Feature: Young Leyte˝o goes abroad for voluntary service
By Neil D. Lopido
Tacloban City (20 April) -- "I had a simple dream when I was still a child. I didn't even dream of going to another country. I just want to keep my family intact, have a good work and enough salary that could defray expenses when I already have my own family."
Thus said Jeffrey Gloria Engracial, a 20-year-old young AB Communication fresh graduate at the Leyte Normal University (LNU) who, because of a golden opportunity that knocked his door, was not able to receive his diploma during his most-awaited graduation day.
Members of GXP Team 58 pose with their Filipiniana costume during the community welcome held in Southampton Civic Center, Southampton City, United Kingdom last March 30, 2007. Extreme left is Jefrrey Engracial and Jay Niel Ancheta (extreme right), their programme supervisor. (PIA-8)
"The reason is the Global Xchange Programme (GXP). It is funded by the British Council Philippines, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Bahaginan, and VSO Philippines which primarily give opportunity to young people of the Philippines and Britain to exchange ideas in different aspect: culture, peace and development, volunteering, diversity, gender equality and poverty among others," he explained in an interview.
"Our graduation was scheduled on March 29, 2007 but our flight to London via Hongkong was on March 18, 2007," he said.
"Jepoy" as he is fondly called, was born on December 10, 1986 and is the only child of Mr. Salvador M. Engracial and Ms. Thelma C. Gloria. A true Leyte˝o, he grew up and finished his Elementary grade school as Valedictorian at the Polahongan Elementary School, Mahaplag, Leyte where he made his school proud by bringing home several awards in different competitions.
Filipino volunteers talking to their British Counterparts about the Filipino culture and how it differs from the British culture. (PIA-8)
He likewise finished his Secondary at the Mahaplag National High School as a consistent honor student and who gave his all in extracurricular activities particularly in his beloved school paper where he became sports editor, photojournalist, associate editor, and the best of it all, as the editor-in-chief in his senior year.
Dedicated to be of service to his fellow students and in recognition to his astounding performances, he received the President Arroyo Presidential Award, Most Prolific Writer Award, Leadership Award for CAT, and Most Participation in Student Government.
As a Communication Arts student, Jepoy continued to shine in the field of media endeavors. He made his Alma Mater proud by bringing awards during Regional Tertiary School Paper Competitions - he loves much photojournalism.
Members of the Philippine Team during the send-off party given to them by the chairman of the British Council Philippines. Second fom left is Jepoy and with them is Robby Nazal (center) of Programme Manager of VSO Bahaginan. (PIA-8)
No wonder, this jolly young man, who spent part of his On-the-Job Training in our office, the Philippine Information Agency, Tacloban City, and who worked hand in hand with the government's information arm and several other private media outlets, was picked by his school as 2007 LNU Model Student Awardee.
He never expected that after his Ayala Young Leaders Congress, which he qualified up to the final elimination, another blessing (GXP) will come. He then focused on his academics, his internship and preparation for his graduation.
"This could also be a choice," he said "because I have to weigh two important things; the program that could help mold my personality and could help me in the future, or the graduation ceremony that every student wish to participate."
This year, the Philippines sent two teams for this program. Jepoy belongs to Team 58 composed of 9 Filipino youths, 9 British youths, 1 Filipino Program Supervisor and 1 British Program supervisor. It was learned that the volunteers aging 18 to 25 years old who are now deployed in the UK for 3 months from March to June and in the Philippines for another 3 months from June to September. The host communities of Team 58 and Team 62 include Southampton-Eastleigh-Davao and Bradford-Cagayan de Oro-Iligan, respectively.
Asked what his expectations are after this program, Jepoy is determined to be more culturally and socially sensitive and to spend time with development works in information dissemination as he is now representing the country in this global exchange towards long-lasting "Peace and Development".
Five years from now, Jepoy sees himself working in a community development organization or government-financed firms or practicing his profession in the media industry.
"The greatest achievement in my life is that, first, I was able to keep my family intact; second, I grew up as an only child who haven't been a problem of the society; third, I was able to represent my family, university, community, province, region and country in an international endeavor; and lastly, I lived as a son, my parents could be proud of," he averred.
Unforgettable for him was the storm that almost ruined his life when his family was about to break up because of some individuals who were egocentric and users.
"To my fellow youths, this stage of our lives is very crucial. There are lots of pressures around us, so many circumstances to be considered to come up with the right decision. The best thing we could do is to think twice or more for us to make things beneficial not only to ourselves, family, community but before God. If you think you are right, fight for your principle, but if you know you're on the wrong side of the road, don't be ashamed of saying 'I'm Sorry' or 'Okay, it's my fault, I'm wrong," Jepoy advised.
"For where I am now, it's because of the people who supported and rejected me. Why include those who rejected me? Because they're the one who pushed me to strive more and become a better man. I never dreamt about going abroad, or to be involved with GXP ether. We don't know until when we live, so while still young, maximize all the resources around you (of course in good way), grab all the opportunities and enjoy life to the fullest, he concluded." (PIA-8) [top]