CRISTINE JOY ARCENAS
S.Y. 2014-2015, BS in Accounting Technology
I’m Cristine from General Santos in South Cotabato. I was blessed to have grown up in a tight-knit family that believed in supporting one another. For me, as long as my family is together, we can weather any storm in life.
My family is my strength. But, as the saying goes, nothing is permanent except change.
When I was just 11 years old, my father, a humble farmer, was hospitalized due to liver problems. I recall seeing my father in pain and my mother struggle to make ends meet through her job as a barangay health worker. There was nothing I could do because I was still just a kid. I didn’t know how to help them.
My father needed a liver transplant which would cost us money we didn’t have and we didn’t know where to get. I had a brother who would have to go under the knife to donate his kidney for our father, but there was no assurance that our father would be completely healed after the transplant. Because of this and the fact that my brother’s life would be at risk, our family decided to let our father rest.
It’s painful that we weren’t able to do much to fight for my father’s life. He died because we didn’t have money for the operation.
Since our father’s passing, my siblings and I could only draw strength from our mother. We were still getting used to the reality that our father was no longer with us when our mother died in an accident. I was only 16.
Seeing my mother in a casket, I felt that there was nothing left to hold on to. My hopes and dreams died with my mother, and I blamed God for all the pain I was going through. I didn’t want to live anymore because I thought I could not go on without my parents.
Having no parents to provide for us, my aunt, who was financially challenged herself, decided to fund my college education. A few years later, my aunt met the Real LIFE coordinator in General Santos and learned about the scholarship program.
And so, in 2012, I became a Real LIFE scholar. It was through Real LIFE that I was able to come to know God and have a relationship with Him. I am thankful for Real LIFE and their partners because they didn’t just help me financially, but they also changed my perspective in life. I also gained a spiritual family through Real LIFE.
Real LIFE enabled me to graduate in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting Technology. In the same year, I became a certified bookkeeper after passing level 1 of the Certified Accounting Technician Board Exam.
I landed a job in an accounting firm immediately after graduation. This enabled me to help my younger brother finish his associate degree in Technical Education, major in Automotive Technology.
Today, I work as an account executive for a renowned software development and business consulting firm in the country. I was recently entrusted to be the officer-in-charge of one of the company’s branches to set up and train a team.
When my workload allows it, I also help the Real LIFE team in General Santos facilitate scholar huddles. Because I experienced firsthand how God can turn even the bleakest situation around, I take every opportunity to speak words of encouragement and hope to my siblings, the Real LIFE scholars, and those around me.