard and you’ll succeed” speech, Lang changed his message while on his way to the podium. The school principal told him: “three quarters of students would probably never finish high school.”
“Stay in school and I will help pay the college tuition of each and everyone,” Davide quoted Lang telling the graduates.
That moment, Davide said, a Negro student said, “I have something to look forward to, I have something waiting for me.”
By August of 1985, all of Lang’s Dreamers were still in school. In 1986 Lang formed the “I have a Dream Foundation.”
In her inspiration speech Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said one of the present 143 Paglaum scholars, Amelita Gatdula, will finish her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, major in Holticulture this July, and most likely will graduate “cum laude” in Visayas State University in Baybay City, Leyte.
Third among seven siblings and will soon be the only professional in the family from Asturias, Amelita is the daughter of a security guard and a farmer/housewife, receiving P1,500 monthly allowance from Paglaum.
And she will be the first Paglaum scholar who will graduate with honors.
A Paglaum scholar applicant Norwin Manluluyo Jr, 26, like some of the East Harlem pupils inspired by Lang, has a dim past as his father is in jail since 2013 for arson.
The Tabogon student believed his father was into drugs.
Once accepted in Paglaum, Norwin Jr, who is going third year in a four-year course of Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management, is hopeful of becoming the only professional among 11 siblings.
“If we take care of our children, molambo ang Sugbo,” Magpale told yesterday’s applicants from Cebu 2nd, 4th and 5th Districts.
Paglaum offers 300 scholarship slots this school year and if guidelines for free college education is implemented this year, that will be additional 300 so a total of 600 Paglaum scholars this school opening.