By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
Twenty-nine-year-old Arnie Jey Necesito is living proof that with hard work, determination, and kindness from strangers, anyone can achieve their dreams.
He is one of the financially-challenged students who was offered full scholarships by Mazda Philippines through the Meralco Foundation Inc. (MFI).
The Mazda Scholarship Program is a project of Bermaz Auto Philippines, the exlusive distributor of Mazda vehicles and parts in the country, in partnership with the MFI. Since it started in 2014, it has supported about 100 students. Most of the graduates of the program eventually became employees in various Mazda dealerships.
After graduating with a degree in Automotive Technology at the MFI Polytechnic Institute, he now works as a parts man for Mazda Greenhills.
Necesito recalled that he gave his first salary to his mother. Since then, he used his earnings to help his family live better lives. After all, he said, they were the first to support him in his academic journey.
“I managed to send my younger sister to college. She is now graduating with a degree in business administration,” he said.
He now lives with his sister in a rented house in Rosales, Pasig, and has plans of buying a house for his family.
Before the Mazda Scholarship Program gave him a new lease on life, Necesito had his fair share of struggles due to poverty.
A native of Aurora province, Necesito is the son of a housewife and a farmer, and the second eldest of six children.
He admitted that life was difficult for his family and recalled that they ate only two meals a day, sometimes not even eating at all, just to save money.
For a time, he was an out-of-school youth. But with his older sister’s encouragement, he decided to attend classes again at the age of 24 at the Mayor Cesario A. Pimentel National High School.
“There were days when I could not go to school because it was far from where we lived,” he said in Filipino. “Sometimes, I borrow my cousin’s bike just so I can go to school.”
One day, one of Necesito’s teachers invited the class to answer an entrance exam provided by the Meralco Foundation, Inc. Not only was the foundation offering full scholarships, accepted scholars were also entitled to certain allowances.
For Necesito, who once dreamt of becoming an engineer, this was the chance of a lifetime.
Aside from the exam, he was also interviewed by a panel of Mazda officials who asked him mainly about his family background.
Necesito, who doubted that he would be accepted due to the difficulty of the exam, was pleasantly surprised when he found out that he passed. But before he could go to Manila, he had to work to save enough money to purchase a bus ticket.
“I had to pay for my travel expenses so I worked as a laborer to save money,” he said. “The bus ride from Aurora to Manila took about eight hours.”
Even though he started schooling a bit late and was older than his batchmates, Necesito said it was never difficult for him to make friends.
After two years, he graduated in 2016. He was among five out of 22 students who were given an award for academic excellence.
He was immediately accepted as a pre-delivery inspection man of Mazda Greenhills, where he previously did his on-the-job training.
Later, he was promoted to parts man.
For those who will be given the same opportunity he was given, Necesito has one simple reminder: “They should not waste it. They should continue to push forward until they reach the peak of success.”