“The best is yet to come.” These were the words of Jireh Bautista when he gave his Valedictory Address in 2013 as he graduated from Cebu City National Science High School. Besides graduating at the top of his batch, he was also given five other awards. ABS-CBN, Silliman University, Southwestern University, and AMA University also gave him medals.
Just last March, Jireh graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Cebu Institute of Technology – University, Summa Cum Laude – Real LIFE’s first. While in the university, he also excelled at the district, division, and regional levels of Math and Science competitions. But what is more amazing than his awards and recognitions is the story of how he strived to achieve them.
Jireh is fourth of the five children of Pantaleon, a shoe repairman, and Belinda, a housewife. Life was never easy for their family. At times they only had rice and soy sauce to eat. He would walk to and from school because he lacked finances. He would also set aside Php 10 everyday so that he could complete his schoolwork at an internet café until late into the night.
He recounts that when he was in high school, he was not consistently on top. It was only in his fourth year that he earned 1st place, graduating as the class valedictorian. But parents of other students were not happy and commented that Jireh was not worthy of the recognition. They went as far as spreading rumors that he was lying about their family’s financial status just so he could be supported by scholarship programs. He was made to feel that he was not good enough, and that there are others who are better than him.
But he was resolute in his belief that what God wills, that He does. “They can’t stop God and His purpose for me,” he says.
Jireh also admits that throughout his life he had doubted himself. He says that the hardest for him to do while in school was to stay positive and motivated to stay the course and not give up.
Graduating with honors is great, and he understands that this will give him an edge when he’s applying for a job. But to him, it’s not about the achievements and recognitions. He believes that it is one’s life story that truly counts, and how much one has positively influenced others.
He dreams to establish his own company or business someday, and wants to eventually give back to Real LIFE. Moreover, he desires to be able to start his own foundation that will help improve the lives of the poor and the marginalized.
“These dreams of mine may or may not come true but one thing is for sure: I believe God has already laid and prepared a bright future for me and my family. I have dreams that may not be aligned with God’s purpose for me, but I’ll stick to God’s plans,” he says.
Jireh is grateful for the Real LIFE Foundation because the support given to him helped him accomplish his schoolwork well without having to ask for allowance from his parents. He says that Real LIFE has really helped him in his walk with God, and that he was blessed by the lives of his LIFE coaches, as well as the encouragement and support that he got from them, his fellow scholars, and the area coordinator.
Jireh’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.