A gadget’s portability; Navigating through the obstacles of life, remote education, and everything in between

IN the modern age, gadgets could be indispensable in people’s lives.

For Christian Paul Bito-on, “Without a laptop, I was not able to achieve my dream,”

He is now a licensed mechanical engineer.

Many purchase gadgets for luxury, recreation, or to join the trend. But for Christian, it was an urgent need to finish his studies.

The engineer, who obtained his college degree at the Technological University of the Philippines Visayas (TUPV) in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, in 2023, is the second child among the seven children of Felisa and Agripino Jr.

Unfortunately, his father died in 2022 due to a heart illness. The following year, his mother left their home and lived with her new partner.

“To reach my goal of becoming a licensed mechanical engineer has not been easy. I need to sacrifice, have patience, and persevere,” he said.

During his school days, Paul said he had to earn a living for himself and his younger siblings.

“My college life was so hard and full of struggles, but it was fulfilling,” Paul reminisced.

He recalled that when challenges came pouring in when his father had a stroke in 2016, the money his mother sent as an overseas Filipino worker was not enough to sustain their daily needs.

“Every bakasyon naga-upod ko sa Pastor namun magbaligya buko shake kag juice, nagaluto kami chicken asta sa Dumangas kag sa Panaad Park and Sports Complex (Bacolod City) para may ihatag ako kay papa nga nagamasakit kag sa mga utod ko,” Paul claimed.

Aside from that, he also spent some of his free time at the house of his cousins, helping with house chores. Paul never felt ashamed to take care of or become the nanny for the babies of his relatives. Whatever amount he earns from his jobs during vacation mostly goes to his family and some savings.

In 2020, during the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, Paul was a second-year college student at TUPV. A new reality was forced on many, including students, and online classes became the norm.

This abrupt change drove Paul to hopelessness, thinking he might not finish college. Because of the health crisis, it has come to the mind of Paul to stop schooling.

He was well aware that most were also struggling, as most of the people had lost their jobs and business establishments had closed.

To buy a laptop he desperately needed, Paul applied for a job at a mall.

Only two weeks into working, Paul asked TUP-Visayas campus director Eric Malo-oy what would happen if he quit his studies. It temporarily dawned on him the possibility of taking a gap year.

Amo na ma-obra ko anay para kasupot kay amo na gamiton ko sa skwela ko,” he explained.

Fortunately, the campus director offered Paul a job. He worked as a student assistant at the university, and during his free time, he also had a job at the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), a non-government organization.

There, he found light after NWTF Strategic Projects Manager Raymond Serios gave him a laptop. Paul was beyond grateful.

He graduated in 2023 and took the examination in February of this year.

Despite his sacrifices due to financial constraints during the time he took a review for the examination, Paul prayed and studied hard to pass the examination.

His license as a mechanical engineer also became his armor against people who underestimated him.

Paul encourages the students who are struggling with their finances not to lose hope and to make the best of their situation to learn and propel them towards their goals.

Now, Paul is gearing up for his future and financing the studies of his younger siblings./PN


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